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GET DOLLED UP AT BLEU BLOW DRY AND ROUGE NAIL BAR

I’ve raved more than once about my favourite little beauty bars where I love to treat myself and get my nails done. Vanity is a curse; I know. So, when mini-Montreal chain Rouge Nail Bar opened up a “sister concept” – Bleu Blow Dry Bar – right next door to their Fairmount location, my first thought was, This is a match made in heaven. Or was it, Thank heaven!

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS IN MONTREAL

Though your uncle’s eggnog-fueled Bing Crosby impression has its place, one of the most magical parts of the holiday season can be found in the music that defines it. Here are some of highlights of Montreal’s Christmas Concert lineup…

GET DOWN AND SHOP IN THE UNDERGROUND CITY

My parents were born on a sunny island in the Pacific, so I like to believe that I’m genetically opposed to winter. Thank goodness then for Montreal’s Underground City, a massive web of tunnels that connects a major area of downtown office buildings, hotels, museums, banks, condominiums, great deals on smoked meat, shopping malls, metro stations, and even the Bell Centre.

SHOPPING AT MONTREAL MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS

Whether you are in town for a meeting or with your family, friends or loved one, you will find many great holiday gifts ideas at the boutiques of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. There are two shops: M Boutique offers more traditional fares, and Design Space offers the cleanly contemporary.

GREY CUP PARADE 2010: MONTREAL’S ALS WIN AGAIN

Montrealers came down to the streets to celebrate the Alouettes Grey Cup Victory, laset wednesday. The team spirit was high up despite the bad weather, as proven in this video. Go Alls Go !

MONTREAL IN THE MOVIES: BARNEY’S VERSION

Mordecai Richler, author of St. Urbain’s Horsemen and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, is probably Montreal’s most famous writer. When Barney’s Version, the film adaptation of his most famous and last novel, opens in theatres on December 24, the world will have a chance to revel in the life and locations of Barney Panofsky, Richler’s autobiographical anti-hero.

TEA FOR THREE AT BIRKS CAFÉ

Birks has been a Montreal institution for fine jewellery since 1894. Last September, the chichi store opened an equally chichi resto-boutique on the mezzanine level called Birks Café par Europea. Ladies who lunch can now “take tea,” as they say, overlooking a dazzling array of jewels and designer watches. I was happy to hear that heading this gastronomic endeavour was none other than Montreal top chef Jérôme Ferrer whom many locals know from his chain of restaurants, including the haute cuisine Europea, as well as Andiamo, Beaver Hall, and Espace Europea.

A SOOTHING STAY AT WESTIN HOTEL

What a good idea! Montreal’s Westin Hotel has a massive covered driveway – perfect for arriving in a bit of snow or rain. The area is totally closed in, so the hair, the gowns and the stilettos stay perfect. You are protected by a four-storey high roof and glass closed-in indoor-outdoor ‘room’. There, valets whisk your car away as you enter Montreal’s newest hotel.

STREET PROFILE: MONT-ROYAL AVENUE

2010 has been a busy year for the Montreal Street Profile series. We started with Bleury, Parc, Maisonneuve, Saint-Paul and Saint-Zotique. We visited Crescent, Greene Avenue, Sainte-Catherine and Saint-Denis. For our final installment of the year (hint: make sure to come back in 2011!), we thought a stroll down Mount-Royal was in order, in no small part because it offers some very “a la Montreal” shopping that is perfect for the holiday season… Given that it starts at Mount Royal, it’s not hard to figure out where Mount-Royal Avenue gets its name. Of all the streets we’ve profiled, this one has perhaps the most iconic landmarks of them all: you can look down from its mountainous starting point and see the Big O, where it ends. (Our exploration will a bit shorter than that.) It is a totally charming street, as “Montreal” as they come, especially in the summer when a large portion of it is blocked off from traffic. It boasts some of the city’s classic diners, some great restaurants and cool bars and, while Saint-Catherine may boast the big name stores, Mount-Royal boasts the cool independent shops that you won’t find anywhere else…

20 STUNNING PHOTOS OF MONTREAL

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then you’ve a whole delightful Montreal story ahead of you. We’ve scoured Flickr for some of the best shots of the city, wanting to highlight the various seasons, architecture and landscapes. Thanks to all the Flickr users who were willing to share their work with us! Enjoy! PS: If you’ve got a stunning Montreal image that you think should be included, leave a comment with the link to your photograph. We might just want to do a second round…