July 4, 2011 — Wikipedia states that Montréal’s Gay Villageis the largest of its sort in North America. With over a hundred restaurants, boutiques, cafés, and bars to choose from, you may elect to spend an entire weekend getaway never leaving the village and soaking up gay life à la Montréal.
May through September is definitely a popular time to visit the city, as Sainte-Catherine Street (the main strip in the Gay Village) is closed to motorized vehicles for Aires Libres, an annual summer event. This creates a community feel to the neighbourhood, with pedestrians wandering leisurely down the 10-block strip and folks people-watching on the numerous terrasses that flank the street.
For a fun night out in the Village, start with dinner at Le Saloon, a funky bistro that features a copious menu and a DJ spinning. Popular with locals and visitors alike, the venue has served over half a million martinis in 15 years. That many gays can’t be wrong.
If your tastes run more upscale, be sure to book a table at Carte Blanche, whose menu features excellent French bistro fare. While the ambiance here may be more restrained (except for the bright multicolored striped wallpaper), the food is absolutely delish and served sans snootiness. For a true Gesamtkunstwerk dining encounter, head to NÜVÜ Bistro-Expériences, where the interior design is by Humà, daily theme projections are by Moment Factory, paintings are by Dominic Besner, staff uniforms are by designer Philippe Dubuc, and the menu is a fresh mix of French gastronomy.
If top-notch drag performances tickle your fanciness, Montréal’s celebrated drag queen emporium Cabaret Mado is a must-see on any boy’s itinerary. Mado herself hosts the evening each Tuesday and Saturday, but be forewarned, she will often tease those close to the stage. But don’t worry. Most of the local boys can take it.
When you’re ready to bust your own sexy dance moves, there are plenty of options. If you prefer unpretentious, scruffy men, head over to Bar Le Stud. Ladies unite at The Drugstorefor seven floors of lesbian loveliness. Meanwhile, Complexe Sky is always abuzz with its rooftop terrace, cabaret, and three other gathering places, each with a different ambiance offering hip-hop and dance music.
And if you happen to visit a snowy Montréal, you can take refuge in Gotha Lounge, a bar/lounge with a fireplace and cozy atmosphere that will blanket you with its charms and add that finishing touch to a romantic winter evening in the city of love.