11 treasures on Mont-Royal Avenue
This article was updated on May 31, 2019.
We walk along it time and again, just for fun, on a stroll or to shop, run errands, dine in an excellent restaurant, have brunch or coffee or chat over drinks. Bustling, lively and primarily francophone Mont-Royal Avenue is a veritable beehive of activity. More small boutiques are starting to pop up along it, some with European influences. Think you know all its secrets? That’s exactly what we wanted to scope out for you: the little treasures tucked along it and some new kids on the block. Here’s an east to west guide of this amazing artery.
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Caroline and Mathieu have an eye for little gifts to bring back home and they love encouraging Montréal artists. A poster, a painting or a cute illustrated greeting card: the selection is spectacular. Culled from Montréal’s best markets (like Puces Pop), they are also affordable and showcase local artists, with a small description and photo of each. A unique little initiative that puts a face to a name and a story to the poster you hang up at home. Bonus: the boutique features exclusive partnerships with certain artists, like the works of illustrator and designer Magalie Robidaire, whose beautiful compositions of photographs and drawings bring colours, textures and geometric forms together. Sold!
Le Pétrin Fou
“You never leave here empty-handed,” says Mario Pariso, grinning broadly. The baker, who has been busy plying his trade for the past 30 years, talks proudly about his first new place, an airy, light-filled shop. Here, he bakes organic bread from ancient grains that come from the Moulin A. Coutu in Lac Saint-Jean. On the racks, beautiful loaves of chia, teff, kaniwa, kamut or red clover bread. Yum! “Other bakers come here to buy their bread,” he confides mischievously. Added feature: you can buy bread by the pound, if your goal for the day is to make a sandwich from products picked up along the Avenue. It’s also a great option to try out house specialties like lavender and chocolate bread. Mario also offers gluten-free recipes: there’s absolutely everything in his mix!
Véronique Ethier, who hails from Québec’s Outaouais region, has been offering incredible chocolate creations from her workshop/boutique on Mont-Royal Avenue since 2016. The house specialties at Noir Chocolat include the “croque-mou” (walnuts topped with chewy caramel and covered in milk or 64% dark chocolate), chocolate-maple bites and salted blonde chocolate cookies. In summer, she also serves ice cream sandwiches and mouth-watering homemade cake pops. Who can resist?
Looking for the perfect gift from Québec to bring home? Just head to c’est beau, an amazing multi-brand boutique that puts environmentally friendly, ethically sourced, locally made products in the spotlight. Their custom-made display furniture even comes from Québec. A hotspot for lifestyle, stationery, beauty, decoration, kitchen and gourmet products, you’ll find that so-very-Montréal thing in the handpicked selection from 75 or so local artisans and designers.
Boutique Les hauts et les bas
With her expert eye, Josée can size up your bra size in a second. You immediately feel at ease when you step into this cozy little boutique on Fabre, just a few steps south of Mont-Royal. And that’s what Josée and her team want to cultivate: extra special attention for and a bond with her (very loyal) clientele. You can leave with lovely lingerie from local brands like Sokoloff or Blush, or stunning classics like Simone Pérèle, Voilà pantyhose or Bleu Forêt socks. A friendly and discreet atmosphere, where ooh-la-la underwear await.
Bleu & Persillé
This welcoming wood-and-tile interior of this stylish and modern cheese house offers the perfect backdrop for browsing more than 200 Québec cheeses or picking up some tasty items for an impromptu picnic. It also has a boutique section, where you can find fine and gourmet products made by Québec artists, like the pots of honey from the beehive in the back. We could stay here forever!
Aux 33 Tours
If Ali Baba’s cave were crammed with vinyl, it would look like this. One of Canada’s biggest independent music stores, Aux 33 Tours houses rare albums and, particularly, an imposing selection of some 3,000 Japanese vinyl records that, every three months, join the store’s perfectly ordered and labeled shelves. The only place to find this kind of vinyl is Los Angeles, which makes 33 Tours the only official seller in eastern North America. “They’re the best vinyl presses on the market and the sound quality is impeccable,” explains Mathieu Morin, himself a collector and employee of the store. Bonobo and even Caribou have come here to stock up. May the listening joy be yours too.
Les Délices de la Mer Mont-Royal Poissonnerie Gaspésienne
While its heartland lies in Mont-Louis Bay, this gem of a Gaspésie fish shop, which specializes in smoked fish and seafood, has cast its net wider to the city. With its selection of fresh fish, from the Gaspésie, of course, gourmet products and homemade dishes, it’s the perfect place to delve into Québec’s marine bounty. The maple-smoked salmon appetizers are incredible and the 100% Québec products like the dried seaweed collected by a local artisan on the wild coasts of the Haute-Gaspésie are excellent gourmet gifts to tuck in your tote.
Shoe lovers will absolutely flip over the fab footwear in this boutique. L’intervalle, a new Montréal brand by Sam Assaf and Vicky Scalia, has been offering stylish and contemporary creations at affordable prices that are designed here and manufactured in Europe (Spain and Italy). In their chic, streamlined boutique, you can find perfect limited-edition pairs in leather or suede, with styles ranging from minimalist to edgy to out-there. A made-in-Montréal success story!
Totally new, totally sweet. People come to this bakery, urban cafeteria and café to savour delights like home-made pastries and maple-infused lattes. At the heart of this magnificent, sunny and airy space, the head baker pulls mouth-watering breads and pastries from the ovens that are made from ancient (and as often as possible, organic) grains supplied by local producers. Try the brunch basket, which comes with yummy local jams, or bite into one of the succulent sandwiches. We should mention that a project for a hotel apartment just above is in the works for summer 2019: the perfect way to break your fast when visiting Montréal.
Welcome to our house! Well, that’s kind of what it feels like at Plein Sud. The only Corsican restaurant on the Avenue (and one of the few in Montréal) serves comforting and authentic cuisine. It’s been run for the past seven years by Dominique (Corsican) and William (Niçois), a couple that is passionate about what they do and who put a lot of love into their terroir fare. “In Corsica, our specialties are our grandmothers’ recipes,” says Dominique, “that are passed down from mother to daughter.” Corsican cuisine also stands for big, lively family gatherings around a table. “Veal with olives brings us all together,” she adds with a smile. Eating at Plein Sud is like soaking up a bit of sunshine while you enjoy your meal.
Laure Juilliard, blogger
Laure is a writer, community manager and the founder of the blog Une Parisienne à Montréal. She’s also an epicurean globetrotter who’s always on the hunt for innovative concepts and must-try restaurants. In 2016, she co-founded Slow Journeys, a webzine that focuses on ecotourism and design.