Your guide to the underground city
Note that many businesses are currently closed or have reduced hours and services due to COVID-19.
This article was updated on January 13, 2020.
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 33 kilometres (about 20,5 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
Complexe Desjardins is your starting point for the RESO network: the guide to Montréal’s Underground City. Find the RÉSO 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.
Looking for goodies to remember your trip by? The Underground City has got tons of made-in-Montréal shops for you. 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 brands like Rudsak leather goods, Squish gourmet artisanal (and local) candies and of course the Montréal-based, internationally famous ALDO shoes.
Get a makeover in a day in the Underground City’s many, many clothes, shoes and accessories shops. You can even get your nails and hair done underground! And if you end up shopping so much at the Centre Eaton de Montréal’s clothes and accessories stores that your new threads won’t fit into your luggage, stop by World Luggage, also in the Centre Eaton. Stop into Cours Mont-Royal for a winning selection of high fashion stops, including Karl Lagerfeld, Prada, BOSS and DKNY. To avoid your bags weighing you down as you trek the Underground City’s other malls (Place Montréal Trust, Promenades 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.
Food for days
When you want a break from all the shopping, there are amazing food options in this underground walkway. The Centre Eaton de Montréal is home to the Time Out Market, a food hall that brings together different counters by some of the city’s best and most famous restaurants (including Toqué!, Romados, Le Red Tiger, Foxy and Moleskine). Place Ville Marie will also have a beautiful food hall, Le Cathcart, where you will be able to people-watch in the amazing indoor-outdoor space while feasting on Montréal delicacies by chefs including Antonio Park and Daniel Vigneault. Take a seat in the Biergarten to explore its selection of delicious beers. Nearby at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel, conveniently connected to the city’s central train station, you’ll find the amazing Marché Artisans, where you can get food to go or enjoy a selection of meals from various stations. Or sit down for a gastronomic experience at the stylish Rosélys Restaurant. All the malls connected by the Underground Pedestrian Network boast their own food courts, as well.
When you want a break from all the shopping, wining and dining, there’s entertainment galore. The Underground City links to the Place des Arts and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (whose boutique is great for souvenirs, by the way). There’s also a whole art network in the Underground City itself, thanks to the Art Souterrain festival – watch for its next edition this year. Check out the public art network maps on the Art Public Montréal website, too; many are reachable via the Underground City. At Place Ville Marie, catch a glimpse of the city from above at the amazing lookout, the Observatoire. At the Montréal Eaton Centre you can also see fantastic wax lookalikes of famous people at Grévin MONTRÉAL, where Café Grévin is a wonderful spot to sip a coffee, munch on first-rate pastries by chef Christian Faure and catch some quiet time.
Out of data? Complexe Desjardins provides all visitors with free Wi-Fi throughout the (mouth-watering) food court. The same is true at the Centre Eaton de Montréal 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 arts and lifestyle writer based out of Parc Ex. When she isn't dragging her one-eyed pug around the neighbourhood, she's busy scoping out art shows, shopping for vintage finds, hiking urban trails or designing jewelry for her brand Gré.