GET GLAMMED UP WITH THE GIRLS – OR GO SOLO
Sometimes all you need is an express mani or basic facial. Other times you need a slow, luxurious treatment to go with your girly gabfest. (Foot scrub, leg massage plus French pedicure, anyone?) Of course, it doesn’t hurt to add a cocktail or two in there. Either way you choose to glam-it-up, a string of beauty bars have recently opened in the downtown core. All of them also offer exclusive or hard-to-find product lines for sale; so why not throw in a little shopping while you’re there?
2020 rue Drummond
In the hopes of bringing a little bit of her homeland to our belle province, Faiza Meddeb opened the first Institut de beauté Carita on this side of the pond. Now devotees of the famous French beauty line can find all their favourite products under one roof. While the anti-aging properties of Diamant de Beauté have caused some skincare of hoopla, I personally like the Fluide de Beauté 14 Pailleté, a lemony-scented dry oil that has specs of gold, and can be used on your hair, body or face. (It makes tanned legs sparkle.) You’ll also find a circular hair salon; two manicure-tables next to large, bright windows; and four treatment rooms in the back for private body treatments. While you wait for your nails to dry (hair to set, etc.), you can peruse the in-store boutique that sells the lovely Mark + James line by Badgley Mischka, as well as jewellery by American Gerard Yosca or Di Donna, a sterling silver collection from Italy.
Nearby: Just across the street, m:bgr (pronounced mmm-burger, at 2025 rue Drummond) is a posh diner and fully-licensed bar that serves Kobe-beef burgers with foie gras, sweet potato fries, and Bailey’s mint chocolate “spiked shakes.” And if you’re in the mood for more French flair, Le Pois Penché, a street corner to the south, is a fun parisian-style bistro.
2125 rue Crescent
Matis is another North American flagship store that features haute qualité products from France, which are all beautifully displayed in the front part of the space. Owner Melissa Brassard was an estetician for 12 years before she opened Matis; she wanted to create a social place where women could hang out, enjoy a little TLC and not be shhh-ed. Thus, pedi-stations and mani-tables are strategically lined up in chit chat-friendly rows. (A closed section in the back is reserved for face and body treatments.) And in case you get thirsty, there’s a terribly chic juice bar that offers smoothies, as well as tea and coffee. If you’re short on time, I recommend the Express Counter where besides a speedy half-hour body massage, there are other rapid services like the clever Mani-shooters, which include nail grooming, massage and polish – all in 25 minutes. Add $5 and five minutes for the Pedi-shooter.
Nearby: Soupe Soup (2183 rue Crescent) sells, uh, soup – and sandwiches – from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2070B rue Crescent
The downtown franchise of this hip mani-pedi chain has all the main ingredients that have made Rouge so popular; that is, ample mani-stations, a U-shaped, white leather couch; a large central flat screen; and all the Sex & the City or Gossip Girl you can take. What makes this location different from her Mile End (65 avenue Fairmont ouest) or Plateau (3790 boulevard St-Laurent) sisters is it’s unique sunken living room feel – and of course walking distance to all things downtown. Beauty junkies should ask for treatments that use the sweet-smelling and ultra-moisturizing Barefoot Venus products (the vintage-inspired packaging is so darling, you’ll want to buy something to use at home). Do note that the line is not only for feet, but hands too. Another interesting detail: Rouge also carries Butter, a choice polish brand from London that has zero formaldehyde, toluene, or DBP. Good news, particularly for you pregnant gals.
Nearby: For the best hot cocoa on this side of the moon, La Pendulerie (2080 rue Crescent) expanded their wares from just clocks to include Swiss chocolates. Granted, it’s a cuckoo combo, but worth it, I promise.