If you stroll along Saint-Paul Street, it’s not hard to see why many dub the city of Montreal the “Paris of the North.” The narrow cobblestone streets, Old World architecture, French signs and – mais oui! – the fantastic shopping, are all reminiscent of the fabled City of Light…
St-Paul is the oldest street in the city, named after its founder, one Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve who had a home here in the 17th century. These days, St-Paul Street is filled with contemporary boutiques, charming boutique hotels, rustic chic restaurants, as well as lively bars and cafés.
Let’s start on the eastern side of the spectrum at Marché Bonsecours, where inside you’ll find Boutique des metiers d’arts Quebecois (350 St-Paul East, #400), a hub for local artisans and artists, such as jewellers, glass blowers and apparel designers. More great pieces of art can also be found at L’impreinte Coopératif (272 St-Paul East).
Walk westward and step into Delano Design (70 St-Paul West), a goldmine for local fashion designers, accessories and fine art. A few blocks further is Ssense (90 St-Paul West), which is the physical store for one of the country’s biggest (and most stylish) on-line retailers, carrying heavyweight, international labels. If Italy is more your go-to country for clothes, shoes and sunglasses, get your fill of all things Italian at Lola et les Autres (165 St-Paul West) with Armani, Gucci, Missoni, Prada, Cavalli and D&G. Opening soon on the other side of the street is the boutique for local enfant terrible Denis Gagnon (170 St-Paul West), whose avant-garde style garnered him an exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art last October. I should add that Gagnon’s slot is sandwiched between Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Paul Gaultier; it closes February 13.
Gagnon fans will also feel right at home at Reborn (231 St-Paul West, Suite 100). The multi-brand store is curated by style-maven Brigitte Chartrand who favours labels such as Rick Owens and local legend Rad Hourani. More hot designers are waiting at Espace Pepin (350 St-Paul West), a gallery-boutique owned by painter Lysanne Pepin. Speaking of fine art, why not pick up some Inuit selections at Galerie Elca London (224 St-Paul West). If décor is more your priority, À Table Tout Le Monde (361 St-Paul West) carries high-end tableware. And male shoppers can get their dandy vibe on by checking out Michel Brisson (384 St-Paul West).
To refuel, there are several great eateries on St-Paul Street. Try the Cuban sandwich at Olive et Gourmando, classic local fare at Montreal Poutine or simply get a sugar fix at Les Délices de l’Érable. When it’s time to rest your shop-weary body, two fabulous boutique hotels also on St-Paul Street are Nelligan and Le Petit Hotel. In the evening, a new happening little wine bar and resto called Bocata recently opened up next to hip hotspot Barroco. Both of them are great places to show off your newest fashion scores and drink in the joys of Old Montreal.