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YOUR WESTMOUNT BISTRO: THE CLAREMONT CAFÉ

When it comes to dining in an unfamiliar city, I always look for authentic epicurean experiences. Get me out of the rat race of tourist restaurants and corporate chain eateries, and into a neighborhood bistro where I can actually observe (and participate in) the culture of the city. I want to eat where the locals are eating. And you, my dear reader, probably share my affinity for local eating experiences.

THIS WEEKEND IN MONTREAL (JULY 2 TO 4)

If a forecast of sunshine and highs of 30 ºC /86 ºF isn’t enough to convince you, we’ve got ten other superb reasons for you to get your arse to Montreal this weekend. —————————————————————————————————————— [art festival] FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL MONTRÉAL EN ARTS – As one of the greatest open-air art galleries in North America, FIMA is a one-kilometer stretch of visual art ranging from sculpture to live painting to short film screenings. If you are in town this weekend, a ‘walk through’ is a ‘must do.’ [festival] JAZZ FESTIVAL – The largest Jazz festival in the world, this Montréal institution is typically attended by two million people annually. This year you’ll be serenaded by Dave Brubeck, Cyndi Lauper, George Clinton and so much more. It’s your last weekend to jazz it up! Find a tempo that works for you.

THE MONTREAL JAZZ FESTIVAL: WHERE TO DRINK

The Montreal Jazz Festival is the largest jazz festival in the world. Musical giants such as Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown have all captivated crowds since the festival’s debut edition in 1980. Today, more than 2 million people attend the Montreal Jazz Festival yearly. But the Jazz Fest is not just about music – it’s about life’s pleasures. And truth is, there’s nothing like a bit of jazz to awake my yearning for a glass – or two – of lilac wine. As famous saxophonist Steve Lacy once said: “Jazz is like wine. When it is new, it is only for the experts, but when it gets older, everybody wants it”. Well, the popular Montreal Jazz Festival is now 31 years-old and well above Quebec’s drinking age. Here are some cool places near the festivites to get your sip on!

FIVE VERY FRENCH THINGS TO DO IN MONTREAL

Montreal may be far away from Paris. But sometimes it’s pretty close. Here are four addresses to indulge into the original French lifestyle of Montreal

IT’S MAIN MADNESS ON SAINT-LAURENT

There are some events in Montreal, like for example the F-1, that locals often avoid. But when it comes to this week-end’s “Main Madness”, when all of St-Laurent is closed off to traffic, even the most cynical of Montrealers can usually find something to do… In my opinion this is because Main Madness, also known as the Street Sale, can be an entirely different experience depending on where you are on St-Laurent. If you want champagne and snootily gorgeous waitresses, head to the area just above Sherbrooke for the terrasses that extend out from spots like Buona Notte and the nearby oyster bars set up on the street. If you want DJs and a slight wilder scene, head to the area outside bars like Korova and spots like Laika .

MONTREAL NEIGHBORHOODS 101: DOWNTOWN

The downtown district of any major city often tops the list of things ‘to do’ for a traveler. Montréal’s downtown is a mélange of stores, restaurants, cafés, galleries, corporate headquarters, and yes, those famous “adult cabarets.” Yet the central business district of every metropolis can risk blandness. And a selection of discriminating Montréalers have accused the downtown area of being overly commercial, with a heavy emphasis on big-brand shopping. And we understand that one could feel blasé in any given retail area. But among the generic giants there are plenty of gems. You just have to know what to look for. Here are a few of our favourite things about Montréal’s Downtown district.

MEET A MONTREALER: ANDY NULMAN

Meet Andy Nulman. He’s the brains, and clearly the good looks (see below), behind the massively successful Montréal comedy festival “Just For Laughs.” “In 1985, Andy Nulman joined the festival’s staff and introduced Anglophone events as well; under Nulman’s stewardship, the festival increased to a full month, with French-speaking performers during the first half, and English speakers in the second half. International and non-verbal acts (acrobats, pantomimes, etc.) are scattered throughout the program.” (Wikipedia) The Just For Laughs is the largest festival of its kind in the world. It has brought many comedians to Montréal, such as Jeff Foxworthy, Tim Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Russell Peters, Dame Edna Everidge, and Bill Cosby. But enough about those jokers! Let’s meet Mr. Nulman!

MONTREAL GAY LIST: JUNE

Each month THE MONTRÉAL BUZZ features five gay or gay-friendly things to do or see around the city. Recommendations range from parties to bistros to festivals to boutiques to cultural events. Here are some suggestions for the month of June.

24 HOUR MONTREAL RESTAURANTS (TO FUEL YOUR LATE ADVENTURES)

There is nothing that closes off a killer night out like a burger, some greasy fries and a soda. The fat and carbs from neon-bathed diners help to absorb the evening’s over-consumption, thus reducing the potential of an inconvenient hangover. In fact, the restorative properties of poutine, for example, have been proven by scientists. And by “scientists” I mean “frat-boys-who-study-leisure-sciences.” And I wouldn’t necessarily trust that crowd, but their research has been an integral contribution to formulating a perfect party night. The last leg of an epic evening often ends with comfort food. Here are 5 Montréal greasy spoons to keep your adventures fuelled.

6 GAY GEMS OUTSIDE OF THE MONTREAL GAY VILLAGE

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.