Ever since crossing the border into Quebec Province, we have experienced a depth of language and cultural immersion previously unthought of. Québec is so different to the rest of Canada and any of our experiences of Canada so far that it’s almost difficult to believe that we are still on the North America continent. It sets my imagination on fire and makes me full of reminiscence from my time in France. It feels as though we’ve been swept along with the westerly winds and blown all the way to Paris.
English is spoken much less frequently and less fluently than we originally believed, and while I’m absolutely delighting in the opportunity to practice my French, it may be slighting daunting to those who do not speak or understand the language. I think Ty felt this way in the beginning but every day he surprises me with a ‘bonjour’ or ‘merci’ said to a shopkeeper or cafe attendant. I love the challenge of learning to understand the Québécoise accent, which not surprisingly, sounds remarkably different from the Parisian French that I can speak and understand.
I feel as though I’m in my element here. The language, the culture, the people, the food, the buildings and the surroundings have me completely captivated. I haven’t felt more foreign and less at home this entire trip but I haven’t felt my wandering soul this satiated either. As I grow as a traveller, I’m finding I’m less and less interested in doing just the ‘touristy’ thing – I still want to experience that side of a city but I find I’m looking for more than that. I’m desperate to discover the road less travelled and to live the real experience, for everything it’s worth. And I’m so excited that we did just that in Montreal.
We (Tyrone, my sisyer Dimity and I) decided to visit Vieux Montreal, or Old Montreal, as, without even knowing it at the time, we were in search of an authentic experience. We started our day in search of a great Québécoise coffee. We found it at a quaint but trendy café on the corner of Rue Notre-Dame and Rue Bonsecours. It was delicious.
Next, we wandered the narrow cobblestoned lane ways of Vieux Montreal, exploring the copious offerings of magasins (shops), art galleries, cafes and restaurants.
All morning an air of desertion hung over the quarter but suddenly, around lunchtime, a burst of activity arrived and the lane ways were streaming with people chattering in French in search of a nice spot for lunch. It seemed as good a time as any to join the throngs of people in search of our own lunch spot. With large soft snowflakes floating down upon us, it was something of a fairytale.
We found a fantastic French restaurant/deli called Marche de la Villette, complete with swinging chandeliers, charming waiters and a maître d who sang along perfectly to the French music sounding through the bustling restaurant. Ty ordered a delicious salade de poulet (chicken salad), Dimity ordered a croque-monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich) and I ordered soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion served in a bowl, topped with fresh French baguette and grilled cheese). It was mouth-wateringly amazing! (Sorry the food pictures are blurry! I must not have had my camera setting right!)
With our tummies full, and the snow still falling thickly, we wandered down to the Old Port, continuing our search and discovery of Vieux Montreal. Unlike the cobblestoned streets, the Old Port was full of open spaces, frozen waters and views of the cargo ships in port.
It was a truly amazing day and one of my favorites from the past three months in Canada. Of course, it was made even more perfect by having Ty and my sister Dimity by my side. Next stop aboard the ‘let us wanderlust’ blog train is Québec City and then Boston!
From Boston, Massachusetts, with love xo