Montreal and ?

Oct 25th, 2004, 06:58 AM
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Montreal and ?

I'm thinking of taking a trip to Montreal in the spring. Maybe four days there and then three days someplace else. I don't plan on renting a car for the trip so looking for someplace easy to get to through mass transit options. Any suggestions?

By the way, I've been to Toronto so I would like to visit another location.
ncgrrl is offline  
Oct 25th, 2004, 07:29 AM
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Hey ncgrrl,

If you've never been to Quebec City, I would definitely recommend you go there. And Quebec is another easy city to get around by mass transit; there's Orleans Express which goes hourly there from Montreal's Station Centrale bus station straight to the Gare du Palais right in the Basse Ville. Or alternatively you could take VIA Rail downtown to downtown... both take 3 hours. There's a lot to discover within walking distance of the Gare du Palais; I always have a blast when I'm in Quebec. Enjoy!
Daniel_Williams is online now  
Oct 25th, 2004, 07:35 AM
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Take the train or bus to Ottawa. It's a compact city, lots to do downtown.

BAK is offline  
Oct 25th, 2004, 10:36 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions. I'll look into both.
ncgrrl is offline  
Oct 26th, 2004, 07:25 PM
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Given your question of a 3-day trip starting from Montreal, I must say I would advise anyone to go to Quebec City hands-down before Ottawa. This is not to dismiss Canada's capital Ottawa, which has lovely Parliament buildings, some good museums, handsome views of the Outaouais River and a pleasant canal in the center. For me, it's just that Quebec City is so much older (founded in 1600s rather than 1800s as in the case of Ottawa), played a fascinating role in North American history and has a more compact, vibrant center. The views of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec City from the Plains of Abraham, the Parc Bois de Coulonge and Sillery are very attractive. Ottawa certainly does have things to do and a certain charm, but 95% French-speaking Quebec City (la Vieille Capitale) is truly like nowhere else on the continent.
Daniel_Williams is online now  
Oct 27th, 2004, 12:31 PM
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Another vote for Quebec City. I was there this summer and it was beautiful, the people were friendly, and there was plenty to see and do.
RobinBinNYC is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 08:10 AM
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I haven't done any planing, just dreaming, for the trip. However, 95% French speaking Quebec City has me a little concerned. I can find the bathroom and order a couple of food items, but not much more than that. If I end up in Quebec City, I hope I find the 5% English speakers or bring along a translation book.

I though Canada had dual languages? And how to you say 'looney' and 'twoney' in French?
ncgrrl is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 08:41 AM
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Although Quebec City is more French speaking than Montreal, there are many, many tourists there from the USA, and most businesses in the downtown are fluent in English. If you visit outside the old city away from the tourist areas, or in the countryside, you may have more difficulties. Bring a French/English dictinary and you'll be fine. Definitely choose Quebec City, there's no other city like it on this side of the Atlantic!
zootsi is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 09:54 AM
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Hey ncgrrl

Do go to Quebec City; while yes it's true people in the tourist industry speak English, you will find people that don't. Brush up on some French before you come in your spare time. Look on it as a challenge. Bring a dictionary and have fun! I think you won't regret you did.

looney= une piasse (colloquial) OR le huard (talking about the Canadian dollar in business)

tooney= deux piasses (colloquial)

Daniel_Williams is online now  
Oct 28th, 2004, 11:04 AM
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Don't worry about visiting Québec City if you can't speak French. It receives hordes of English-only tourists each year. You'll enjoy yourself. If you can learn a few basic phrases, it will be even better.

A dollar is coloquially a "piasse", but everyone will understand "un dollar", which is the official term.
"Huard" is equivalent to "loonie" in English.
laverendrye is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 11:19 AM
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Without getting super political, Canada as a bilingual country only became official in 1982, yet, ironically Quebec does not legally recognize this. Therefore, French is the official language in the province of Quebec. Yet, outside of Quebec, with exceptions to a few pockets, French is rarely spoken. The government in Canada must offer English and French services, and while commercial products legally must have both English and French written on labels, you'll find that outside of Quebec, most Canadians don't speak French and aren't bilingual. This, of course, doens't count for the millions of immigrants whose mother tongues aren't French, etc, but... that's it in a nutshell. However, because you're going to be in Quebec, expect French to be the language of choice, as 95% of the population speaks this. The further outside of Montreal and Quebec City, the least likely it is that you'll run into someone who can speak English. But for Quebec City, because, as others have said, it has a huge tourism industry attracting English speakers from elsewhere on the continent, the services you'll likely use will likely be in English. I visited there last May and being an English speaker in Quebec City would not be a problem, though do respect the French language as it's a really touchy subject. If you've ever been to Mexico, it's quite similar - the locals all speak Spanish, and places involved in tourism usually provide English service.

An interesting article that I found online called "French as a Minority Language in Bilingual Canada" here:
Carmanah is offline  
Oct 30th, 2004, 06:26 AM
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It was an interesting article that you provided, Carmanah, although the most recent federal elections the Bloc Québécois made significant GAINS in Québec against the federal Liberals. Perhaps the author meant the Parti Québécois, which is the more relevant party anyway as far as pursuing Québec independence, as it's on the provincial level, who did lose the reins of government in the last PROVINCIAL election.

Just to clarify the "loonie" question, commonly used is "As-tu un dollar?" OR "As-tu une piasse?" (do you have a dollar?) but I've never heard "As-tu un huard?" (do you have a loonie?) in the day-to-day lexicon, at least not yet. I tend to read more about "le huard" in economic reports: "le huard a gagné du terrain contre le euro" (the loonie is gaining ground against the euro).

Again, ncgrrl, do come!
Daniel_Williams is online now  
Oct 31st, 2004, 07:16 AM
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Another vote for Quebec City. It's absolutely fantastic.

Ottawa is very nice also, but if I had to choose between the two, Quebec City wins. Have fun!
BuffaloGirl is online now  
Nov 1st, 2004, 08:21 AM
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Posts: 1,755 vote for Quebec City..Ottawa just too civil servant..There is the market which is fun, Spark St, the art museum as well as the History of Civilization, BUT Quebec City is far more charming.
travelbunny is offline  
Nov 1st, 2004, 09:55 AM
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Thanks for all your replies and suggestions. Since the majority of people are in support of Quebec City I'll probably pick that to go with Montreal. I plan to go to the library tonight and do some research and to avoid a bunch of phone calls regarding the US election tomorrow. But I digress into politics and this should be about fun and travel.

Any suggestions of a good English-French dictionary I can put on the Christmas list?
ncgrrl is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2004, 09:42 AM
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Hello Ncgrrl,

When I travel to a country with a different language, I find a phrase book more useful than a dictionary.

A phrase book often divides the information into topics (ordering a meal in a restaurant, and other day-to-day activities).

Then, at the back of the book, there usually is a dictionary section, not as comprehensive as a real dictionary, but enough to meet most of a traveller's needs.

I've found Rick Steves' phrase books (he publishes them in a few languages) to be pretty good. There are many other good ones too, of course.

The version of French spoken in Quebec is different from that spoken in France. There are books, such as, "NTC's New College French and English Dictionary" (available from Amazon), that explain not only French French, but also the versions of French spoken in Canada, the French-speaking countries of Africa, Switzerland, the Caribbean, and Oceania.

Canada has not one but two variations of French -- Quebecois and Acadian French. The latter version is spoken in the Atlantic provinces, and that is the branch from which Louisiana's Cajun French comes.

However, from my experience in foreign countries, all those kinds of subtelties are waaaaaay more information than you need for a brief visit.

I believe the most important thing to learn in any language is how to say, "Do you speak English?" It is polite to ask this first, before launching into English. Even if the person replies that they do not speak English, it's okay to try a combination of English and sign language as long as one has first asked this question.

That question in French is, "Parlez vous Anglais?"

Beyond that, it helps to learn polite expressions, such as Hello, Please, Thank you, Excuse me, Goodbye, and so on.

It also helps to learn the numbers from one to twenty, and then thirty, forty, and so on up to a hundred. It's also useful to know what a thousand is.

It's helpful to know the days of the week too.

The English language draws so heavily on French, that we intuitively know more French words than most of us realise (boeuf = beef, and so on).

When my non-French-speaking husband came home from his first business trip to Quebec City, I asked him how it had gone. He said, "Oh, it was much easier than I expected. After I picked up the rental car at the airport, I just followed the signs to Centre Ville (which he pronounced Center Villee)."

Although I have only a slight knowledge of French myself, my grasp of the language is half a notch better than his, and I experienced a combination of mirth and superiority at his pronunciation.

Here's a "French for Travelers" website that provides polite expressions, numbers, times and dates, names of foods -- that stuff I mentioned earlier:

But then, as everyone already has said, you should have no problem getting served in English in Quebec City. It's more an issue of being polite, to demonstrate that you're at least trying to say Hello, Please and Thank you in French.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2004, 10:14 AM
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Thanks Judy in Calgary, that's what I'm looking for.

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