TRAVELLIN’ RICK GOES TO QUEBEC
written by Debbie Williamson
Bonjour boys and girls. I recently went on a trip to Quebec and with my very limited understanding of the French language I actually survived the trip.
Road signs were everywhere in French. I quickly learned that nord was north, sud was south, est was east and ouest was west.
The first city I drove through was Montreal, Quebec. Montreal is a big city, although not as big as Toronto, Ontario. Driving through Montreal was like being in a whole other country. It was clearly a Canadian city but it felt quaint. There was culture and custom in Montreal. I could feel it. The city of Montreal was built on Mount Royal.
I found the houses in Montreal different than the houses in Ontario. In Montreal, the houses are built higher but not as wide as our houses. It may have something to do with the houses acting as a barrier to the wind, or keeping the houses warmer during the winter.
To continue on my journey of Quebec, I had to cross the St. Lawrence River by driving on the Champlain Bridge in Montreal. If someone were afraid of bridges, I could see why they’d be afraid of this one. The Champlain Bridge was long and massive. Looking over the side of the bridge I saw the St. Lawrence River. The St. Lawrence is a big river and very beautiful. I could also see the skyline of Montreal from the bridge. Montreal looked like a very nice, clean city. I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of streets and highways I saw. There seemed to be more streets here than in Toronto, but I think that is because I am from Toronto and are used to Toronto’s streets.
Once on the other side of Montreal, I stopped for lunch at a nice little restaurant.
“”Bonjour,”" said the owner.
I panicked. I knew hardly any French. I mean, I had learned a bit of French in high school and a little more from watching Sesame Street when I was totally bored with nothing else to do, but that was it. To read French, like road signs was totally different than having someone speak French to you. By having someone speak it, I think it drove home the fact that all this was real. A real person was speaking a real language, a different language. It was a little scary for a moment.
“”Hello,”" I said nervously.
I went in and sat down. I was the only one in the restaurant to speak English. I probably would have known enough French from my high school days to get me by but luckily enough, the menu had the food choices in English, too. The waitress also spoke English.
After lunch was over, I breathed a sigh of relief. Once I got back onto the road again and thought about the situation back at the restaurant, I realized I probably could have looked at the menu and ordered my meal in French. Poulet was chicken, bouef was beef and pomme de terre was potato. I knew enough French to get me by.
I had a wonderful time in Quebec, despite my initial fear. I was amazed at how much French I had remembered from high school.