Showing posts from April, 2016

Asbestos - 45° 46' 21" N 71° 55' 59" W

Rural Québec Today, we rented a car and took off into the Québec countryside.  Yes, this was part of our homework.  We have been learning directions so all navigation was carried out in French.  Unfortunately, we had not learned the word for u-turn which we would have found rather handy! We headed east from Montréal and found ourselves in the Eastern Townships, a little pocket of Québec tucked up against the US border.  Beautiful countryside filled with vineyards, cycle paths, cosy accommodations and unique gourmet experiences (and precious memories to bring home if you believe the website!).  It was certainly very pretty.  Although we are right at the end of 'sugar season', we did see many maple trees tapped for syrup.  Gone are the days of the bucket at each individual tree - maple forests now sport poly tube that runs from tree to tree and along a central collection tube.  Not quite as romantic but would save the slog from tree to tree. Le Pont Perrault We a

Le parc Lafontaine - 45° 31' 47" N 73° 33'57" W

Time is flying by and week three of our course is done.  Our French has improved in leaps and bounds from where it was but we are nowhere near fluent - stilted conversational would be more apt - and about where we hoped we would be.  We continue to be impressed by the quality of instruction and surprised at how tired we are!  Three and a half hours of full engagement every morning is not what we have been used to for a while. Montréal's weather is much prettier but not yet tropical.  We caught up with Michelle again this week.  She introduced us to yet another fun eatery before we spent the afternoon wandering around the Redpath Museum.  A beautiful building where you could imaging Indianan Jones and his father huddled over priceless relics.  The museum is owned by McGill University and is filled with natural history exibits from mummies, to shells to stuffed polar bears. The Olympic Stadium

Dorval - 45° 25' 56" N 73° 49' 03" W

flash cards work well! Our French is improving every day.  We are not quite chatting yet but are stumbling through some very useful sentences.  Mes sœurs sont rousses. Mon père est fou. and even Je n'ai pas envie de vin rouge parce que, j'ai la gueule de bois ! Despite the weather being bitterly cold earlier in the week,  we are loving Montréal. Bundled up, still in toques and gloves, we have been exploring the streets and neighbourhoods.  We are finding our waitstaff and our neighbours very patient when we explain that we are learning French and they humour our stumbling efforts. As the week went on, the snow melted and spring started to arrive.  The grass is getting greener, the tennis court nets have been put up, the Bixi bikes are back and the grit is gradually being cleaned off the roads and paths.   And for the weekend, the temperatures soared allowing us to really get out and about. We hiked to the top of Mont Royal quizzing each other on our verb conjugations

Ave Papineau - 45° 31' 48" N 73° 33' 57" W

Le neige à la Parc Lafontaine We are very much enjoying our French classes.  Our teacher, Thomas, is excellent, very funny and very effective.  He is French so is able to teach us the nuances between le québécoise and le français.  He has also been most effective at teaching us to swear in both too! We are the only Canadians in the class.  Our fellow students are made up of immigrants learning French (from Jordan, Australia, Brazil,  England) and those who have come to Montréal specifically to learn French (Brazil, USA, Italy, UK and NZ). Over half the class are not native English speakers which is a great help with accents and pronunciation.  We are both confident we will be able to speak and understand, read and write a sentence or two by the time we are finished. Outside classes, we have plenty of homework and lots of vocabulary to learn. Our apartment is looking very festive with post-it notes stuck all around in an effort to facilitate our learning. We are lacking someone t

Montréal - 45° 51' 34" N 73° 33' 54" W

An uneventful half-day of travel has brought us here to Le Plateau, an upscale neighborhood in Montréal.  The whole purpose of this trip is to improve on our baseline spoken french.  We have signed up for an intensive, three-and-a-half-hour-a-day immersion class here in la belle provence . After arriving at the airport, we bought a monthly transit pass and made our way (via the airport bus) to our rented apartment on Papineau Avenue.  It is in a tired, 1960's era building on the 24th floor, with a stunning view east towards the Olympic Stadium and the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Patrick, our host, met us at the building and gave us a walk-through and the door keys.  We don't expect to see him again unless something goes terribly wrong.  There is a full kitchen, dishwasher, clothes washer/dryer.  We feel as though we've relocated here instead of being through-travelers.  There is a large park across the street; local grocer, many depanneurs, an ATM and two metro stops nearby.  W