Shopping in Montreal
Montreal is a great shopping city. There are dozens of shopping centres, interesting shopping streets, lots of variety, and a great sense of style. Click on the links below for more information.
Downtown Montreal has a special network of underground tunnels and shopping centres that are connected to the Metro.
This system, the largest in the world, was started in 1962 and was developed over the years because of our long, cold winters and hot, humid summers. There are over 32 kilometres of tunnels and passages, connecting metro and train stations, hotels, and over 2000 stores, 200 restaurants and 40 movie theatres. Over 60% of downtown Montreal office space and 35% of the stores are connected to the network. Every day over 500,000 people use the network to shop, work and live in the city.
The main section connects Metro McGill and Metro Peel on the green line to Place Ville-Marie the Central Train Station under the Queen Elizabeth Hotel and Metro Bonaventure on the orange line. Many other downtown metro stations, such as Metro Berri-UQAM, Metro Place-des Arts, Metro Guy-Concordia, Metro Place d’Armes, Metro Lucien L’Allier and Metro Atwater are also connected to shopping centres, theatres, stadiums, universities, museums, office towers and other important buildings.
During the Montreal Highlights Festival in February, there is a 5 km running race that is held in the Underground City to encourage exercise and health in the coldest season.
Image of Underground City courtesy Jeangagnon, Wikimedia Commons
In the warmer seasons, you can find small public farmer’s markets in different neighbourhoods around the city. However, there are two large markets that are open year-round, specializing in fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, meats and other fresh food. They are a great alternative to packaged and processed food at supermarkets, and you can often meet the farmer or producer. You can see more information about all the public markets in Montreal here, or read about the two largest below.
Jean-Talon Market is a very large open farmer’s market in central Montreal. It is near Metro Jean-Talon on the orange line, just south of Jean-Talon Street, between Casgrain and Henri-Julien, in the Little Italy neighbourhood of Montreal. It is so big, it covers a whole city block.
In the summer, Jean-Talon market is wonderful. It is full of market stalls selling fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Much of the produce is from Quebec farms, and the prices are very low. The sellers are sometimes the farmers who grew the food, and you can sometimes get free samples. In late summer and early fall, it is very colourful, and there are unusual vegetables and fruits that you never see in the supermarkets. If you like fresh fruit and vegetables, go to Jean-Talon Market. In the buildings around the market, there are shops selling special fresh meats, cheeses, fish, and other special foods from around the world. It is a very interesting place to visit.
- a short walk from Jean-Talon Metro (orange, blue) Map
Atwater Market is similar to Jean-Talon Market, but smaller. In the summer, there are many fresh fruit, vegetable and flower stalls, full of produce that is mainly from Quebec farms. The prices are good, though the prices are better at Jean-Talon Market. Inside the building with the clock tower, there are many fresh meat, cheese, fish and other special food shops. If you are looking for something special, you may find it at Atwater Market. In the late summer and early fall, it is very colourful and interesting to visit. The shops in the building is open all year, but the outdoor vegetable stands are closed in the cold months.
Atwater Market is on Atwater Street, a short walk south of Metro Lionel-Groulx. There are other stores around there, too, and the market is right beside the Lachine Canal and its bike path, so if you have a bicycle, it is easy to get to.
- Metro Lionel-Groulx (orange, green) Map
Image Jean-Talon Market courtesy Eberhard von Nellenburg, Wikimedia Commons
Image Atwater Market courtesy Idej Elixe, Wikimedia Commons
Food Stores and Supermarkets
Montreal has big and small food stores everywhere. Most supermarkets have an international food section where you might be able to find some products from your country, but there are also specialty stores.
There are many stores selling Asian food in Chinatown (Metro Place d’Armes), around Concordia University (Metro Guy-Concordia) and in some neighborhoods like Mile End, Park Extension and Brossard. Most of those stores have Chinese or Vietnamese food products, but there are some specialized stores, too. The nearest Asian food store to our school is:
3575 Parc Avenue Map
342 Victoria Avenue (Westmount) Map
Bus 24 on Sherbrooke
436 Bélanger Map
Montreal is a great city for shopping, and there are commercial streets all over.
Sainte Catherine Street
Sainte Catherine Street is Montreal’s most famous downtown street. From Westmount to the Gay Village, along the Green Line of the Metro, there are hundreds of stores and shopping centres. Between Guy and Saint Denis Street, there are over 1200 stores on Sainte Catherine Street and in its shopping centres and the Underground City.
You can find almost anything on Sainte Catherine Street, from hardware stores to sex shops, from family restaurants to strip clubs. There are universities, colleges, concert halls, movie theatres, department stores, TV and radio stations, and museums. It has been the centre of Montreal shopping, culture and nightlife for generations. There is always something interesting. Every July, Sainte Catherine Street is closed for a huge sidewalk sale for over two kilometres between Saint Marc Street (near Metro Guy-Concordia) and Jeanne-Mance Street (near Metro Place-des-Arts). All the stores put tables out on the street for the weekend. There is live entertainment and hundreds of thousands of people come out to enjoy the fun. Saint Catherine Street is also used for parades like the Saint Patrick’s Day parade in March, the parade on July 1st and the Santa Claus parade in November.
- From Metro Atwater to Metro Papineau (green)
- Bus 15
Saint Denis Street
Saint Denis is one of the most interesting shopping streets in Montreal. From bars and restaurants with classic Montreal “terraces” for eating outdoors to elegant shops and art galleries, Saint Denis Street is the heart of French culture in Montreal. The east arm of the orange line of the metro runs north and south near Saint Denis. At the south end, there is Old Montreal and UQAM – the University of Quebec in Montreal. Going north, the street passes through the “Latin Quarter” which is full of bars and restaurants and theatres. Above Sherbrooke, Saint Denis is a two-way street as it passes Saint Louis Square [Carré Saint-Louis] with its elegant old houses. From there to Mont-Royal Avenue, there is an interesting and surprising mix of dozens of shops, galleries, cafés and more.
- From Metro Berri-UQAM to Metro Mont-Royal
- Bus 30
Saint Laurent Boulevard
Saint Laurent (Saint Lawrence) Boulevard is the dividing line between East and West streets in Montreal. It is also the traditional division between the French and English neighbourhoods in the city. East of Saint Laurent (also called “the Main”) was French and west was English. Today English and French live all over the city, but many people still think of the street like a boundary.
The Main is the favourite street of many Montrealers. At the south end, after it leaves Old Montreal, it passes through the gates of Chinatown before heading up to the Plateau.
Above Sherbrooke, in the Plateau section, Saint Laurent crosses Prince Arthur street, full of outdoor restaurants. There are many interesting shops that reflect the multicultural city. Above Pine Avenue, you will find the famous Montreal smoked meat sandwich place: Schwartz’s. This is place where there is always a line up, and you might see a movie star or a prime minister getting a sandwich.
As you go north, there are many bars, cafés and shops that have a real Montreal atmosphere, where many cultures and languages meet. Above Mont-Royal Avenue, in the Mile End neighbourhood, you find many of the small music nightclubs where Montreal’s cool alternative music scene happens in English and French. Saint Laurent continues up to the old neighbourhood called Little Italy, famous for its Italian restaurants and shops.
For the past 100 years, Saint Laurent Boulevard has been a place where new immigrants settle, so it is a very multicultural area. It is also a favourite street for artists, writers and musicians. You can get the true flavour of Montreal on this famous street.
For a few days in early summer and again in the late summer, Saint Laurent closes for its street sale. All the shops put merchandise out on the street, and there is a festival atmosphere, with music and entertainment and lots of fun. There is also a section of the street closed for celebrations during the Grand Prix F1 race weekend in June.
Saint Laurent Boulevard is a one-way street north from the river in the Old Port all the way to Jean-Talon Street. There, it continues as a two-way street to the north shore of the island. An interesting way to see Saint Laurent is to take the famous number 55 bus up the street.
- Metro Saint Laurent
- Bus 55
Image of Sainte Catherine Street courtesy Atilin, Wikimedia Commons
Image of Schwartz’s courtesy Julian-Courtney Michael Lukács, Wikimedia Commons
Buying Second Hand
Montreal has many second-hand stores where you can buy used furniture, appliances, household goods, books, clothes and other things. Many (but not all) second hand stores are operated by charities. This means they are not for profit, they are raising money to help poor people and they sell second-had goods at low prices for people who don’t have much money.
In Canada, when people want to get rid of something that is old but still good, they often donate (give) it to a charity second-hand store. Students and others who have low incomes often use second hand stores for furniture, household items (dishes, pots, etc.) and clothes. They can get good quality used things for low prices.
Shopping in second-hand stores is interesting. Not everything is good, but everything is clean and usually you can find something you need at a great price. Another benefit: no sales tax!
Some stores that specialize in second-hand books or CDs or vintage clothes or antique (old and expensive) furniture are not charities, they are businesses like any other, but the prices are sometimes very good.
Charity Second-Hand Stores
The Salvation Army [Armée de Salut] is a Christian group that helps the homeless and the poor. People sometimes call it “the Sally Ann”. They have second-hand stores all over Montreal and across Canada.
1620 Notre Dame St. West (corner of Guy Street)
NDG: 5758-62 Sherbrooke W.
CDN: 6180 Côte-des-Neiges
Brossard: 1875 Panama Blvd.
Longueuil: 1562 Chambly Rd.
Value Village (Village des Valeurs) is another charity second-hand store that is connected to 120 charities. They sell clothes, furniture and other items. Some Montreal locations:
4906 Jean Talon Street West
2033 Pie IX
6779 Jean Talon East (in Saint Leonard)
1401 Chemin Chambly (in Longueuil)
Fripe-Prix Renaissance is a non-profit organization that recycles and resells second-hand goods, providing jobs for many people who have difficulty getting jobs. There is a 30% student discount on Thursdays. There are many stores in Montreal, including these:
- 6700 Cote-des-Neiges Rd.
- 2030 Pie IX Blvd.
- 6960 Saint-Hubert St.
- 7205 Saint-Jacques St. West
- 7250 St-Laurent Blvd.
On weekends in the spring, summer, and fall in residential areas of the city, there are garage sales [vente du garage]. This is when people sell their old second-hand things in front of their houses. Some people hold garage sales every few years, and sometimes a group of neighbours plans a large sale all together on the same day. Sometimes people have a “Moving Sale” when they are leaving the city and want to sell their furniture.
Garage sales can be a great place to find second-hand goods – clothes, furniture, tools, sports equipment, just about anything – at excellent prices. They are advertised in the newspaper in the classified ads section, and usually the people put up signs on street corners to let people know. You can also check garage sale announcements on Montreal Craig's List or Kijiji. Craig's List and Kijiji are also good for buy and selling all kinds of second-hand items.
Image of yard sale courtesy Idlar Sagdejev, Wikimedia Commons