There’s a reason the Montreal Eaton Centre is the sixth most visited place in the city. Not only does it boast the largest food court in North America, it’s also the biggest mall downtown, in a city celebrated for its network of malls joined by the underground city. But it provides travelers with much more than retail therapy.
Nestled between the hopping shopping strip of Sainte-Catherine Street and McGill College Avenue (or on the Montreal metro’s green line, at McGill station – check out the great family deal here), the Montreal Eaton Centre is a one stop-shop for visiting families. With its 175 boutiques, restaurants and more, it’s got everything from a tween’s dream (Garage, Pink, Spring) to mom’s musts (Levis, Gap, Benetton) – but even more interesting is how it’s a gateway to downtown culture in general.
Each year, the centre is involved in festive, artistic and cultural events galore. They’re known for installing striking art works in the central space under the beautiful glass atrium, and their holiday decorations are always in grand style. They collaborate closely with the Montreal Fashion and Design Festival which showcases the work of designers from near and far.
It’s in that same spirit that the centre launched District Montréal, an innovative tool created to help visitors make the most of their downtown experience. Available in print form or as an iPhone application, it’s an initiative that provides information not only on downtown’s main attractions, but also on public art, urban gardens, and other lesser known city jewels. The app invites you and the family to really get to know the city’s secrets: you can follow a detailed map of Montreal’s underground network (of which the Eaton Centre is a centerpiece), admire unique creations on the art network, explore one or many of the downtown gardens or even discover Montrealers’ favourite spots thanks to insightful audio walks.
“The centre sees, on a daily basis, the styles, cultures and ideas that make up Montreal’s urban beat, and that bring about cultural, artistic and social initiatives like urban exhibits and installations,” says the Eaton Centre’s Pamela Bakalian. “District Montreal relays the initiatives that celebrate the liveliness, creativity and vitality that make Montréal such a fascinating city.’’
The Montreal Eaton Centre, 705 Sainte-Catherine Street West, (514) 288-3708.
Isa Tousignant is contributing editor for Canadian Art, Montreal correspondent for Akimbo, and a freelance writer on art, culture, travel, design and shoes for everyone from enRoute to Canadian Business to herself.