I have never in my life been to a place that screamed at me “Come to live here”… until I went to Montreal! It is AWESOME!
Even though I had never been to Montreal before, I wasn’t expecting to find it much different to the cities I know in the US. Boy was I wrong! After 5 minutes of being there and despite the fact that Montreal is bilingual, you are still in no doubt that the city is utterly French… yet it’s still quite different to any French city. It’s completely unique!
Honestly, I’m sure there cannot be another place in the world where you can sit in a ‘resto-bar’ with a name like ‘Le Vieux Dublin’, enjoy a European beer while watching Les Canadiens play ice hockey against the Boston Bruins with commentary in French, then pop to the brasserie next door for a dinner of Quebec cheeses, foie-gras, and veal burgers!
Life in Montreal is like nowhere else I have ever experienced – it is a combination of all the best bits of European and North American city living in one place. Just like in France, there is a real cultural leaning, and a sense of pride surrounding all things artsy, which means there are lots of excellent events all through the year, including the biggest jazz festival in the world and the famous Just for Laughs festival.
There are galleries, really beautiful historic buildings, (especially in old Montreal and down near the port), and, of course, the quintessential French trait – an appreciation of fine food. Yet all this is well and truly mixed with all things North American – people bustling around on big business, skyscrapers, lively sports bars, fantastic malls (some of which are entirely underground so you can keep warm in the freezing winter!). The people are open and friendly, and the city is home to the best fast food dish I have ever tasted… the mighty Poutine!
As well as all the students at my language school, I met students from the four big universities Montreal is home to. With so many students around, there is a fantastic night life, and a really cool live music scene. I went to see a couple of excellent concerts and had some great nights out along the boulevard Saint-Laurent. I really had a fabulous time in Montreal, as an American and as an enthusiastic Francophile I felt like I’d landed in my dream city. I can’t believe I hadn’t visited Montreal years ago and I cannot wait to return!