One of our “first impressions” of Montréal was of the number of flags flying: far more, it seemed, than we were accustomed to seeing at home. It may have been simply because they were different, but they certainly were colourful – the Canadian flag we knew well, but guessing which was the flag for the Province of Québec and which for the city itself was a little more difficult. So I did some homework!
The flag with the red cross is that of the City of Montréal and, although there seems to be some dissent about the origin of the cross (could it be the Cross of St George?) the other emblems are symbolic of the people with backgrounds in France, England, Scotland and Ireland.
The flag for the Province of Québec (photo 2) is known as the Fleurdelisé and dates from 1948. The white cross comes from the ancient French royal flags, while the blue background and white “fleurs-de-lis” apparently are taken from a flag carried by French-Canadian militia and symbols of purity, honouring the Virgin Mary.
And now you know too!
We were quite taken by the sight of these two young ladies, pushing what seemed hordes of tiny tots out for a stroll and some fresh air. Maybe these “public transport” style kidmobiles are commonplace where you live, but we’d never before seen anything like them. Our guess is that they all come from a local creche or childminding centre – it seemed a little improbable that these were the children of large families!
Every year since 1947, the Ogilvy department store sets up a Christmas window in its display. Called the Enchanted Village, it features many mechanical stuffed animals made by the world-renowned Steiff Company of Germany.
The Enchanted Village can usually be seen from mid-November to early January, so if you're in Montreal at that time of the year, why not check it out, especially if you have kids travelling with you!
Ogilvy is located at 1307 Ste-Catherine Street West, at the corner of De la Montagne Street. The nearest metro stations are Guy-Concordia and Peel.
One very strange thing I have noticed since I moved here is that people do not stand to the right when they are on escalators. This is particularily odd as Montrealers cue up for the buses on the streets in a very orderly fashion. I never understood this custom...even if you try to pass someone on the left they will generally not move over. I now laugh it off and RELAX. I mean, who is really in that much of a hurry :-)
As soon as the cold weather breaks, Montrealers throw on a "pull" and head out to find a terrace. Local restauranteurs can't wait to open there outside terraces and the tables appear as if by magic. These tables are pretty well occupied for 6 months of the year. Montrealers love their terraces...and they love to go out to eat, drink and be merry. You will find a lot of terraces in Old Montréal (check out the Jardin Nelson), on St-Denis Street, on Prince-Arthur Street and tucked away behind many restaurants.
Built for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, the Olympic Stadium is the Park’s centrepiece, a bold design by French architect Roger Taillibert. Impressive in size and shape, and topped by the tallest inclined tower in the world, the Olympic Stadium quickly became a choice location for major sporting events, rock concerts and public gatherings. A funicular-type elevator brings visitors to the top three observation floors, where they have a superb view of Montréal and its surroundings. Guided tours are available. The sports centre, at the foot of the Tower, has six aquatic pools as well as a multi-sport facility.
Something that almost everyone over here likes to do at the start of autumn is to go apple picking in one of the numerous orchards around the city. This is an activity that we usually like to do as a family, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles are often included in this.
Quote : 'The first apple trees arrived in New France in the baggage of Louis Hébert in 1617 but it was not until 1650 that the first orchard was planted by the Sulpicians on the slopes of Mont-Royal. The most prized varieties at the end of the 19th century were the Fameuse, Pomme Grise, Bourassa, Golden Russet, Tallman Sweet, Late Strawberry and Blue Permain.' * And here is where you can learn about the different varieties and get a good number of mouth watering recipes that you can make with the apples that you've picked.
Below, a list of farms where you can go to pick your own apples... in French, but quite comprehensible. After all, all you need are the adresses and phone numbers...
"Cirque du Soleil" is now world renowned. I saw them in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Quebec City and Montreal. Walking through Old Montreal, I found their world headquarter totally by coincidence. Note that they built a giant multiplex center in the East End. This building is more a symbol than a real head office...
This delicous local treat also is definitely a double bypass in a styrofoam cup. It consists of french fries and cheese curds all covered with gravy. Very good but not recommended for daily consumption.
One thing I cant live without is my daily bagel every morning! And I can tell you Montreal bagels are the best in the world. They really dont taste or look like the fat tasteless New York bagels! :) Our bagels are thin, sweet and really tender inside.
The best places to get fresh bagels are St-Viateur Bagels (263 St. Viateur) and Fairmount Bagels(74 Fairmount West).
The best way to reach the St-Viateur Bagel bakery or the Fairmount Bagel bakery if you are driving from downtown Montréal is to take Avenue du Parc (Park Avenue) going North until you reach Fairmount and then make a right turn until you arrive at your destination.
St-Viateur is a few blocks after Fairmount and again you would turn right and you will find the bakery on your left-hand side. If you travel via the bus, take the 80 bus going north and either get off at Fairmount or St. Viateur.
I recommend you try at least once our typical fast food which is called "Poutine". Its only in Quebec.
It might sound gross, but people just love it here, and I have never met anyone who didnt like poutine. Poutine is actually fries, with gravy and curd cheese. There are other kinds like the "italian poutine" which is made with fries, spaghetti sauce and curd cheese.
All the fast food joints offer poutine including "Burger King" and "McDonald's". But the best place to get it is at a "Belle Province" restaurant.
I read a lot about the Underground City in Montreal, something that my hometown of Chicago has tried with very limited success with it's Pedway but in Montreal it seems to be thriving. We actually saw very little of the Underground City since we visited in July and had no desire to go indoors but the guidebooks say that there are 19 miles of underground pedestrian walkways, that mostly run parallel to metro lines, that link metro stations, hotels, restaurants, boutiques, office buildings, movie theaters, two universities, I can imagine that some Montreal residents don't even need to go outside during the winter!
What we did see that I thought was a really cool idea was at the World Trade Center in Old Montreal which has a glass covered concourse, the glass ceiling linking two rows of historic buildings along with the Hotel Intercontinental, it also connects to the Underground City. You can also see a piece of the Berlin Wall here. Located at 747 Victoria Square
You can find a map of the Underground City here
While in Quebec we saw not one, not two but three fashion shoots, a little odd since in all my travels I don't think we've ever seen one before. The first was in Quebec City near the Convent, the second was in Vieux Montreal near the Marche Bonsecours and the final one at near the Fort on Ile-Ste-Helene in Montreal which had weird Nazi overtones as the severe slick haired model in a trenchcoat goose stepped, hopefully that was not part of the shoot.
If you are from the Northeastern US like me, you are probably not familiar with Tim Horton's. This is not just a coffee shop, but a daily hang out . There seems to be nothing like it in the NY area. Our two most famous coffee houses are known either for their quick take-out (Dunkin Donuts) or for the people who get one coffee and sit for the afternoon taking up an entire table to themselves (Starbucks).
Everytime I walk into a Tim Hortons, there are always groups of people young and old sitting down. And not only do they appear to be enjoying their coffee, but also the conversations and people around them.
As a french canadian I have to tell you about the Poutine. Poutine is not only a meal but is a big part of our culture.
You must try thins meal: Fries, cheese and gravy! There is lots of different type of poutine but this one is the original. Around 3 to 5$ canadian!
You will find poutine at La Belle Province corner of Ste-Catherine street and St-Laurent boulevard. Downtown Montreal.
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