14 Dec 2023

Time 7 minutes

Holiday Guide : Great gifts, cultural outings and gourmet delights

Holiday Guide : Great gifts, cultural outings and gourmet delights

This winter, the spirit of the season has taken firm hold of Old Montreal to offer you unforgettable moments with your favourite people, shared in one of the most inviting and convivial atmospheres you’re likely to find. To see what we mean, get on over to the historic quarter’s west side to experience a neighbourhood beckoning one and all with its illuminated trees, cultural discoveries, delectable gourmet offerings, not to mention gift ideas that are sure to please everyone on your list.

Key Areas - Old Montreal - 1

Upon arrival, be sure to start things off with a delicious beverage in hand courtesy of Structure Torréfacteurs, or pay a visit to their neighbours, 49th Parallel, just a block further up on McGill Street. It goes without saying that should you stop by, one of their viennoiseries or doughnuts is an absolute must. A huge shout out goes to their Gingerbread Old Fashioned doughnut with gingerbread icing, cranberry ginger bark and crispy white chocolate pearls.

Gentlemen, are you in need of a dapper new suit to class up your holiday season? Head to Clusier, where their expert stylists will help you find an outfit that fits like a glove and will also be perfect for back at the office (that’s the only time we’ll mention work, we promise). Follow up this fashionable time-out with a visit to THE TEN SPOT, located just a few streets away. Come for some well-earned pampering in the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, like a mani-pedi to look your festive best right on down to the tips of your nails.

Gifts for lovers of the great outdoors, pets and good food

Looking for that gift that is sure to be a hit? The many marvellous merchants on and around McGill Street have just what you’re after. First stop, for the outdoorsy people on your list: Salmo Nature. Here you will find a vast selection of accessories and clothing for gifts to suit all budgets, from stocking stuffers to that big one under the tree. This is the place for products by Orvis, Simms, Rio and Sage. Never heard of them? Not to worry, the outdoor enthusiasts in your life most definitely have. Consider yourself thanked.

Is there perhaps a discerning palate out there you’re looking to please this holiday season? La Dispensa is your destination par excellence for the best in traditional gourmet Italian products: olive oils, charcuteries, coffees, cookies, sauces; you name it, they have it.

In search of a gift for the animal lovers you know, or maybe one for your very own fur ball? Peluche Animalerie Urbaine proposes a yummy selection of treats for cats and dogs as well toys they can’t resist – the perfect stocking stuffers for those four-legged friends we love so much. You’ll also find a choice of practical accessories for protecting Fido’s paws this winter, a gift your dog will definitely agree is both useful and pleasurable.

An unpretentious gourmet stop

Once you arrive at the junction of McGill and Wellington streets after all the shopping is done, take a moment at the Square des Frères-Charon to admire the dazzling illuminated tree standing proud on the summit of the site’s cylindrical pavilion. From this vantage point, you can take in the view of the surrounding historical buildings and charming shops, including Chez Potier gourmet grocery. Be sure to drop by this beautiful store for the irresistible desserts on offer, freshly made by chef Olivier Potier and his team. The Christmas logs here are a sure bet to impress your guests and hosts alike this holiday season. Make your choice (but no need to choose!) between their citrus & chestnut log, the Costa Rica with chocolate fondant biscuit, or the Babaxotique done with babas poached in passion fruit jelly. We still haven’t made up our minds, so we’ll just be taking all three.

After a morning of fun-filled exploration, you will no doubt have worked up quite the appetite, so make your way just across the square to Le Cartet for brunch. Poached eggs on spinach with country-style bread, stacked pancakes with maple cream cheese and berries, and the mushrooms & brie tartine are just a few of the delights to be enjoyed here. Friendly and trendy, this inviting spot also offers a vast selection of sweets and local products that will make for the perfect gifts for all your foodie friends.

More in a pasta-for-lunch mood? Look no further than Il Miglio, famous for its freshly made artisanal pasta to make Nonna proud. Featuring customer favourites like linguine with pistacchio pesto and Nordic shrimp, as well as classic meat lasagna, the menu here has made this place a Montreal must-visit since 2017. While you’re at it, grab some panettones to give out to your loved ones, or just keep them all to yourself if you prefer (we understand).

Cultural outings, relaxing moments

Once you’ve had your tasty fill, why not stimulate your brain with a visit to the Fonderie Darling, which is hosting the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal for the first time with Phase Shifting Index, a vast, immersive, seven-channel video installation by Jeremy Shaw. This work combines staged documentaries, music, choreographies and alternative movement therapies, inviting the viewer “to explore the gap between the timeless notion of transcendence and the scientific attempts to explain, locate and define it”.

If, after you’ve made your way around the neighbourhood, you find yourself dreaming of a well-earned moment of relaxation, why not unwind all the way down with a massage at Tx Sport Massage & Multithérapies? Your muscles and joints will thank you after a soft tissue treatment here, perfect for kicking off 2024 nice and tension-free.

Next, should you be getting a little thirsty, do drop in on the good people at Bistro-Brasserie Les Soeurs Grises. Here, you will be received in “a chic and casual ambiance, enough for a sister to rescind her vows”, as they say. Choose from a selection of fresh artisanal beers lovingly brewed on site, and feel perfectly free to pair your pint with a delectable charcuterie and cheese platter. Non-alcoholic options are also available, including Sober Carpenter beer as well as beverages by Atypique.

A flavourful finale to your day

A day on the old quarter’s west side wouldn’t be complete without yet another fantastic gourmet moment to share with family and friends. Looking to get away from it all? Le Serpent is an Italian-inspired contemporary brasserie where you will find yourself tastily wowed by the likes of burrata, grilled octopus and outstanding pasta dishes. Trust us when we say: you will want to order everything again. Not surprising since the team behind this operation is the very same one responsible for the legendary Club Chasse et Pêche.

If you find yourself pining for French cuisine, Place Carmin is an option not to be ignored; their scallop ceviche and the sweetbreads en croûte are worth the trip alone. More in the mood for a warm and comforting meal of the Russian sort? Head to Nevkski where the culinary traditions of Eastern Europe take centre stage with cocktails and dishes like beef and onion pirojok, roasted lamb chops with cherry glaze and mint, as well as a variety of riffs on the Moscow Mule to wash it all down. Before you head home, don’t miss out on the dazzling illuminations at the Espace éphèmere on the corner of Queen and Wellington streets for a thoroughly enchanting twist to your evening. Continue along these brilliant lines by taking a stroll up McGill Street to admire the twinkling row of trees that are set alight as soon as night falls.

To discover more scintillating streets, superb restaurants and festive shopping options, we invite you to delve deeper into our Old Montreal Holiday Guide!

Photos: Sara Megan - Le Cartet - Place Carmin

NOTA BENE: Your business would fit perfectly here but isn’t mentioned? Don’t hesitate to write to us at info@sdcvieuxmontreal.com, and it would be our pleasure to include it.