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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.

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…

MONTREAL’S HOT SPOTS FOR JEWELLERY SHOPPING

All that glitters is not gold, a smart gentleman named Shakespeare once said. And by that I’m sure he was referring to all the shimmering sterling silver, sparkly diamonds, and twinkling gemstones that the world has to offer—and, oh, let’s not forget beautiful pearls. Whenever I travel to new (or old) places, I like to buy local jewels or handmade trinkets to remind me of my trip. Then when people comment on the mini-ornaments hanging from my earlobes (likewise, around my neck, wrists, or fingers), I can say matter-of-factly, “These little things? Why, I found them in an adorable little shop in the South of France.” (I don’t really talk like that, but it’s never too late to start.) As such, when my out-of-town girlfriends come to Montreal, I like to steer them toward local boutiques, so they can peruse the baubles of our belle province for their own “souvenirs”—and so I can get my fill of retail therapy too.

MONTREAL THREADS FOR MEN: PLAIN JANE HOMME

Founded in Montreal in 2004, Plain Jane Homme is a men’s clothing collection. Miss Jane designs timeless pieces that are perfect for the jet-setting, hip man. The collection provides accessible dandyism for the athletic type, and low-maintenance classiness for the computer geek. With clean lines and timeless fabrics, such as these, there’s no excuse for not looking sharp. We chatted with Plain Jane Homme about the collection, the guys who wear the clothes and where in Montreal you should rock your duds!

THE NUTCRACKER MARKET

I was about nine years old when I saw my first ballet – The Nutcracker. What little girl doesn’t dance around in her PJs and dream of being Clara? (Although, personally, at that age I was more interested in leaping around in a tutu than hanging out with any Toy Soldier.) Thus began a love affair for classical dance that never really faded, even after a very discouraging Ballet For Adults class. Some things, I’ve discovered, you just have to start at a young – and pliable – age.

STREET PROFILE: RUE ST-DENIS

  We’d already worn our several pairs of virtual walking shoes by the time the Montreal Street Profile series hiked down Bleury, up Parc and across Maisonneuve. But, entertained by the sights, sounds, shops and smells, we hit Saint-Paul, Saint-Zotique, Crescent, Greene Avenue and went shopping on Sainte-Catherine. We decided we deserved a good time, so we headed next to Saint-Denis…

FORGET AMERICAN THANKSGIVING, ESCAPE TO MONTREAL FOR THE WEEKEND

Dear American friends, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. For many of you, this time of year represents festive meals and the opportunity to reflect on the blessings in one’s life. Yet for other folks, Thanksgiving is a tired and stress-inducing holiday where you’re forced to wear that god-awful chartreuse sweater that your half-blind aunt knit you while salivating over Don Johnson during a Miami Vice marathon. And let’s be honest, the embarrassment of smelling like Fixodent drool each holiday begins to erode one’s self-respect.

STREET PROFILE: GREENE AVENUE

The Montreal Street Profiles series, considered by some/me to be the greatest set of blog posts ever written, has been busy. It’s covered Bleury, Parc and Maisonneuve, but then it got tired so it took a quick nap on a nearby park bench. But then it got right back up and strolled down Saint-Paul, Saint-Zotique and Crescent. It then decided to head a little west to explore Greene Avenue, in the heart of Westmount… Though Westmount, home to most of Montreal’s wealthiest English residents, extends much further west and up towards the mountain, Greene Avenue is viewed by many as it “Main Street”. Running south from Sherbrooke down to Atwater, in a couple short blocks this upscale avenue, named in 1881 for the landowner G.A. Greene, manages to contain an incredible density of shops, restaurants and what is probably Montreal’s best English bookstore.

SHOW & SELL – BARILÀ POP-UP SHOP

Barila Fall/Winter 2010 Campaign from Le Genou de Claire on Vimeo. Ladies, start your engines. Montreal-based fashion label Barilà is opening a pop-up shop. For ten days starting Nov. 14, get your fill of edgy frocks at major discounts. I’ve seen this local brand’s rocking show at Montreal Fashion Week; now it’s time for you to see the collection up close – and bring it home. To kick off Day One of this temporary boutique, there will be a special grand opening event with cocktails and nibbles. Plus, designer Sabrina Barilà will also be in the house to mix and mingle. I caught up with this super-stylish lady to chitchat about her ideas, her pop-up shop, and, of course, her clothes.

THIS WEEKEND IN MONTREAL (NOVEMBER 12 to 14)

Oh Montreal, why can’t you just give me a weekend off? I keep thinking that one of these weekends there will be NOTHING to do, and I’ll be able to get caught up on sleep and pay my bills and floss my teeth and do stuff that people with spare time do. But alas, my dear Montreal, you keep presenting me with so many wonderful temptations. Here are ten fun things to keep you in trouble this weekend.