July 4, 2011 — Downtown Montréal is full of kinetic adventure. You’ll find sex shops smacked up against churches, and kitschy souvenir stores snuggled next to multinational banks. This is your perfect neighborhood to stock up on the latest in designer fashions, and then grab lunch at an all you can eat stripper buffet. Montréal is delightfully classy and trashy, and your experiences should reflect this.
Start your day in sophistication at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Arguably Montréal’s finest art museum, it features a fantastic permanent collection (with works by Picasso, Monet, the Group of Seven, and more), as well as regularly featured installations. In the recent past, the museum has curated shows highlighting the artistry of Andy Warhol, Emily Carr, John Lennon, Yves Saint Laurent, and, of course, Jean-Paul Gaultier. Consult with the website to discover what gems will be presented while you are in town.
For a true local lunch, depart from the world of fine international art and into the world of classic greasy spoon diners. A few wonderful options are an easy walk from the Museum. You might want to bring your empty stomach to the Dominion Square Tavern, a reinvented throwback to the roaring twenties, for some English pub fare, or try the celebrated smoked meat at Dunn’s Famous, a Montréal institution since 1927. Be sure to ask for an extra large pickle.
Once you’ve got your stamina back, get prepared to slip into retail nirvana. La Maison Simons on Sainte-Catherine Street West is the destination for new fashionable threads. Whether you’re a starving student with only $10 to buy a new T-shirt or a homo high-roller with $400 to blow on a Marc Jacobs thong, Simons will not disappoint. They have a fun and fab (and affordable) assortment of unique socks and underwear–so don’t leave without cruising through the tightie-whitie isle. After your credit card is sufficiently warmed up, continue west along Sainte-Catherine Street. Make a stop at M0851 for a great selection of chic Montréal-made leather garments, bags, and accessories, or Ogilvy for its historic window displays and high-end suit collections.
Finish your downtown tour by getting high–head to the top of one of Montréal’s tallest skyscrapers for a 5 à 7 (Happy Hour). Perched atop Place Ville-Marie, Altitude 737 is a fantastic place to have a drink with phenomenal vistas of the city. Kick up your heels and think about tomorrow’s adventures. The Plateau Mont-Royal and the cobblestone streets of Old Montréal patiently await your discovery!