If you are anything like me (an uniformed American) you might not have realized that Montreal is actually named after a mountain, Mont Royal. Said mountain is in a beautiful park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (1822 – 1903), the same landscape architecture genius who gave us Central Park in New York City and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The Parc du Mont-Royal is a meanderers delight. I spent several happy hours wandering its gravel pathways this morning, in the company of two Montreal residents and their dogs. Meet Carole, her dog Parsley, and Nancy and her dog, Yuki.
Carol and Nancy went off home with the dogs, leaving me to my own devices. From there, I wandered through the woods to the Chalet, the fancy part, chock-a-block with tourists and amazing views.
I encountered these bilingual hikers as I was looking for the trail to the Chalet at the top of the mountain. I tried out my rusty French on them, but we quickly switched to English, and they kindly took me under their wing as we wended our way to the lookout Carole calls “the one for the proletariat.” The fancy one at the Chalet is a few kilometers higher. Here is the view from the working person’s vantage point looking toward the city and the St. Lawrence River.
I must have gained some mysterious authority, or at least looked like I knew where I was going, because a couple asked me directions in French, and I answered them, pointing the way to the road to the Chalet. “The views are worth it,” I added in English, explaining that I speak only “un petite peu” of their language. We had a good laugh.
Then it was on to a small cafe, Les Folies, on Av. Du Mont-Royal for a lunch consisting of poutine – a traditional Quebec speciality – a triple decker tofu and veggie sandwich, and some amazing raspberry ice tea. I had already walked six miles, so I figured I could be absolved for the poutine which consists of French fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Oh my!
I’ve been here less than 24 hours, but already have my favorite streets in the neighborhood, including this one, Rue St. Andre, which has many charming duplexes with wrought iron balconies draped in geraniums. This is my idea of heaven – getting to spend time exploring a neighborhood in a beautiful city and befriending its residents, human and canine.