Old Montréal

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For some reason, Montréal has never been one of my favorite city.

Right after arriving in Canada for the first time in 2002, Feng and I took a road trip. We had landed in Toronto, went through Ottawa, and then Montréal, Québéc city and the surroundings. It was February and it was cold, brutally cold, especially considering that we were coming from Brazil, had no winter clothes and that I had never seen snow before.

I had been very excited to go to Montréal for two main reasons: first, I had heard about it a lot since French seemed to love that city. Second, I would finally have the chance to speak French again.

I wasn’t terribly disappointed but I found the city odd. First, it wasn’t very pretty with its long straight endless streets, exposed tp wind drafts. I had expected something more… European. Second, like many French, I was under the impression that Quebecers were like long lost cousins, basically French people lost in North America. And oh boy I was wrong… As I soon discovered, the relationship between French and Quebec French wasn’t that easy and except for the language, we didn’t have much in common.

I had loved Québec city back then, though. It was pretty, especially under the snow, and it matched the mental picture of French Canada that I had in my head.

I went back to Montréal several times after that, still not in love with it. I find the city confusing, especially the mix of “old Europe” and “North America”.

This time was better though. We had gorgeous weather and explored the old part of the city. It actually looked good, in the late summer light…

Montreal's Harbor

Montreal's Harbor

Boating Around

Boating Around

Dome of the Bonsecours Market

Dome of the Bonsecours Market

Murale and Blue Sky

Murale and Blue Sky

Boats In The Harbor

Boats In The Harbor

Around The Old Port

Around The Old Port

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Train Track

Train Track

Artists Street

Artists Street

Along The Water

Along The Water

Three Women

Three Women

Bicycles

Bicycles

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

24 Comments

  1. Like most Americans within driving distance of Montreal, I went when I was 18… to drink, since the drinking age in the States is 21 but only 18 in Quebec. I can’t say I remember much of my trip. I know we were somewhere on St. Catherines Street, but I don’t remember which bar or bars we were at. I don’t remember where we stayed, and I don’t even remember seeing anything during daylight hours. I can’t tell you what or where we ate, either.

    Maybe I should visit Montreal again now that getting completely drunk is no longer a novelty.
    .-= Kirsten´s last blog ..Autumnal =-.

  2. gorgeous pics. better than any montreal pics I have seen. I guess you start to get the feel of your nikon D60, no?
    .-= the writer´s last blog ..A visit =-.

  3. i am totally surprised you said that about montreal! in my mind, i pictured narrow streets, brick houses, a european culture with street cafes and romance. the photographs don’t meet what i had thought about montreal.
    but but but… zhu… you say “I had loved Québec city back then, though.” does that mean you no longer like it???
    .-= Seraphine´s last blog ..The New Normal =-.

  4. I miss home! I hate T.O. though…nothing special about that city.

    I’ll let you in a secret: Quebecois dislike French people. It’s not a myth. I’ve heard my coworkers say it all the time, which makes me wonder why.

    I like the mixture of old and new…very nostalgic in my opinion.

  5. Glad you enjoyed your visit to Montreal this time. I’ve always loved visiting there – find it to be a vibrant, exciting city. And its inhabitants are always gracious regarding my attempts to speak en français.
    (My youngest is bilingual – I am definitely not.)
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..The Party’s Over… =-.

  6. So I heard that the version of French in Montreal is the version of French that, had the monarchy continued, it would have been the same version spoken in France. But, because of the French Revolution, the dialect of French spoken by the aristocrats were carried over to North America, and it evolved on its own, slightly different from the version of French in Europe. Is that true?

    And I never realized that France doesn’t get that much snow, as evidenced by your surprise when confronted by it.
    .-= Linguist-in-Waiting´s last blog ..Indian Ax Murderer Part II =-.

  7. I think I’d fall in love with Montreal or any other Quebecois cities. I love French, the language, the culture, the heritage – I’m a self-proclaimed Francophile. I tend not to develop a strong liking for Anglophone countries or regions, hence why I love French, Spanish or any other Latin-derived languages more than English. 😛
    .-= kyh´s last blog ..Impressions of Putrajaya =-.

  8. @Khengsiong – That’s how I feel too 🙂

    @Sidney – It is a bit different if you are used to a total different culture, but coming from Europe… I wasn’t amazed.

    @shionge – You should come back to North America!

    @Gean Oliveira – I found the bike rent quite expensive actually in Montreal… about $6 if I understood correctly. Still, good way to get around I guess – at least in the summer!

    @Kirsten -So you were drunk 😆 St Catherine is a big street with a lot of action, from what I saw.

    @the writer – Thank you! Yes, I’m now enjoying the features. It’s such a great camera!

    @Seraphine – No, it’s not like that at all! Old Montreat is, a little bit, but then it’s quite small. You’ll see, I’ll post more pics of “modern Montreal soon”. 😉

    @Bluefish – Oh, I know some do! I’m the opposite: I love Toronto. I feel comfortable there. Les goûts et les couleurs…!

    @Beth – Oh really? When I speak French, a lot of people replied in English! I’m still not a big fan of it. Can’t pinpoint why exactly… just a feeling.

    @Linguist-in-Waiting – I’m not sure actually where the accent came from. Some vocabulary words are definitely old French, while some other were invented to fit the lifestyle (for example words related to the weather).

    @Tulsa Gentleman – …and I love traveling! 🙂

    @kyh – But Montreal is not really French, not the way you picture it anyway. I know what you mean… that’s what I was expecting to find there too. But while people do speak French, it’s very North American.

  9. Since your words and pics are my only exposition to this city (why google it up, when the Zhu portal to the world is much more fun eh?), I solely trust your judgement in this. Let the Zhu verdict fall mightily onto the heads of the unbelievers I say!!! Succumb to the avid world travellerer’s superior surveying skills or meet a doom worst than reading my blog, visit Montreal (no, no, I will be a sane little Merc mommy don’t send me there….nooooo…lol)! Let’s face it girl, when you start taking pics (even beautiful pics) of bicycles there is something seriously devilishly boring with the place:).

    Take care gal!
    .-= Deadpoolite´s last blog .."Gamer" : A movie worthy of the GAME OVER screen… =-.

  10. Zhu… Thany you Thank you Thank you for the pictures of Montreal. My favorite city in Canada…. This post made me nostalgic and ah I had a great time.

    For someone like me who hasnt visited Europe (apart frm flight transits) Montreal and Quebec comes as a european face in the midst of American sky scrappers. I love sainth catherine st and the river side. Awesome.
    .-= CM-Chap´s last blog ..Salsified 🙂 =-.

  11. We have been planning to go to Montreal and Quebec City. I think I am more for seeing Quebec city since I think it too has more character.. We planned on this September but will have to wait and see where life takes us to travel next…

    Great pics!
    .-= expatraveler´s last blog ..Electric =-.

  12. Ha come on, Montreal is the best city in North America, and you all know it;)

    More seriously, I don’t think Montreal is a very good city to visit, I would not really recommend anyone to go on a trip to Montreal exclusively. But living there is amazing, there are just so many people from so many different cultures and with four universities the city is always moving physically and mentally. I guess the same can be said from the T-Dot now that the city has moved forward and that Montreal is falling behind but Montreal will always stay dear to my heart.
    .-= Cynthia´s last blog ..Bonus =-.

  13. Pingback: Modern Montréal | Correr Es Mi Destino

  14. Hi Zhu,
    Wait a minute… seeing snow for the first time? I’m guessing there isn’t much snowfall in France then (I didn’t know that!). And why from Brazil, why not from the home country directly like ‘normal’ people… LOL 🙂

    Oh I haven’t been to Montreal or Quebec or Ottawa yet, and I guess only next summer is going to be the time…! Loved the pictures, and I am keen to try the Montreal city bikes.
    .-= Final_Transit´s last blog ..Sergiev Posad: Entering the Orthodox Christian circuit =-.

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