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 sometimes, 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.