What can you say about Montreal?

The jewel of French Canada has a cultural and commercial history which is hard to rival in North America.  For centuries, it’s been a bastion of Catholic culture in a majority-Protestant country.  It’s one of the oldest and proudest cities out there, with some of the most notable churches, museums, and theatres.  It’s home to the Canadiens, winner of the most Stanley Cups in history and one of the most hallowed sports franchises in the world.

And on top of all that, it has access to some of the best cross border shopping sites of any Canadian city.  Montreal’s location really is fortuitous when it comes to cross border shopping—located just close enough to the vaunted Northeastern US to have access to the northern New England area, while still remaining in the heart of Quebec.

So, what are some of the best cross border cities at a weekend drive’s length, and what can you expect to find there?  Let’s take a look.

 

Montpelier, VT

Montpelier by https://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/

Montpelier by Doug Kerr / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Montpelier and Mount Vernon in Vermont are both about as historic as it gets when it comes to getting a taste of 1700s America today.  The city is named for the French city of Montpellier, which may be seen as one more sign of the area’s amiability for Francophone shoppers.  General Lafayette, friend of Washington and the most famous of the French generals who helped the Colonies win their independence in the American Revolution, frequented the area.

If you’ve somehow seen all the French history Montreal has to offer, Montpelier offers a fresh opportunity to see French, Canadian and American history in a different place and from a different perspective.

Of course, chances are, you’re going to want to do a little shopping on your day-long vacation, and whether it’s Vermont maple syrup or some fine New England fashion, you can be sure Montpelier has you covered.  Home to both the New England Culinary Institute and Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier offers exquisite choices in both fine dining and the fine arts.  The area is rich in both natural spender and niche shopping items, meaning that a Montpelier shopping experience is one of a kind!

There are busses available which can take you from Montreal to Montpelier, making a day trip there for cross border shopping even easier.  Even better, the Amtrak location for Montpelier runs right through the center of town, making it incredibly accessible to visitors looking to make the most of a day trip.

 

Concord, NH

Concord, NH by https://www.flickr.com/photos/teemu08/

Concord by Teemu008 / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

New Hampshire has a reputation within New England and the greater United States as being somewhat of a haven for “the elite”—a reputation strengthened, no doubt, by consistently ranking near the top in terms of wealth per capita, a long Franco-English history, and the fact that its capital, Concord, seems to epitomize so much of what outsiders see as stereotypically New Hampshire.

Concord is home to the only law school in the small state, as well as a preparatory school and the Granite State Symphony Orchestra.  That might not seem like much, but remember just how tiny New Hampshire is, geographically speaking.  Suffice it to say that wealth and culture have a way of gravitating towards the New Hampshire area, so much so that on The West Wing, Martin Sheen’s oh-so-blue-blooded, Kennedy-esque family hails from…

You guessed it—New Hampshire!

All this wealth of course makes for an extremely attractive location for weekend shoppers.  You can bet on finding the latest fall wear and fashions in Concord, including some exclusive, upscale options you might not find elsewhere in the greater New England area—or in the Northeast at all.  It’s a small town with big city privilege, to be sure.

Add in the fact that New Hampshire is a hop, skip and a jump away from Quebec in terms of travel time, and you have the perfect place to go shopping and while enjoying that quintessential New Hampshire class!

 

Manchester, NH

Downtown Manchester By Billy Hathorn (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Manchester by Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

No, not the home of the United Kingdom’s most well-known franchises.  Manchester, New Hampshire is the largest metropolitan area in the northern (see: non-Boston) region of New England.  If Concord’s not quite your speed, or you’re looking for something a bit more metropolitan, you might want to give Manchester a try.

The big shopping draw here is the Mall of New Hampshire.  It’s one of the main shopping centers in the entire New England area, and is anchored by four huge chains—Best Buy, Macy’s, JC Penny, and Sears.

Of course, chances are you aren’t looking to make a day trip and engage in some cross border shopping just to visit some chains easily-accessible to your 

 

Augusta, ME

Augusta by https://www.flickr.com/photos/qnr/

Augusta by Terry Ross / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Maine is a state that is often overlooked in the grand scheme of things this side of the border.  New York, California, Florida, Texas—all stand out far more in the national consciousness, as well as the Electoral map.  New England on the whole still has a strong cultural presence, but for all of that, when most people think “New England,” chances are they think “Massachusetts” or, more specifically, “Boston.”  Residents of Maine—as well as Vermont, New Hampshire, and the rest of New England, for that matter—may not like that assessment, but it’s true. 

Vermont has Concord, New Hampshire, historic sites and fantastic maple syrups, and Maine has lumber and fishing industries which stand head and shoulders above many rival regions.

One thing you’re definitely going to want to check out on a weekend trip to Augusta from Montreal is the incredible seafood for which Maine is rightfully famous.  As capital of Maine, Augusta has some brilliant downtown shopping and dining, again, all centered around the seafood industry.  Both crab and lobster are absolutely huge in the area, and all manner of New England-area fish make for one of the best fishing territories in North America.

Whether you’re looking for a night out on the town—or down by the pier—with fresh sea air and fresh fish, or an order of specially-prepared Maine shellfish to take home to wow guests back in Montreal with, you’re definitely want to give Augusta and its perfect-for-Canada cross border seafood shopping industry a try.

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