Montreal boasts one of the biggest gay villages in the world. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, the historic part of the city. Montreal’s gay district was once a poor, nondescript part of the city. The buzzing gay nightlife rather livened things up and kicked off the inevitable gentrification process.
The gay village is right at the heart of the city, like London’s Soho. Montreal is very much a city of districts, each with its own character. Many of Montreal’s best gay venues and events aren’t even in the gay village. That being said, many are! The gay village is also a great place to stay, and it’s more affordable than Old Montreal.
You’ll know you’re in the gay village when you the colourful balls up above. (Take your mind out the gutter, it’s art!). The balls were designed by Claude Comier – they’ve become the most iconic symbol of the gay village. You’ll also see an abundance of rainbow flags. The main street is Rue Sainte-Catherine.
In the summer months, the village gets very busy – as does the historic district up the road. This is the Francophone capital of Canada, therefore you’ll find plenty of patios. It’s pedestrian-only, so the bars and restaurants spill directly onto the street. The French defined cafe culture. Montreal’s gay village is a prime spot for people watching. You’ll find no shortage of eye candy.
One of the most iconic gay bars in Montreal, Cabaret Mado is something of an institution. You can’t miss it – the garish design above the entrance is quite distinctive: a papier-mache drag queen. You’ll see some of Montreal’s finest drag talent here, from established queens to up and coming acts. The proceedings tend to take place in French, but if there are enough tourists in the house the queens may switch to English.
This bar is located in the heart of the gay village. Happy hour takes place between 5-8pm. It’s a good place to have an early evening drink and chat. As the night progresses, things get more lively and noisy. You’ll find drag queens, karaoke and DJs – the party goes on until the early hours.
The largest gay bar and club in Montreal, this is where you’ll end up on a big night out in the gay village. It’s best to end your night here after a bit of bar hopping. If you show up too late there may be queues. The drinks aren’t too expensive here. You’ll find some of the finest specimens of the Quebecois night here.
You need to fix that hangover, what to do? Head to Le Saloon and order a burger. You’ll find other hangover-busting meals and healthy options too. Happy hour starts at 4pm here, so you’ll be able to have a well timed hair of the dog.
Food And Drink
Montreal is well-established as a major culinary destination. The celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain was a fan of Montreal’s food scene, and he helped bring it to wider attention on his TV show. Some of Bourdain’s top Montreal eateries include Au Pied de Cochon for fine dining, Wilensky’s Light Lunch for something informal, and Joe Beef for meat and seafood. If it’s good enough for Bourdain it’s good enough for you.
If you want to eat in the gay village itself, we’d reccommend Le Red Tiger for Vietnamese, Rotisserie St-Hubert for classic French informal dining, and Crux Comptoir if you’re feeling very healthy and organic.
One of the best things you can do in Montreal is walk. The French invented the concept of the flaneur in the 19th-century. The flaneur explores that city with no destination in mind, both day and night, looking for sensory stimulation. Montreal is a great place to try your hand at flânerie.
by Alex | On: Gay Montreal