If you want to get away, you can drive south from Portland, ME and be in the Big Apple in just under 6 hours. Or, you can drive north and be in Montreal in just under 6 hours. Go north! It’s a foreign country and a lot cheaper and quicker to get to than France.
They speak a different language, they use a different currency (worth slightly more than ours last I checked) and the food is magnifique. Like Portland, they have an Old Port…only it’s really old and really impressive. So I say, go north!
Although you might want to bone up on your high school French first, if for no other reason than to be able to read the traffic signs. We were there on the weekend of Quebec’s National Holiday, a week before the Montreal International Jazz Festival. There were many signs, related to parade routes, parking bans… you name it…we couldn’t read it.
Here are the consequences of not being able to read the fine print on signs in French:
1. Within 10 minutes of parking our car right across from our auberge, we had a ticket: $55 CAN. (The little red square with the number in it means residents only)
2. After parking overnight in a large facility on one of the quays, we returned to pick up our car and it was nowhere to be found. Stolen? Towed? Apparently we had missed the fine print on the parking regulations that explicitly stated no overnight parking on June 23rd. Security for a cruise ship or something. The security folks did help us find the car –– just a warning this time.
3. After traversing the city on Sunday morning to find the Botanical Gardens (worth the trip), we couldn’t seem to get out of Montreal. It being the Fete Nationale, the main routes were blocked off for parades, traffic was completely tied up…and we would have known all this if we could have read the little signs along Rue Sherbrooke.
But of course, none of this really dampened our enjoyment of La Belle Province. Montreal is a great city and an easy road trip. We should all go north more often. In fact, the only truly irritating part of the trip was the hour wait at the US border going back home. There were no signs in any language warning us about that.