Little Black Book

Gail Simmons' Best Shops and Sites in Montreal

by Gail Simmons

The colors on Montreal close-up. Photo: Oli-Oviyan / Flickr

First we asked Top Chef judge Gail Simmons for her favorite Montreal restaurants. (We have our priorities straight.) Then we got the rest of her favorite things in her beloved college town.

MONTREAL – Even though my husband Jeremy and I met in New York through friends thirteen years ago, it was our mutual love of Montreal that may have first brought us together. After all, Jeremy was born and raised there and I attended McGill University as an undergrad, having grown up in Toronto.

But it's not just Canadian nostalgia that keeps us returning time and again. It's the energy of the city, the quasi-Euro sensibility, and the independent rhythm that we find so alluring. (So many other major metropolitan centers all seem to blend into one.) Oh, and Montreal has an insane amount of good food. Here's my Fathom food tour.

My Favorite Shops

1. Appetite for Books
An exceptional cookbook store that carries common and hard-to-find titles from around the world in French and English.

2. Les Touilleurs
Pristine kitchenware shop that stocks everything the home cook could possible dream of, from locally made wooden spoons and paddles to beautiful knives, pans, and an elegantly curated collection of gadgets.

3. Want Apothecary
Chic men's fashion with a little for the ladies, too. Simply the most beautiful bags, shoes, and accessories.

4. Fait Ici
Local co-op style storefront with a small counter of baked edibles, as well as eco-friendly products for the home. They have a stunning collection of ceramic maple syrup holders that make the perfect souvenir of your journey.

My Favorite Activities

1. Visit the Canadian Museum of Architecture.
Read more on Fathom: A Jazz Fest Itinerary and An Architect's Tour of Montreal

2. Catch the exhibitions at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Read more on Fathom: A Jazz Fest Itinerary and An Architect's Tour of Montreal

3. Rent Bixi bikes for a ride along the Canal Lachine.

4. Explore Old Montreal, Mile End, and the Plateau.

5. Walk Mont Royal Park.

My Favorite Hotels

Full disclosure: Although there has been a proliferation of beautiful boutique hotels in Montreal over the last few years, we have never stayed at any of them. We stay at Jeremy's parents' house, in his childhood bedroom, which has not changed since 1986, like the good children we are. But here is where our friends stay, and where we would stay if we were visiting:

Hotel Nelligan
Opus Hotel 
Hotel St. James 
Hotel St. Paul 

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.