Your guide to the underground city
Explore Montréal’s famed Underground City as you shop: this pedestrian network right under the heart of the city links metro stations to shopping plazas for over 32 kilometres (about 20 miles). It’s a lifesaver when you want to stroll, shop and eat away from the hot blazing sun or the freezing snow, but it’s also a go-to destination for the whole family anytime because of the world of entertainment it opens up.
Your starting line
Find the RESO signs throughout the Underground City to figure out where you’re heading on the underground pedestrian network. The easternmost entry is through Complexe Desjardins, but this stunning mall right across from Place des Festivals (interior fountain included) is only the beginning: explore the whole 20 miles for lots more shopping, movies, activities and unforgettable good times.
At Complexe Desjardins you’ll find a store dedicated entirely to local crafts: L’Art des Artisans du Québec, full of woodwork, blown glass and amazing finery. There’s also Montréal sensation DavidsTea, purveyor of teas in flavours like cotton candy and sour appletini, fine jewellery made on the spot at Joaillerie St-Jean or Bijouterie Ralph et Elle, and books by local authors at Renaud-Bray. Further west throughout the Underground City you’ll find rands like Rudsak leather goods, Squish gourmet artisanal (and local) candies and of course the Montréal-based, internationally famous ALDO shoes.
You can even get your nails and hair done here! And if you end up shopping so much your new threads won’t fit into your luggage, stop by World Luggage on the ground floor of the Montréal Eaton Centre. To avoid your bags weighing you down as you trek the Underground City’s other malls (Place Montréal Trust, Promenades de la Cathédrale and Place Ville-Marie are all worth checking out), lockers are available on the Eaton Centre’s Tunnel level, in the food court. For just $1, you can securely store coats, bags and other personal effects.
The Underground City links to the Place des Arts and the Musée d’art contemporain, a few hundred feet from Complexe Desjardins (the MAC has a great boutique for souenirs, by the way). There’s also a whole art network in the Underground City itself, thanks to the Art Souterrain festival. Check out the public art network maps here, too; many are reachable via the Underground City. At Place Ville-Marie, catch a glimpse of the city from above at the amazing Au Sommet lookout – and stop by the boutique on the ground floor, where everything is made in Montréal. At the Montréal Eaton Centre you can also see fantastic wax lookalikes of famous people at Grévin Montréal Museum, where Café Grévin is a wonderful spot to sip a coffee, munch of first-rate pastries by chef Christian Faure and catch some quiet time.
The same is true at the Montréal Eaton Centre on the Tunnel level and on the 4th floor in the Espace Services, and in many other spots throughout the Underground City. If your cell phone battery is low, stop by the Information Desk on the street level at the Eaton Centre to borrow a portable charger for the length of your visit, or plug yourself into the Espace Services charging station on the 4th floor. Want your own charger, or any other electronic device? There are nearly a dozen electronic stores onsite to serve you.
Isa Tousignant, blogger
Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s ecclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.
To see the list of our regular contributors, click here.