The Gay Village is the clear destination for homos who travel to Montréal. With tons of bars, boutiques, cafés, saunas, salons and bistros, one could very well spend a weekend without needing to go elsewhere.
But I sense that you are a gay with a flair for adventure. Being constrained to the Gay Village would only cramp your sophisticated sensibilities. In your quest for alternatives to the gay mainstream, here is a selection of homo hot spots in four other Montréal neighborhoods.
[café] LE CAGIBI – Located in Montréal’s hip Mile-End, this café is the choice of single-speed-bicycle-dykes and scruffy-art-fags. In the mornings you can sip a leisurely latté, and in the evening enjoy a glass of vino, as the back room transforms in to a performing space. Free WiFi and homemade baked treats are also selling features.
[boy party] MEC PLUS ULTRA – Don’t expect to see any drag queens or to hear any Celine Dion remixes at this bi-weekly mixer of students and professionals. MPU (as it’s informally coined) is a space where the Montréal ‘post-gay’ crowd congregates. Held at the Belmont bar on historic ‘Main Street’ (Boulevard Saint Laurent), the music is electropop, the boys are BUTT-esque and the beer is cheap.
[diner] DÉPANNEUR LE PICK UP – Tucked in an unassuming corner of Little Italy, this unassuming diner is owned and operated by a former member of Lesbians on Ecstasy. It’s a breeding ground* for creative queers, featuring a ‘zine rack that provides a flavor of the local art scene. Get the veggie pulled-pork sandwich; it’s scrumptious BBQ meaty realness served on a light Portuguese roll. The Tahiti-inspired wall print is worth a photo or two. So snap away.
[store] SIMONS – A Sunday afternoon at Simons is like standing at the corner of Gay & Gay. The Downtown department store is synonymous with the Montréal retail experience; it is a “Must Do” on any fashionista’s shopping itinerary. I’ve heard of queers traveling from Toronto just to do their seasonal style upgrade at Simons. Featuring many Quebec brands, you can be sure that the threads you purchase here won’t be worn by every cookie-cutter queer back home. Don’t miss the underwear section – if you’re lucky, the men’s briefs will be half-off.
[girl party] MEOW MIX – A monthly party featuring up and coming local performers in a variety style show, Meow Mix is a decade-old Montréal lesbian institution. At any given ‘Mix,’ expect to see burlesque, performance art, drag kings, live music and/or comedians. After the spectacle, the tables and chairs are cleared, and a sweaty dance party ensues. Rock your best lesbian haircut.
[park] PARC LAFONTAINE – Just north of the Gay Village in the charming Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood is one of Montréal’s most cherished parks. And by ‘cherished’ I mean ‘gayest.’ In the summer you’ll see boys rollerblading by hand-in-hand and dreamy dykes nuzzling up with each other on picnic blankets. Bring a baguette and some cheese (and some wine), and enjoy the Montréal joie de vivre in the shade of a leafy maple tree. (Insert romantic sigh here.)
This article also appeared on Insider Out Travel, a blog about GLBT travel written by GLBT tourism professionals.