How were you treated in Quebec?

Old Jul 26th, 2007, 01:44 PM
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How were you treated in Quebec?

When we were planning a trip to Quebec, a guy at work who was from western Canada told us that people in Quebec would be rude to us because we didn't speak French. We did not find that to be the case at all. However, during the trip we spoke to another Canadian guy who said that folks were rude to his family because they didn't speak French. I concluded at the time that if the folks in Quebec know you are American, they don't expect you to speak French, but if they know you are Canadian, they get irritated if you don't speak French.

Fast forward to this year. We were in Maine in line at a store behind an American couple who told the sales clerk that they had just been to Quebec and that the "French people there were disgusting." They didn't elaborate on any particular experience, other than to say they were the rudest people they've ever seen.

I don't quite know what would have to happen to me to brand an entire province of people "disgusting." How were YOU treated in Quebic?
missypie is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2007, 02:12 PM
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I have no idea what the 'disgusting' comment meant, but I imagine it is more a reflection of what the couple who made the comment are like than it is about Quebeckers.

I have travelled extensively throughout Quebec and it is a fallacy that you will be treated rudely if you do not speak French. Walk around with a smile on your face and treat locals kindly and the same will be returned (wherever you go in the world I imagine). Please do not let the comments of a few (and likley a prejudiced few) deter you from visiting Quebec. You will love it.

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Old Jul 26th, 2007, 02:38 PM
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I was treated wonderfully, and I don't speak French.
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Old Jul 26th, 2007, 03:08 PM
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I think that the notion that you will be rudely treated in Quebec if you don't speak French is utter nonsense. kireland put it well that it reflects more on the person making the comment than on Quebeckers.

In Montreal, in fact, it's often likely that people will switch to English if they sense that the other person's French is not fluent.

There are parts of the province, however, where people speak only French, and their failure to speak English is construed by some as rudeness.

I wouldn't let the comments of a couple of disgruntled English-speaking Canadians put you off your visit.

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Old Jul 26th, 2007, 03:38 PM
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Just to be clear, my own visit was several years ago and people were great to us. I was just so surprised to overhear the people in Quebec described as "disgusting." That is such a strong term, as if the entire population was relieving itself in the street or something.

I will say that the couple in question was TERRIBLY dressed. The middle aged guy was in a white undershirt with the sleeves cut out; the shirt was stretched tight over his gut. His wife didn't look any nicer. I don't think they were impoverished, because they were buying things at an expensive store.

I sort of wondered if they had tried to dine in nice restaurants in Quebec dressed like that, and were perhaps turned away.
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Old Jul 26th, 2007, 05:40 PM
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Hey missypie,

I live in Montreal, and will certainly admit that there "some" quebecois who do get irritated when they are not spoken to in French, I've encountered it personally. However, those people are rare and I don't think they should be represented as what all Quebecois people are like.

Montreal is a tourist friendly city, as is much of Quebec, and with a few exceptions the people are welcoming and accomodating. It's too bad some people have the nerve to go around branding an entire group of people because of one negative experience they had, which was probably brought about by their own actions anyways.

Enjoy Quebec!!

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Old Jul 27th, 2007, 07:22 AM
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We were on a road trip when we visited Quebec. We had car trouble in the old city and the people could not have been nicer or more helpful in getting us to a garage and finding someone there who spoke English.
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Old Jul 28th, 2007, 10:01 AM
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Same here. Amongst the nicest people. I think it's easier for someone from outside Quebec to get along there than it is for someone from Quebec to get help in their language in Canada. Comments I hear from Canadian coworkers make my eyes roll as they seem to reflect baseless opinion and not fact. Maybe they're just frustrated that they can't communicate in a second language?
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Old Jul 28th, 2007, 03:13 PM
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My experience in Quebec was the same as any other place (amongst the fifteen or so) where I am not fluent in the major language. Before I go, I learn a few terms in that language, as well as expected courtesies in that culture (for instance, it's not enough to know that the French greeting is "Bonjour," you must know that this greeting is expected to be the first words in ANY conversation). I then begin any meeting with words in their language. In every case, the unspoken response has (basically) been "Okay, you've spoken my language out of politeful respect. Now I'll speak English so we can communicate." The one time this didn't happen was in Quebec province, where a deli sandwich maker, who apparently knew no English, wanted to know what to put on my sandwich. We actually ended up smiling as she would point to something, and I would say either "Oui" or "Non."
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Old Jul 28th, 2007, 04:10 PM
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I was in Quebec City in June this year and I returned there from last year because I loved it so much. I read French very well but do not speak it well but always attempt it and after a few days I get better, (no one to practise with at home here). The French people always appreciate a few words in French and it's not difficult to memorise some before you leave home. The French in general and this includes Quebec are a little more formal with strangers to begin with which sometimes comes across as being a bit stand offish. I found the people there to be very helpful and friendly, it is the old story and one to live by -
'Do unto others as you will have them do unto you'
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Old Jul 29th, 2007, 09:32 AM
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We go to Montreal and the Eastern Townships frequently and I always find people very patient with my very rusty French and polite to my husband who does not speak any French
We have been to several of the smaller museums in Montreal where people did not speak English and exhibits were in french and everyone takes great pains to explain things to me.
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Old Jul 29th, 2007, 10:59 AM
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In Quebec city and on the Gaspé we were treated cordially by the people who could speak English. We ate at a restaurant along the north shore of the peninsula where the woman in charge was a model of politeness and warmth toward non French speakers from the US.

We stayed at a B and B and the owner was trying to learn English and was most cordial and helpful.

Several times the language barrier arose, but we communicated enough to get what we needed.

In Quebec city, we ate at a restaurant that had people on the staff who spoke English quite well, so knowing what to order was no problem.

The tourist bureau staff was also most helpful, as you would expect.
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Old Jul 29th, 2007, 12:55 PM
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We had a few rude people in Montreal. Many people were very nice, but it only takes a few to begin to chip away at what should have been a good vacation. It started with the arrogant Canadian Customs Agent at the Montreal Airport. He was one of the most rude persons I ever came across in my travels. I have been to almost every state in the U.S., most of the Canadian Provinces, much of Europe and France a number of times. This guy was the nastiest person I ever had to deal with.
I love going to France and I really love going to Paris. I would not return to Montreal. It was my fifth and final vacation to that city.
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 08:42 AM
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When my brother and I visited Montreal from the U.S. a few years ago, we had a great time. Neither of us speak French, though I had a French phrase book with me. I tried to use a few simple French phrases while we were there, but almost always found someone who spoke English to help us out. They did appreciate my attempt at French, though. I wouldn't let this 'ignorant' couple ruin your trip if you are planning to go.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 06:51 AM
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We were in Montreal several years ago and were very impressed with how helpful the locals were. We were sitting on the subway when an announcement was made in French only. Whatever was said brought groans of outrage, we just looked bewildered. The person across the aisle must have noticed because she leaned over and translated for us. The same thing happened up top - the Metro employee explained everything in French to the group and then came over and explained again in English.
We just returned from Quebec City yesterday and found everyone there to be charming and helpful. I look forward to returning - Quebecois are funny, friendly and welcoming.
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Old Aug 4th, 2007, 08:47 AM
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I have heard the "Quebecers are rude" line so often in my life. But, I usually find the rejoinder of proof is the real telling part, which is like this: "They all know how to speak English you know, but they just ignore you to feel superior." Or words to that effect. Yes, in Montreal, or the National Capital Region, likely the majority of people can use enough English to get by in a pinch. But not everyone, and not elsewhere to speak of.

I usually think, how would these folks feel if they worked in a store in Barrie, Ontario, and a Quebec couple came in expecting to to be served in French? Yes, they'd think that couple was rude, not even making an effort.

I had an experience several years in Chicoutimi, which is the hotbed of Quebec separatism. Having some brake trouble, I stopped at a garage, and found that with some sincere effort putting words together with my high school French, and the mechanic doing similar with likey his high school English, we managed to communicate fine, if a bit slowly. We laughed at some of our word goofs along the way. It turned out to be a fun experience for me. And he fixed my problem well too.
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 10:31 AM
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We were treated just fine. I do speak some French but that did not seem to be an issue. We laughed as I purchased a coronation(QEII) cigarette box and felt as if I were buying contraband

I say a place is what you make it.

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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 10:51 AM
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2 years ago we were in Quebec City and on up the St Lawrence as far as Taddosac. We were treated perfectly and we loved the trip. Our French is dismal at best and everyone was super nice to us. It was a wonderful trip & we would go back anytime we can. BTW we are from Texas and Texans do not have such a great reputation in Canada or anywhere else!
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 12:40 PM
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My wife and I had a great time in Montreal a month ago. I had learned only a rudimentary amount of French prior to the trip and quickly learned that I was way out of my league in keeping up with everybody. But, we had a great time at restaurants and bars asking the people we met how to say certain things.

My wife was more intimidated than I was with French. Her very first time ever speaking it was when trying to buy a Metro pass. She started by explaining (in French) that she didn't speak the language very well and spoke English. The man behind the window began to kid her about not speaking French. He said "And why don't you speak in French? You are in Montreal--you speak French!"

He thought he was being funny, but my nervous wife walked away and started crying. When I moved in to speak to him about the passes, he quickly asked me if she was okay and wanted me to bring her back so he could apologize. He told her that he admired her for trying, and that many people who have lived in the city their whole lives don't even make the effort she did. He was nice about it, but she still felt a bit demoralized by the whole thing.

But, on the whole, everybody was extremely nice to us.
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 01:07 PM
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I speak little French, enough to say the basics, and every time I go to Montreal I have no problem. Everyone I have run into is as friendly as they are in any city.
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