Whether you’re hunting for vintage gems, tomes by beloved local authors or top-of-the-line duds, this town is chock full of places where you can browse, sample and shop. As a true-blue foodie town, there are also plenty of appetizing purchases to be made, and shoppers of all stripes will find a Montreal memento to suit their fancy.
One of the largest open-air markets in North America, Marché Jean-Talon is a culinary paradise at the edge of the Villeray neighborhood that shouldn’t be missed. Year-round stores include the gigantic cheese store Fromagerie Hamel, Boucherie du Marché for all your meaty needs and Marché des Saveurs where you can get your hands on Quebecoise beer, maple candy and preserves from across the province. In the warmer months, the center space between all the indoor shops is packed with produce sellers, so you can taste tomatoes, strawberries and cucumbers as you go, bellying up to the oyster counter for a slurp or two before moving on.
Saint Laurent Boulevard in the Mile End
Over the last decade, this busy stretch of street in the trendy Mile End neighborhood has become lined with shops by Quebec designers, high-end consignment stores, home decor boutiques and the best vintage shops around. Check out Boutique Unicorn for delicate jewelry or feminine pieces by local seamstress Eve Gravel, then hop over to Citizen Vintage for used items that have been altered to fit current styles. If you’re inspired to send a letter home, get cute stationery at Boucle & Papier or pop into Lowell for well-made hand-made leather backpacks and purses that you’ll be toting around forever.
Fans of hunting for vintage clothes should put Eva B on their list and block off a chunk of time because this treasure trove isn’t an in-and-out kind of experience. The shop in the Centre Sud area is a three-story second-hand paradise split up by style and era, that also doubles as a cafe and all-around hang out. Wander up the creaky wooden stairs to find racks of clothes from the 60s and 70s, followed by a room dedicated to leather goods and cowboy boots next to a seating area where 20-somethings snack on sandwiches and cookies between stints in the changing room.
A go-to in the southwest neighbourhood of Saint-Henri, Marché Atwater is a market hall that’s perfect for a lunchtime pitstop. Breathe in deep to enjoy the flowers for sale by the eastern entrance, then roam around the shops loaded with fresh herbs, spiced nuts and fine chocolates. Stop at Les Douceurs du Marché for top-quality olive oils and a huge selection of bitters that will up your old-fashioned game. If all the tasty goods are making you hungry, head to the food stall section for local favorites such as Singaporean and Malaysian dishes at Satay Brothers. If sweet is more your thing, pair a maple caramel ice-cream cone from Havre aux Glaces with a stroll along the nearby Lachine Canal.
If you have paper-related needs, Nota Bene is a noteworthy destination on Parc Avenue in the southern plateau, close to McGill University. The two-level emporium has all your stationery needs covered, with plenty of beautiful stationery and, when feeling especially old school, refillable pens so you can send your sweetheart a real letter. Those looking for a keepsake or who don’t want to miss a beat can keep track in notebooks of all sizes, from big ones for sketching by Pappersbruk to Rhodia Bloc versions slim enough to slip into a back pocket.
Filled with both new and vintage finds, Ex-Voto in Little Italy has the best of both worlds, and then some. Second-hand jeans and tees share the space with fun pieces by local makers, so if a cat sweatshirt that says Féline Dion is your idea of the perfect souvenir, you’re in luck. You’ll also find cute touches for your home, including antique-style botanical posters, tiny succulents and pyramid-shaped candles. Resin statement jewelry lines the counter next to the cash register, while $20 shades are to the left and funky socks are at the back, so there’s everything in store for you to put together a perfect Montreal outfit.
This Rosemont shop is riding the zero-waste wave and bringing shoppers stylish, durable and eco-friendly items that will stay fun and functional for years to come. DDD owner Luce Mainguy has a background in design and hand-picks everything that ends up on the shelves of her bright shop decorated with plenty of plants. If you want a greener travel strategy, the store has all the collapsible coffee mugs, water bottles and travel cutlery you’ll need to do so. If you’re looking for a little something to brighten up your home, locally made wooden furniture and tea towels are also up for grabs.
For high-end fashion fans, this Old Montreal boutique is a mecca full of designer names and sleek style, both on and off the racks, as the hyper-modern space is full of concrete and stainless steel. Come to Ssense for big-label names such as Valentino and Versace, as well as edgy sneakers and jumpsuits from Korean house Juun.J and Tiger of Sweden’s fashion-forward denim. To get the full swank package, head up to the complex’s fifth floor and take a seat at Ssense Café for perfectly executed French dishes by the local chef duo behind high-end restaurant Le Fantôme, then stop in at the art exhibition space and library.
Kitsch à L’Os
If you find yourself in the east end of the city wandering around the botanical gardens or Olympic stadium, take the time to check out Kitsch à L’Os and uncover pieces of Quebec from decades past. If you have a soft spot for all things kitsch, this shop in the Hochelaga borough will make your heart sing with its endless-seeming collection of antique finds, such as metal lunchboxes, decades-old sports pins, Pyrex ovenware and cosmetics canisters. They also have a bunch of fun and colorful new items for everyday living, including canvas totes, loose-leaf tea and beautiful candles in apothecary bottles.
Drawn & Quarterly
Bookworms won’t want to miss out on this literature-filled shop on Bernard Avenue that sells beautiful editions of books from across genres, with a strong specialty in graphic novels. Lovers of the genre will be thrilled by the selection of local works, some of which are printed by the house Drawn & Quarterly Press. The friendly staff are happy to make recommendations from their selection of current fiction and non-fiction or, if you’re lucky, you’ll be in town for one of their author events hosted in their expanded location half a block away. During the daytime, this second store is devoted entirely to kids’ lit, with welcoming corners for tots to find their new favorite story.
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