06 Jul 2022
Last updated: July 6, 2022
A long, long time ago, over 210 years, an intimate passage that we know so well today as Saint-Amable Street was then called Viger Alley, a modest walkway built on Périne Viger’s property. Ms. Viger was born into a renowned family of politicians. Her father, Denis, and her younger brother, Denis-Benjamin, were both members of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada. Her cousin, Jacques, was elected Montréal’s first mayor in 1833.
We do not know the exact date on which Viger Alley became Saint-Amable Street, but we do know that in 1842, it was put on the map as one of Montreal’s 200 or so streets. It is highly probable that it was named after Marie-Amable Foretier, whom Denis-Benjamin married. He lived close by, and had inherited the land in question.
At the time, Saint-Amable Street connected Saint-Vincent Street and the Marché-Neuf Square, known today as Jacques-Cartier Square. There blossomed a group of covered markets featuring many different stands selling a variety of market produce to a host of clients and passersby.
Saint-Amable is a truly charming, barely 5-metre wide, cobblestone path illuminated by a handful of turn-of-the-century-style streetlights. At the time, Montrealers affectuously named it “Artists’ Alley”, as it was a nexus for painters and artisans, who have now set up shop in the lower part of the Jacques-Cartier Square.
Going out for a stroll in Old Montreal is a great opportunity to not only discover the district’s unique heritage, but also to shop for authentic, one-of-a-kind items, designed and made by local artists.
La Cour des Arts de Montréal is an exceptionally lovely open-air boutique, located in the back of a house dating all the way back to 1811. To get into the boutique, you have to go under an old-fashioned coach gate, and walk through a lovely garden with two smaller courtyards, underneath a canopy of maple branches and surrounded by stone walls covered with English ivy.
Artisans from across Quebec gather here to showcase their work: jewels, clothing, recycled glass, paintings, pictures, cotton serigraphs, gift items and visual art.
Mon Shack au Québec, located on 161 Saint-Paul Street East, is a partner boutique of la Cours that operates year-round, providing an excellent winter alternative when la Cours is closed. The store owner, Caroline Prévost, also runs la Cour des Arts, being a goldwork artisan and passionate about Quebec local products herself.
Mon Shack au Québec is open all year round, showcasing local artwork that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Le Perché is an urban oasis located on the fourth floor of the William Gray Hotel. This terrace provides you with a magnificent view of the Jacques Cartier Square. Their Californian-style menu is healthy, fresh and colourful.
El Pequeño is Quebec’s smallest bar, with a maximum capacity of 9 people!
With its authentic decor, large, street-level windows, and carefully concocted Cuban cocktails, El Pequeño boasts the best rum & Coke in town and serves up authentic Cuban sandwiches made with pork roasted to perfection. It is regularly awarded in national and international contests, this is a place you don’t want to miss!
This small brand well-known from a group of eco-conscious Montreal fashionistas finally has premises here! Cards, hair accessories, candles, sweatshirts, and of course the iconic branded swimsuits - you can find it all here! Whether you’re looking for a gift to give or something for yourself, this is a great address to keep in your back pocket. And so you know, you can try on the clothing and bathing suits in store.
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