Montreal’s Golden Mile was where the wealthy families of the city once lived about a century ago. Large mansions, with coach houses for horses and staff, lined stately Sherbrooke Street, from Guy almost to University Street. Sadly, many of these architectural marvels no longer exist, lost to the inevitable march of progress. However, today Sherbrooke Street is home to some of the best shopping in Montreal.Couture fashion labels- Gucci, Hermès, Dior, Escada – share space with prestigious antique dealers and art galleries, where you can buy a Picasso, work from the Group of Seven, a cutting edge piece sure to grow in value, or works from local artist / photographer Amel Chamandy at her gallery.
Starting at Guy Street, you cannot miss BICE, one of the star-studded restos in town. Apart from the people gazing and the food – you just leave your car at the door for the valet! And in the summer, their outdoor terrace rivals any South Beach décor. (PS It is covered, so love those rain drops!) Antique hunting is a pleasure on this block, with the best of the best. Le Petit Musée celebrates over 100 years of success: three generations offer knowledge and unique pieces, sought after by collectors all over the world. After all that antiquing (just call FedEx for delivery!) stop for a lovely French pastry at Première Moisson Boulangerie in the same block. You may spot a star by the way, as this seemingly quiet spot for one of the best café au lait in town attracts celebrities whenever they are in town. Good news? If you are an early riser, it is worth the walk over as this top-of-the-line French bakery opens at 7 am. Just across the street is a marvelous gallery carrying Japanese art, lamps et al.
The next block starts with an outstanding gallery offering contemporary Canadian glass art. Nearby is Casa del Habano, your one-stop for the discerning cigar lover, with a vast selection. Right next door, run in and be pampered. The Spa Dr. Hauschka is a lovely place to buy natural products. The trendy boutique Les Créateurs celebrates a long history of bringing cutting-edge collections to Montreal fashionistas, who rush in each season, be it for Ann Demeulmeester , Yamamoto, Rick Owens or Guilty Brothers. In the same area, you will find the best book store in the city: Librissime, which has the most beautiful books. As you stroll eastward, you will come across the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The entrance is on the south side of the street, but the museum houses its exhibits in two buildings – soon to be three, as it has taken over the church kitty-corner to the main building. A Jim Dine heart sits romantically outside the older building: photo-op time! When you reach Stanley Street, you will notice a beautiful corporate building.
It is the headquarters for RioTinto Alcan and was once known as the Alcan Building, housed in a century-old façade, brought beautifully into the 21st century. Then you can really rest – at the Sofitel, a soaring glass building on the north side of Sherbrooke. Inimitable French service welcomes you, as the staff sweeps away your car, leaving you to enjoy a sip of something sumptuous at the hotel’s Renoir restaurant. Or, you can stay across the street at the Cantlie House, which offers apartment suites with kitchens, allowing you to make your own meals (and work in your pyjamas!) The Golden ‘square mile’ continues, right along the broad Sherbrooke Street to McGill College, now adorned with holiday sparkle. If you look down, you can see Montreal’s famed glistening Christmas tree at Place Ville Marie. A fairy-like fitting ending to a wonderful walk. You can take Bus # 24, which travels in both directions on Sherbrooke Street, or you can simply wander – and discover – Montreal’s the Golden Mile..
If you take the Métro, the Guy stop will bring you to Guy Street to start your walk, or ‘Peel’ stop if you want to start at the University end of the walk.