Seeing that I’m writing a book about hedonism in Montreal, my girlfriend in New York was convinced that my “cute little French city” would be the perfect place for her up-coming bachelorette party—and that I was the ideal person to send her a list of ideas. Of course, I had to agree, on both accounts (and add that Montreal is also a very safe city). But, I made her promise—in exchange for a girly-girl, good times itinerary—that there would be no matching pink t-shirts or plastic tiaras involved. Thank god, she agreed. Here goes…
First off. Bachelorettes need their energy. And there’s no better way to start the day than to enjoy a chichi breakfast at Leméac (1045 Laurier West, Outremont, 514-270-0999,). Located just next to Mile End, this classic Parisian bistro in a posh neck of the woods gives Gallic expats a boost when they’re feeling a bit homesick. Start the day off with celebratory mimosas, chocolate and banana French toast (we say, pain doré), potato tartelettes with bacon and emmenthal cheese, and poached eggs with smoked salmon and caviar. They also serve these hot sugar doughnuts and mochaccinos with Valrhona chocolate. The French don’t really have brunch (it’s more of a North American tradition), but if they did, this is what they would eat.
Nearby: In case your bride-to-be is itching to be a mommy, stroll on over to Bouton Jaune (240 Laurier West, 514-526-3400) for the sweetest, prettiest nursery bedding and accessories.
Any girls’ getaway should include a minimum one day of retail therapy. Ladies into luxe labels should cab it directly to Holt Renfrew (1300 Sherbrooke West, 514-842-5111), which is Canada’s version of Barney’s. A luminescent beauty department offers a goldmine of testers and mini-makeovers. Once you’re all dolled up, you can mosey on over to Chanel, Gucci, Prada, or any of the multi-brand wings. Any lulls in energy can be bolstered at the downstairs café.
A little more Old School but no less worthy is La Maison Ogilvy (1307 Sainte-Catherine West, 514-842-7711) or known simply as Ogilvy’s. Insiders beeline here for Canadian exclusives like Kate Moss for Longchamp’s chic little purses or Aquascutum trench coats from London.
On a nice day, Sainte-Catherine Street West is the main drag for outdoor shopping. You’ll find all the hip boutiques here like Aldo, H&M, BCBG, Zara, Mango and La Vie en Rose (think Victoria’s Secret). On cold or wet days, dip into the Underground City, which houses four shopping malls—Les Promenades de la Cathédrale, Le Centre Eaton, Place Montréal Trust and Les Cours Mont-Royal—in other words, hundreds of shops!
What’s a bachelorette party without a little kinky thrown in? Alternative Fitness (1000 Amherst, 103, 514-445-5252) in the Gay Village offers special private pole-dancing classes where at the end of 90 minutes, you’ll go home with some new moves and a flirty little routine under your belt—or garter, ahem.
MANI AND PEDI
Nothing says girl bonding like a group mani and pedi. At Rouge Nail Bar (locations on Crescent, Downtown; Fairmont in the Mile End; and Saint-Laurent in the Plateau) there are white leather couches and Carrie Bradshaw marathons on a flat screen while you get your toes and fingertips done. One technician actually did the nails of Ms. Parker herself. So you’ll only be one degree of separation with SJP fabulousness. Private parties can be organized for a minimum of six people.
Alternatively, for a more Zen experience, I suggest Spa Eastman (666 Sherbrooke West, 514-845-8455). A contemporary oasis secretly tucked on the 16th floor of a nondescript downtown office building, you can enjoy group nail grooming whilst overlooking the Mont Royal mountain—and maybe bumping into a few local celebs that like the down low locale. While you’re there, add in a few facials and why not treat the bride to some extra TLC and book her a massage with Keo. Any pre-wedding kinks can be worked out with her miraculous cocktail of shiatsu, reflexology and Swedish techniques.
DRINKS + DINNER
Pullman Bar (3424 Parc, 514-288-7779) is always a chic, central spot to start the evening, thanks to a sophisticated wine list and gourmet bites, like the foie gras “cookies.”
For dinner, I’d recommend supperclub Garde Manger (408 Saint François Xavier, 514-678-5044) just steps away from Saint-Paul Street in the Old Montreal. You may recognize cutie chef Chuck Hughes in the kitchen from his Food Network show Chuck’s Day Off. Yes, the lobster poutine is all that. Also, this is where the beautiful crowd goes, and the music can get loud, so best look good since nobody will hear how charming you are. I promise you, before the last dish is cleared away, there will be dancing.
DANCING + ENTERTAINMENT
Le 281 (94 Sainte-Catherine East), called a “cabaret érotique”, is a popular spot for bachelorettes—especially those wanting to have fun at the expense of their bride-to-be bestie—where Chippendales-esque dancers flaunt their wares on stage.
For more shameless and carefree I-don’t-care-who’s-looking nights, the Saint-Laurent strip is always busy. Rouge (7 Prince Arthur West, 514-282-9944) offers a traditional nightclub ambience with a spacious, flashing-lights dance floor, retro 80s and 90s tunes on first floor, and dance and top 40 upstairs.
If after 3 a.m., you’re still in party mode, there are two afterhours nightclubs in Montreal, Stereo (858 Sainte-Catherine East, 514-658-2646) and Circus (917 Sainte-Catherine East, 514-844-3626) play more house, trance, electro, and techno. Both of them are in the gay village: So that’s always fun, putting your Dirty Dancing moves on cute men who will never ask for your number.
K Karaoke (2110 Crescent, 514-903-7799) offers private Tokyo-style cabins (you remember Lost in Translation, don’t you?). Call ahead and ask for the big room with bay window over looking Crescent Street. The song list has hundreds, if not thousands, of songs for you to belt out your inner Céline Dion, Beyoncé, Karen Carpenter, etc. You go, girls.