Montreal is Quebec's premier bilingual city. Many of its English and French speakers are in fact fluent or at least very knowledgeable in both languages. However, there are some areas of Montreal, such as the Latin Quarter, where French is premier, while in other areas outside the central core, English is first. In many of the city's establishments, you're bound to hear "Hello et bonjour." This reminded me a lot of what I heard in Ottawa, which also has a large Francophone community.
It's always best to learn a few French phrases no matter where you go. If you go in any bookshop, there are cheap simple phrase books available. Speaking a little French (and English) always shows courtesy.
Although the separation issue has died down considerably since 1995, Montreal is not seen as in the thick of the arguement. Because the city's highly bilingual, the separation movement never gained much momentum here unlike Quebec City. A majority of people here are fine remaining Canadian than being part of a separate Quebecois Republic.
Two words that will get you through Montreal much quicker are Bonjour and Merci. Bonjour means hello and Merci means thanks. Usually a shopkeeper will address you with Bonjour, it is polite to thank the person at the Metro ticket counter with Merci, for example. Oui is yes and Non is no.
Almost two third of the population of Montreal speak french and english and there are always willing to give you informations if you ask. They will help you with a smile and will immediatly have consideration for you. Try it! You may have a different experience some times but it is a caracteristic of the Montreal's population.
At any time on the streets you fell free and secure...you'll see!
Montreal is very cosmopolite.
You will be able to get by speaking English just fine. People will appreciate if you try to speak French and might even switch to English if they see you in pain. But do try, the effort is worth while.
It's just funny that you may have trouble in some locations to get served in French (not to start a debate, but that what bugs people (and me)... you say 'bonjour' and the answer is 'what'!)
Enjoy your stay tremendously!!!!
Even thought the majority of people here are francophones, most people here are bilingual. But saying 'Bonjour' goes a long way.
People really apreaciate the effort and will often switch to english much faster.
The flag to the left is Québec's national flag (and my personal favorite!) ;)
You'll see a lot of them on the 24th of june which is our national holiday! It's a 3 day party with flags, people with painted faces, bonfires,fireworks, free concerts and well..alcohol! :)
Feel free to participate in the festivities as people like other ethnic groups to join!
Even if there is a LOT of people, kids should be ok..exept for the Maisonneuve concert wich usually attracts between 2 and 500 000 people..i'd keep them away from there..
Well, yes it's true that Montreal is French speaking, but I found that it's the most bilingual place I've ever seen. Of course, it's polite to attempt to speak a little French, but if you don't know how, you won't experience any rudeness. The people are extremely friendly.
The phones are also bilingual. Simply press the button for "English" and you'll be all set. The Canadian country code is 1, so to call the USA, you just dial "1" as if making a long-distance call in the States.
Learning a bit of French is helpful for reading signs, but you'll find that downtown nearly everyone is bilingual. You may find yourself trying to practice your French but the salespeople will insist on practicing their English!
If you are down town or at other tourist locations, you should have a very easy time getting around in English. Signs will most probably be in French though, in most places around the city, and some people may not be that good in English. Generally speaking, if you don't know French you shouldn't have a hard time.
Almost all restaurants will have bilingual menus, etc..
It pays to make an effort to speak some French in Montreal. When I got there, I was a bit apprehensive that Montrealers might snub me because of my pidgin French. But they were quite understanding and spoke to me in fluent English!
From the moment you arrive at Montreal's Dorval airport, or cross over any border into the Canadian province of Quebec, you will step into a multicultural, bilingual environment. You will experience the exciting dynamic of two old cultures, the French and the English, that have mixed and harmonized into an exciting and unique blend that is Montreal. Whether it is the taxi driver, or the Hotel concierge, you will have no problem finding someone to speak to you in English. Most signs as well will be bilingual, French first and then in English.
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