"So, how is it there?"
|Montreal staircase in the Plateau|
I've held off writing about Montreal, aware that my observations will be those of an impressionable newcomer. But... I love this city.
The dynamism does not refer to the business dealings of the respective cities, but to the rhythm of human interaction, most noticeably on display via summer street life. The three colours of winter (grey, black, white) give way to bright skirts, mounds of market produce or accessories like commenter lagatta's flowered panniers.
Le Duc had lunch with a colleague who has recently moved back from Toronto, and Olivier nailed the difference: "It is at once more dynamic and more laid-back", he said.
|Charming bike panniers|
The laid-back sense comes from the noticeably longer time people take to acknowledge and transact everyday tasks. It's the half-beat, the half-minute or half-hour, depending what's happening, that allows some breath and human contact.
A place for us
One film solidified what I was looking for with this move, Louis Malle's documentary, "Place de la République", in which he deftly captured the essence of an atmospheric but populaire part of Paris.
His film became my playbook. I knew, at 62, that I wanted to live–and would need to live–in a neighbourhood with life and colour, with a square in which to sit and a bus stop at my door.
|Scene from "Place de la République"|
My father, a native Chicagoan, always said "When I get old, I'm going to live on State Street." By moving to a lively neighbourhood in the midst of a culture unique to North America, I've achieved his wish, which is also ours.
|Navarino bakery; photo by C. DeWolf|
This is the City of Bakeries: from ethereal mille-feuille to hearty olive bread, bagels to cannoli; it's all here, vast, varied and fresh.
A bakery is a metaphor for the city, yeasty, open late, always beckoning, sometimes decadent.
Christopher DeWolf's photo of Navarino Bakery says "Montreal", with its French signage, bike at the curb and welcoming wide windows. (The photo was retrieved from his compelling blog about cities, Urban Photo.)
|Photo by Christopher DeWolf|
I have not set foot in a mall. (For those who like them, there are plenty, including about 25km of connected underground territory in the centre of downtown.)
There is a deep sense of neighbourhood, with local businesses doing okay, if not achieving prosperity, in sections of the city that have seen worse times.
I miss our friends in my old city, but have been delighted to meet what my mother used to call "shirttail relatives"–second cousins and such–of Le Duc's here, and my Toronto friends have graciously introduced me to their Montreal friends.
I'm eagerly awaiting lunch tomorrow with bloggoddess Rubiatonta, visiting Montreal for a few days. Wonder what we'll get up to!
Passage des perles closes today for the month of August, as usual.
See you on Sept.1 with more style, culture and life. I wish you a glorious, sweet August, wherever you may be.
I leave you with Jean Leloup's infectious Franglish tune, "I Lost My Baby". You might get it out of your head by the time the Passage re-opens!