City Guide: Montreal
Shopping? Oui! Dining? Oui! Chic? Oui, oui! Montreal certainly has that je ne sais quoi quality, making it ideal for a Euro-esque escape.
Montreal really is in the coeur of everything–it’s a comfortable VIA Rail train ride from most Canadian cities and just 90 minutes by plane from NYC.
After arriving, check into the arty Lhotel to see and be seen. Located in Old Montreal, the hotel is home to a museum-worthy art collection, featuring works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Chagall and more.
Once you’ve settled in, head to Da Emma to feast on fresh Italian fare cooked in the back by Emma herself. The dimly lit dining room is private and luxe, making it a cozy spot for some Quebecois canoodling. Between kisses, keep an eye out for celebs–George Clooney and Halle Berry have both been spotted here.
Known for both quaint boutiques and multi-story department stores, Montreal has many chic shopping spots. Start on rue Sainte-Catherine at Simons, a Quebec department-store chain with a history stretching back to 1840. You’ll score trendy his-and-her fashions from around the world. After Simons, head to nearby Zara, Club Monaco and Lululemon. Magnifique, non?!
On chilly or snowy days, wander around the “Underground City“, a subterranean maze of more than 2,000 shops, restaurants and attractions. Spread over nearly 30 kilometers, you can even count it as a workout!
Once you’re all shopped out, visit the Notre-Dame Basilica for a little old-world history. Appropriately located in Old Montreal, this neo-Gothic church is way old–we’re talking 1829! But don’t be fooled by it’s stoic exterior: From stained-glass windows to the gold-tipped carvings throughout, this cathedral is a true work of art unto itself. (Quebec’s favorite daughter, Céline Dion, even got hitched here!)
Montreal natives take their bagels very seriously, and so should you. Stop at the The Original Fairmont Bagel Bakery to sample some of the 20 bagel varieties, including flax seed, chocolate chip and the classic sesame seed. Grab a bag of hand-rolled bagels to take home, too.
Make like the French and finish your last day in the city with some shopping. Boulevard Saint-Laurent is home to one-of-a-kind boutiques and vintage shops. Our faves: Lola & Emily and Preloved.
Before you hop that plane or train home, take a brisk walk up to Mont-Royal, the 200-hectare park that boasts the highest spot in town–the perfect backdrop for a couple snapshot. If you’re “lucky” enough to be there on a snowy day, go tubing to get back down!
Image(s): Top to bottom: Lorraine Deslauriers; Tourisme Montréal; Pierre-Luc Dufour; Stephan Poulin; Pierre-Luc Dufour; Stephan Poulin.