Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bonjour, Montreal!

They look like us, act like us and drink beer like us, but they are most certainly FRENCH Canadians, er, pardon', Canadien français!
Last September, Roger and I decided it was time to head to Canada again for vacation. We ventured up that way several years ago, covering Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Not wanting to travel that far again, we chose Quebec, specifically Montreal which is only a 5 hour drive from Haverhill (correct pronunciation is HAY-vrill).

The city is beautiful and just like the guide books say, doesn't seem nearly as large as it is with 1 million plus in residence.

The guide books also say, don't worry about speaking French as they all speak some English. WRONG! I do know French, certainly not fluently, but as long as I practice beforehand I can manage pretty well. So, I took the guidebooks at their word and tossed the CDs aside until our next foray to France.

From the 1st pit stop at a convenience store after crossing into Quebec, we (I) realized we were in trouble. We were in search of an ATM and not even the teen-aged boy who worked there spoke English. That was only the beginning. Not to say that we didn't find any English speaking people here, but English is far from their first language of choice. Next time, I'll be much better prepared!

Montreal itself is very pretty with so much to do. Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal, located where Vieux Montreal meets the financial district, is a must see.

Along with the church, where Celene Dion was married by the way, Vieux Montreal is the main tourist destination...lots of little streets to explore...
...with a multitude of stores for tourists,
but also many boutiques and art galleries.
And you can't miss Place Jacques-Cartier which rises above the St. Lawrence River. Street performers, outdoor cafes, artists...

...and of course carriage rides.
There are many other areas worth exploring, specifically near the Universities where kitsch and bohemia collide. Not to mention the endless row upon row of bars and restaurants.

Rather than stay in a hotel this trip, we decided to take our chances on renting from an individual and found this fabulous place in Vieux Montreal on This unit specifically can be found at The place was a fabulous surprise, as the website photos didn't really tell the whole story.

The best part was the roof top deck with a shallow pool for ambiance, deck chairs and plenty of seating for lots of folks. We took full advantage!
So if you have a hankering for being somewhere on the slightly exotic side, but don't want to cross the pond, definitely head on up to Montreal and visit our North American Cousins!

All the images are even better when you click on them and get a much clearer view of the details in the scenery.

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