Our chips-loving Frenchman Seby was dying to try the famous poutine when we visited Montreal. And he wasn’t disappointed. After a night out exploring the gay scene of Montreal, this gravy-cheese-curd-fries concoction is the perfect hangover food your body needs!
Montreal is one of our favourite cities we’ve visited during our travels, especially during the summer months.
We came here during the Fierte Montreal gay pride and completely fell in love with the gay village. There are always many events going on Montreal not to mention many different foods to try.
One of our favourite gay travel bloggers, Barry from Toronto told us about his 5 favourite highlights from Montreal’s gay village following his recent visit during the gay pride:
Where to take the best selfies
I love La Graine Brûlée because it is super colourful and quirky. Check out the leopard printed seats, mini ferries wheel, graffiti covered cubby holes and small nooks that make it look like a play room with old Nintendo games. This unique cafe is located on the west side of the Montreal gay village right by the Berri-UQAM metro station. For me, this is THE place to take a selfie to kick off a great night out in the Montreal gay village.
I also love taking selfies by the rainbow crossings that mark the entrance of the gay village. Try to get the background ball installation in your picture, which is rainbow coloured during Pride.
Montreal also has some of the best street art murals, which are perfect backgrounds for your Instagram gallery.
Montréal has long offered delights to fans of gastronomy, but there’s a major difference between the culinary scene of today and even just a decade back. Whereas Montréal used to be chock-a-block with amazing, homey French-style bistros and holes in the wall, today’s Québecois chefs have truly embraced the region’s indigenous farm-to-table bounty and flavors, and married them with contemporary technique and innovation.
A substantial melting-pot population (including Latino and Vietnamese) has also spawned an impressive international variety of cuisines and ethnic specialties from Peruvian Nikkei fusion at Tiradito to authentic Salvadorian pupusas(a sort of corn tortilla pouch stuffed with savory fillings) at neighborhood fave, Los Planes.
The excellent “Beyond the Market” walking tour from gay-owned, decidedly nontouristy Spade & Palacio Tours (Tel: 1-514806-3263. www.spadeandpalacio.com), features a pupusa tasting stop at Los Planes, bites from other venues including Montréal’s famed Jean Talon Market, where vendor Fromage Fermier’s local goat cheese and Havre-aux-Galce’s seasonal ice cream and sorbets alone are worth a visit. The tour concludes with a picnic lunch and takeaway “cheat sheet” with a map of their favorite restaurants and cafés.
Of course, here we have a Montréal “cheat sheet” of our own, which runs the gamut from a game-changing restaurant that has since launched Montréal’s biggest new generation of kitchen talents to a lesbian-owned craft beer pub to a new, buzzy Japanese-fusion bistro. Bonus: those with a penchant for international fine dining can find Canada’s first L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, from French superstar chef Joel Robuchon, at Casino Montréal.
Montréal’s craft-beer scene easily warrants its own feature article: there are some 35plus-brew pubs within the city at present, and around 150 microbreweries throughout the Québec region. A lesbian-owned, threeyear-old brasserie and microbrewer, straddling the Mile Ex and Little Italy neighborhoods, Brasserie Harricana represents a fabulous spot to give some of these brews, ciders, liquors, and even local kombucha a whirl. As indicated on the drinks menu, some draughts are served at specific temperatures, with alcohol content indicated.
The Brasserie’s space is lovely, and be sure to crane your neck and glance upward at the ceiling’s enlarged images of women’s body parts, which are partially obscured by wooden panels resembling window shutters. I created my own flight with tastes of several Harricana brews, including a sourapricot wheat beer, a Berliner Weisse infused with coffee from artisanal local roasters Dispatch, and a raspberry milk stout, plus lip-smacking ice cider from rural Québec’s Cidrerie Milton. The food menu, meanwhile, encompasses gastropub fare: deviled eggs, ale-braised lamb shank, beerroasted chicken, and generous veggie options. Weekend brunch sees crêpés, stuffed French toast, a bacon and egg brekkie sandwich with potato latkes, and decadent ribeye eggs Benedict. 95 rue Jean Talon West. Tel: 514-303-3039.
“Diversity is the engine of invention. It generates creativity that enriches the world”
…spoken by one of Montreal’s most famous (straight) residents, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who led the gay parade when the city was hosting Canada’s first nationwide Fierte Pride.
Canada has always been at the forefront of LGBT rights, being one of the first countries to legalise gay marriages and with one of the most progressive transgender laws in the world. Gay Montreal, in particular, has always been a bedrock of acceptance and cultural diversity, to the point where it has developed the largest gay village in North America, and hosts many gay events throughout the year. Here are our 5 interesting gay facts about Montreal, celebrating its evolution as a haven for the LGBTQ community in North America.
Le Village Gai: Montreal’s huge gaybourhood
Montreal’s gaybourhood, otherwise known as Le Village Gai or just The Village is famous for being the largest gay neighbourhood in North America. It’s literally an entire district of the city, officially recognised in tourist city maps and searchable in social media location tags.
This is the heart of the city’s LGBTQ community, based along the mile long Saint Catherine street, bordered by St Hubert Street to the west, De Lorimier Avenue to the east, Sherbrooke Street to the north and René Lévesque Boulevard to the south.
The Gay Village dates back to the 1980s when it used to be a poor working-class neighbourhood. It was first occupied by gay and lesbian businesses after they were forced out from downtown Montreal. Over the years, the area gentrified massively to become the pink bubble of fun it is today.
During May-September, St Catherine Street is closed to cars, allowing the cafes, bars and restaurants to spill out onto the pavements to create outdoor terraces, giving the village the exciting buzzy atmosphere we love about it. It also has a rainbow crossing to mark its starting point. You can read more in our gay guide to Montreal.
Montreal has one of the biggest gay villages in the world. It’s literally an entire neighbourhood, officially recognised in city maps and social media tags.
And it’s got balls. Lots and lots of balls!
Seriously – each year, between May-September, Le Village Gai has a large display of around 200,000 pink balls hanging down across the main street, the mile long Rue Sainte-Catherine.
This is also the heart of the gay scene of Montreal, with plenty of bars, clubs, after hours clubs, saunas, strip bars, cafes and more, to suit everyone. This is our gay guide to Montreal featuring the best bars, clubs, hotels and things to do, following our visit during the Fierte Canada Pride in August 2017.
Gay bars and clubs in Montreal (open till 3am)
There are many gay bars in the Gay Village of Montreal. We recommend to just head there and see where the night takes you – there’s always something happening every single night of the week.
Note that in Montreal, there’s a blur between what is a bar/club. Most are both and are open until 3am due to the licensing laws. After 3am, people head to “after hours” clubs. These are a few of our favourite gay bars/clubs in Montreal, which close by 3am, unless otherwise stated:
Canada hosted its first ever national pride in 2017 in Montreal and we were lucky to be there to soak it all up.
There were world famous drag queens, super sexy boys, incredible outfits and more.
Watch our latest vlog about it right here, and please remember to subscribe.
Justin Trudeau – as if the charming, dreamy, Disney-Prince-Eric-Aladdin Canadian Prime Minister couldn’t get any more perfect, he turns up at a gay pride event, gives an inspiring speech about the importance of inclusivity and diversity in society, then leads the parade through the streets of Montreal, waving a transgender flag and shouting:
“Happy Pride! Bonne Fierté!”
In August 2017, Montreal hosted the first ever Fierte Canada Pride, an 11 days festival of parties, performances by artists like Nelly Furtado and Ru Paul drag race superstars, then culminating with a large parade on the final day, led by Justin.
We were so proud to be a part of it and like the Puerto Vallarta Pride in Mexico, it ranks as one of our favourite gay pride events. Here’s our 5 favourite moments from the very first Fierte Canada Pride in Montreal.
Justin! Justin! Justin!
Maybe we’re more Justin obsessed than we should be – his perfect bubble butt broke the internet, after all – but we can’t think of any other country in the world where its leader turns up, speaks about how important the LGBTQ community is, then leads the entire parade through the busy streets. In fact, Canada is the only country in the world that we know of, which has its own national gay pride event.
And if it couldn’t get anymore awesome, Justin was joined by another world leader: Leo Varadkar, the gay Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), who marched by his side, with his husband to hand.
After travelling in countries where being gay is illegal and can even lead to a death sentence, it is so inspiring and significant for us to be in a country where the government not only gives such strong visibility to the LGBTQ community, but openly embraces and celebrates us – just like Justin did.
I walked by the bathhouse building several times. It had a discreet entrance, a nondescript façade. On the few past occasions I’d gone into a gay bathhouse before—in gay old Barcelona, in gay old San Francisco—it had been this way: a last-minute mental fencing match, a wrestling with the bathhouse angel, Thinking Fast and Slow About Whether or Not to Enter the Bathhouse. Now I was in gay old Montreal, passing along Saint-Catherine Street again. I turned a corner, walking in an expanding spiral away from the bathhouse on the Plateau, then reversed course, spiraling back towards it. This prolonged little drama of indecision might, I thought, either exhaust my racing mind, which was eminently capable of talking me out of doing anything, ever, or successfully muzzle that sweaty, stinking animal curiosity that had gotten me moving in the first place. Of course I was kidding myself: during that part of my life, curiosity won out almost every time, at least when it came to the question of entering some gay lair or another. I craved a connection—higher, lower, however one came by it—and the craving mastered me. A thunderstorm had passed through earlier in the day. Now, however, as I made my way back to Saint-Catherine, the sky was “clear,” which is to say: oceanic, dark, deep inasmuch as it stretched out and out into the great, grave beyond. I knew almost no one in town, and I’d be leaving soon. Straight couples and small groups strolled along the park, speaking Québécois French, West African French, English, blends of these, other tongues. Soon, the dotted, solemn, yellow-white lights of the park gave way to the cheerful ones of the boulevard, where people dined and drank en plein aire or in luminous rooms behind glass. A pleasing aroma of flesh and char and fat wafted from a brightly lit kebab shop.
One year ago, gay actor-director extraordinaire Xavier Dolan shot Adele’s Hello video just outside his native Montreal. The world watched transfixed as our still-heartbroken heroine, wrapped in faux-fur, emoted amid rolling hills, epic maples and twirling leaves. The clip was a love letter to Canadian autumn. And yet, almost paradoxically, it was filmed in black and white. Don’t get me started. Similarly, standing atop Montreal’s imposing Mount Royal in fall, exploring the picturesque Parc du Mont-Royal thereon, is your chance to channel your inner-Adele in rich, explosive technicolor. Yes, the surrounding countryside provides the perfect playground for foliage followers. But gay Montreal – home to 1.65 million, the largest in the Quebec province and the second-largest French-speaking city worldwide after Paris – is the natural start to such an adventure.
Last summer, Montreal’s Gay Village offered its customary seasonal flourish with the return of “Le Projet de Boules Roses,” artist Claude Cromier’s annual stringing of “Pink Balls” above a kilometer-plus long stretch of Sainte-Catherine Street. Part of the annual May to September Aires Libres public art event, the installation featured 200,000 balls this year, up from 170,000. With Sainte-Catherine Street closed to vehicular traffic between Saint- Hubert to Papineau, the enhanced pink canopy provided its usual ambassadorial welcome to the summer surge of gay tourists enjoying the Village’s clubs, outdoor patios, restaurants, bars, shops, and other establishments. According to Community Marketing Inc.’s 2014 LGBT Tourism & Hospitality Survey, Montreal is an equal favorite alongside Toronto and Vancouver for gay travelers from the US, with Canada heading the list of preferred international destinations. All would seem swell in the heart of one of the world’s most popular LGBT tourism destinations, n’est-ce pas? Well, not completely. As publicized earlier this year by the Montreal Gazette, the Village has been experiencing off-season blues for some time. In keeping with the general trend of these technological times, the Internet is reportedly to blame, as Montreal’s younger gay crowd steers toward mobile dating applications instead of hitting the Village’s bars and clubs. As I learned from renowned Montreal journalist Richard “Bugs” Burnett, however, there is more to the story.