Back in the (French Canadian) Saddle Again...
Yep, we're trying out French again, back in Montreal.
We've been woefully behind in our posts, but hopefully there will be several posts in the next few weeks to fill in some gaps. There will be further posts about Quebec City (back in June!), what we did in Chicago (August/September), experiencing fall colors in tiny little Quebec towns bordering Vermont (last weekend), reviews of Montreal restaurants and a retrospective on my new mission to try out all the best coffee shops within a mile's walk (ongoing).
But first, our new neighborhood needs an introduction.
We should start with how we ended up in Montreal again. We were just about ready to reserve our seats on flights to Europe for a 6-week trip through France and Portugal when we started hesitating. We would miss Katie too much... It would be a hassle to take the little Ryannair flights to Lisbon (and travel from there to the Algarve and then back to France)... We were already starting to lose the French we learned, and we really wanted to get stronger with the language before we forgot what little we knew...
The truth was that we discovered we loved Montreal, its pastry shops, its friendly people, and the ease of being able to drive there with Katie and have our own car. In the midst of our considerations, more terror attacks happened in Europe. (In fact, there have been so many that it's difficult to remember which one nudged us over to Canada.) Well, Montreal it is!
So we contacted our old Montreal VRBO proprietor Richard (with whom we got on very well). By the time we left our slightly "dodgy" up-and-coming artsy neighborhood of Little Italy/Mile-Ex, we were really enjoying that slice of Montreal edginess. But when we decided to return for two more months of French classes, it turned out that Richard's apartment was already booked for at least half of the time we needed to be there. So, we looked for a different unit, sort of interested now in getting to know a new part of the city.
In our earlier visit, we very much enjoyed walking through Mile End and Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhoods. They were both a bit more expensive, with more tourists as well as more American and French expats, more restaurants, more cafes... Just more! We got seduced by these neighborhoods, and we were very excited when a spacious apartment was available in what seemed the perfect location in Plateau Mont-Royal.
Now a month into our stay (we arrived here on September 22), we can report that our experience is mostly positive, though not without some unexpected disappointments. The inside of our apartment in the Plateau is not as nice as our other one--and we miss the convenience of being able to roll out of bed and pretty much walk straight into a Metro station... And for the first few weeks when we still had windows open at night, we were definitely cursing the trendiness of our new neighborhood as drunken revelries continued into our residential street and alleyway after bars closed at 3am. We've decided that we are now (and perhaps have always been) too old for hip quarters of cities.
Oh, but the beautiful rows of colorful homes nearby (with the prettier side of our own block right below)!
Like our old neighborhood, the Plateau area also has colorful art/graffiti on just about every corner.
Katie goes to Square Saint Louis (two blocks from our place, and which borders on the gracious beautiful homes pictured at the top of this post) for morning and evening walks,
Which is right next to a pedestrian-only area of restaurants and cafes.
We have the pleasure of sauntering over to Parc de La Fontaine (just minutes away) for afternoon jaunts.
On the way back from Parc de La Fontaine, we stop in (almost every day) at our little corner grocery,
and also our neighborhood produce store,
which is across the street from yet another random gorgeous church dotting the city.
And it's a good thing we're doing all this walking because it's a bit too tempting to be within 5 minutes walk (and on the way home from the Metro) of one of the top 10 bakeries in Montreal...
As well as being able to walk a few minutes in ANY direction for scrumptious goodies, along with the city's best croissants,
and these Portguese natas (essentially little custard tarts) are $6 (Canadian dollars) for the 6 of them (yes, that's 79 U.S. cents per each beautiful tart!).
And now that windows are closed at night, we don't even hear the drunks anymore!