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There's Nothing Like the Big City

By Clarissa Cruz
updated February 21, 2017
Roger Lemoyne
When was the last time you wore heels? The last time you went dancing--other than at a wedding? The last time you ate at a restaurant without crayons on the table? The last time you stayed up past midnight?

Montreal: Like Paris, but a Lot Closer

Shops You Can't Find Everywhere
Eva B.: Creaky floors and an eclectic collection of costume jewelry, vintage clothing, and retro footwear make this a rummager's paradise. The owner is friendly, but she drives a hard bargain.

Lola & Emily: Designed to look like the apartment of a fashionable girl about town, the boutique stocks flirty Third Floor underwear, Joe's Jeans, and Velvet dresses.

Parasuco: The sexy jeans may have infiltrated a mall near you, but the brand's flagship (in a former bank) is only in Montreal. The newly renovated three-level emporium has a two-story chandelier, custom mosaic floor, and full-service spa and salon.

Boutique Reborn: This shop in Old Montreal is a treasure trove of highly covetable items from labels such as Preen, Acne Jeans, and Cheap Monday, as well as pieces by local designers.

Mona Moore: A girly shop with shoes from the likes of Pierre Hardy, Balenciaga, and Miu Miu.

We Love Brunch
The best thing at Eggspectation is the Brioche Beauty, a cinnamon brioche that's buttered, grilled, and topped with yogurt, roasted almonds, and honey, then served with mixed fruit. So yummy!

Hot Ticket
Canadian humor is showcased at two clubs: the Comedy Nest and Comedyworks. If you're in town over the summer, keep an eye out for the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, which puts on lots of free shows.

Sweet Fix
Rockaberry bakes homemade pies in wonderful flavors like Toblerone Cheese, Chocolate Banana Split, and Rockabrownie.

Home Base
Hyatt Regency Montreal is east of rue Crescent's party bars and west of the hip restaurants on boulevard St.-Laurent.

Rooms at the SpringHill Suites feature two double beds, a pullout sofa, and a basic kitchen, all amid the stone buildings of Old Montreal.

Boutique Hotel St. Paul tucks a luxurious, minimalist aesthetic inside a historic beaux arts structure: Double rooms have wood floors and oversize marble soaking tubs in the bathrooms.

Where to Kick Up Your Heels
Grown-up drinks: Inside the Hotel Place d'Armes, Suite 701 is a lounge with leather banquettes; it specializes in martinis (and cute banker types, if you're into that).

Outdoor seating: For expertly prepared mojitos served in airy white cabanas, each of which features a sleek, pillow-covered bed alongside tables and chairs, head to Time Boutique Café.

Till midnight: If Le Blanc's fusion menu isn't entertaining enough, the live music (jazz, swing, or pop, depending on the night) definitely will be.

Till 3 A.M.: At Altitude 737, atop one of the tallest buildings in Montreal, fancy cocktails accompany dance music and amazing views.

Till dawn: Stereo, fitted with one of the best you-know-what systems in the city, is the late-night destination of jet-setters, drag queens, and club kids for dancing into the morning.

Something you'll regret: A Montreal institution, Le 281 features male exotic dancers--not Chippendale types, but more contemporary versions of hotness, such as the jock, the hipster, and the intellectual. If you need to work up courage, shots (including one named "The Orgasm") are mixed right at your table.

What's for Dinner?
Fab but not fussy, the delicious seven-course tasting menu at Toqué!--with native ingredients such as Nova Scotia princess scallops and Basses-Laurentides suckling pig--is a big draw for foodies.

The Italian cuisine at Buonanotte, a hotspot for 15 years, is secondary to the scenester vibe and beautiful-people crowd: George Clooney and Gisele Bündchen are among the celebs who've been spotted here. Around midnight, a DJ spins club music.

Pamper Yourself
Rainspa's soothing waterfalls and softly lit rooms--plus the only real hammam (Turkish bath) in town--make the bustle of Old Montreal seem miles away.

So Gloppy, but So Darn Good
Poutine is a disgusting (yet tasty!) combo of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy--it's most commonly enjoyed after a drink or five, but at La Banquise, a beloved hole-in-the-wall, you can order the dish 24 hours a day.

Streets Made for Shopping
Boulevard St.-Laurent (bet. avenues Laurier and Bernard): up-and-coming designers like Denis Gagnon, Marie-M, and Renata Morales.

Rue Ste.-Catherine (bet. rue de la Montagne and rue Aylmer): mainstream Canadian brands (Roots, Browns, Jacob) and classic department stores (Ogilvy, La Baie, Simons).

Rue St.-Paul (bet. rues McGill and Bonsecours): sleek shops selling local clothes, furniture, and art, right in Old Montreal.

You Gotta do at Least One . . .
In Old Montreal and the Old Port, wander down rue St.-Jacques and rue Notre-Dame for fun encounters with hawkers, buskers, and gorgeous architecture. 

Visit the Montreal Botanical Garden for the rare-plant collections and the seasonal blooms.

Bike along the picturesque Lachine Canal, and stop for fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and maple syrup at the outdoor farmers market, Marché Atwater.

Enjoy the panoramic view of Montreal, its islands, and the St. Lawrence River from atop Mount Royal Park.

Try Something New in Montreal    
Take a ride through the bumpy St. Lawrence River rapids, located in front of the Old Port, with Lachine Rapids Jet Boat Tours. 514/284-9607, jetboatingmontreal.com, $51, equipment provided.

  • Hyatt Regency Montreal 1255 rue Jeanne-Mance, 514/982-1234, montreal.hyatt.com, from $150
  • SpringHill Suites 445 rue St.-Jean-Baptiste, 514/875-4333, springhillmontreal.com, from $114
  • Hotel St. Paul 355 rue McGill, 514/380-2222, hotelstpaul.com, from $176
  • Toqué! 900 place Jean-Paul-Riopelle, 514/499-2084, tasting menu $77
  • Buonanotte 3518 blvd. St.-Laurent, 514/848-0644, entrées from $10
  • Eggspectation Four locations including 201 rue St.-Jacques Ouest, 514/282-0119
  • Rockaberry 4275 rue St.-Denis, 514/844-9479
  • Suite 701 55 rue St.-Jacques Ouest, 514/842-1887
  • Time Boutique Café 3509 blvd. St.-Laurent, 514/842-2626
  • Le Blanc 3435 blvd. St.-Laurent, 514/288-9909
  • Altitude 737 1 place Ville-Marie, 514/397-0737, Fri. and Sat. from $10
  • Stereo 858 rue Ste.-Catherine Est, 514/286-0325, cover from $17
  • Le 281 94 rue Ste.-Catherine Est, 514/871-2281
  • La Banquise 994 rue Rachel Est, 514/525-2415, $4
  • Eva B. 2013 blvd. St.-Laurent, 514/849-8246
  • Lola & Emily 3475 blvd. St.-Laurent, 514/288-7598
  • Parasuco 1414 rue Crescent, 514/284-2288
  • Boutique Reborn 231 rue St.-Paul Ouest, 514/499-8549
  • Mona Moore 1446 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, 514/842-0662
  • Montreal Botanical Garden 4101 rue Sherbrooke Est, 514/872-1400, from $9.75
  • Montreal on Wheels 27 rue de la Commune Est, 877/866-0633, caroulemontreal.com, bikes $7 per hour
  • Comedy Nest 2313 rue Ste.-Catherine Ouest, 514/932-6378, $10
  • Ernie Butler's Comedyworks 1238 rue Bishop, 514/398-9661, from $3
  • Rainspa 55 rue St.-Jacques, 514/282-2727, one-hour massage $72
  • Lachine Rapids Jet Boat Tours 47 rue de la Commune Ouest, 514/284-9607, jetboatingmontreal.com
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