One of the great things about moving back to the east coast is that if you drive a few hours in any direction, you’ll find yourself in a completely different place – a different city, a different state, or even a different country. This past weekend I took a trip to Montréal, a mere 5 hour drive from Boston.
The marvelous thing about Montréal is that in spite of it being so close, it feels like you’re somewhere very far away. Yes, you’re in Canada and English is allowed, but Montréal is a true Francophone city, and you’ll find yourself immersed in not only a different culture but also a different language immediately. Je parle un peu Français, but it’s remedial at best, and I was surprised at just how much French (or really, how little English) there was. Highway signs are entirely en Français. Parking signs are entirely en Français. Menus are entirely en Français (I may or may not have made food flashcards for us to learn in the car…). Bienvenue!
Because of this French-ness, a lot of people compare Montréal to Paris. Yes, there’s a replica of Notre Dame, but the city actually reminded me more of Berlin, with its blend of old architecture and modern touches throughout. Also, the vibe in the city was very close to how I felt in Berlin – a cool, hip confidence that lacks pretension.
I’ll post some more about some of our (mis?)adventures later, but as with any trip to a new place, a great deal of the short trip was spent just exploring the city and taking it all in.