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Out in Montreal: a city on a page.

With two thirds of the populace French-speaking, Montreal is rightly dubbed the "Little Paris of North America." Even before Canada's gay marriage victory in June, the city's gay population (60,000 out of a total of 3 million) has benefited from the Quebec government's progressive legislation--notably, a 1977 human rights charter that included sexual orientation.

SIGHT SCENE

Montreal is a fantastic walking town, with its best neighborhoods (OLD MONTREAL, THE GAY VILLAGE, THE PLATEAU, MILE END) within a half hour's walk of each other. A walk up MOUNT ROYAL (more foothill than mountain) Is a must; at its peak you are rewarded with a stunning view--and a giant metal cross that lights up nightly (special purple light bulbs are set to illuminate on the evening of the Pope's death). ST. JOSEPH'S ORATORY, on the other side of Mount Royal, is the city's largest church and awesome enough to inspire religion In anyone. LAFONTAINE PARK, north of the Village, is particularly popular with gay men. Walk north up AMHERST STREET from the Village, taking in the antique and retro shops along the way, and then begin your sight-seeing cruise through the park. The MONTREAL MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS is a city essential. Mark the GAY GAMES on your calendar now, set for July 29 to August 5, 2006 (www.montreal2006.org).

SLEEP SCENE

The most luxurious hotel is a Montreal institution, the RITZ-CARLTON (1228 Sherbrooke West; 800-363-0366; doubles from $195). More modestly priced is the HOTEL BOURBON (1574 St. Catherine East; 800-268-4679; doubles from $80) in the Village. An ultra-affordable though charming option is BED & BREAKFAST DU VILLAGE (1279 Montcalm; 800-228-8455; doubles from $50, but reserve well in advance).

FOOD SCENE

Montreal's Village neighborhood is filled with excellent gay-owned and gay-friendly establishments. PICCOLO DIAVOLO (1336 St. Catherine East; 514-526-1336; $20 per person) is among the city's best Italian eateries (restrain yourself from asking for one Bf the hunky waiters with your pasta). Although there's not much area at AREA (1429 Amherst; 514-890-6691; $20 per person), the 38-seat French bistro is always crowded. Fusion cuisine followers head to BAZOU (2004 Hotel de Ville; 514-982-0853; $20 per person), a funky place where dishes are named for automobiles (bazou translates as jalopy in French). LA PARYSE (302 Ontario; 514-842-2040), a lesbian-owned burger joint in a classic retro diner, serves extra-juicy burgers; In true lesbian-inclusive fashion, vegans can find veggie burgers here.

BAR SCENE

THE SKY (1474 St. Catherine East; 514-529-6969) is the limit when It comes to the right place to people-watch (and people-meet), especially over a pint in the late afternoon; it's also home to a popular nightclub. Close by is LA TRACK (1584 St. Catherine East; no phone), a darker (some might say raunchier) place to dance. The city's vibrant drag scene is on display at CABARET MADO (1115 St. Catherine East; (514) 525-7566), a lounge-karaoke bar named for Montreal's celebrated drag personae. A mixed gay and lesbian crowd congregates at LE DRUGSTORE (1366 St. Catherine East; 514-524-1960), a three-story pub-club noted for eclectic decor and music. The city's finest lesbian bar is the chic PUB MAGNOLIA (1329 St. Catherine East; 514-526-6011). Montreal has also become a favorite stopover for circuit aficionados, with all-night parties taking place year-round (consult Bad Boy Club Montreal, www.bbcm.org).

MISCELLANEA

DORVAL airport is 30 minutes by cab from the city center (about $25). Airporter minivans and buses cost $10. The train station, GARE CENTRALE, is situated at De la Gauchatiere and Mansfield streets, 514-989-2626.

The subway system, the METRO, is clean, safe, and quiet (cars runs on rubber tires).

The GAY LINE, the ultimate reference for all things gay in town, operates nightly, 7-11 p.m., 514-866-5090. For tourist information and links to gay Information sites consult www.ville.montreal.qc.ca.

Fall is ideal, with temperatures in the 40s and low 50s.

For American and European tourists, the Canadian dollar hovers at about 72 cents U.S.

MATTHEW HAYS is definitely "out" in Montreal, as he proves in his piece about the city (page 69). Hays is associate editor and gay-issues reporter for the weekly Montreal Mirror.
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Article Details
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Author:Hays, Matthew
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Sep 30, 2003
Words:683
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