We're headed to Montreal and speak no French. Problem?

In an attempt to maintain our sanity and not outfit one–or several–of our children with a bell and a sandwich board that reads ‘Free to A Good Home’, we’re going away for a weekend. We’ve decided on Montreal the weekend of the 22nd of this month .

We’re staying at a very nice hotel–Hotel Gault. We plan to spend insane amounts of money on fine dining. We also plan to take long walks, have crazy, loud sex and poke any small children we may happen upon with pointy sticks.

As to my question, my husband I speak very little (read: no) French. Were we vacationing in Spain or Mexico, I could get us by. Were we vacationing in Germany, Austria and maybe parts of Switzerland, el hubbo could get us by. We chose Montreal because we’re masochists like that.

Here’s our plan. We’re going to buy the Larousse Pocket Dictionary for French-English/English-French. We’re also buying some sort of speaking translator for my husband’s Palm. That’s it. That’s our plan. Will it work?

Feel free to let me know anything else I haven’t thought of, too. Like, say, if the KKK has planned a big jamboree in Montreal for that weekend, that would be something we’d kind of like to know.

You’ll be fine not speaking a word of French. Most people in Montreal are bilingual. As a courtesy, you might want to use “bonjour” and “merci” liberally. You’re not going to fool anybody but it’s good form. :slight_smile:

Have fun!

So, do we even need the dictionary and translator, then? We plan to explore the back alleys and quaint out-of-the-way places.

You’ll be fine. It’s fun to try to speak it, but not necessary.

Are you looking to get mugged or enjoy the local culture?

Leave the dictionary. Bring lots of currency. It’s the universal tongue of communication.

I can help you with a couple of these, at least.

Consider renting bikes. Montreal is a great biking city, and I had a great day there once riding with my wife and her folks along the Lachine Canal.

You can get some good foodstuffs and some great lunches at the Atwater Market.

My wife grew up in Plattsburgh, NY, and her folks often went to Montreal for the day or for an evening’s dining and entertainment. My father-in-law’s favorite place to eat was the Stash Cafe, where you can get great Polish food.


The crazy loud sex you might have to handle on your own. If you really need tips here as well, you can always drop me an email. :wink:

A bit less of the former, lots of the latter.

Currency, huh? I guess we’ll hit up the ATM once I get there. I understand that’s the way to get the best exchange rate, right?

Mr. Moto, thanks for the biking tip. My husband loves to bike, so I’ll be sure to mention it to him. The Stash Cafe sounds great. I admit I don’t get too much Polish food, so we might give it a whirl for lunch.

We’ve got the crazy, loud sex thing down pat. I was hoping you offer some tips on procuring sticks for poking children. I mean, do we bring our own le sticks or do we buy them there?

Yep. You should be fine with a simple dictionary for any awkward moments that come about. I stayed out in the suburbs where folks are less used to English speakers and I was still fine. And I smoked a cigarette in a Burger King. Inside! :eek:

That’s been my experience. AmEx now has a traveller cheque card. Sounds convenient and accepted most places. Don’t know what premium they charge for the priviledge.

Great food town as has been mentioned. Atwater market is good. Hard to recommend a single local flavour because it is so multicultural and the selection is so varied and generally high quality. It may be a cop-out but I’d consult the latest version of Fodors on the subject. They rarely miss the mark.

A truly traditional and fun fast food experience in Kojax on St. Catherine street west, right in the heart of the shopping/downtown district. I also recommend Basha’s for a very tasty Middle Eastern fast food experience. I know many will moan at the suggestion but I consistantly eat better shawarmas and shishtouks there than at most high end, high priced eateries in the DC area.

For finer dining, rely on the local/consierge recommendations and maybe Zaggat’s.

You MUST try the Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwiches. My mouth waters every time I even think of them. Also, Dunn’s cheesecake (also on St. Catherine) if it’s still open. It (the cheesecake) has it’s own gravitational field.

Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Particularly around the Old City and it’s cobble stone streets and those “dark alleys”.

Don’t make the mistake I did in Montreal: I spoke just enough French to ask questions, but not enough to understand the answers!

My family and I visited Montreal last year or two. None of us spoke any French beyond Pepe’ Le Pew level. And we lived to tell the tale! :smiley:

be sure to bring back plenty of photos for us all! :slight_smile:

I will! We’re buying a new, smaller, more compact digital camera just for this trip.

Good point, Eve, by the way. I was thinking we’d use the dictionary for translating signs, menus and what-have-you.

My friends and I went to Montreal a couple years ago to see the Indians play the Expos. Was great fun!

We didn’t know any French at all. You go into a place, they say “bonjour” and you say “hello” and they continue to speak in English, no problem.

Hit up the user here named matt_mcl for tips about Montreal - he not only lives there but he is Montreal’s leading expert on the subway/bus/tram system there. He’s got a cool Web site all about it.

I would suggest not driving around the city. It’s like driving in Europe or something - all the stoplights are on the SIDE of the street. Too awkward for my American ways :wink:

Maybe if you have some time between your fine dining and loud sex you guys could meet up with Matt!

Oh and one more thing - if you guys want to fit in, make sure you do alot of making out in public. We noticed while driving around that on every street corner there were beautiful couples kissing. le sigh

**UrbanChic ** ,
I was just in Montreal a few weeks ago and everyone understands English just fine. Some will speak French to each other in front of you, but they will respond when you talk to them in English.

Main reason I wanted to post was to remind you to bring your passport with you. This last trip was the first time I’ve entered Canada in years and fortunately I decided to bring along my passport. Years ago, you can go in and out of Canada from the U.S. without a passport, but those days are gone.

I thought I only needed my state-issued ID and my birth certificate. I read this on some official government site last week.

Another person to tell you no problem. Most people speak English just fine, if heavily accented.

You should not need a passport. It’s coming next year or 2007, but it hasn’t yet been implemented.

Brining your passport can make things much easier at the border, though. Or so my family has found during our trips to the States.

Thanks a bunch. When I made my reservations, the woman answered the telephone in French. When I asked if there was anyone there who spoke English, she graciously advised me she could help me. We had no problems understanding each other. I wasn’t sure if I could expect that from non-hotel employees, though.

I know it’s only for a weekend, but I’m totally psyched about this trip. This will be the first trip my husband and I have taken together with no kids in I don’t know how long.