Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

TAC ’15 French Spanish Celtic Adv Study

 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
336 messages over 42 pages: << Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 41 42
Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4079 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 329 of 336
23 June 2015 at 9:56pm | IP Logged 
Montreal Trip Report - Part 1

Hello everyone! It’s been a while but I haven’t given up on languages. I just got back a few days ago from Montreal so I figured it’d be a nice time to make an update featuring my trip report!

So I had a desire to get away and do something plus I had a decent amount of banked PTO hours. I was browsing airfares on Skyscanner and noticed that Montreal, at $360-$400 was the cheapest I had ever seen it from SFO. I mulled over it for a couple of days. I knew that Montreal has a lot of stuff going on in the summer so I looked up what was on the agenda: the F1 Grand Prix, a mural festival, the Fringe Festival, a world beer championship, and a French music festival, the FrancoFolies. I perused the selection of artists scheduled for the FrancoFolies and saw that a band I really like, Feu! Chatterton would be there – along with a bigger band, Fauve, which I also like! That settled it, I decided to go ahead and put in for the time off and buy the plane and concert tickets.

I gave myself 11 days – plenty of time to enjoy events, explore neighborhoods, and fit in a side trip to Quebec City. To save money I stayed in a hostel: the Gîte du Plateau Mont-Royal which was about $20 a night and really well situated on Rue Sherbrook and Hôtel de Ville.

Which brings me to my first bit of advice for travelling to Montreal: stay in a hostel! That or some other lodging situation that has you meeting people (Couchsurfing, Airbnb, friends of friends, etc). A lot of people who travel to Montreal (besides American teens and college students under the age of 21 hopping over the border to go drinking and clubbing) are French people. Most of the hostel staff was French and were really nice. You’ll meet a lot of new people and get to practice French even if you don’t manage to talk to a lot of people out in the city. The hostel I stayed in has a nice rooftop terrace you can take food and drinks up to and they organize outings.

I visited a lot of the neighborhoods – the closest and main one being the Plateau/Mont-Royal. Rue St. Denis is where a lot of the action is while Boulevard St Laurent was shut down for traffic for a big street fair and the mural festival. The Avenue du Parc was also nice with some nice cafes, the tamtams in the park on Sunday morning/afternoon, and a bus leading up the Mont Royal for some nice views and walks.

There was also the Vieux Port and Vieux-Montréal which is pretty and the most touristy part of town. Some of the hotels/skyscrapers in this area and downtown have some sky terrace bars with great views. I saw the Basilique Notre-Dame which is gorgeous – I’ve wanted to see it since I saw a photo of it in my high school French textbook. A French friend who is studying to be a pastry chef recommended a nice pastry shop there – la Maison Christian Faure. It was heavenly.

Later on I visited the neighborhoods of Mile End and Hochelaga (near the Olympic Stadium). They were also very charming and had lots of good cafes, bars, and restaurants. I was also surprised to discover that there’s a large Portuguese community in Montreal so lots of Portuguese rotisserie chicken restaurants where they serve you some really good chicken, tons of fries, and where you can get custard tarts, pastéis de nata. Lastly, in Little Italy there’s the Jean Talon market which is just amazing (fruits, veggies, meats, a cheese shop, flowers, maple syrup in all its forms, and some prepared food stands).

Second bit of advice – besides word of mouth and Yelp, Instagram is a great way to find interesting places in the area. I found a lot of really nice cafes and other places to visit thanks to Instagram photographers!

Third bit of advice – I was a bit torn between discovering lots of cafes/bars/restaurants and having regular spots. Most nights I ended up mainly visiting two bars near my hostel and that ended up being the best option. One was a great cocktail bar called La Distillerie where they serve elaborate and creative cocktails in mason jars and the other was Pub Ste. Elisabeth which has a beautiful terrace in the courtyard. I ended up getting to know the staff and some of the regulars and since I was a “regular” and chatting with the staff others at the bar would chat with me as well (not to mention I got some free shots and got to be a guinea pig for custom cocktail creations).

The same French friend recommended a brewpub, Broue Pub Brouhaha, that features B-movie nights on Mondays put on by When I visited they were putting on Flash Gordon dubbed in French followed by a recording of a regular podcast they do. It reminded me a lot of the B-movie series played at the Nouveau Latina cinema in Paris I used to go to.

Quebec City was beautiful, but a bit more touristy which is to be expected. A couple streets outside the city walls are great for pubs, bars, and restaurants with lovely terraces which are great in the summer: La Grande Allée and Rue St. Jean. At one bar/pub that had been recommended, La Ninkasi, I managed to stumble on an improv match. There’s a decent improv comedy tradition in French which was born in Quebec (if you watch improv matches in France they’ll be commonly done Quebec-syle: in a faux hockey ring with hockey jerseys). I watched a lot of improv while in France and was hoping to catch some while in Quebec but most of the groups had already ended their regular seasons. So I was happy about this little happenstance :)

I did quite a bit of book buying while in Montreal. My focus was nonfiction and some newer fiction that would be harder to get back home. I didn’t find any used bookstores with very low prices (1 to 5 EUR) like in Paris, but I still was able to get a lot and the USD/CAD exchange rate gave me a 20% discount. I met up with emk and we hit up a few shops and spent the day chatting in French. I finally ended up getting Maus (which has been on my list since my high school senior English teacher recommended it to me) and took note of some other BDs which I might acquire in the future. We also saw the film Une Nouvelle Amie. If you’re a Romain Duris fan you may have trouble not thinking of him in this role when watching him in other stuff… There’s also a biopic on Daft Punk called Eden which has been making the festival rounds and should be coming out shortly.

And now the concert! So, as I said, this band Feu! Chatterton being in town was what compelled me to decide to take the trip. They haven’t hit it really big yet, but they’ve been getting a lot of buzz, have been doing quite a few festivals, and have been opening for Fauve who’s been very successful, and will be releasing their first full album shortly so it should only be a matter of time before they’re well-known. They have very poetic, literary lyrics and style that’s mostly rock, sometimes a little dance, sometimes a little bluesy/jazzy. The press has been touting them as a return of chanson française tradition accompanied by good rock (with comparisons to Alain Bashung and Serge Gainsbourg) and the lead singer has a distinctive “dandy” look. I first heard them on a podcast of new French music on Le Mouv and I’ve loved them ever since!

They were playing one free outdoor concert one night then opening for Fauve the next night along with the band Grand Blanc (a sort of synthrock band). I went to both performances. For the FrancoFolies, a whole section of Montreal (the Quartier des Spectacles) gets shut down and they set up a bunch of stages (which I’m sure they keep up for the jazz and comedy festivals that take place later in the summer). Since all the concerts are free and it was a nice night they got a decent crowd, though I’m sure only a few of us knew who they were. The crowd *loved* them! After they went off stage for the last song the crowd kept clapping and cheering hoping they’d do an encore. Eventually the lead singer had to come out and say that they couldn’t do one but sang a short verse and encouraged everyone to come to the Fauve concert. It was so nice to see a lot of people discovering a great band for the first time! They came back out to break down their set and load up their equipment and I managed to talk a bit to the two guitarists and told them that I had come from San Francisco. They were pleasantly surprised to hear that and one insisted that we faire la bise. We also interacted a bit on Instagram.

The next day was my last proper day of vacation – I had a very early flight the next morning – and it was the night of the Fauve concert. I lined up about half an hour before doors opened at the venue, the Metropolis, and I ended up off to the side in the front row. I had no idea what to expect from Fauve live. They’ve been pretty successful and do a spoken word/hip-hop/rock style. Up front I was surrounded by a lot of teenagers which is apparently one of their core demographics. As it turns out they are incredible live! It was one of the best concert experiences I’ve ever had! The lead singer has so much energy and keeps the crowd pumped up. It was especially fun jumping up and down with the whole crowd shouting “va te faire enculer” over and over with middle fingers raised. Montreal seems to really love them and they seem to really appreciate their fans there.

The concert got out at 12:30 and I had to leave for the airport at 4:00 am (for flights across the Canadian/US border they have you go through all the immigration/customs before getting on the plane which means having to get to the airport earlier). I decided there was no point in going to bed so I visited my temporary regular bars one last time. Everyone was really nice and they even hugged me. From La Distillerie after some witnessing a drunken sing-along to a French Celine Dion song, I went to Pub Ste Elisabeth.
Guess who was there…Feu! Chatterton! It was pretty close to the venue so in hindsight it’s not that unusual that they’d end up there. They said, “You’re the one from Instagram!” and I got to have a beer with them. They were interested to know how I knew French, how I had heard them and what kind of music I like (I felt a lot of pressure to cite impressive artists). Their manager was there too and I told them that they have to try to come out to San Francisco (we’ve been getting a bunch of francophone artists who’ve done really well so it’s not too far-fetched). This was the perfect way to cap off my trip!

In my next post I’ll provide details such as more places to check out, my book haul, links to the bands, etc.

I heartily recommend a trip to Montreal/Quebec – especially during the summer! I would be so happy to spend the whole summer in Montreal and enjoy all the upcoming festivals (especially the international fireworks competition which will be featuring fireworks displays every weekend in July). Anyone with a little extra money and some vacation days lying around should definitely consider making a visit before it gets cold (though I’m sure it’s beautiful in winter). Otherwise you have a year to save up. :)

Edited by sctroyenne on 24 June 2015 at 8:59pm

5 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 2978 days ago

1013 posts - 1588 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Dutch, Swedish, Italian
Studies: German, Danish, Russian, Catalan

 Message 330 of 336
24 June 2015 at 12:28am | IP Logged 
I went to Montréal in July 2008 and the weather was extremely oppressive, although my
mother loved it. Averaging between 31-35 C with tropical-style 80%+ humidity and
thunderstorms, I literally changed shirts around thrice a day and had to buy more
undershirts because of this. Did you find the weather hot?

I went to Québec City in winter 2008, this time the opposite: my liking, at a quite
relaxing -35 C, and frozen Fleuve St Laurent although some crazy people were actually
kayaking(?). Being crazy for the snow, I went to the Plains d'Abraham and started to
throw snow all over the place in giddiness despite the temperature dipping to -40 C as
night approached. Then a nice dinner in old town with a nice vin blanc. Québec City
looks much prettier in winter, if you want you should give it a try. Same with
Montréal, winter on Rue St Catherine is unbelievably pretty.

Regarding flying to the USA, it is true that customs usually takes place at the last
port of exit before entering the USA. Once when I went from Montréal to SFO, I had to
connect in Toronto. Toronto was clearing for American customs, and the queue is
enormous. So much that my parents and I were the last one for whom my flight was
waiting. Luckily they delayed the flight for us. It is a strange and annoying system
though, flights going to the UK always clear customs in the UK, not at the port of

I did not know that you were from San Francisco, I split my time between there and
Manchester, UK. Right now, I am in SF. Personally I would prefer Montréal or Québec
than either place...

Edited by 1e4e6 on 24 June 2015 at 12:32am

1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4079 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 331 of 336
24 June 2015 at 1:12am | IP Logged 
Weather-wise this was probably the best time of the year. There was some rain but it was mostly sunny in the 20s C, some humidity but not too much (being from California I have low tolerance but I've experienced much worse like July/August in Michigan). One Saturday night the weather was so absolutely perfect that there were lines to get into every bar and restaurant (forget getting on a terrace).

Growing up without snow I definitely would love to make up for it. And snow is easy enough when you don't rely on a car (which if I lived in Montreal I wouldn't have to). I'm not sure about the coldness though (especially the duration of the cold season). I was in Europe a few years ago when a Siberian windstream blanketd the continent for about two weeks. That was -10 C and was pretty rough. Granted I didn't have a coat for weather that cold but the wind in my face was like being stabbed with ice daggers.

Entering from Europe I've only ever done customs on the first U.S. port of entry. The system probably works a lot better for people making connecting flights once in the U.S. (easier to add time to the front than unknown time between flights with delays and all), but I was pretty tired and just wanted to pass out at the gate.

I agree, I think I'd like Montreal (I might get working on making that happen...). I thought I was the only one representing the West Coast ;)
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4079 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 332 of 336
24 June 2015 at 8:49pm | IP Logged 
Montreal Pt. 2

In this second part of my trip report I'm including all the media and links I was too lazy to put in Part 1.

My book haul:

As I said, I focused on buying stuff that would be difficult to find and/or expensive to get locally. So I got a lot of nonfiction (history, politics, sociology, etc), some new(ish) fiction, and a few BDs. I'm a social science geek so I'm interested in the topics plus at C1/C2 level I think reading a lot of nonfiction will help develop key fluency skills, especially argumentation which is emphasized heavily on the exams.

emk has a roundup of most of the bookstores on this page of his log but I had a couple more to add:

Librairie Le port de tête (New and used)
262 Avenue du Mont-Royal E, Montréal, QC H2T 1P6, Canada

La Librairie Du Square (New - apparently a bookstore of historic significance)
3453 Rue Saint-Denis, Montréal, QC H2X 3L1, Canada

Boutique Volume (Used)
Cégep du Vieux Montréal, 277 Rue Sainte-Catherine E, Montréal, QC H2X 1L4, Canada

And a couple used ones that I saw but didn't manage to make it to:

Librairie Mona Lisait (Used)
2054, Saint-Denis, Montréal, QC, H2X3K7, Canada

Le Colisée du livre (Used)
908, rue Sainte-Catherine Est, Montreal, QC H2L 2E7, Canada

And finally a full Yelp list with lots of stores I tagged but didn't get to. Basically you can make a big loop along Saint-Denis and and a parallel street between rue Sainte-Catherine Est and Avenue du Mont-Royal and you'll stumble on a lot of them.

Some BDs that are on my "to consider" list:

The Lunes Birmanes one had some beautiful color inside so I was really tempted.

And I'm not sure, emk, if you were ever talking about this author, Jacques Abeille. A local I met up with to check out book shops was saying he's considered a bit the French JRR Tolkein (he's not a fantasy reader but he liked the first in this series):

Some food and drink suggestions:

For a really good nice dinner (not cheap but not the most expensive in town either - that would be more like Joe Beef) there's the renowned:

Au Pied de Cochon by Martin Picard
536 Avenue Duluth E, Montréal, QC H2L 1A9, Canada (514) 281-1114

The whole menu is basically pork, duck, foie gras, all topped with more foie gras. Not for vegetarians. In winter they do a whole sugar shack/cabane à sucre. They also have a food truck that serves foie gras poutine if you want a taste for less money.

Portuguese rotisseries all over the city.


Dieu du Ciel
29 av Laurier Ouest, Montréal, QC H2T 2N2, Canada (514) 490-9555

Broue Pub Brouhaha
5860 Avenue de Lorimier, Montréal, QC H2G 2N9, Canada (514) 271-7571
Go Monday evenings for a Mystery Science Theater 3000 kind of experience with

L’amère à Boire
2049 Rue Saint-Denis, Montréal, QC H2X 3K8, Canada (514) 282-7448

Le Sainte Elisabeth
1412, rue Sainte-Elisabeth, Montréal, QC H2X 3C6, Canada (514) 286-4302
Has this lovely courtyard terrace where I had a beer with the band :)


Cafe Arts
201 Fairmount Avenue W, Montréal, QC H2T 2M8, Canada (514) 274-0919
(also try Fairmont and/or St. Viateur Bagles nearby!)

Pikolo Espresso Bar
3418 B Avenue Du Parc, Montréal, QC H2X 2H7, Canada (514) 508-6800

Café Parvis
433 Rue Mayor, Montréal, QC H3A, Canada (514) 764-3589
Discovered thanks to Instagram due to it being the prettiest cafe in Montreal


Just one (they have two other locations)

La Distillerie
300, Rue Ontario E, Montréal, QC H2X 1H6, Canada (514) 288-7915

Really creative cocktails and super nice staff! If you sit at the bar and get the bartender Fred on a kind of a slow night (during the week is best) he'll offer to make up some crazy concoctions for you based on what you like, like this one:

I told him I like Moscow Mules so he mixed a coctail based on tequila and orange bitters, took out a cigar and a smoker, put some of the cigar leaves in the smoker and torched it (there's a blow torch at the bar that gets a lot of use), poured the smoke over the cocktail and let it infuse for a while. It was really good!

A couple other activity-based places I wanted to check out but didn't get to:

Le Bordel Comédie Club
312 rue Ontario E, Montréal, QC H2X 1H6, Canada (514) 845-4316

Randolph Pub Ludique
2041 Rue Saint Denis, Montréal, QC H2X 3K8, Canada (514) 419-5001
(pub with a ton of board games - could be good for meeting locals)

Montréal Improv (plus tons of other improv places)
3697 St-Laurent Boulevard, Montréal, QC H2X 2V7, Canada (514) 507-3535
3 persons have voted this message useful

TAC 2010 Winner
Senior Member
Joined 4159 days ago

277 posts - 553 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French

 Message 333 of 336
24 June 2015 at 9:41pm | IP Logged 
Wow! Thats a great trip report on Montréal - thanks. I have been living there for the past year and a half but I
think you discovered more cool things in 11 days than I have in that time - and my girlfriend is Québécoise
(but from Saint Julie). I tend to be away too much of the summer because my boat is still in Toronto but I
hope to visit some of the pubs, cafés and bookstores you mentioned soon...
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4079 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 334 of 336
25 June 2015 at 12:04am | IP Logged 
Montreal Trip Report Pt. 3 Music edition

So I decided to make a Part 3 to feature music rather than make Part 2 an epic saga. This will mostly be about convincing everyone to go and listen to Feu! Chatterton right now but I'll put in some extra content.

So I went to Montreal for the FrancoFolies Festival to see Feu! Chatterton and Fauve (who were also appearing with Grand Blanc). The festival's site is great for discovering some new French music, as is the mobile app which is excellent. (**Could be another good tip for discovering French music - check lineups for major French festivals like Printemps de Bourges, Solidays, Rock en Seine, Les Vieilles Charrues, Les Francofolies de La Rochelle - the Francofolies would have exclusively francophone artists).

I didn't catch many other artists. There was one that I wasn't too inspired to check out afterwards, but this Quebec hip-hop act, Dead Obies, came on the big stage after the Feu! Chatterton set and they are apparently HUGE in Quebec right now. I stuck around a little bit but started getting a contact high from all the substances being smoked so I figured I'd check them out later.

As I said above, Feu! Chatterton has gotten a lot of media buzz so there are a lot of articles and interviews talking about their style and their poetic lyrics but here's a little feature by Le Grand Journal. They've been hyped as the next big thing in the tradition of Chanson Française but to put it...good music.

That's always been my trouble with traditional Chanson Française - I can only listen to a couple of songs in a row before I get tired of the style since the emphasis is not so much on the music or the vocal quality. Feu! Chatterton is music I can listen to all day and the lyrics are just exquisite. Now that I've seen them live and have been watching more of their live videos on YouTube I'm really struck by just how good the instrumentalists are (the "deuling" guitarists that add a lot of rock energy live, some really nice bass).

They experiment a lot with different styles but their biggest rock sounds are on La Mort dans la Pinède, which recounts the awkwardness and electricty of a first sexual encounter:

Tu étais mal dans tes godasses
Dans tes baskets converse
Et je priai les godess
De la promenade des anglais
D'abord je paradais
Puis tu appréhendais
Mes audaces
D'un geste tu les chassas
Comme les moucherons
Au dessus de nos têtes

Et mes largesses
Tu les mis à l'index
C'est déjà ça
A l'index ah!
C'est déjà sale

Au café du commerce
Voilà du grain à moudre
Le grand amour commence
Par un coup de foudre

Et le vent désertique a mis le feu aux poudres
Pendant qu'on s'aime
Crépitent les arbres brûlants
Entends-tu la violence sourdre?
C'est la mort que les flammes sèment
En sens-tu les relents ?

C'est la mort dans la pinède!
Nos cœurs s'embrasent
La forêt aussi."

Their danciest tune is La Malinche which also talks about love but also has a verse about the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs and La Malinche:

Native des contrées
Où Cortés est venu
Trouver haine et fortune
Tu sais de mémoire ancienne
Te méfier des braves
de leur soif inopportune !

Combien de lâches sont venus ici
Courir chimères à coup de fusils ?
Ivres de gloire ont-ils pensé que ton coeur
Serait conquis percé de flèches et de rancoeur
Comme tes côtes mexicaines !

De Malinche, de Malinche
Il n'y en aura qu'une"

They have a few "slow" songs. One is about the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster and is really well done. But I think the strongest is A l'aube, a sort of spoken-word rock ballad about the loss/separation of a friendship from youth. I won't post all the lyrics but the whole song is really a masterpiece:

Et si nous avons pleuré ensemble ce jour de septembre où nous nous sommes quittés c'est qu'on savait que l'infini tendresse, la mémoire et le téléphone mobile sont peu de chose contre la distance, que tout allait changer

il est parti
C'est qu'il se lève à l'aube
Ouais il faut bien s'arracher

D'abord il y a l'âge libre avant la vie domestique qu'on attend tous comme sentence absurde et nécessaire et puis ces chimères à fuir que l'on pense laisser à la porte des avions long courrier

Enfin la peur de s'engraisser aussi, que le confort nous abêtisse
il est parti c'est qu'il se lève à l'aube

And finally, a new song I only just heard live. It's their most "concept" song, running about 14 minutes in length with two "movements". No lyrics online yet but from what I've made out so far they're incredibly rich and it's really worth listening to: Bic Medium.

I'll make another post about Fauve once I've had a chance to "study" them a bit more. Before seeing them live I had only ever listened to their albums while at work so I haven't delved into their lyrics much (which are rich and dissectable as well but in a different, more vulgar/familiar way).

I hope a few of you come to appreciate Feu! Chatterton as much as I do!
2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4079 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 335 of 336
25 June 2015 at 4:02pm | IP Logged 
microsnout wrote:
Wow! Thats a great trip report on Montréal - thanks. I have been living there for the
past year and a half but I
think you discovered more cool things in 11 days than I have in that time - and my girlfriend is Québécoise
(but from Saint Julie). I tend to be away too much of the summer because my boat is still in Toronto but I
hope to visit some of the pubs, cafés and bookstores you mentioned soon...

I can definitely relate. Now that I'm back I feel like I should take some inspiration from my own "vacation
mode" of life and go exploring my own backyard more often. It's really easy to take for granted!
1 person has voted this message useful

United States
Joined 4220 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 Message 336 of 336
25 June 2015 at 5:47pm | IP Logged 
Wow! What an epic trip report!

It was totally a blast spending an afternoon hanging out with you in Montreal and ransacking the bookshops. I've been rationing my stack of BDs a bit, of course. :-)

Et bonjour à microsnout aussi. Ça fait pas mal de temps. C'est bon de te revoir !

1 person has voted this message useful

This discussion contains 336 messages over 42 pages: << Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 

If you wish to post a reply to this topic you must first login. If you are not already registered you must first register

Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum

This page was generated in 0.9883 seconds.

DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2021 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.