Montreal Culture Tour: Little Burgundy

Posted on August 24th, 2009 by .

Montreal’s working class district of Little Burgundy is transforming itself into a new trendy neighbourhood, while never forgetting its past or denying its roots. Follow me on a tour of this old part of the city that has found the way to fight back recessions and crises.
The working class district Little Burgundy is transforming itself into a new trendy neighbourhood, while never forgetting its past or denying its roots. Back during prohibition, the area is where Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones first practiced their first jazz notes, and more recently it’s where the London-based and independent record label NINJA TUNE opened its North American office. It’s located southwest from downtown area, and you can access it by walking or biking on Notre-Dame Street from Old Montreal, getting off at the Lionel-Groulx metro station, or taking bus 36.

Today, the neighbourhood is filled with jazz-influenced spots and experimental galleries. Here are some notable places worth visiting:

JOE BEEF is an English gastro pub where you can find exquisite things, mostly seafood and steaks, such as the amazing lobster spaghetti. Joe Beef literally transformed the neighbourhood and reminded us of its history and culture.

Since then, a few other British-inspired institutions have flourished on Notre-Dame Street, like LIVERPOOL HOUSE, from the same owners, which became an absolute must for all wine lovers, where you can also enjoy perfect French bistro cooking.

Right in front, the BURGUNDY LION instantly became a favourite Friday nightspot for drinks and cocktails, or to simply order a pint of blond beer.

There are over 20 antique shops on Notre-Dame Street between Atwater and Guy, like Aux trouvailles, where you can find all sorts of necessary and unnecessary objects, ranging from colourful clocks inspired by the 60’s to Louis XVI-style cupboards.

A few steps away, a lot of great joints for breakfast and brunch also reopened, as well as wacky, alternative shops such as SURFACE JALOUSE, a boutique offering “graphic tattoos” to fill up your walls or furniture.

There’s also another really cool thing about the area: the old vintage stores, the antique shops and other crazy venues selling cheap art have gathered attention from the hipster scene. They’re not closing, since they’ve been there forever, and didn’t seem to change in the past twenty something years: instead, we’ve realized that their contribution to the city is essential. You will find amazing stuff here at unbeatable prices. Little Burgundy has been profoundly shocked by so many departures, so many recessions and crises, that the current one might have given the neighbourhood and its people the energy to bring the district back to life.

It’s funny in Montreal how you can transform a neighbourhood, and, by transforming it, also discover that what it originally had is actually quite impressive. I think it says a lot about the city I live in. We don’t pretend to be something we’re not, and do not want to be. We don’t like deceiving appearances; we prefer what’s authentic, whether it’s beautiful or ugly. Ultimately, I think that’s exactly what I love about this part of Montreal: its honesty.

What makes a city unique? What should be the first quality of a city? Share your thoughts with me, I’d be very curious to read your answers.

More articles

Let's experience Montréal

→ Select your interests
→ Live your Montréal moments
→ Get inspired for you next stay

Try the experience