Montréal’s downtown lies roughly between rue Sherbrooke and rue St-Antoine to the north and south, towards rue St-Denis in the east and overlapping with an area known as the Golden Square Mile as it stretches west beyond rue Guy. Of the main streets, rue Ste-Catherine offers the most in the way of shopping, dining and entertainment, while boulevard de Maisonneuve is more business-oriented. The Quartier des Spectacles functions as Montréal’s entertainment hub, with over eighty cultural venues and performance spaces. A number of Métro stations provide easy access to downtown’s attractions – most are linked to the so-called Underground City. The area is also dotted with old churches, museums and public squares filled with activity from buskers, artists and market vendors.

The city’s main commercial thoroughfare since the early 1900s, rue Ste-Catherine stretches for 12km across the island, with the part east of rue Guy serving as the main shopping artery. For all its consumerist gloss the road still has its seedy bits, with the occasional strip club enlivening the streetscape, though most have been phased out. Further along, the street passes through the Quartier Latin, forms the heart of the gay village, and then cuts through the Quartier des Spectacles, the splashy entertainment district.