The “Vieux Montréal”

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Between us, I’m not a huge fan of Montreal. And I can’t really explain why—I have never fallen in love with the city the way many French do, that’s for sure.

I don’t like the mix of “old France” and new North American buildings. I find there is just too much concrete everywhere. I hate the mile-long windy boulevards with their many flagship stores you can find everywhere else in North America—why is “shopping in Montreal” so goddamn special? I always feel the infrastructures, especially the roads, the tunnels and the freeway, are falling apart. I don’t understand the Quebec psyche and I am much more comfortable in the “Anglophone” part of the country, despite my French heritage.

And above all, I find the “Vieux Montréal”, the historic city centre, very tacky. That’s it, I said it. I hate the many tourist-trap shops, the set-menu restaurants featuring so-called “French specialties”, the eager waiters and waitress hustling passers-by in, the cartoonists and the cliché souvenirs.

Mind you, I feel the same about the Latin Quarter or Montmartre in Paris.

But sometime, the moon and stars align and it suddenly feels right. That Saturday, in Montreal, that’s how it felt.

It was hot and sunny, and there were a lot of tourists and locals in the streets. People were generally in a good mood, thanks to the weather and to the perspective of a long weekend. Suddenly, I didn’t mind being in the heart of a tourist district I usually find tacky—yes, I’m a snob. Suddenly, I didn’t mind being part of the crowd and playing the game.

The three of us walked around and enjoyed. That’s all that mattered.

You can see the complete Montreal set of pictures on Flickr.

Top of the Hill

Top of the Hill

Watch for Falling Ice

Watch for Falling Ice

Ivy

Ivy

Corner Restaurant

Corner Restaurant

Marché Bonsecours

Marché Bonsecours

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Quebec and Canada

Quebec and Canada

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

OMG, They Killed Winnie!

OMG, They Killed Winnie!

Souvenir Tees

Souvenir Tees

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Rue des Artistes

Rue des Artistes

Bonjour!

Bonjour!

Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup

Poste

Poste

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

By the Harbour

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Mark Apparently Loves Poutine

Mark Apparently Loves Poutine

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Bear Crossing

Bear Crossing

Window Shopping

Window Shopping

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Poutine Love

Poutine Love

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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.

13 Comments

  1. Somehow I get the feeling that it isn’t too old. Well, I guess, your description of too much concrete indeed fits the bill. But then again, perhaps my stereotype of “Old Town” is more for the Old World, not the New World, as I remember having to adjust it as well when I was visiting Los Angeles and its Pueblo during the summer of 2012.

    • I think Montreal is actually pretty old… but yes, the definition of “old” in North America is not quite the European definition of “old”!

  2. As a francophone-loving anglophone, I always loved Montreal and Quebec for the French-speaking experience it could offer me.

    I do prefer Montreal to Toronto and Vancouver – I find these two cities a bit sterile. I feel that Montreal has more character. I guess it’s just the anglophone in me – I’m bored with what I already now. I guess that’s why I like Ottawa too, it’s a mix of the two cultures, of the two sides, just like Montreal.

    I don’t know anything about the shopping as I never go anywhere for shopping unless it’s for food shopping.

    Have you been to Quebec City? Based on what you said about Montreal, I think you would feel that it’s even more “tacky” than Montreal.

    I was in the harbour in January and was walking in the exact same spot, over those railroad tracks, as in your picture above. Only there was snow everywhere.

    • I only went to Quebec City once, when I first came to Canada in 2002. I actually liked it a lot, it was picturesque (so cold! so much snow!), very much what I expected from Quebec. Montreal confuses me, it’s the mix of old and new I’m not too crazy about. I love Toronto, on the other side.

  3. Honestly, I feel the same way about Old Montreal, although it can be quite charming if you get away from the busiest streets (or go during a snowstorm!).

    I nonetheless love the city, especially my neighbourhood, the Plateau, and the area about Jean Talon. But I’ve always felt like its a better city to live in than to visit.

    • I agree, Montreal can be charming if you are here at the right moment, in the right mood–that was the case for us that WE. I like Jean Talon, it’s one of my favourite areas in Montreal actually. It’s true and down-to-earth. I don’t know the Plateau that well, it’s very residential so I know it as an outsider.

  4. Pingback: People of Montreal | Correr Es Mi Destino

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