Want to impress your next date or out-of-town guest? Take them to Sherbrooke Street West near Montréal’s Museum of Fine Arts – the area known as the Quartier du Musée, or the Museum Quarter for us Anglos – rich in private art galleries and gourmet hot spots. I wrote about this upscale Montréal area in my Mother’s Day article (en Français) thinking that I knew all the perfect places, but in reality I only knew of a few of them. Last Thursday, the Quartier du Musée invited a handful of journalists to discover the many charms along Sherbrooke Street West. Here are my not-to-be-missed discoveries…

The new boulangerie on the block
If you love French pastries then a visit to this contemporary pastry shop is a must. Pastry chef, Olivier Potier honed his talents at Ladurée in Paris, as well as at some of Montréal’s finest hotels, but it was just this year that he opened his namesake pastry-bakery baby on Sherbrooke Street West. Inside, you’ll find an assortment of artisanal breads and other baked goods, as well as plenty of delightful cakes and pastry creations. The Olivier item that keeps calling my name? His incredible canalés – a typical Bordeaux pastry, flavoured with rum and vanilla bean. Enjoy one with an espresso prepared especially for you.

High Tea, Please!
I don’t think I can talk enough about my favourite gourmet girly getaway place. Chez Le Maître Chocolatier you can pop into the boutique and purchase a few of French chocolate-maker Nada Fares’ dark chocolate delights or you can stay for her afternoon high tea upstairs in her lovely Victorian tea room. It’s here that I love to escape to savour a tea or hot chocolate with a selection of homemade scones, coconut macaroons and a few of my favourite chocolates all served on an antique tiered dessert plate. Be prepared for pure decadent bliss!

High Fashion, Please!
Les créateurs is undoubtedly THE fashion destination on the block, showcasing avant-garde designers like Miu Miu, Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester, Haider Ackermann and Junya Watanabe. With nearly 30 years under Les créateurs fashion-belt (the boutique opened in 1983) you know you’ll find exclusively curated creations. My zurbaine shopping-savvy tip: head to the back of the boutique where you’ll find incredible sales – make a new wardrobe friend without making a big dent in your fashion finances.  

Fine Art Finds
Although there are quite a few galleries along Sherbrooke Street West, there were two that impressed me enough to want to visit again. The first, La Galerie NuEdge – a dynamic contemporary art gallery owned and run by the chic and talented artist and art dealer, Amel Chamandy (definitely a zurbaine)! Amel not only displays her own art, but offers exposure to local and international artists such as Hélène Fleury, Hannah Alpha and one that I’m looking forward to – the “yarnstorming” NY-based artist, OLEK – who will be taking Montréal by storm with her creative crochet skills from June 6 – 15. The second gallery is rather two galleries in one occupying over 20,000 square feet in adjacent historic Victorian buildings (where I’d happily set up camp just to be able to eat and sleep near 20th century masters like Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Giacometti, Miró, Ernst, Hundertwasser and friends). The Landau Fine Art gallery carries “Only Masterworks” and is located next to and in conjunction with the prestigious Dominion Gallerywhich art dealer Robert Landau purchased in 2001. This is one of the most spectacular commercial galleries in all of Canada, making it a sure stop on Sherbooke Street West.

To-die-for decor
Step into Trianon and you’ll discover a passion for French decor at its finest. Here, 18th-century French antiques and fine quality reproductions mingle. I marveled at the glamorously set tables (with porcelain and candelabra), tastefully upholstered chaise lounges and day-beds that made me feel like I was invited into a Parisian Dame’s apartment for a glass of wine. Let’s just say that owner, Luce Gayrard has style.

Let the Dr. pamper you
After art and shopping, a little pampering is always en vogue and at Spa Dr.Hauschka you will find a treatment for any ailment, even if it’s just over-stimulation from a day on Sherbrooke Street West. Unwind with an organic and biodynamic skin care treatment and pick up some products to take home. I left with a Regenerating Body Moisturizer that smells divine.

Take it to the terrace
In the heart of the Museum Quarter, you’ll find a fine Italian gastronomy treasure – Café Il Cortile in the Passage du Musée building. Located in an interior courtyard, this is literally one of Montréal’s best kept secrets – a family owned and operated Italian restaurant that proudly includes a romantic garden terrace where you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Italy. I had a taste of their famous homemade gnocchi with gorgonzola cream sauce and now I’m dying to go back.

Next time you plan on visiting the Museum of Fine Arts, be sure to try and fit in some of these other fine places!  

I’d like to thank the Association du Quartier du Musée for inviting me to discover their neigbourhood.