Most visitors to Montréal will have Downtown and Old Montréal on the itinerary, but for an authentic experience à la Montréalaise you should also venture into some of the other neighborhoods.
Avenue Laurier Ouest. Shops and boutiques along the eight blocks between boulevard St-Laurent and chemin de la Côte-Ste-Catherine sell medium- to high-end fashions, home furnishings, decorative items, artwork, books, kitchenware, toys and children's items, and gourmet food. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and cafés in which to rest your feet and check out your purchases. The street is about a 10-minute walk from the Laurier métro station.
Boulevard St-Laurent. Affectionately known as The Main, St-Laurent has restaurants, boutiques, and nightclubs that cater mostly to an upscale clientele. Still, the area has managed to retain its working-class immigrant roots and vitality to some degree: high-fashion shops are interspersed with ethnic-food stores, secondhand clothing and decor boutiques, and hardware stores. Indeed, a trip up this street takes you from Chinatown to Little Italy.
Rue Amherst. Antiques shops began springing up in the Gay Village in the early 1990s, most of them on rue Amherst between rues Ste-Catherine and Ontario. Copious cafés and brunch spots nearby will fuel your quest. The area used to be less expensive than rue Notre-Dame, but it's not always the case these days. Use the Beaudry métro station.
Rue Bernard. Only a few blocks away from the Outremont métro station, this chic villagey street is well worth a detour. The street boasts many sidewalk cafés—called terrasses in local parlance—for fine or casual dining, as well as specialty food stores, decor shops, and some of the best ice cream in Montréal at Le Glacier Bilboquet.
Rue Chabanel. The eight-block stretch of Chabanel just west of boulevard St-Laurent is the heart of the city's garment district. The goods seem to get more stylish and more expensive the farther west you go. If you're lucky, you might come across signs for designer sample sales. Many of the city's furriers have also moved into the area. A few places on Chabanel accept credit cards, but bring cash anyway. If you pay in cash, the price will often include the tax. From the Crémazie métro station, take Bus 53 north.
Rue Notre-Dame Ouest. The fashionable place for antiquing is a formerly run-down five-block strip of Notre-Dame between rue Guy and avenue Atwater. Most of the action is at the western end of the strip, as are many of the restaurants and cafés that have sprung up to cater to shoppers. Walk east from Lionel-Groulx métro station.
Victoria Village. The carriage-trade area for wealthy Westmount citizens, who reside on the leafy slopes of Mont-Royal, has morphed into a shopping destination for all Montrealers with an eye for style. Independent boutiques offer distinctive home decor, shoes, gifts, stationery, and fashion along rues Victoria and Sherbrooke, with the epicenter between Victoria and Claremont. Cafés and fine specialty food shops also abound. Vendôme is the closest métro station.