The Quartier is THE place to be this summer!
July 31, 2020
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The hot sun shines on a tranquil Sainte-Catherine St. There’s plenty of summer left in the Quartier des Spectacles: its streets and public spaces are still hopping, thanks to refreshed urban designs and a summer cultural program À vous de jouer. Ici, là, partout ! designed to mesh with public health guidelines. It’s all about putting you at the heart of the action.
Come spend some time in the Quartier to see what the refresh is all about. Here’s a suggested east-to-west stroll, perfect for a solo jaunt or an outing with your bubble-mates.
START: LES JARDINS GAMELIN
A great place to start is found right next to the Berri-UQAM metro station. This summer, Les Jardins Gamelin have been refreshed with an airier design, to give everyone the space they need to keep a safe distance without being absurdly far apart. As you arrive via the Sainte-Catherine St. entrance, surrender to the impulse to move your body to the danceable, all-Quebec playlist crafted by ICI MUSIQUE. After grooving for a bit, check out the plantings by Sentier Urbain. More delights await: everything is adorned with colourful illustrations by Vincent Tourigny and livened up by the Gamélites, the cute stone creatures that kids love so much. There’ll probably be a fun surprise for you when a modern circus routine, dance number or street-art performance pops up to interrupt your reveries. These spontaneous cultural happenings will brighten the entire summer.
Once the applause dies down, continue on your way. Before heading west, you really ought to take a detour to Saint-Denis St. You might not recognize this iconic strip, no matter how often you’ve visited it before. Most obviously: no cars! The stretch between Sherbrooke and Sainte-Catherine is reserved for pedestrians and lined with terrasses belonging to the restaurants of the Quartier Latin.
HEADING WEST: TOWARD PLACE DES FESTIVALS
Continue your stroll by heading west on Sainte-Catherine. There’s plenty of street furniture, and under the trees of Parc Hydro-Québec you’ll find a great lunch spot set up by ADHOC architectes, Maude Lescarbeau and Camille Blais, giving you a comfortable place to enjoy a delicious meal from one of the restaurants of the Central. After a lunch break, test your skill with a chess match on the giant boards. Between moves, admire the delightfully colourful dogs of the installation Dans ma cour... ç'a du chien ! by Mélanie Crespin.
A few more steps and you’ll have reached Jeanne-Mance Street and sunny Place des Festivals, bordering the street for a block. It’s greener than you remember: trees and flowers have been planted all around a series of rest areas, creating a shaded setting where you can kick back and while away some summer hours. If you can, check out all the different picnic tables. Each is decorated with unique art, showcasing talented Montreal illustrators Romain Boz, Delphie Côté-Lacroix, Mathieu Labrecque, Mathieu Potvin, Amélie Tourangeau and Lateef Martin a Quartier des Spectacles Partnership production in collaboration with BAnQ, produced by MU.
The fountain in the middle of the square is a cool oasis, and the surrounding area been reimagined to add some new, appropriately distanced gathering places. Keep your ears open as you visit the first, where an original composition by Patrick Watson, mixed by Mathieu Parisien, will entertain you. The other is a terrasse where you can tuck into a meal purchased from one of the nearby restaurants.
Even with its new look, Place des Festivals remains, above all, a place for the arts. Lucky visitors will get to enjoy surprise performances and cultural happenings – clowns, jugglers, brass bands and improv artists will be just some of what you’ll see and hear in Place des Festivals this summer.
A SHORT LOOP TO THE PROMENADE DES ARTISTES
It’s tempting to stay on our beloved Sainte-Catherine St., but we highly recommend a quick detour. After going all the way to the north end of Place des Festivals, go left on Président-Kennedy Ave. UQAM’s Pavillon Président-Kennedy looms ahead, like a landlocked ocean liner, and if it’s after sunset you’ll see a new video projection on its walls: En FORME! by CHAMPAGNE CLUB SANDWICH.
Now you’re on the Promenade des Artistes. A spring and summer fixture in the Quartier for the last ten years, the amazingly fun art installation 21 Balançoires/21 Swings awaits. As you sway gleefully, your motion generates musical notes that harmonize with those made by other people on the swings, coming together in an irresistible melody. The swings have become synonymous with the Quartier – it would be almost criminal not to stop and take your turn on them!
Raise your eyes toward the lighting megastructure at the corner of De Maisonneuve and Jeanne-Mance. There’s an outsized spiral staircase hanging from it, and it’s worth taking a good long look. A quintessential Montreal symbol, these spiral stairs reach skyward, as if leading to the gates of a boundless imaginary realm. Is that a barbecue up top? A watering can sitting on a step as if abandoned by a hurried gardener? The story is yours to tell! The work, titled Our DNA, is the brainchild of artist Patrick Bérubé, and it might just be all the inspiration you need to tell your own Montreal story. The possibilities are endless.
The best thing about all this? You can do it again and again, walking in the opposite direction or just wandering wherever you will. You’ll always find new surprises to make each visit unique.