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Publius Feb 20th, 2013 12:05 PM

suggestions for Montreal
I promised my daughter we'd take her to Montreal this summer (she's studying French in high school).

We're in northern Virginia. We'll drive up through Finger Lakes and Niagara Falls, then down through Boston, spending a few nights in each area.

Any suggestions for things to do, see, and/or where to stay for three or four nights in Montreal?


NorthwestMale Feb 20th, 2013 06:45 PM

I can imagine your daughter being disappointed in spots by Montreal, and especially by how much english is very prominent in the average coffee shop there.

While I certainly understand the draw to Montreal, it would be quite wise to stop in smaller towns along the way, once you're in Quebec. Having to order a pizza in Riviere-du-Loup from a woman who spoke no english, and I speaking no french, was more <I>culture</i> than anything I experienced in Montreal. Same was true of breakfast at McDonald's in Sherbrooke when a girl said: "you forgot your... hash browns" (I hadn't known I'd ordered any).

So your daughter will like the french signage, including the road signs on the way there.

If indeed Boston is in your trajectory for the return, then you might consider Quebec City and some of the smaller townships between Montreal and QC for better immersion into the french culture.

With regard to your direct questions, I think just walking around... all over a relatively flat (island) will prove very, very interesting to your daughter. I think the signs will be more noteworthy than you can imagine, yet that something about your family will have shopkeepers beginning with english and perhaps letting you down when you're hoping for french.

Hope you have a good time.

zootsi Feb 21st, 2013 05:23 AM

Montreal is officially a French speaking city - most of the signage, newspapers, broadcasts, books, etc are in French. However, I have found that most residents are also fluent in English. There are portions of the city that are more French speaking (like the Plateau), and others that are more Anglo, like the western side of the city. You won't be lacking for things to do in Montreal, perticularly in the summer. Just strolling the busy streets in on a warm summer evening is an adventure, particularly in areas like Prince Arthur Street or Old Montreal where street entertainers abound. Just about every week in the summer there is some kind of festival - jazz fest, comedy fest, fireworks competition, French Music fest, etc, etc. You can easliy spend days exploring the Old City and waterfront, the botannical gardens, the fine arts museum, the Jean Talon Market, and the world class shopping and dining scene with hundreds of outsdoor cafes. A fun way to explore the city is to rent bicycles at one of the hundreds of rental stations around the city, and pedal the great bike paths. A good way to get more immersed in the French culture is to stay at one of the small b&b's in the Plateau area, where you might be sharing breakfast with guests from all over the world. We have been vacationing in Montrea for about 20 years, and the 'b&b on the Plateau' option is always our first choice. You can find a wealth of Montreal info on this forum.
True, the outlying countryside is much more French speaking. You might want to spend a night in one of the pleasant little resort towns within an hour of Montreal like Magog, Bromont, Sutton, etc where French is just about the only language spoken. Quebec City is also very French and exremely scenic, but it's a good 2 1/2 hours each way from Montreal. Go to to get lots more info.

Publius Feb 21st, 2013 07:15 AM

I'm thinking Quebec City is a little out of our range. I like the idea of some small towns in the area that may be more immersed in french. We'll probably cross into Canada at Niagara until we're coming out of Canada heading for Boston.

Vttraveler Feb 22nd, 2013 02:54 AM

Outremont is another interesting neighborhood in Montreal where you will hear a lot of French. Not so many lodging options but a good place for restaurants and shopping along avenue Bernard and avenue Laurier There is also a sizable Hassidic Jewish community

In my experience most people in restaurants and shops in downtown Montreal and Old Montreal are bilingual but very happy to let people try out/use their French.

Outside Montreal and on your way toward Boston in the area described by zootsi (the Eastern Townships), there is a wine route. I know there are some threads about this area if you do a search.

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