Home > Vacation > Montreal Moments – Part 1

Montreal Moments – Part 1

Near the end of June (yes, a month ago) we went to Montreal for a few days. While the main reason was to attend a wedding, that only took a one day, so the rest of the time was sightseeing.

City and Culture

I’m going to deviate a bit from my normal flow, and talk about the language and the city first. I think this gives a better understanding of the rest of the trip.

The official language of Quebec is French. Part of my brain had a hard time accepting this before the trip; to me it was just too odd to have a section of North America where French is the primary language. I had taken two years of French in high school, but that was a long time ago. With the help Coffee Break French, I managed to cram in a few weeks of relearning. The French connection starts to hit in the airplane where the announcements are in French and English. Thankfully, this dual-language persisted throughout the trip. Everyone spoke both languages, most all significant signs are both, and English menus are frequently available. This was a big help, as my French is really not even passable anymore. But I managed to understand most everything, picking up key words. After a couple of days, I started to think in French, so when Doris asked a question I would automatically reply in French, which I thought was neat.

The tricky part is what to do when you first talk to someone. It’s polite to say Bonjour, but I think people automatically assume you speak French when you do that. This was only a problem a couple of times. The first time was too much and I had to ask him to repeat in English. The second time I caught enough words to more or less figure it out. We were also greatly helped that we didn’t stray far from the tourists areas.

While Montreal is similar to Vancouver in that they are both ports, that is where the similarity ends. Montreal is more than 200 years older. Downtown Vancouver was modern, clean, lots of people, few homeless. Downtown Montreal was rather the opposite, though it depends where you are. The closer we got to Old Montreal, the nicer it got, strangely. I think the most ‘unsettling’ part was just the large amount of graffiti.

The biggest difference was the Metro (subway). Vancouver’s seemed pretty new, clean, security officers were present, well lit, etc. Montreal, again, was the opposite. However, once you are out of the station, and into the attached underground shopping, it’s a totally different experience (we’ll get to that later).


We headed out on Wednesday the 24. As with Vancouver, we flew American through Dallas and on to Montreal. Thankfully, this trip was uneventful. Customs was in Montreal, fyi. The best way to get to downtown (where our hotel was), is via taxi. My understanding is that all taxis are required to charge the same flat rate to/from the airport/downtown. The price should be on a sticker on the taxi.

Almost everything we wanted to see was in downtown or Old Montreal. Walking around is definitely not a problem. For everything else, there is the Metro. Depending on how long you will be there, I recommended a Daypass. Or if you are going to be true tourists, like us, and go to the museums, pick up the 3-day museum and Metro pass. Either way, you can make your life easier and stop off at the closest tourist office to pick up maps and passes. If you are flying in, you can pick up the free official tourist guides/maps at the airport on your way out by luggage claim.

Make sure you listen to the announcements (French!) on the Metro. These are old trains, so there is no fancy digital display to tell you what the next stop is. Also, you will want to know if a station is closed (not ours, thankfully). Because of Montreal’s extensive underground, Metro access is available all over the place.

That’s enough for tonight. I’m breaking this up so there’s not one huge post. Next (and last?) post will cover food, sightseeing, and a short mention of our huge hotel room!

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