Montreal is a great place to shop whether you are looking for high-end luxe, or practical and affordable! There are fascinating vintage boutiques and flea markets and great specialist shops too. There is an amazing place for denim lovers called ‘Jeans, Jeans, Jeans’ which is crammed with jeans in every size and style imaginable and has a tailor on-site – just in case! Room Service Loft is a stylish showroom of clothes aimed at young professionals, whilst Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts is a good hunting ground for jewelry, sculptures, and ceramics.
The most well-known chain of stores in Canada is The Bay – which is the oldest store in North America and very popular as it perfectly captures the Canadian character. There are several branches in the city. Plaza St Hubert is fun to visit and is well known for its distinctive green awning and 400 shops full of fashion bargains. The stylish Complexe Desjardins is a shopping center with a huge central plaza where concerts and exhibitions are held all year through.
If you are planning a shopping expedition, make it fun with regular coffee breaks – just as the Canadians do! Enjoy!
1. Grab a jar of maple syrup
Quebec is the largest producer of maple syrup – producing more than 75% of the world’s total. Not surprisingly, maple syrup is on the top of many people’s souvenir list! The season for the syrup production is March- April and during this time there are displays and promotions in all the supermarkets. There are several specialist shops in Montreal too, which are fun to visit, as there is much to learn about the different flavors and products available. Maple syrup comes in varying shades of gold and the deeper the color, the stronger the flavor. As well as maple syrup, there are maple biscuits, maple liqueur and maple tea to try.
For true devotees of maple syrup, a trip to Délices de l’Érable & Cie is a must as it has a maple syrup museum, bistro, and shop selling maple syrup flavored toffees and fudge! Interestingly, it also sells a range of savory specialties including maple syrup and garlic sauce and a marinade made with maple syrup and Dijon mustard.
2. Taste some great local cheeses
Cheese is much loved in Montreal; either as a snack throughout the day or served as part of the main meal – just like in France! There are more than 500 different cheeses made in the province including hard, soft and blue-veined. Amongst the best-known brands are Oka, Saint-Paulin, and Trois-Pistoles. One cheese you will have to sample is cheese curd. The creamy curds are shaped into bricks that are then pressed and sliced – delicious! You will find a good selection in any supermarket, but there are specialist shops that are fun to visit. The best-known specialist shop is Fromagerie Hamel (220 Jean-Talon Street).
3. And some local ice wine
Canada is the world’s largest producer of ice wine and whilst you are in Montreal, it will be worth sampling some! Ice wine is produced using a different method as the grapes are harvested from the vines when they are frozen. The result is a more concentrated and sweeter tasting wine – that surprisingly has a lower alcohol content. Ice wine makes an excellent dessert wine and the perfect accompaniment to strongly-flavored cheeses. A bottle of ice wine makes a handsome gift and several brands can be bought in decorated wooden display boxes.
4. Enjoy a good local beer
Beer is a popular drink in Montreal. There are some really good Canadian labels such as Unibroue which produces the popular Blanche de Cambly lager and there are 20 microbreweries in the city producing everything from light lagers to really strong stouts. Some of the microbreweries make beers flavored with blueberry and other fruits as well as maple syrup! Beer can be bought in supermarkets and liquor stores or directly from the micro-breweries. Le Paradis de la Bière is a particularly popular one because as well as its labels, it has a wide range of other beers in stock.
5. Pack some tasty bagels
Bagels are popular in Montreal and they are smaller and taste sweeter than those found elsewhere, as they are flavored with honey. The place to buy them in the city is the Saint-Viateur bakery at 263 Saint-Viateur West where the irresistible smell of bagels being baked in wood-burning ovens can be enjoyed. It is a café as well as a bakery and the best news of all is that it is open 24/7 so you can enjoy a warm bagel at any time! There are flavored bagels to try too including cinnamon and raisin. Buy plenty as they are the ideal snack for when you are traveling!
6. Get yourself a beaver
The distinctive beaver logo of Roots Canadian clothing is well known and the brand has a reputation for being top quality. The company started in 1973 and has 200 stores across Canada and another 150 worldwide. You will find the Montreal branch in Sainte-Catherine in the heart of the city’s shopping area. The store stocks a great range of outdoor clothing including its iconic ‘salt & pepper’ hoodie, footwear, leatherware -including some great bags.
Another great local brand is Gibou Montreal which has a great range of outdoor clothes including beautiful hand-knitted jumpers that are made by local retirees.
7. Choose a piece of jewelry
There is something for everyone in Montreal! Artisans are creating some really attractive contemporary pieces and jewelers making some exquisite classical pieces using local diamonds. Diamonds are mined in the Northwest territories and are really good quality. The main area where all the artisans congregate in the city is Bonsecours Market, with its distinctive dome – well worth a visit!
If you like leather jewelry, you will find a good selection in the city with the brand ‘Philo’ being particularly popular.
8. Admire the province’s historical art
Canada has a rich history with some beautiful traditional crafts and art. La Guilde is a good place to visit as it has a gallery full of beautiful work and a well-stocked shop. Importantly, although the price tags are slightly higher, you know that you are buying an authentic piece of work and there are some eye-catching posters, gift cards and handicrafts available.
9. Catch some dreams
One of the traditional local handicrafts is the ‘dream catcher’. These were originally made by the indigenous Ojibwe people who still live in the province. The ‘dream catchers’ are gossamer fine webs that are stretched across a hoop made from willow and decorated with feathers and colored beads that have different meanings. A dream catcher should be suspended above a child’s bed to protect the child, as it will catch any bad dreams in its web and only allow happy thoughts and good dreams to slip through – ensuring a good night’s sleep for the child.
10. Pop a Celine Dion souvenir in your case
If you love playing songs by Celine Dion, you have come to the right city! Shop windows are full of Celine products as she was born in the Montreal suburb of Charlemagne. There is everything imaginable to choose from including hats, tee-shirts, books, posters and of course, plenty of her music!