Montreal Gay Village: A Montreal Neighborhood Guide

  • 01 of 09

    A Neighborhood Guide to the Montreal Gay Village

    The Montreal Gay Village is a vibrant neighborhood located on the edge of downtown Montreal.
    ••• ©fitopardo.com / Getty Images

    One of the largest gay villages in North America, the Montreal Gay Village testifies to the open-minded and cosmopolitan nature of our beloved city. A nightlife hub of opportunities with restaurants, terraces and some of Montreal's best nightclubs lining the district's main artery, Ste. Catherine Street, it's also a neighborhood with affordable apartments (i.e., even "student" affordable), excellent public transit access and a central location. By foot, it takes ten minutes or less to get to Place-des-Arts, the Plateau, the Latin Quarter and the downtown core.

    Situated east of the Latin Quarter, west of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and south of the trendier-than-thou Plateau neighborhood, the Montreal Gay Village is one of the city's younger districts, administered by the Ville-Marie borough. Having built itself up since the mid-'80s, Montreal's Village Gai, commonly referred to as "Le Village," spreads over roughly one kilometer (0.6 miles) of the...MORE easternmost part of downtown. Neighborhood limits vary by source but most agree that Ste. Catherine Street, from Amherst to Papineau, is gay village territory while others include up to Berri in the west and far as De Lorimier in the east.

    Residents are a pleasant mix of the LGBT community, gay and straight families, young professionals and university students, gay and straight. Note that some locals complain of red-light activity and occasional sketchiness in the area, though nothing particularly life-threatening. Students may appreciate the neighborhood's proximity to Université du Québec à Montréal, which is about ten to 15 minute walk away.

    As for language, one can get by with English, as most of downtown districts are comfortably bilingual (with the exception of the Latin Quarter, where I've unfortunately heard more audible anti-Anglo comments in recent times than I care to share), but beyond a short-term stay, learning French is a must.

    Sources: QueerMontreal.info, Tourisme Montreal, Montreal Gay and Lesbian Community Centre, Société de Développement Commercial du Village

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  • 02 of 09

    Getting Around the Gay Village

    Beaudry Metro in the Heart of the Gay Village
    ••• Beaudry Metro in the heart of the Gay Village. Photo © Evelyn Reid

    If the Gay Village's car-free zone in the summer isn't enough to convince you cars are completely unnecessary to get to and around the Montreal Gay Village, then consider the three metro stations that service the area, all about five to seven minutes walking distance from each other: Papineau Metro, Beaudry Metro, and the city's busiest and largest subway station also linking to every metro line on the island, Berri-UQAM Metro.

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  • 03 of 09

    A Street for Summer Feet

    Montreal Gay Village
    ••• No cars, just feet on Ste. Catherine Street. Photo © Evelyn Reid

    Having pedestrianized the Gay Village portion of Ste. Catherine Street to make way for special events in the past, the Gay Village is not new to the car-free scene. However, 2008 marked the first year the Montreal Gay Village closed off the main neighborhood and commercial artery to cars for an entire season.

    The street usually closes in late April/May to make way for pedestrians and opens back up to cars some time in September.

    Ste. Catherine Street is also be host to events, street sales, outdoor art exhibits and busking of all sorts.

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  • 04 of 09

    Solving Vandalism With Murals

    Montreal Gay Village Mural
    ••• Fighting graffiti with art!. Photo © Evelyn Reid

    Officially unveiled July 16, 2008, the above mural, created by Simon Bachand and Jasmin Guérard-Alie, cost $35,000 to make, measures 12m high and 24m wide (39' by 78') and represents about 1,500 hours of work. Located at the Bourbon Hotel at 1578 Ste. Catherine, the City of Montreal is attacking vandalism by encouraging businesses to fill up otherwise vacant graffiti-inviting walls with street art.

    Sources: City of Montreal, Société de Développement Commercial du Village, Journal Métro

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  • 05 of 09

    Shopping

    frip frap thrift store in the montreal gay village
    ••• Thrift shop frip frap sells used and new clothing. Photo © Evelyn Reid

    With about 50 boutiques—clothing, decor, etc.—spread out over 14 blocks in the thick of as many restaurants, bars and nightclubs, the Montreal Gay Village has a quirky shopping destination/unconventional strip mall side to it.

    Set aside a couple of hours for shopping and supplement the experience with a terrace visit or restaurant meal area for full effect. The naughtier among you will surely stumble on Priape, an iconic fetish store that's been in operation for decades.

     

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  • 06 of 09

    Terraces Taking Over

    View From a Gay Village Terrace
    ••• View from a gay village terrace. Photo © Evelyn Reid

    The pedestrianization of the Gay Village strip of Ste. Catherine Street in the summer has been a blessing for terrace-lovers, with over 50 "terrasses" to burden you with choice, such as Le Saloon, one of my top gay village restaurant picks.

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  • 07 of 09

    Behind Every Terrace Is a Restaurant

    Restaurant Le Saloon
    ••• Restaurant/bar/lounge Le Saloon. Photo © Evelyn Reid

    The Gay Village has its share of decent restaurants and pubs. Below are a few favorites.

    Grenade
    1603, rue Ontario E
    Phone:(514) 525-4251

    Le Saloon
    1333 Ste. Catherine East
    Phone: (514) 522-1333

    Le Resto du Village
    1310 Wolfe, corner of Ste. Catherine East
    Phone: (514) 524-5404

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  • 08 of 09

    Nightlife

    Stereo Montreal
    ••• Inside Stereo in July 2008. Photo © Evelyn Reid

    Nightlife in the Montreal Gay Village is really fun. Particularly when it comes to big multi-floor dance clubs, there's often an anything-goes-dance-however-you-wish feel to them that can lack at some of the Plateau's larger nightclubs. Some personal favorites include:

    Unity
    1171, Ste. Catherine East
    Phone: (514) 523-2777

    Stereo
    856 Ste. Catherine East
    Phone: (514) 282-3307

    Sky
    1474 Ste. Catherine East
    Phone: (514) 529-6969

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  • 09 of 09

    French Media Mini-Mecca

    CBC/Radio Canada Building
    ••• CBC/Radio Canada logo visible on the top left. Photo © Evelyn Reid

    One note for those interested in media jobs. The Montreal Gay Village has a strong media presence, particularly French radio, film and television broadcasting. The bigger production houses in and around the Gay Village include:

    CBC/Radio-Canada
    1400 René-Lévesque East
    P.O. Box 6000
    Montréal, QC H3C 3A8
    Phone (toll-free): (866) 306-4636

    Zone 3
    1055 René-Lévesque East
    Suite 300
    Montreal, Quebec H2L 4S5
    Phone: (514) 284-5555

    Groupe TVA
    1600, De Maisonneuve East
    Montreal, Quebec H2L 4P6
    Phone: (514) 526-9251