Montreal: A Timeless Gay-Destination With French Old World,
By Joshua Head
December 23, 2008 ---
The "joie de vivre" is palpable and contagious in this vibrant,
diverse and cosmopolitan city of two million inhabitants.
There is no other city in North America one can experience the
European charm and French culture that Montreal has. Whether partying at one of the many gay events scheduled
throughout the year, gambling at the huge Casino de Montreal,
shopping the Underground City that includes Eaton Center Mall, or
just exploring Old Montreal, there' s no escaping the excitement and
energy that pervades the entire city.
Many people who visit Montreal during one of their party events such
as Black and Blue don' t take time to explore this wonderful city. Although the parties are great, one should always take time
to peruse areas outside of the Gay Village. Old Montreal is just steps from the Village down by the St.
Lawrence River. In the
summer you' ll see speed boat rides on the water, outdoor cafes
jammed with folks soaking up the great weather, horse and carriages
touring visitors on cobble stoned streets. This is Montreal at its best. An area where you never know what you might stumble upon,
such as a glass-blowing artist or even a clown. It is an area bound by Canadian Indian' s selling their wares
and French culture rolled up all-in-one.
On a clear day, there' s nothing like taking in a panoramic view of
Montreal from the top of Mt. Royal, the city' s namesake. You can follow a winding road with wooded shortcuts on foot
or bicycle, but I would suggest a cab. At the summit, you' re greeted by stunning views of the entire
city. And then there
are the beautiful
Botanical Gardens across from the space ship looking
Olympic Stadium. These two attractions could easily keep you busy for the day. The gardens with varied themes such as the Asian inspired
Japanese gardens are most beautiful of course in the Spring and
If you are a first time visitor to Montreal, you' ll notice one of
the largest Customs areas you' ve ever seen. It is quite a hike from the gates but it is usually very
efficient. Once through
customs and retrieving your luggage, there are cab stands just
outside. I suggest
using your ATM card at the airport to get Canadian cash. If you use the money exchange booths, you don' t get the best
Montreal has a wide variety of hotels for every taste. Most of the smaller hotels such as those in the Village are
European styled (small-rooms). Many offer free breakfast such as
Hotel St. Andre, or
Manoir Des Alpes and are very quaint and have clean rooms at
budget prices usually starting around $79 a night. Larger chain hotels are also available as well and there is
one in the center of the Village,
The Gouverneur Place Dupuis. Standard chain hotels such as the Hyatt, Holiday Inn and
others are only a few blocks from the Village.
The Gay Village is an area that stretches from the Saint Hubert St.
to Papineau Avenue, a distance of nearly two kilometers.
From June until September, Sainte Catherine Street is closed to
vehicles and transformed into a pedestrian walkway filled with
outdoor cafes. This area has changed greatly in the
last ten years. Like
other gentrified areas, many of the small shops and eateries have
been replaced by Ben & Jerry' s, Starbucks, and McDonald' s. There are plenty of fast-food chains for a quick bite, however
if you want to sit down and enjoy the true charm of Montreal, check
out the gay favorite,
Saloon on St.
Catherine Street or for French style breakfast, go to
Chez Cora. CrÍpes and fruit are in plentiful supply as your waiters
scramble to insure guests are taken care of in this busy goldmine of
an eatery. Just
remember if you sleep late, Chez Cora' s closes at 3pm. If there is one thing Montreal is not short of, it is
recommend asking the hotel front desk for places that might meet
your special cravings.
Over the years, Montreal' s popularity with gay visitors grew from
the many male strip bars. The two staples, Campus and Stock Bar have been written about
countless times. As of late,
bit smaller than Stock Bar,
seems to have the larger crowds. For those that like younger and thinner guys, there' s always
Taboo. Private dances
are $10-$20 a song (about 2-3 min). On point of note, many (about 75-85%) of the dancers are
For those that wish to partake of a sauna, there are plenty in
Montreal. In the
Village there are at least three and on special party weekends, they
can be packed with visitors and residents alike. They are easy find and have reasonable rates.
Montreal gay-nightlife is abundant and the main clubs are
Sky Bar Complex.
During the special event weekends such as Pride or Black and Blue,
these clubs are jammed with revelers. All are within walking distance in the Village and all offer
Multi-level complexes, each garners A-List DJs throughout the year. By law, clubs close at 3 a.m. however, special events may
last until 8 a.m. with after-hours events many times lasting well
into the afternoon. The
larger party weekends include Summer' s
Pride (Divers/Cite), Fall' s
Black and Blue, and
Spring' s Bal en
Blanc. These events
take place in larger venues such as Palais de Congress or even the
Olympic Stadium and upwards of 10,000 people may be in attendance.
Whatever time of year you decide to visit Montreal, it is sure to
have something of interest. Whether you roam Old Montreal or party all night, Montreal is
one of the best gay-destinations in North America to visit. With the European charm of France combined with reasonable
prices and friendly locals, this is one city that is sure to please.