So what can you say about three wonderful days that are now over?

That they were wonderful. That we walked for miles and miles. Or so it seemed. That we didn’t pack warm enough clothing. Well, two of us didn’t. So the tee shirts did not get worn and the turtleneck and scarves did yeoman service. That we ate, and yakked, and drank, and yakked, and then yakked some more. And we shopped.

Enjoying all the pillows.

But let me back up. My friends Marina and Karen and I took the train to Montreal on Wednesday for a girls’ getaway. We stayed two nights in a hotel in downtown Montreal, right around the corner from Ste. Catherine Street. Which, if you know Montreal at all, will tell you that we were steps from where we wanted to be for shopping.

I have to say before I say anything else that I thoroughly enjoyed having a whole hotel room to myself. A huge shower. Bliss. All the pillows. And a bathroom which did not involve going outside. Ha.

Three ladies on a girls' getaway in Montreal
Three ladies in a good mood.

We ate well. Steak frites and red wine for me on the first night. Just exactly what I was in the mood for. And on the second night fresh fish at Ferreirra, a Portuguese restaurant which I’d been to before a few years ago. The food was wonderful. The service was wonderful. And we had a great time both nights.

You know, an attentive and knowledgeable waiter makes all the difference sometimes, I think. A waiter who doesn’t mind tons of questions, and who always has great suggestions, or ideas for sharing, and who maybe twinkles just a little at three middle-aged ladies who are obviously in a great mood.

I wore my leather pants and a black crew-neck cashmere sweater from Everlane to dinner both nights. I always feel fierce in my leather pants. As if the pants are saying… I may have white hair but I ain’t done yet. Ha. The temperature dropped significantly once we were there, so on the second night I had to layer up. I added a striped merino turtleneck that I’d bought that morning at COS, a woolly scarf that I’d also bought that day at Simons, and my old black wool Max Mara blazer.

Of course we shopped and shopped. On the first morning we all three started the shopping day together, and then split up. I made my planned pilgrimage to COS. Whereupon I had a long conversation with a lovely sales girl, toured the whole store, and bought two merino turtlenecks. One navy and one navy and white striped. These were on my list, particularly the striped one.

Then we met up at Simons where I bought socks and a lilac wool scarf. I love Simons’ socks. They were on my list too. The scarf was an impulse buy.

On the second shopping day, I ventured back to Holt Renfrew Ogilvy on my own. I had some serious thinking to do. The day before we’d toured the store together, and I’d been mesmerized by a green coat at Max Mara. You may or may not know that Max and I go way back. Before the saleslady set the coat aside for me, Marina took a photo of me in it. I’d been poring over that picture all night. Should I or shouldn’t I? The coat was pricey. A definite splurge. But hadn’t I said back in January that this would be a splurge year for me? Still, splurge or not, I had to love it. I mean, really love it.

As you may have guessed, the second time I donned the coat, I knew. We were going home together. Max had not let me down. I love, love, love it. Even though it’s a huge departure for me in colour. I mean, it’s green. Not camel, or tweed. But green. I texted Marina and Karen that I had done the deed. I was kind of ecstatic. That coat. The fact that I was totally confident in my decision. And the lovely chat I had with the two saleswomen in Max Mara had buoyed me up.

I still had an hour before I had to meet my friends so I decamped to the cosmetic department. There I spent another lovely half hour with a sweet girl at the Chanel counter. She proffered very good advice. I bought mascara and eye shadow. She loaded me up with freebies. And we yakked about makeup, about working in cosmetics, about career paths.

You may not know that many years ago, before I started my real career in teaching, I spent two years working full time as a cosmetician at a department store here in Ottawa. I was untrained, but had a love for painting my face, and working there was fun. Well, except for standing on my feet all day in high heels. And on Friday, that Chanel girl and I bonded over talk of mascara mishaps, the endless dusting required when one works on a cosmetic counter, and helping desperate clueless husbands choose their wife’s gift on Christmas Eve afternoon. Ha. I’m still smiling as I write this.

I made a little video montage of my friends and my three-day adventure. You can watch it below. It’s very short. You may not even need to refill your teacup.

Late on Friday afternoon we headed for home. After having done our bit for the Montreal economy, as Marina said to her husband when we arrived back in Ottawa. We were tired, but replete. And feeling grateful to have had these three wonderful days. How privileged we are to be able to just pick up and go on a girls’ getaway, like we did. Just because we wanted to go.

I really needed this escape. I’d forgotten what it feels like to just have fun for a few days. And we did have fun. And so many laughs.

I think my favourite line of the trip is when I returned from the bathroom at the restaurant the first night. I sat down and said in a conspiratorial tone, “So… I’m in the bathroom…” Karen guffawed, and said, “Only you, Sue, could go to the bathroom and come back with a story.”

And we all laughed. I loved that she said that. That she noticed that I always, always make a story out of everything. And that she appreciates that quality. I mean, I felt seen, people.

Many, many thanks to my two friends for joining me in my escape. For making this girls’ getaway happen. I’m so grateful for friends who, when I ask if they want to come with me to Montreal for a few days, simply say “when are we leaving?”

So, tell me, my online friends, have you been on a girls’ getaway lately?

Here are some links to what I wore, and what I bought. Everlane reCashmere cardigan. Everlane black, boxy tee shirt. Cashmere crew from Everlane. COS merino turtleneck sweater. Simons wool socks. Aritzia cargo pants. Aritzia Melina faux-leather pants.

P.S. All of the above links are affiliate links, except the links to Aritzia products. If you make a purchase after clicking one of my affiliate links I will earn a commission which helps to pay for the blog. But although I include links to pieces I wear from Aritzia, Aritzia does not pay commission. I post the links as a courtesy to my readers who may be interested.


Would you like to have new posts automatically delivered to you? Sign up below, and when new content appears on the website, we’ll send the story to you via email. 

* indicates required


Would you like to have new posts automatically delivered to you? Sign up below, and when new content appears on the website, we’ll send the story to you via email. 

* indicates required

From the archives


Teaching Empathy in the Age of Trolling and Scrolling

Apparently it's possible to teach empathy. That's good news in my books

How to Make DIY Jeans… When You Don’t Sew

The other day when Hubby came home I greeted him excitedly at the door with the words: “Guess what? I made myself a new pair of pants!” He looked incredulous. And well, he should. Me, sew? Me… who hates sewing. Me… who, after a few years of his waiting and waiting and my procrastinating and procrastinating, refused to ever hem another pair of his pants again. But before I go on with my story, folks, I need to go back. I’ve always loved clothes, and I clearly remember, as a kid, making clothes for my dolls. I’d wield scissors and ...

In Need of a Little Gentle Reading

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that I have an abiding love for gentle books. Stories which ultimately make me sigh and feel that, despite everything, all is right with the world. When I say “all is right with the world” I don’t mean in the sense that the hero triumphs, wins the lottery, finds true love, conquers the enemy, whatever. Not in that kind of larger than life sense. I mean that the plot of the novel, the characters, the setting and, in particular, the style make me feel that, no matter what, life ...

79 thoughts on “Girls’ Getaway to Montreal”

  1. I loved that little trip with you . I have girly trips with my sisters & know the feeling . Montreal looks a big , exciting city – all those skyscrapers . We don’t have many skyscrapers outside London . We have just arrived in Scotland & the cottage is right by a sea loch . The sun is rising , the tide is rushing out & the geese are landing . I feel like I’m sat in your sun room . The downside is we only have it for a fortnight .
    Looking forward to seeing your splurge . Green is a favourite of mine . So is Max . Max is gorgeous & won’t let you down 😁

    1. Thanks, Wendy. I remember you talking about your sister trips. No sitting in my sunroom at the moment…it’s a building supply store. Ha. Scotland sounds wonderful… because it is wonderful. Stu and I envy your ability to visit a totally different environment without flying or driving for ten hours.

      1. I’ve got to be honest , up in the north here we are 430 miles from home & it takes us 6 or 7 hours of driving depending on the traffic . Then there are rest stops to add on for us & the dog . Worth it though .

  2. So glad you had a great trip. Getting away from renovations for a few days can be very restorative and I hope your bathroom will be ready soon. I haven’t left Sydney since the pandemic but I will be going away next weekend to attend a friend’s wedding. The destination is only a 2 hour drive from home but there will be wedding celebrations and overnight hotel accommodation to enjoy. I’m travelling with my husband but some girlfriends are also attending the wedding. Love those Simons socks – what a pity they don’t ship to Australia. Well done on finding some great winter pieces and I look forward to seeing you in your new coat.

    1. This is my first “pleasure” trip since the beginning of the pandemic. Except for a couple of camping trips. It felt wonderful. Hope you enjoy your trip too, Maria.

  3. That looked like a very good time indeed. I wanted that black bag with green lining. Girls’ meet-up next month – twice! One in Cambridge and one in the Derbyshire countryside. Looking forward to both.

      1. It won’t be the primary purpose; I think it will be a great deal to do with my friend’s beautiful house, her dogs and a large woodburning stove. Plus slouching and nattering as someone starts rattling the bottles. There may well be a trip out.

  4. Picture of Max Mara green coat PLEASE. I love that brand so much…unless one drops in my lap from the heavens I will never own one but so happy for you that you bought it.

  5. Loved this account of your getaway and picks. Next time, you might want to check out our local designers, and small, independent boutiques. One I think you would love is Mélanie & Zoe. A very short distance from the downtown core, gems await!

    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Duchesse. I am noting that name. For this trip I had two very specific shopping destinations. If we’d had time we would have explored smaller boutiques to browse and see what we could see. Last time I was there, several years ago, we explored the shops on St Denis. At least I think it was St Denis.

  6. It sounds like you had a wonderful time. Good for you! Sometimes you need an adventure or two to make the day to day routines of life feel manageable. I can’t wait to see your coat and the impulse scarf buy!

    1. Thanks, Kat. I didn’t realize how much I needed to do that until we were doing it. Felt wonderful to be carefree for three days. Not that my life is arduous… just that with the pandemic, family issues, health issues, and reno… I felt a bit ground down.

  7. Loved this account of your getaway (and can relate, as I spent a LOT of time browsing shops while a grad student in Montreal – know those pathways well, although I used to love shopping the little boutiques in the Plateau; of course bought many accessories at Simons). I also have a long history of loving Max Mara, although I mostly buy their dresses. Their coats are beautiful and so classic, as you know – will last you forever. It’s funny, I have a plan to acquire a green coat this year, but I’m thinking of sewing it myself if I can get my hands on a particular fabric made in the Casentino in the right colour. Can’t wait to see yours.

    I have to say you look stylish even in your pyjamas. And “fierce” in your leather pants. I AM fierce, in my way, but I don’t think I can master a look that is fierce. Ever. Always look a little bit more “artistic” maybe, for lack of a better word.

    I also love reading about girls’ weekends. For whatever reason, while I have individual girl friends, my closest friends throughout my entire life have always been men: maybe because I studied in fields where there were few women back in the day, work a lot with men, and maybe because I grew up with brothers. Who knows. So I don’t usually go away on shopping weekends with my best friends, although they are museum and music guys, so we do art and museum and opera/concert trips. As a result, I’m always found the concept of a girls’ weekend quite interesting and intriguing.

    Your energy and excitement flew off the “page” here. Good for you!

    1. Montreal looks so alive, thanks for the fun shopping trip…would love to do the same with my girlfriends. Can’t wait to see photos of you in your new green coat, dearly love green. Hope your bathroom is almost finished, can’t wait to see photos of the remodel.

    2. Thanks, Steph. I am not really a fan of Simons except for their accessories. My god….their sock selection is second to none. Good luck with the green coat. There was so much green in the stores. I particularly loved a mannequin at Holts dressed in various shades of green and olive. What a fun job it must be to design the outfits for display. The displays at Holts here in Ottawa (back when we had a Holts) always gave me ideas.

      1. Agree completely about Simons. I have only ever bought tights, scarves, socks, etc., from there. I was surprised when on their site last night though that they have a collaboration with Smythe. I wonder if they. have the blazers in the Ottawa shop. I didn’t have the resources to shop there then and I was also a vintage wearer, so the first thing I ever bought at Holts I bought at the Ottawa store. Since I go to Italy so often now I usually do any shopping I do there (better prices plus I can usually manage a discount :)).

        Loving that green is a thing this season. Most of my coats and suits are navy blue and I’ve been yearning for more green in my wardrobe, as it suits me. I wish I had time to get to Montreal as I have a work trip to Paris in a couple of weeks and could really use a makeup makeover. That’s one thing I’m fairly clueless about beyond mascara.

        I grew up in Toronto so of course Holts was a big thing.

  8. It sounds like an utterly wonderful trip! Can’t wait to see your new coat-I think I know the model and it is gorgeous :). This particular shade (if I’m right) can be considered as neutral,it will suit you perfectly and I see a lot of combinations. I like to shop alone, maybe sometimes with my cousin. Nevertheless,I love girls trips,shopping alone (or without shopping for me) and fun together,maybe there will be one before Christmas,we will see….
    Montreal looks so nice!

    1. I thought of you as I perused the Max Mara section at Holts. And that sweater I lusted over in MM in Zagreb. I also prefer to shop alone. Too much chat distracts me from making a good decision. That’s why, when shopping with girlfriends, it’s always best to split up at some point and meet up later to compare purchases. I do think that you and I could shop together, though. 🙂

      1. Aw,thank you. Likewise-it was such a lovely experience! Shopping, with a lot of coffee and tea breaks,to share ideas…..

  9. Ah, I traveled to Montreal many times during my work years. Great city! I loved this vlog and can’t wait to see your new coat. Thanks for taking us along.

  10. Like everyone else here, I am curious to see you model your new coat. Girls getaways are such fun and really restorative. I went to San Diego in May with two other friends and we spent an entire day shopping south of the city, well, as well as a bit every day for fun. I came home from that away time feeling renewed after two years of feeling enclosed. As you said, the room to oneself is the best. Glad you ladies had a wonderful time. It is a necessity for the soul to recharge like this.

    1. That’s what I felt exactly, Diane. “Enclosed” for years. And utterly restored after being away. Since my unfortunate trip to the UK in 2017… I have learned that my own room is best. That way I can get off by myself for a time. Unless I’m travelling with my husband. We both know that one of us needs to get up and dash out the door at the crack of dawn, and the other likes to savour the coffee and getting ready process.

  11. You make me want to plan a girls shopping trip to another city. I could feel your excitement as you travelled along by train.
    Just curious but why take the train when Montreal is not a long drive from Ottawa?
    I lived just outside Montreal for two years. The city is vibrant and exciting. The women always dressed so well, a touch sexy but then that is the French way.

    1. I can’t speak for Sue, but I live in Ottawa and usually take the train to Montreal. Driving in Montreal is a pain, as are some stretches of the highway to get there, plus you have to pay quite a bit for parking. The train is cheap and relaxing. It brings you right into the core shopping district where there are many hotels. Also I like the Montreal subway when I want to get around a bit more – has some nice art work and is pretty quick and convenient.

    2. We debated driving, but decided that the train would be more fun. We walked to and from the station, so no taxi fare was needed. And we could eat and drink and chat on the train so much more easily. Taking the train is part of the “going to Montreal” experience for me.

      1. Next time I visit Ottawa, and my girls, I might suggest we take the train to Montreal to shop, enjoy the food and the scene. I never think of train travel anymore. Last time I rode the train I was 15 and living in NS. My sister lived in Montreal so it was exciting for me to strike out on my own.

  12. I enjoyed reading about your girls’ shopping trip to Montreal and I liked the video. I have been to Montreal once, 1967, for the Expo. So, after watching your video a return trip seems like a good idea.

  13. Please model the new coat. So fun to have a girls shopping trip. I usually go with my two daughters and it revives my weary soul.

  14. What a great trip! So glad you were able to get some time away with such wonderful friends and well deserved. Looks like you had a very productive shopping trip.

    1. It was a productive trip, Mary Lou. I found some things that were on my list, did not buy some other things on my list after trying them on, and bought a couple of things not on the list. Perfectly balanced between planned and impulse buys.:)

  15. Love hearing the happiness in your “voice.” Such a needed break–add special friends, Max, a few other goodies and your very own bathroom…voila Parfaitte! Glad you saved your new coat for another post. It deserves one of its own. 🙂

    My last girlfriend escape occurred in March in Edinburgh where I met up with three friends–all Scots, thought one lives in Paris. While I had managed to blow out my right knee (ACL) on the flight over from the US to London and was sporting a full leg brace by the time we met up (I spent a few days in London first, including the first day in a hospital), I was still up for our gathering. They met me at Edinburgh’s Waverly train station and we proceeded to have five great days together. We visited art exhibitions, strolled (slowly) through the Botanical Gardens, did a bit of shopping on George St (Seasalt Cornwall did well by us–sale on), attended a classical concert at Usher Hall and had a fabulous dinner at The Dome–great food and a spectacular setting. It was grand. We’ve already made plans for our next get-together: five days in April…this time in Paris. Can’t wait.

    1. I think I remember your telling us about that trip in a comment on a former post, Mary. At least the part about your knee and the hospital visit. I’m so glad that you still had a great time with your friends. Paris… now that sounds like the perfect girls’ adventure.

  16. I hope we get to see the Max Mara coat. I love the brand and always feel like I hit paydirt when I can find a jacket in a consignment store. Haven’t found a coat yet. So please, model that coat!

    1. The coat will make an appearance soon. I don’t have the space in the house to arrange a fashion post at the moment. Nor the space to take photos… what with dumpsters, equipment, workers… well, you know. Soon…. hopefully.

  17. So enjoyed your girls trip. It was exactly the kind of trip I love so I really enjoyed seeing and hearing about your adventures. We have very similar style in clothing, hair, age, and even shop the same stores. However I’m in the US so some of the stores in your story were new to me.

  18. Am I the only one who needs to hear the continuation of “So … I was in the bathroom …” ?? :o)

  19. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Girls’ weekends are the best. A couple of my friends own beach houses and we used to go for a relaxing weekend with lots of food, wine and chat plus long walks on the beach to walk off the food and wine. Covid put paid to a lot of that unfortunately but we are due for a reunion in a couple of weeks.
    Looking forward to seeing the green coat. Your green hoodie always looks great on you.

    1. Oh…. a beach house girls’ weekend sounds wonderful. Especially in your neck of the woods. Ha. “Neck of the woods”… doesn’t seem as appropriate an expression for New Zealand.

  20. I forgot until I read your post that I have been to Montreal several times. Loved it. The last time was with my husband and daughter, but my daughter and I had a whole wonderful spa afternoon together and then the art museum another afternoon — wonderful, although now I’d love to go shopping!
    The other time I was in Montreal that I loved I got there ahead of my husband. I came from California and he was coming from Detroit which was part of a baseball weekend for him. I got to Montreal in time to go to another art museum, take a walk and then eat dinner alone in a beautiful little restaurant with “local cuisine” and one of those waiters who was patient and answered a lot of questions and had many suggestions for my sightseeing.
    Thanks for bringing back all of these nice memories! I look forward to your posts every Sunday.

  21. Sue, Loved this and your video. I’ve always wanted to go to Montreal. It looks lovely. I would like to get to a COS store one day too. MaxMara is wonderful and a coat from there – a good idea. I can’t wait to see it. Your outfits were perfect and chic for three days of fun.
    I also worked in cosmetics years back after college at Nordstrom and yes I remember the dusting, the long days on heels and wearing hosiery daily then too. I spent so much money on stockings! I still love being in a nice department store and my friend Ani who worked with me, says it’s our happy place. it was fun to see your beautiful stores. Thanks for taking us along and a reminder I need a girl’s getaway soon!

    1. Thanks, Kim. Montreal is fun to visit. Quebec always feels so different from Ontario, the English-French thing. Makes us feel that we’re travelling much further afield. I am really liking COS as a brand. I love the turtlenecks I bought.

  22. Just a wonderful post! Remind me of train trip we took from our location in central Indiana to Arizona several years ago. Gosh I haven’t been in store shopping in such a long time. We did go on short 200 mile excursion earlier this month to do a little antiquing. Love traveling in the fall. I did splurge on myself recently and purchased two pair of Tiffany earrings, Pearl w/Diamond studs and Gold Ball studs. Ever so pleased with my purchase. So happy for you and your friends getting out and about.

  23. Julie from Melbourne

    Love the music and the relaxed feel of your video, plus seeing some of Montreal was lovely.So happy you got quality time with your friends and had a splurge.I love that there is so much green around in the shops as it is one of my favourite colours.I hope you enjoy your new purchases and wear them with pleasure.

    1. I should have filmed more but I didn’t want filming to take over the trip. And I kept forgetting to haul out my phone. Ha. Guess I’m not a dedicated vlogger.

  24. It sounds like you had a great time. So glad that you were able to get away and have fun with your friends. I never do that, but you are making me feel that I should figure it out.
    Wonderful outfits too. I love the cargo pants. I was just on Aritzia’s site, looking at the cargo pants. Are they ankle length or below that? Unless it is summer, I avoid ankle length. I like the detail on the ones that you have, but I also like the wider bottom on this version: I’m tempted to give one of them a try.
    I hope that your bathroom project is finished soon.

    1. The Aritzia cargo pants fall below the ankle. They are a bit shorter on me than on some people because I have long legs. But they are perfect with boots at their full length as you can see in my travel outfit. I also wear them rolled up sometimes.

  25. Wonderful! This will be the first November in many years that I won’t be going on a girls weekend with three of my close friends. Our trips usually take us just two hours from home to Edmonton where we Christmas shop, eat out, sip wine, and enjoy one another’s company, but one year we flew to Las Vegas! Unfortunately, between financial difficulties and poor health, we aren’t going to be able to do our trip this year and I’m going to miss it terribly.

  26. I enjoyed your Vlog so much! A city in autumn is a beautiful thing, but not as beautiful as that sunset you filmed on your ride home. And I agree with another reader- the music was lovely. I have a request. Would you consider doing another skincare and makeup blog and video sometime? From your last one, I purchased the Biossance Squalene Vitamin C Rose oil and the Origins Night-A-Mins cream and absolutely love both. In fact, my sister has commented on my skin. I thought you might have new recommendations- yours in an opinion I trust. And back to the Vlog, I am so glad you purchased the lavender scarf. It looks dreamy and soft.

    1. Now that you mention it, maybe that’s what I will do my November vlog on. I purchased some new make-up products at Chanel in Holts, and I am so pleased with them already. The women in Max Mara and I had a great chat about skin care. They were both in their fifties (I believe) and we talked about the Biossance products.

  27. i had a short trip away lately with my best friend but havent been on a girls group trip since before the pandemic… you’ve inspired me!

  28. Laye to the party. What a great post! Thank you for sharing details, looks like so much fun and a post I’ll save for a trip to Montreal, hoping next spring. Would you be willing to say where you stayed? How long a train ride from Ottawa?
    Hope maybe your bathroom Reno is done by now!

    1. We stayed at a Best Western on Drummond Street. Not fancy, but clean and friendly, the price was right, there’s a Chez Cora next to the lobby for breakfast (yum), walking distance from the central train station. And it very close to shopping. The train ride is a little over 2 hours. Just long enough for a good natter, or a nice read and a cup of tea if you’re travelling alone.

Comments are closed.