A NON-SUGAR-COATED Insider's view
Written: Sep 9, 2002
a Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Fun, hard-working, hard-partying
Cons:unfriendly, hostile, crime-ridden, run-down,...
The Bottom Line: Montreal is very fun, but not everything that people brag about. Watch your back and wallet, use CAD$, Remember you're in N.A., and you will have a great time.
I had to write something to counteract the "this is my city it's so great" phenomenon here. I just moved here a couple years ago, so I am free of the hometown bias. I do like Montreal, it is a fun-loving, hard-partying place, and I would recommend it as a tourist destination. But it is not what all these romantics claim that it is. So here goes-
Some myths and facts about Montreal:
MYTH: Montreal is like Paris
FACT: Québec does have a distinct culture, but it is one that is distinctly North-American. Montrealers eat junk food, commute by car and drink cheap beer. The language does NOT make it "European". This is the most common misconception.
MYTH: Montreal is friendly and safe
FACTS: Drivers in Montreal will try to run you down. Pedestrians will walk out in front of your car. Any trace of an english accent in your french will be met with a glare. Montreal has one of the highest crime rates in Canada, and is the focal point of much biker-gang and mafia activity, not to mention the usual muggings, bike-and-car thefts, etc. You will also be struck by the number of homeless people and their aggressivity.
MYTH: Montreal is "Beautiful"
FACT: Montreal has beautiful *parts* but is, overall, pretty ugly. Abandoned factories, crazy (and crumbling)superhighway interchanges, potholed streets, buildings blackened from soot. Oh yeah and of course the horrible smog. Mind you as I said there are some cute parts such as the Old Town, but that is an overpriced tourist-trap. I challenge any of you to find any Canadians there.
MYTH: They like American Money
FACT: They like its' value, but they thoroughly resent being expected to accept it and to do the currency conversion in their head. BUY CANADIAN DOLLARS. They'll go further and you will not come across as a jerk.
MYTH: Crescent Street is the place to be.
FACT: Crescent Street is garbage. It's overpriced, unfriendly and almost 100% English-speaking. For a sampling of real Montreal-style fun, head to Rue St-Denis between Ste-Catherine and Sherbrooke Streets. Here you will find a much more diverse and interesting collection of bars and restaurants (I like Bar St-Sulpice). As well, be sure to get some Lebanese fast food, which is what all Eastern Canadians have after exiting the bars to fuel their long walk home. St-Laurent north of Sherbrooke is also quite nice, and you MUST stop by Schwarz' Deli. The smoked meat there is unlike anything you have ever tasted.
MYTH: The "Underground City" is a tourist attraction
FACT: It is really not very extensive, it just consists of a couple links between a few malls. Toronto has a more extensive underground city than Montreal. In fact, I think New York does too. That said, it is convenient in the winter. The Metro is noisy, crowded and bumpy, but will get you where you want to go, and fast.
Well, that's all I can think of off the top of my head. Have fun, but don't get any false hopes. Given the choice, I would rather go to Québec City.
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Best Suited For: Couples
Best Time to Travel Here: Jun - Aug