On Location: Montreal, Part II

In our second visit to the city, Refinery29 checks out the Old Montreal neighborhood. By Lisa Weatherby
Nestled on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, Old Montreal perhaps reflects most of that Parisian vibe and atmosphere that the city is known for. The quartier includes a vibrant, modern Port where locals can catch a glimpse of the highest concentration of 17th- and 18th-century architecture in the country while whizzing by on bicycles. Consequently, the area's European character has been a handy cinematic substitute for Paris, Prague, Berlin, and Vienna. Formerly populated by artists, bohemians, and circus performers, this revitalized neighborhood, with its outdoor cafes and burgeoning shops, is quickly becoming a citywide draw for the fashion-forward.
Owners Brigitte Chartrand and Guillaume Cardell opened the spare, modernist Reborn a little over a year ago, making it the neighborhood home for international and Canadian fashion talents who reflect an indie, forward-thinking spirit. Among the eclectic labels are Band of Outsiders, Opening Ceremony, and Kenzo Ninami T-shirts. There's also local talents Maryanne Mathias's Hastings and Main label, DU, and Complex Geometries whose tie-dyed scarf T-shirts ($62) provide a chic way to bundle up by the river. For accessories, there's Parisian-based designer Natalia Brilli's leather-and-pearl Sautoir necklaces ($449), London's Borga Margo belts, and Bless's embellished earphones ($249) all displayed alongside Canadian talents such as Himo Martin's Pearls Before Swine label, Amanda Greenwood's oversized chunky knit chain mail necklaces, and bags from Krane.
231 rue St. Paul Ouest, Suite 100, 514-499-8549. For more information, go to www.reborn.ws
Espace Pepin
Owner Lysanne Pepin opened her art gallery-retail space back in 1998 when Old Montreal was on the brink of rebirth. A pioneer in the environs' renewal, the shop is filled with her signature painterly canvases depicting an array of themes from horses in the countryside to portraits. Over the years, the boutique has evolved into a destination for up-and-coming jewelry and clothing designers. Pepin's shelves are stocked with notable names like Brazil's Drosofila and deconstructed knitwear by Italian designer Sarah Pacini, but she also carries a wide variety of Montreal designers like White Label whose fingerless elbow-length leather gloves ($195) are a hot cold-weather commodity. Lysanne's own Pepin Couture line includes her must-have tuxedo pencil dress ($325) and recycled fur aviator hats from Montreal's Harricana ($250).
350 rue St. Paul Ouest, 514-844-0114. For more information, go to www.pepinart.com
Here, designing duo Douglas and Yvonne Mandel create expertly crafted Savile Row-inspired menswear for local dandies (Douglas' sharp tailoring is a result of an apprenticeship to his father, a custom tailor). With stints as a senior designer for Hugo Boss and DKNY, Mandel returned to Montreal and opened the Kamkyl boutique in 2002. The bright 2,000-square-foot space, a merging of pale beach-wood and stark white walls, showcases the simply designed but exquisitely detailed coats, trousers, knits, and oxford shirts.
439 rue St. Pierre, 514-281-8221. For more information, go to www.kamkyl.com
With over 143 bookstores in the Montreal area alone, Librissime is locally known as the stylish bookworm's haunt. Cozy and inviting, yet serious in its presentation of rare books, Librissime is housed in an elegant turn-of-the-century building with high ceilings and super-sized windows. The 12,000 titles in French, English, and other languages are meticulously merchandised in tall, boxed shelving units the European way—by publisher. Specializing in limited-edition and collector's books, Librissime is the sole distributor in the Americas for Belgian publishing house La Main Fleurie. Titles from Assouline, Franco Maria Ricci from Italy, and Ertug & Kocabiyik from Turkey are sold exclusively here, as well. In addition to their international selection, the store carries specialized books by local artists published by Montreal houses Eric Daudelin, Rognon, and the celebrated graphic illustrated titles by La Pasteque. To compliment the pleasures of reading, the store offers objects such as library fragrances (wood, leather, books) and cashmere throws.
62 rue St. Paul Ouest, 514-841-0123. For more information, go to www.librissime.com
Garde Manger
This sleek but den-like restaurant is home to chef Chuck Hugh's magical spin on seafood. The space's atmosphere is a unique and modern cross between tavern and crab-shack, complete with a chalkboard menu. Indulge in starters like crispy fried calamari or salmon tartare with scallions. Save some room for the seafood platter: an exceptional composition of super-fresh clams, crab legs, oysters, and shrimp.
408 rue St. François Xavier, 514-678-5044
Olive and Gourmando
This corner eatery is the ideal pit-stop for fresh sandwiches, fortifying homemade soups, or an expertly frothed au lait accompanied by a thick slice of the house-made hazelnut, prune, or chocolate loaf. If you need something more substantial, the warm Cuban panini sandwich made with braised pork, chipotle mayo, coriander, and Gruyere cheese is a standout.
351 rue St. Paul Ouest, 514-350-1083. For more information, go to www.oliveetgourmando.com
Cluny Art Bart
On a remote street peppered with condos and software companies, the Cluny Art Bar is in Le Fondrie Darling (Darling Foundry), a 19th-century industrial building that has been transformed into an event and art gallery space. Here, the simple fare of daily soup and lunch dishes, sandwiches, and a satisfying antipasto sampler of roasted seasonal vegetables are served in a clean, no-frills cafeteria setting.
257 Prince Street, 514-866-1213
In our second visit to the city, Refinery29 checks out the Old Montreal neighborhood.

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