Ultimate summer guide to patios in the Village

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

This article was updated on July 5, 2021

Montréal’s summertime patios – called “terrasses” by both English and French locals – are an idyllic way to while away leisurely hours sipping hot espressos or cold cocktails while people-watching.

Spot all kinds of style-savvy yet easygoing, fun-oriented Montrealers strolling along the lively one-kilometre-long pedestrian mall on Sainte-Catherine Street in the Village.

For its 15th year, the pedestrian mall is open until October 4 and stretches east from Place Émilie-Gamelin near Berri-UQAM metro station to Papineau Avenue. The pedestrian mall and surrounding area is filled with more than 40 patios, with LGBTQ and queer-friendly establishments to suit all tastes and thirsts.

The layouts of all bars and patios have been redesigned with physical distancing in mind, and numerous COVID pandemic safety measures have been put in place at all establishments to ensure the safety of patrons and employees. Click here for the latest Québec government guidelines for Montréal bars and restaurants.

Al fresco lunches and family fun

A choice summertime destination, the Jardins Gamelin return to Place Émilie-Gamelin at the western end of the Village, just outside the Berri-UQAM métro station, until September 26.

For its seventh season, the Jardins Gamelin has been redesigned with physical distancing in mind.

Once again this summer, the Sentier Urbain organization is in charge of greening the Jardins Gamelin. Visitors can check out The Butterfly Tent and four themed gardens: The Pollinators’ Garden of nectariferous pants that produce nectar and pollen for pollinators; The Bountiful Forest featuring edible forest-ecosystem plants such as sea-buckthorn, ferns and raspberries; The Hanging Garden of climbing plants grown in kitchen gardens, such as cucumbers, squash and melons; and The Global Garden inspired by edible plants from around the world, especially West Africa.

Visitors are also welcome to drop by the greenhouse to chat with Sentier Urbain gardeners for gardening advice.

Picnic tables sit atop an immense fresco floor, there is ambiance music daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and open-air giant games – such as Scrabble, chess, ping-pong and table football – daily from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Dancing in the streets

The Village has programmed all kinds of outdoor entertainment for the pedestrian mall and Atateken Street, from classical ballet and the circus arts to performances by drag kings and queens. The programming runs from Thursday through Sunday each week, from July 8 to September 5.

Where everybody knows your name

Sports bar Le Normandie on Atateken Street is a terrific local watering hole where patrons can get liquored up cheaply. A local institution since 1981, the tavern has two of the nicest and busiest summer patios in the Village.

Constellation of drag stars

Named for Montréal drag icon Mado Lamotte, Cabaret Mado is one of the busiest LGBTQ bars in the Village and a great place to spot celebrities and drag queens. The street front patio is a great spot to catch up with friends.

People watching

Enjoy a pitcher of ice-cold sangria on the street-level patio of Complexe Sky, one of Montréal’s oldest and largest LGBTQ establishments.

Queer hotspot

Bar Renard is one of Montréal’s trendiest bars, popular with LGBTQ and straight young hipsters. The music is never too loud, the waiting staff is cute, the bar boasts a wide selection of wines, microbrewery beers and cocktails as well as a street front patio in the heart of the action. Inside, because of its floral décor, Renard’s unisex washroom has become an iconic selfie location.

Cocktails à la carte

A wine bar by day and nightclub after dark, Bar Minéral on Atateken Street is an architectural delight and boasts a very comfortable sunshiny patio.

Leather and denim

Montréal’s Black Eagle is called Aigle Noir and is home to one of the cruisiest patios in the Village, mainly serving the leather and denim communities, but also popular with bears and the athletic crowd. A true Montréal classic.

Queens in the city

Legendary Montréal female impersonator Michel Dorion’s classic Bar Le Cocktail is a terrific nightclub to see live shows by many of the best drag performers in the city – including Dorion – and Le Cocktail’s comfortable and popular patio draws a great mix of people.

Lady Gaga’s favourite

Queer icon Lady Gaga and her entourage partied at District Vidéo Lounge when it opened in 2017. Patrons can select music videos on the indoor screens or hang out on the very comfortable patio.

“Where men love men”

Popular with the bear and leather communities, Bar Le Stud on the eastern edge of the Village welcomes all types of men, and all types go. Open since 1995, their motto is, “Stud is a men’s bar, where men love men.” There is plenty to do inside the labyrinthine nightclub, which boasts two popular patios – one on Sainte-Catherine Street and the other on Papineau Avenue. Both patios bask in the warmth of the sun until late evening.

Village Motel at Galerie Blanc

As you are strolling by, check out the Galerie Blanc open-air art gallery at the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Wolfe streets. Their current Village Motel exhibition features the works of artists Christto & Andrew (Qatar/Denmark), Genevieve Gaignard (USA), Noah Kalina (USA), Elise Mesner (USA) and Maya Fuhr (CA), and was conceived and commissioned by artist Alexandre Berthiaume (QC) who also created the iconic Village Motel installation. The gorgeous Galerie Blanc is an oasis in the Village, free and accessible at all times, year-round.

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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