Things to Do
Musée des Beaux Arts — Montréal’s fine art museum regularly mounts stunning and unexpected exhibits (Thierry Mugler, Robert LePage, Tamara de Lempicka, and many more have all had retrospectives here.)
Old Montréal and Old Port — The handsome buildings and cobblestoned streets here date back to the 17th century; shopfronts are now filled with cute shops and cafés. ☞ Look out for Habitat 67, Moishe Safdie’s iconic, boxy, brutalist apartment building facing the Old Port.
Fondation PHI — Cool, non-profit arts foundation in Old Montréal. Very forward-looking curatorial pov. One I always look up.
Musée d’Art Contemporain — Canada’s first contemporary art museum regularly hosts cutting-edge installations from artists that have yet to become household names in the U.S.
Cinéma Moderne — Intimate art house cinema with a great café and cocktail bar.
Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal — Notre Dame may be the city’s better-known church but this monumental oratory on the north flanks of Mount Royal is a religious experience like no other in Canada. It’s a pilgrimage site for over 2 million people a year, thanks to the ‘healing powers’ of its founder, Saint Brother André.
Shops & MarketsMarché Jean Talon — One of the largest markets in Canada has sat at the top of Little Italy since 1933 and is jammed with ravishing food stalls selling the best of Québec terroir. Taste and graze your way through them all.
Marché Atwater — This lovely indoor market occupies a refurbed Art Deco train station; I go here to scout cheeses from local purveyors. ☞ You can also bike here from Old Montréal along the historic Lachine Canal.
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly — Gem of a neighborhood bookstore specializing in comics and graphic novels. Strong fiction and non-fiction selection, too.
Simons — Fab Québécois department store, with a very well-priced house label. I regularly re-stock my wardrobe here on return visits.
Holt Renfrew — The Bergdorfs of Canada, now in a renovated historic building downtown.
Local designers & thrift shops — Montréal has terrific indie labels and vintage shops, many of them located in the Plateau & Mile End neighborhoods, including: Unicorn, General 54, Citizen Vintage.