When coming to Montreal, lots of tourists come downtown, on Ste-Catherine street and around, to shop. Don't worry, it's not a tourist trap as all Montrealers alike or almost, do a lot of their shoping here, as well. This is where you'll find what has been called the 'underground city'. I've always found it to be a strange appellation, since it does not have everything that a city includes...but I guess that it hits the imagination of people. Nonetheless, it's very practical to have around, as we are stuck in snow, a good many months of the year, and helps us to go around much faster and effectively. To find it, just go down in any shoping center of the said street , and you will automatically be within it, as they all interconnect as well as interconnecting with the metro stations that serves them. But to see tourists coming here with a guide, always feels a bit surrealistically strange to me. But I guess that it's because I'm used to it, and perhaps it might be innovative for people from overseas...But what many will find innovative is the fact that everyone crosses the street regardless of the colour of trafic lights, that's how we separate Montrealers from tourists.
What to buy: Anyhow, you'll find lots to buy, and you can look for the best deals all you like, since there are so many stores around. There are plenty of restaurants as well, inside the shoping centers, usually the lowest level, and on the street itself.
Stores are open every day. From around 9-10 am to 6-9 pm on week days. And 9-10 am to 5 pm on weekends.
The Square-Dominion building on the picture, is where the Montreal's tourist office (Infotouriste Centre) is located at 1001 Square-Dorchester Street (corner Peel and Ste-Catherine Streets), Peel Metro.
If you prefer to make your own meals, or if you just want to save some money on food, there are a handful of supermarkets in and around the downtown area:
ALIMENTATION POIVRE ET SEL
865 Sainte-Catherine St. East, one street east of Saint-Hubert St. (5 minutes on foot from Berri-UQAM metro)
1500 Atwater St., inside the Place Alexis-Nihon shopping mall between Sainte-Catherine St. and De Maisonneuve Blvd. (accessible by underground tunnel directly from Atwater metro, just follow the signs to Place Alexis-Nihon)
5 Place Desjardins, inside the Complexe Desjardins building bordered by Sainte-Catherine St., Jeanne-Mance St., René-Lévesque Blvd. and Saint-Urbain St. (accessible by underground tunnel directly from Place-des-Arts metro, just follow the signs to Complexe Desjardins)
3421 Park Ave. (Avenue du Parc), at the corner of Sherbrooke St. (5 minutes on foot from Place-des-Arts metro)
1953 Sainte-Catherine St. West, at the corner of Fort St. (5 minutes on foot from Guy-Concordia metro)
1420 Fort St., between Sainte-Catherine St. and De Maisonneuve Blvd. (5 minutes on foot from Guy-Concordia metro)
No trip for me is complete without some shopping. We discovered the Underground shopping area in downtown Montreal and I was blown away by it. Twenty-two miles of walkways with hundreds of stores are nestled under the city. Many major buildings and Metro stations are connected to it so you can spend a whole day wandering around without every having to go outside.
It's not a claustophobic as you would think. Many areas have sky lights to let the sun in. You could got lost in here but there are maps and I suggest getting one before you start out. Our hotel was connected to it and for a few hours at least we walked around in a nice, climate-controlled city within a city.
Go to the Promenade de la Catherdral which is underground at Metro McGill. It's a big underground mall and has a lot of cool stuff in it. Or did. Or can. Hum. Check it out. It's connected to the underground, so worst case you can just scoot off underground to the next place.
What to buy: 14 hams
What to pay: 14 hams!
St. Catherine's street is the place to go to shop, with lots of boutiques and unique clothing stores not found in the States, it is definitely my number one choice for clothes & shoe shopping. Also on St. Catherine's street is Eaton's Center, which is a huge shopping mall complete with everything. The cool thing about St. Catherine's is although it is lined with shops, the streets parallel to it are lined with cafe's and bars that are constantly buzzing (outdoor in the summer time and indoor otherwise).
What to buy: Buy Everything! it's the best city to do some hardcore shopping, prices a lower than the States and Europe and the variety is much bigger.
In an elegant surrounding, Place Montréal Trust offers five floors of stores and services, where the fashion offer changes constantly. You will find there stores like Zara, Mexx, Winners, Indigo bookstore, La Vie en Rose et Cie and Omer DeSerres opening its doors in April 2006.
What to buy: Clothes, books, shoes, cd's, dvd's, electronic equipment, lingerie and so much more.
What to pay: Very affordable. You can find good deals here.
What a surprise to take the metro and to discover that down there there's a parallel world of corridors, bars, restaurants and shops, all of it well connected. It doesn't metter whether you want to check out some of the luxurious depratment stores or just want to grab a cup of coffee or to have dinner with your friends in one of the ethnical restaurants. It's an excellent way to avoid freezing winter days and to do something fun.
What to buy: You can buy everything, the choice is excellent and there's something for every pocket.
The name Archambault comes from Edmond Archambault, the first co-owner of this institution in Montreal since 1886. At the beggining, Archambault was known for selling mostly sheet music, instruments and accessories. Today, besides that, they sells also cd's, dvd's, books and more.
What to buy: A very large selection of Quebec singers and groups, world beat music, jazz and classical music. And of course mainstream music from the States and England.
They also have a large selection of french books, dvd's from Quebec movies and tv series, and of course mainstream movies from the States and all over the world.
What to pay: Between 12.99$ to 19.99$ for cd's
Between 16.99$ to 34.99$ for dvd's
In december, the cold enter the town but there is also the magic of Christmas. All the main streets (Ste-Catherine, St-Laurent, St-Denis, Mont-Royal and St-Hubert) are decorated with lights and rubans. Many of those streets also have christmas carols singers with costumes and candy for the little ones.
Shopping at this time of the year is cool !
From Papineau's to Atwater's metro stations, there is Ste-Catherine's street.
This commercial streets own an old The Bay (kind of a Macy's) and Eaton center but mostly all kind of commercial shops (La Senza, Simmons, ...) as well of more underground ones (Labyrinth), cinemas, Gay village (beaudry metro station)...
Going on that street in the 50's was a trip! ... And still is in our days... ;)
MARS was just relocated to a basement. This place was loaded with secondhand records and comic books. I hope the owner can sort things out.
2009 Update: I looked in vain for the basement. My general feeling was that a number of second hand dealers moved from downtown to the suburbs into cheaper locations.
What to buy: Jazz records.
I find that going out to the suburbs and shopping where the locals do, can save money. A trip to "Place Versailles Mall" is worth it. Although it is a bit of a ride on the metro (they are speedy and trip is quick), you can sometimes save over buying downtown in one of the larger malls or department stores. There is even a movie theatre and small food court inside.
What to buy: Practically evrything can be found in this mall. They have a Zellers at one end.
What to pay: Prices usually much cheaper than you will find in the city centre.
The Underground city:
-29 km of corridor
-2 buses terminal
-5 subway station
-2000 shops (boutiques)
-40 cinemas room
-central train station
-154 access point to the undeground city.
What to buy: all you can imagine....
Children's clothes and toys and Specialty shops
Plateau Mont-Royal & Outremont
Excellent restaurants and funky shops
Start off at Place Ville Marie
St Paul Hotel and Olive café
Two Open air markets: Atwater and Jean-Talon
TOURISTS: Keep all your receipts, you are entitled to have your taxes reimbursed (forms available at the airport and in some stores).
What to buy: Buy your wine and beer at an SAQ store rather than a corner store (only a limited variety available at corner shops or depanneurs)
Shops are not allowed selling alcohol past 11pm
You have got to eat them straight away while they are hot. Find them at le Faubourg Ste Catherine and at St Viateur Bagels.
Place Ville Marie is not one shop but a huge complex of businesses including stores, restaurants, banks, theatres and more. It is part of Montreal's underground city which makes it possible to shop without braving the frigid temperatures of a Montreal winter. It is easily accessed from the Metro which makes it simple to find.
You could probably find everything you ever wanted in this maze of stores.
What to buy: I bought a lovely new winter coat during the after Christmas sales at a store named, appropriately, Laura.