Montreal has a new artistic hotspot! The city’s summer boardwalk village, Le Village Au Pied-du-Courant, a 2015 incarnation of last year’s Village Éphémère, has re-opened this summer and is in full swing.
The village is located in a once-underutilized space just west of Bellerive Park under the soaring Jacques Cartier Bridge, which organisers have transformed into a haven for summer pleasure-seekers. Its sandy ground, colourful flag-strewn wooden structures, and ‘skyline’ of eclectic food and drink stalls create a stark and pleasing contrast to the industrial surroundings of Montreal’s Saint-Marie district waterfront.
The project, spearheaded by the Association of Urban Design Quebec (and partner organisations), has aimed to develop this underused spot into a bustling summer village whilst also displaying local design, artistic and musical talent. Their goal is to create an energetic, versatile and inclusive creative space, built through a mixture of social fundraising from the community and the limited budgets of the organizations involved (supplemented, of course, by revenue from the bar). Crowdsourced and not-for profit, the village has managed to remain sponsorship and advertisement-free, and there is no entrance fee.
So what should you expect at this year’s village? First, that you’ll be fed and hydrated by an array of food trucks, coffee stands and a bar. Second, to be entertained, by live music, film screenings, and art installations. A variety of dance parties take place upon its quasi-beach, from electronic to afrobeat (check out the upcoming programming here). Thursdays are “Carte Blanche,” featuring multi-disciplinary artist showcases; Saturdays are “International”, themed around different cities worldwide (Detroit, Cape Town, Bueno Aires, Lisbon, Tokyo, etc.) and Sundays are “Live,” consisting of artistic and musical performances. If you enjoy artisanal and vintage wares, on Sunday afternoons you can browse the village craft market. There are also some scheduling curve balls, such as last weekend’s “Christmas Campers” event, where people could pitch their tents at the beach to sleep over and watch the fireworks.
The energy at this lively ex-wasteland is celebratory, generated not only by Montreal’s balmy evening climes and the impressive vistas over the Saint-Laurent River, but also by the fact that the village is a free space open to all, dedicated to the enjoyment of local arts. Come down to feel the sand under your toes, the cityscape in your eyes, and the music in your ears, for no money, all summer long. (And marvel at the fact that during the winter, the site is a snow-dump!)