Posted by: Silver | May 5, 2012

Mont Tremblant to Montreal

Mont Tremblant to Saint-Jérôme:
Distance: 88 km
Ascent: 652 m
Cycling time: 5 hours, 45 minutes

Saint-Jérôme to Montréal:
Distance: 63 km
Ascent: 248 m
Cycling time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Well, I’ve been in Quebec for about a week now, so I thought I would just share some initial reflections on how I’m coping with the strongest reminder yet that Canada is a bilingual country…

Actually, I seem to be coping pretty well. 🙂

According to the exam I had to take to get my permanent resident’s status in the first place, my French is entirely fluent, so I knew I didn’t lack competence, but having never previously spent any time actually living and functioning in a French-speaking milieu (yes, that was an entirely deliberate choice of word ;-)), I did lack confidence. But in that way that fate seems to do on this journey, it threw me in at the deep end, and before I’d even officially crossed the border, I’d done two phone-in radio interviews with French-language stations.

Two live radio interviews, that is…

For those of you who can remember just how long it took me to pluck up the courage to do my first radio interview – recorded, and in English – you can perhaps imagine how large a leap this new development was for me, but I seemed to land on my feet OK, with nothing too twisted or bruised, and two pretty successful French newspaper interviews followed swiftly behind as well. 🙂

So then it was time to tackle my first French presentation about SOS Villages d’enfants! This took place in Saint-Jérôme, and I’d been listening to podcasts from the French arm of the CBC (Canada’s BBC) for some time in order to acquaint myself with the Quebecois accent. It did aboslutely no good whatsoever…

Imagine listening religiously to radio 4, then stepping out to give a presentation to a bunch of Geordies… That’s pretty much how I felt! The members of the Saint-Jérôme Rotary Club were very kind and encouraging though, for which I am very grateful! And of course, I’m even more grateful to them for the $500 cheque they presented me with for SOS afterwards! 🙂

My second French presentation (noticeably less breathlessly panic-stricken than the first) was in Montreal, and by the time I’d also successfully negotiated a dinner party with half a dozen francophones who knew nothing at all about me before my host introduced me, I was finally starting to feel slightly more confident that my official ‘language geek’ status was not in jeopardy. 🙂

As coincidence would have it though, all of my hosts so far have actually been first-language English speakers, so I do still have one hurdle left to surmount: adequately and appropriately expressing my gratitude for their hospitality in what is, technically, my third language…

It’s not often that Ranger is out-classed in the ‘funny-looking bike’ department, but I had to concede that my Mont Tremblant host had me beat!

I’d been told that the P’tit Train du Nord (‘the longest linear park in Canada’ that just so happens to run all the way from Mont Tremblant to Montreal) was closed, but when I got to Val David, it did look awfully busy for something that was supposedly shut, so I followed the crowds and took to the path…

… and oh, am I so glad I did… 🙂

… mile after mile of stunningly beautiful scenery under sunny skies…

… I could go on, but you’re probably all quite envious enough already, methinks… 😉

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