It has been nearly two years since my cousin (Walter) and I visited Quebec, our first visit to the francophone province. Three things stood out on that trip for me…
1) We were both somewhat surprised at how European it felt. Not just in the language but the culture. A trip to Quebec is vastly different than visiting any of the other Canadian provinces (sans the territories, perhaps).
2) That famous French “attitude” that apparently haunts American tourists? Yeah, we ran into a little bit of that…but mostly everyone was kind and eager to help us.
3) I was surprised that there are people in Quebec who don’t know English. Now, before you hammer me for seeing the world through an American, English-speaking lens, take into account that many European countries with exclusive languages (say Danish, Norwegian, etc) are practically forced to learn English to expand communication with the world outside their country. Now, French isn’t as exclusive a language, but Quebec is completely surrounded by a majority English-speaking populace in its own country and continent. Quebec seems more insulated than you would think and, yes, there are people who definitely don’t speak English. Don’t be put off by it – just don’t be surprised by it. I actually enjoy it and will be brushing up on a little French to get by in future scenarios.
Speaking of future scenarios – Quebec is calling me back for this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. This time I’m taking Breeah on her first visit. We’ll generally be avoiding the major cities as we take in some of the parks north of Montreal and Quebec City on yet another whirlwind driving tour-de-force. Despite my recent effort to watch my diet, I don’t think this weekend will be poutine-free.
Here are some of the stories from my last trip through Quebec in June of 2012…
A trip up into le Tour de Montreal (“tour” means “tower” in French, and, yes, it’s that tall, leaning tower that hangs over Olympic Stadium).
The powerful Montmorency Falls just outside of Quebec City.
Europe in North America (i.e. old town Quebec City)