Every summer, there are several street fairs and sidewalk sales happening. They are in different parts of the city (depending on which week/weekend), mostly high-traffic areas with a lot of shops/boutiques and restaurants. The street is closed off to car traffic, and the shops and restaurants set up booths and racks for people to browse. Prices are usually cheaper than they are normally. There are also street performers and people handing out free samples (such as energy drinks, toiletries, etc).
I love these sidewalk sales because the atmosphere is so much more festive and relaxed than it is normally. On a normal day, the car traffic makes the area into "business as usual", but when the road is closed and the vendors are out selling their stuff while people walk around, everything and everyone is so much more fun and friendly. In the area where I live (Plateau/Mile-End), there are several of these fairs happening every summer, mostly along St Laurent (The Main) and Mont-Royal. I also enjoy the ones downtown (along St. Catherine) and in NDG (along Monkland).
There are outside stairs everywhere.A 19th-century law in an attemp to securesome greenery for the city stipulated that a greenspace be left in front of buildings.This left less room on the lot for the building itself.The solution of putting staircases on outside took care of this problem by claiming as living space the area that would have been taken up by an indoor staircase.
La corde a linge fait partie du paysage urbain.
Il faut parcourir les ruelles de certains quartiers pour y découvrir de vraies oeuvres d'art.
Don't hesitate to walk thrue the "ruelles" of montréal, that,s where you discover montrealer' s life.
Multi-stories washing lines, balcony, smal gardens.
Each march, every Quebecers need sugar to help them finish the very long winter. And what better way then going to a "sugar shack" and celebrate spring arrival. As soon as the moon is right, or the wind from the southwest blows a certain way, the maple syrup producers head into the sugar bush and begin tapping their trees. The buckets fill with a sweetish, watery liquid that will be boiled down to make the delicately flavoured syrup everyone loves on pancakes.
In Montreal, there is fake sugar shacks on the Plateau Mont-Royal and in the Old Port, but for the real deal you will need to go outside the city and travel around 30 minutes (mostly on the south shore of Montreal) to find a place where traditional music and food are served. If your are here end march of beginning of april, you have to try it.
If you're looking for something to do on a cold day or evening head to the Bonsecours Basin for ice skating. You can skate to music on a surface that is one and a half times bigger than a regular ice rink!
There are free lockers and storage space inside Bonsecours Pavilion. Bring your own lock. If you want to rent skates you can also do it here. You'll need to leave a driver's license or a credit card.
Monday : jazz and swing music evening, form 6 to 9 p.m.
Tuesday : classical music evening, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Wednesday : Figure skating lessons, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Thursday : Francophone music evening, from 7 to 10 p.m.
Friday : Latin rhythms music evening, from 7 to 10 p.m.
Saturday : Break the ice! evening with DJ, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Sunday : I learn to skate... (lessons for children of 3 to 12 y.o.), from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Rates : Daily rate
Child (6 to 12): $3
Child under 6: free
Individual: 20 $
Family*: 40 $
Additional child: 10 $
Canadian's drink a lot of beer and Molson Canadian is one of the more popular brands for sure brewed in Montreal.
Unfortunately the Coors company now own a lot of this company so its hard to say if its still Canadian now or if your drinking KKK beer as a friend keeps reminding me :-).
In any event there is an element of pride involved here.
Long before I ever moved to Montreal there was an hilarious play here called "Mambo Italiano". It was autobiographical in nature, written about the [gay] screenwriter's life growing up in an Italian family in Montreal.
They finally turned it into a movie and it is so incredibly funny!!! While some might make "ethnic slice of life" comparisons between it and "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding", it has a unique charm, all on its own.
It also offers an insightful view into Montreal with some great scenes from around the city!
For those really interested in understanding the people here, I STRONGLY suggets this book: 'Une enfance Bleu-Blanc-Rouge'
It's a collection of short stories that are related to hockey, for sure, but trought it, you'll better understand who we are and why.
P:S: A TOUS LES QUÉBECOIS! Ce livre saura surement tirer quelques doux souvenirs de votre enfance.
NOW..this is an interesting book..
Le Livre Noir Du Canada Anglais
(Canada's black book (loose translation)
Writen by Normand Lester (ex-journalist for Canada's national broadcasting company), this is a collection of different things picked-up in Canada's national archives. Lester, tired of seeing the CBC picturing only the good sides of the country in little clips on TV (which were really used for propaganda and secretely funded by the 'Ministere du Patrimoine' which used a fake company to divert the funds.) At the same time, a lot of anglophone media where depicting Quebecers as fascits, rascists, hicks, etc. And they even compared EVERY SINGLE PM we elected to Hitler..
SO,this book was his response. It basically shows how Canada 'has made itself guilty of crimes, violation of human rights and exclusion of all those that weren't lucky enough to be white, protestant anglo-saxons.' as Lester says. 'it demontrates different injustices and how some english canadian politician, journalists and intelectuals were encouraging violence and discrimination against the french canadians, jews, japanese and natives'
This book was the hotest buy this christmas!!
PS:THIS IS IN NO WAY TO SCARE PEOPLE AWAY BUT RATHER TO GIVE A LITTLE EXPLANATION ON THE TENSIONS BETWEEN ENGLISH AND FRENCH THAT REALLY HAPPEN ONLY IN MONTREAL.
Quebecers (Kay-beck-ers) are very proud of being from Quebec. They fly their flag with pride on special holidays: Flag Day (January 21) and Quebec Day - St. Jean Baptiste (June 24th) and any other day!
The flag is called the Fleurdelisé and has four French fleur de lys flowers on a bright blue and white background. You'll be sure to see it very often in Quebec, "La Belle Province," The Beautiful Province.
It seems like travellers don't really need to wait at a crosswalk to cross the street--plenty of Montrealers jaywalk. In fact, I saw more jaywalking in one week than in the 20 years I've been alive. People cross at crosswalks at red lights, dart across the road when they feel like it, and sometimes even if cars are approaching. Make sure you have travel insurance when copying the locals on this custom...
As you can see when you are in Canada, Maple Syrup is a huge part of it's culture. So, it makes sense to try some type of maple syrup product. My daughter and I ate these tiny ice cream cone looking morsels that are filled with a maple syrup filling topped with a creamy maple syrup frosting. All I can say is that it was just tooo sweet! It looked appetizing but don't let that fool you. My daughter, on the other hand, enjoyed it.
We brought home some maple syrup hard candies that are shaped as a maple leaf. Those are actually pretty good. We also brought home maple syrup in the maple leaf glass containers. When we were out and about town, we checked out the prices. They were extremely expensive (I thought). So, on our way home, we got to the airport, we decided to buy it there and that turned out to be the best deal. Not only were the prices cheaper, we also didn't have to pay the 15% sales tax.
When you are in the middle of the Old City you know that that's where you are - well the buildings are old aren't they? In the New City you can tell by the towering concrete and glass behomoths of the modern commercial buildings.
There is however a sort of no man's land where the two meet and so the only way you can tell whether you're in the old or new is by the street signage. The Old City streets have white on red signs, whilst the New City has black on white - simple isn't it?
During the building of the Montreal Metro in the early 60's the Montreal City Authorities accepted a radical piece of design by an urban planner named Vincent Ponte who proposed the idea of developing not only the above ground plots freed up by the construction but also those below ground, the no-man's land of space which had never really been considered as having any value.
Ponte's plan was to have a multi-level city separating pedestrians, urban traffic and public transit with each having their own space. To quote Ponte himself: "Everybody benefits, developers get more rent. Citizens not only have a new convenience of moving around, but the city becomes a richer, more diverse place. Tax revenues go up; the towns get a new image." By offering emphyteutic leases (whereby the City offered potential developers the real estate at relatively cheap rates with the proviso that the developments would involve value-added infrastructure projects at their own expense) the City of Montreal's downtown was able to expand not only upwards and laterally but downwards as well with most of the bill being picked up by private enterprise!
The first underground project was the shopping complex in the area under Place Ville-Marie and Central Station, built in 1962, and by the time the first stages of the Metro were completed in 1966 there were 10 buildings connected directly to the original Metro stations providing the foundations of the network to be.
Over the next 40 or so years the initially disparate developments became linked as several more major underground shopping malls were constructed, along with residential space; entertainments such as cinemas, bars and restaurants; services including barbers, dry-cleaners, shoe-repairers and even internet Wi-Fi zones. The present-day complex has over 32 kilometres of tunnels, underlying most of downtown, with more than 120 overground access points, signposted RESO (from the French Reseau, meaning network) with the final O containing the downward pointing arrow of the Metro symbol. It is possible to walk almost the whole breadth of downtown Montreal (about 2 miles in total) and never have to surface.
This mole-like existence may sound like a bit of a futuristic nightmare but in fact the underground areas are spacious and well lit and considering that Montreal has harshly cold winters and uncomfortably hot summers the practicality of having an underground city within the city has proven understandably popular with the locals who can now work, shop, eat-out, socialise and generally get around without having to endure the extremeties of the elements nor the chaotic city traffic. The RESO is estimated to be used by over half-a-million people daily and the different sections have evolved their own characters much in the same way as the aboveground city has its own distinct neighbourhoods.
This really is a rather fascinating and unique aspect of the City and one that is well worth further investigation at some future date.
Wikipedia link has some useful facts, history and a a couple of really good links to maps.
Row houses are a common sight in Montreal. (In fact, Montreal is said to have the most row houses of any city in North America.) In some places these homes are built on one of the steep streets leading up to Mont Royal. It reminds me a little bit of San Francisco! In general, the row houses are neat and tidy and contribute a great deal to the ambience of this interesting city.
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