October 19, 2012

Montreal-The Paris of North America by Eden June

Montreal, the second largest city in Canada and the largest city in the rogue French-speaking province of Quebec, is often referred to as the Paris of North America. This reputation is well-earned: it is the second largest French speaking city in the Western world after Paris. Its rues (streets) are lined with cafés, shop owners with often greet you with a hearty bonjour, and the city has maintained its own culture despite continuous pressure to become more Anglophone. So, jonesing for Europe and with the memories of holiday disagreements with family members still fresh in our minds, my friend and I hopped a plane headed for Montreal shortly before ringing in the new 2006 year.

Our Travelocity last minute deal included airfare and four days stay in the swank Omni Hotel near Mont-Royal. The deal was amazing considering holiday travel usually more expensive than any other time of the year. Once we arrived in Montreal, we understood why the deal had been so cheap…it was freezing cold! The temperature in December and January in Montreal hovers between -10°C and -5°C (13°F and 21°F). Heavy coats, gloves, hats, scarves, earmuffs, and boots are necessities. I’ve heard that the city is gorgeous and pleasantly Mediterranean-feeling during spring and summer. Ville de Montréal was still stunning in the cold weather. Snow gently covered church roofs, kids sloshed around throwing snowballs at each other, and a steaming cup of espresso or tea was always a welcomed sight.

When we arrived in Montreal, my friend and I agreed we were definitely not in the States anymore. True to the Canadian reputation, Montreal is exceedingly clean. Like any well-conceived city, the core of Montreal is set up as a grid system meaning that most of the streets run parallel and perpendicular according to the cardinal directions. A grid system keeps a city walkable and easy to navigate (or hard to get lost in). The metro system in Montreal rivals any of those in Europe. It’s clean, efficient, and can get you to anywhere you need to go in Montreal proper.