Sunday, August 06, 2006


Looks like I'm going to Montreal. Yay! I've been doing some serious research, and decided that, aside from speaking French, eating and drinking French-Canadian, and otherwise enjoying a few days outside of the five (well, two) boroughs, I should go to Montreal's Jewish museum, if one exists. French-Canadian Jews might be sort of like French Jews, right? Not the ones in my family, who are mainly English-speaking, but some, who knows. In any case, it looks like there will be one there eventually, but not until 2007. That year may also bring about a revival of the Montreal Jewish Film Festival. So will my trip to the north be totally free of Francophilic Zionism? Enough Googling, and I've learned that someone named Susan Portnoy (!) teaches more than one class at the Montreal JCC on how to keep your house free of clutter. Presumably she also explains the importance of being kind to one's servants of color.

Anyone with any suggestions of what to do in Montreal should, of course, comment below.


ck said...

If you want the lowdown on Montreal you know all you have to do is give me a call. Oh and welcome to Jewlicious!

Matticus said...

Silly Jewish related things to do:
Try to find Morecai Richler's gravesite on Mont Royal, something my friends and I always wanted to do and somehow never got around to.
Walk around the Plateau Mont Royal, in the vacinity of Duluth and Mont Royal Street, seeing if you can spot the synogogues (and churches!) converted into housing. Great restaurants, coffee shops, and people watching in that neighborhood too. You might know all of this already.
For the more Francaphone side of things--a cafe or micro-brewery on St. Denis? There are probably a lot of people who have better suggestions than I do. Can you tell I miss the place?

Scott Lemieux said...

Montreal is amazing--lived there for 7 years. Start with the Plateau and go from there; it's a great walking city. And maybe read some Mordecai Richler to warm up... ;)

Alex B. said...

Well, unfortunately I no longer live in Montréal (I'm about to move to Vancouver for grad school), but I was still born and raised there, so considering your interest for all things Jewish and French, here's what I think you should check out in Montréal...

- Bagels at the Saint-Viateur bagel shop, near the Saint-Viateur /Avenue du Parc intersection. Montreal bagels are slightly different from NY ones, kind of smaller and more dense, but you should like them.

- Café/shopping on rue Saint-Denis and Avenue du Mont-Royal.

- Walking around the Mile-End, the old Jewish neighbourhood in which, among others, Mordecai Richler was born. Give the smoked meat sandwich at Charcuterie Hébraïque de Montréal (a.k.a. Schwartz's) a try. It's a classic.

- Hanging out in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood. There's some great French restaurants in Montréal, for a fraction of the NYC price. La Montée de Lait, for instance (description here:, is very good.

- If you want to go out, avoid Crescent St. downtown. This street (and pretty much all of rue Sainte-Catherine) speaks English -- and while I happen to like English, I just don't think it's what you're looking for in coming to Montréal, I suppose there's plenty of English spoken in NYC. There's nicer bars on Laurier or Saint-Denis.

(By the way, language is a sensitive issue in Montréal. Anglophones (roughly 20% of Montrealers) will speak to you in English, but as soon as Francophones will detect an English/American accent in your French, they'll reply to you in English. Don't take it personal, that's just how they are. When an anglo speaks to me in French, I tend to appreciate the effort and reply in French, but Montrealers aren't really like that. You may have a hard time with the accent of some French-speaking Montrealers, especially the older ones and the ones in the East End, but you probably won't go there. The French spoken by the younger Québécois is closer to standard international French, albeit sprinkled with regional expressions -- but you probably know all that stuff.)

- Go for a sorbet or ice cream at Le Bilboquet on Avenue Bernard, in Outremont, a very nice neighbourhood. You'll never want to go back to Tasti-d-lite. By the way, Outremont is where most of the Hassidim of Montreal live, so there's a few synagogues and Jewish-related things in this neighbourhood. It also happens to be the 'hood where I was born, so I'm sentimentally attached to it in a way...

- What else? The view at the top of the Mont Royal is quite nice.

- Vieux-Montréal is worth visiting, for the architecture, the fleuve Saint-Laurent, the galleries, the shops, and especially for the brownies at Olive et Gourmando (, at the corner of Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul).

If I think of more things to do, I'll let you know.

Amuse-toi bien à Montréal!

Jacob said...

- Café/shopping on rue Saint-Denis and Avenue du Mont-Royal.

I heartily agree-- a wonderful and fun neighborhood. And, since the corner of Saint-Denis and Mont-Royal is roughly 15 feet from my front door, I'd be happy to introduce you to some of the local coffee while you're in the neighborhood.

Phoebe said...

Thanks for all the suggestions.

Just checking--which Jacob? Profile is unavailable...

Jacob said...

this one. Sorry bout that; I can't figure out how to change the profile.

Seth said...

Yeah, all the French speaking Jews of Montreal are exactly the same as the ones in Paris - they are all Moroccan/Algerian. Other than that, all the Jews in Montreal prefer English.