Come mid-May, some Montreal streets begin to be closed to traffic and become pedestrian havens. Significant stretches of Mont Royal, Bernard, Castelnau, Wellington, Ste-Catherine Street West, and Ste-Catherine Ste East and St-Denis south of Sherbrooke shut down car traffic, and the pedestrians, bars, and restaurants all spill into the street. For a list and opening dates click here.
But none of those streets, in my view, hold a candle to Rue Duluth. I was thinking this as I jogged up the street recently. Cars or not, Duluth is a real vibe. The street begins at Parc Jeanne-Mance (at the eastern base of Mount Royal) and heads east for about 1.5 km to Parc Lafontaine. It’s a lane wide and is paved for most of its length with bricks. To drive on it is a nightmare, so the traffic moves slowly. So walk it, from one end to the other.
Duluth has hairdressers, barber shops, chocolate shops, higher-end restaurants, Waldorf toys for your kids, Portuguese groceries, Venezuelan sandwich places, and a gluten-free bakery. Duluth is the street where out-of-town university students get their parents to take them to kitschy Italian restaurants. Somehow in the race to make everything chain stores, Duluth has remained pretty much a family-run affair, skewed towards the hippy/punk end of the spectrum.
But Duluth doesn’t take itself too seriously. The street has a smell, I thought, as I wandered there recently: patchouli. And Duluth too will be closed to cars this summer from June 19th to Sept 5th.