I've been working in downtown Montréal for the past 15 years. I like it. I often go there during the weekend for errands. It's more agreeable than the shopping mall frenzy of the suburbs. Driving is also much more relaxed.
Most Suburbanites are under the impression that the Montréalais driver is nuts. They believe you'd have to be crazy to live in the city. I don't agree. Most of the Montréalais I know take the bus and the Métro. I think most Montréalais drivers aren't from Montréal.
Anyway!... the Festival international de jazz de Montréal has just kicked off the season. Tourists are in town. I haven't traveled all that much in my life, but I know what I like when I'm traveling. Some of the fondest memories I have of my foreign escapades are impromptu encounters with local residents. So... when I see someone walking slowly with her/his nose up in the air or trying to figure out a map, I always offer my help.
Yesterday, I was at Bonaventure Métro station with my son. Two ladies were trying to figure out their way to Chinatown. That's where we were heading and they accepted my offer to accompany them.
They were on a cruise from Boston up the St. Lawrence Seaway. "It must be nice to see Québec city from the Seaway?" I asked. They loved it.
We got off at Square-Victoria (one station West of Chinatown). I showed them the original Parisian Métropolitain entrance. It's an amazing Art Nouveau piece by Hector Guimard. It was donated by the Parisian transit authority to commemorate the collaboration between French and Québécois engineers when building the original lines in the 60s.
We then moved on to Chinatown through the undergrounds; that's a pretty slick part of town. Once arrived, I had them try some Dragon's beard candy, nuts wrapped in fluffy sugar filaments. My kids love it and always get a kick from watching it made.
All along the way, my son was very quiet. Both ladies noticed and were puzzled when I informed them that he didn't speak English. I often get the feeling that Americans underestimate the veracity of our French speaking society. I always get a kick out of demonstrating it.