You grab your buddies and decide to hit the bar tonight when suddenly, a dilemma hits you. Should you go out on a limb and try out a French Quebecois bar for the first time or stick to the same old Irish-style pubs? If you are an adventurer, then along with the thirst for an ice-cold beer, you will also have a thirst to try something other than your typical bars and will accept the challenge.
This is how it happened with my friends and I. The first bar I ever went to, situated in the heart of picturesque Old Montreal, was Les Deux Pierrots. And honestly, I’ve never experienced anything like it before.
2P is a loud and vibrant scene. This type of bar is known as a “boîte à chansons” or “chansonnier,” in English, a coffee house or song bar. The majority of the patrons are French-speaking Quebecers who come together to enjoy their Friday and Saturday nights, so some knowledge of French would come in handy. Here, you can find a wide demographic from eighteen- to fifty-year-olds. I noticed that the most common age group was the early twenties.
My friends and I got a great taste of genuine Québecois culture as we walked down the narrow, cobble-stoned St-Paul Street and entered the tavern-like building.
We payed a cover fee of $7 and coat-check was optional. A very warm, cozy, and exciting atmosphere welcomed us as we grabbed a table. Dim lights and brick walls gave the place a rustic ambiance. Thankfully, there were plenty of staff members so we were served within five minutes of our arrival.
The bar consists of two floors, the first with a stage and dance floor in the middle and surrounding tables and chairs. Two sets of stairs lead to the second floor which is basically a large wooden balcony running around the perimeter of the ground floor supported by large wooden beams. An empty middle allows guests to look down at the stage and dance floor. The top floor also has its own bar and plenty of tables and space for dancing.
We were greeted with traditional Québecois music: French folk rock (drums, acoustic guitar, violin, harmonica, tambourine), songs that any born and raised French-speaking Quebecer could easily sing to by heart. Seeing as we were not used to this type of music, it was a bit awkward for us at first, but eventually we really got into it and danced along; you can’t help but tap your foot to the traditional beats. Later on, the bands played classic and modern rock song covers in English and alternated between the two languages. My only complaint is that the music was perhaps a bit too loud and my ears were still ringing when I got home.
On the stage are popular, local francophone artists such as Osmoze, Éric Masson Trio, and Karl Millette. The emcee and the bands performed in a very laid-back manner and interacted with the audience constantly. Everyone was encouraged to sing along and dance and by the time midnight arrived and the alcohol was spilling, the entire bar became one giant mass of, in the best description, dancing, clapping happiness. The vibe was electric.
For attire, dressing fancy and sparkly as if you were going to a club will make you stick out like a sore thumb. Simple jeans and a t-shirt or maybe a slightly fancy top will suffice.
At 2P, beers range from $4 to $6 and a 48oz pitcher will cost $13. Shooters are $2.50. Drinks cost less on Friday’s as opposed to Saturdays.
Is it worth trying out? Well, with a French Québecois bar like this, you will either love it or hate it. People might not enjoy it because of a language barrier, culture shock, and music. Then again, if you like trying new things and discovering other cultures, this might be just for you.
If you’re looking for a quiet night out at a lounge then look elsewhere. However, if your curiosity leads you here, the evening won’t disappoint. If you plan on giving this bar a shot, make sure to venture out with an open mind because it is a whole different music and dance culture.
Overall, Les Deux Pierrots is a great way to spend your Friday or Saturday evening with friends bouncing along to the fiddle and folk music that will have you feeling très Quebecois.
Les Deux Pierrots is located at 104 St-Paul St. E. in Old Montreal.