Sainte-Catherine Street: Montreal's Downtown Shopping Destination

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    Sainte-Catherine Street: A Montreal Street Profile

    Sainte-Catherine Street in Montreal
    Jean Surprenant/Getty Images

    Covering a roughly 11-kilometer stretch (6.84 miles), Sainte-Catherine Street is over 250 years old and over time became downtown Montreal's main commercial thoroughfare.

    Cutting through as far west as Westmount and as far east as the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighborhood, particular attention is paid to the downtown core's two kilometres long (1.24 mile) portion where Sainte-Catherine Street is lined with major department stores, shopping centres, restaurants, hotels, colleges and universities, cinemas, and the city's cultural, entertainment and festival hub. Walking further east reveals the Montreal Gay Village.

    When Sainte-Catherine Street Turns Car-Free

    Once a year, downtown retailers spill out onto the pavement for Sainte-Catherine Street's annual sidewalk sale, which covers three-quarters of the street's 2-kilometer shopping mecca (1.24 miles). According to organizers, it's the biggest open-air sale event of its kind in Canada given its 300,000 shoppers and 300 participating merchants, restaurants. and assorted vendors. 

    But the Sainte-Catherine Street sidewalk sale isn't the only occasion the downtown Montreal thoroughfare shines on pedestrians. Several blocks of Sainte-Catherine Street in the Gay Village shut down car traffic in the spring and summer to make way for live entertainment, festivals, sidewalk sales, and more.

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    Sainte-Catherine Street Fair

    Sainte-Catherine Street Fair 2015 Sidewalk Sale
    Evelyn Reid

    Considered the largest sidewalk sale in Canada, the Sainte-Catherine Street sidewalk sale is more than just an excuse to indulge in deep discounts on end-of-season inventory.

    Street food, classic car showcases, male models posing in Scottish gear, live music, karaoke performances and other random entertainment ranging from outstanding to train-wreck-in-progress are readily spotted from block to block. Every year, the two-day sale attracts roughly 300,000 people.

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    The Choir

    the Accueil Bonneau choir at sainte catherine street sale
    Evelyn Reid

    The Accueil Bonneau choir is composed of homeless men helped by Accueil Bonneau's meal, clothing, and hygiene services as well as its social reinsertion programs. At the Sainte-Catherine Street sidewalk sale in 2011, the choir sang a variety of classic tunes, including Quebec icon Gerry Boulet's Toujours Vivant. That's French for "still alive.