The southeast corner of Rue Ste.-Catherine O. and Rue St.-Urbain used to be the hub of Montreal’s nightlife during the Prohibition era, when the Gayety Theatre, a vaudeville house that featured famed burlesque artists like Lili St.-Cyr, stood there. Now, it’s the stylish, modern (1) Théâtre du Nouveau Monde (84 Rue Ste.-Catherine O; www.tnm.qc.ca), where vanguard works by Quebec playwrights like Robert Lepage have their premieres. After having a snack in the café of the TNM, walk past the vast arts complex (2) Place des Arts (175 Rue Ste.-Catherine O.; www.pda.qc.ca), and enter the (3) Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (185 Rue Sainte-Catherine O.; www.macm.org) where works by contemporary Quebec modern artists are world-class touring shows. Then, head west down Rue Ste.-Catherine, past the headquarters of (4) Quebec’s MTV, MusiquePlus (355 Rue Ste.-Catherine O.; www.musiqueplus.com). Peer in the windows to see if Madonna or Jean Leloup is taping a concert that day.
Continue on past Rue St.-Alexandre and past the recently restored and historically important (5) St. James United Church (463 Rue Ste.-Catherine O; www.St.jamesunitedchurchmontreal.com), where a well-timed peek in the doors may render a chance to hear a recital or practice of their 30-voice church choir. Further west, on the corner of Rue Aylmer, the (6) Hudson’s Bay Company (585 Rue Ste.-Catherine O.; www.hbc.com) sells their famous striped wool blankets, as well as everything else under the sun. Under The Bay is one of the many entrances to Montreal’s so-called Underground City, which is really a network of several shopping malls linked by tunnels—useful during the winter months when pedestrians want to minimize their time spent walking outdoors.
You’ll now walk past several mall complexes: (7) Les Promenades de la Cathédrale (625 Rue Ste.-Catherine, www.promenadescathedrale.com), which lies underneath Christ Church Cathedral, the upscale (8) Complexe Les Ailes (677 Rue Ste.-Catherine, www.complexelesailes.com), and the (9) Eaton Centre (705 Rue Ste.-Catherine St. O.).
Turning right, walk up Avenue McGill College, to enjoy a view of (10) the gate to McGill University (corner of Rue McGill College and Rue Sherbrooke O.), with Mont-Royal behind. Once you’re on Rue Sherbrooke O., you’re on the south edge of the famed Golden Square Mile. Behind you is the (11) Musée McCord (690 Rue Sherbrooke O.; www.mccord-museum.qc.ca), which exhibits handcrafts and artifacts from Montreal’s history, and was once administrated by McGill University. Going west along Rue Sherbrooke O., you’ll travel along a chic shopping stroll, as well as the (12) Ritz-Carlton Hotel (1228 Rue Sherbrooke O., www.ritzmontreal.com), which houses visiting dignitaries and royalty, as well as movie stars. Across Rue de la Montagne is (13) Holt Renfrew (1300 Rue Sherbrooke O.; www.holtrenfrew.com), Canada’s luxury department store. Linger in the racks or in the lunchroom (a favorite spot for the well-heeled ladies who lunch), or continue on to another reward: (14) The Musée des Beaux-Arts (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) (1379-1380 Rue Sherbrooke O.; www.mbam.qc.ca), where the city’s share of the world’s art treasures are housed.
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