We just came back from a trip to Montreal. My wife and I like to travel to really different places, experience different cultures, and sample really different food. We’ve been to Canada a few times (Niagara Falls, Toronto) but never into Quebec. So, I’ve learned enough French to be dangerous, and we struck out for the city.
What a great place! First of all, Montreal reminded us of New York City…it is actually an island in the St. Lawrence River, much like Manhattan. It has plenty of the modern tall buildings and all the exciting hustle and bustle of New York. However, it’s not nearly as crowded (about 7 million people less). Very clean place and very safe. We walked about 10-12 miles every day to see historical sites and other interesting places and never once felt threatened.
And the French Canadians throughout Montreal we’re just the kindest, most helpful people! I would try my limited French, but right after I would say “bonjour” or “ou est le sale de bain?” (“where is the bathroom?”) they immediately knew I was not French Canadian and would speak perfect English to us. (That was slightly disappointing because I really wanted to try out my French, but they were just being helpful to wandering tourists.) Wherever we went, the Quebecois were so patient and willing to tell us about the best places to visit and restaurants to sample their local cuisine. Some of the most fascinating places to see are: the old town right along the river (“Vieux Montreal” looks just like a 17th century town out of Europe), the Botanical Gardens (probably the most beautiful and incredible gardens I have ever seen), and the Oratory of St. Joseph (a magnificent looking Catholic church built on one of the highest point in the city…not far from their version of Central Park– “Mount Royal Park”).
We saw so much else (and I read just about every historical placque in the city), but the best part was just talking to the people. We’ve never had a bad day in Canada.