Summer is finally here, the quarantine has been lifted, and we can finally come out and enjoy le Vieux (while still upholding distancing practices, of course). In this article, we have put together the ideal path through the neighbourhood to help you revive your Instagram and pump up your wardrobe. Here’s your perfect day of shopping and hitting up some of the most instagrammable corners of le Vieux!
Our trek begins at Cours Le Royer: a pretty courtyard breezeway with big manicured trees and recognizable building facades interspersed between old warehouse-stores constructed between 1861 and 1872, and converted into apartments and offices during the 1970’s. It’s a peaceful haven of stone and greenery, and a little passageway that we love walking through and photographing.
Gourmet Lunch Opportunity: Not two steps away, you will find Le Petit Dep on Saint-Sulpice, a café with general store vibes that will seduce you inside and out. Sit yourself at a table and gaze at the vintage furniture and décor, the peppy colours of yesteryear, and the beautiful ambiance that completes this café’s identity. It’s up to you what you want to eat (but we must say the cream cookies with rainbow sprinkles are delicious and so fit the aesthetic).
Now we’ll head down Saint Sulpice, taking our time to admire the Notre-Dame Basilica. Traverse the Place d’Armes, then take a right onto Saint-Jacques Street to see what new products Swell & Ginger has to offer. This sweet little shop sells impeccable collections that really highlight feminine strength and elegance each season.
Or maybe you’re more in the market for some leather accessories? Look just across the street! Lambert has become an eco-friendly fashion mainstay in Montreal, thanks to its vegan bags that we love for their versatility and which don’t compromise on style, and thanks to Mélissa Lambert’s workshop – a familiar sight among the storefronts of le Vieux.
As we continue west on Saint-Jacques Street – also known as Canada’s former Wall Street – you can’t miss the sublime face of Hotel Montréal. It is marked by the big, beautiful windows with orange shades and, of course, the very famous red “Love” sculpture by the American artist Robert Indiana that sits out in front of this impressive 150-year-old building.
Also on Saint-Jacques Street, you will come across the majestic Crew Café. The gilded, luminous spaces in the old Banque Royale du Canada building from 1926 will have you literally head over heels, especially when you can see the likes of Paul Walker, Seth Rogen, and Charlize Theron perform a feature here! You can’t say no to a coffee and a couple of photos in a movie theatre backdrop.
Continue on until you hit McGill Street and Harricana, which offers a selection that will surely get your heart racing. And for the guys, you’re going to want to drop by Michel Brisson‘s on Saint-Paul.
As you go on to the east, your taste buds will explode with flavours and your eyes with happiness: you will find yourself on the very discreet terrace of Hotel Nelligan, sitting at the same level as the basilica and the roofs around you. You can contemplate several styles of architecture from here: from the modern glass façade of the National Bank to the Art Deco side of the Aldred building, with its Empire State Building stylings, and you can even cast your eyes out over the river just opposite.
Striding further down Saint-Paul, you will find a humble alleyway between Le Magasin Général du Vieux-Montréal – a choice stop for great accessories or seasonal jewelry – and Galerie LeRoyer. This street, Saint-Dizier Road, is as beautiful in summer as it is in winter. Straight and no-nonsense, it is a perfect transition between Old Montreal and its neighbour Old Port.
At the end of this perfectly scenic little road, our itinerary brings you directly to La Grande Roue. Grab a photo on the bridge spanning Bonsecours Basin.
A few minutes’ walk will take you to Smoothie & Limonade for a sweet break in front of this unmissable 60’s-style food stand! Like a food truck, you can pick what you want and take it with you on the go.
For a different perspective, try going to Jacques-Cartier Quay and embarking on a voyage on Le Petit Navire to experience a wonderful ride down the Saint-Laurent river. Once on board, bring out your camera and take pictures of a whole new side of le Vieux! You can have fun and get some souvenirs to boot!
As the day lengthens, it is time to return to Place Jacques-Cartier. Don’t forget to make use of the hand sanitizer stations while you move around; there are more than twenty kiosks across the area in all. Once you find your way there, the pretty storefront of Bonjour Montréal will draw you in, and you will find great accessories like their headbands by Gibou or their t-shirts.
Then across the street, don’t miss flowery Saint Amable, a lane whose architecture and floral festoons are well worth the detour. If you’re looking to discover some jewellery or clothing made in Quebec, come hang out at La Cour des Arts du Vieux-Montréal & Mon Shack au Québec or Atelier B (please note that at the time of publishing, this store is still by appointment only). If you walk around the block via Saint-Vincent, and come back across St-Paul Street, L’Empreinte coopérative there is another great local store whose diversity of products and items guarantee that anyone will find exactly what they’re searching for. A little further on, Bonsecours Market holds plenty of artist and artisan stalls from around here that we love in particular.
Now the day is finally done… For a nice supper, let’s find another terrace with a high vantage point. The terrace at Hotel William Gray is impeccable, with its irreplaceable view over the streets and of the sunset over the river. We especially love the dishes piled high and the cocktail/mocktail menu they serve, promising a taste of summer in every gulp.
© Photo Credit 1 and 2: Geneviève Giguère
© Photo Credit 3: Terrasse William Gray
© Photo Credit 4: Petit Navire