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Archive for the ‘Areas’ Category

If you look at a map of Montréal, you’ll notice that there are two bridges connecting downtown to the south shore. So you can be closer to the city centre being off island than on it.

So, is it a good idea to be off island? The catch of course are the bridges, they become bottlenecks during rush hour, although we’ve yet to see any really serious traffic problems. Yet on the island there is a lot of traffic going out to the west and north to Laval.

To be within a reasonable commuting distance you really need to be in the area from Boucherville down to La Prairie, which will put you within 45mins to an hour of the city centre at rush hour. Any further and you can add time to your journey. This means that you could look at the following towns:

– Longueuil ( including Greenfield Park, Saint-Lambert, Saint-Hubert)

– Brossard

– Boucherville

– La Prairie

Several sources have commented that Brossard and Longueuil have nice parts, but attracted some undesirables that have lead these areas to be a bit “Rock and Roll” as they say here, with some gang activity.  Indeed, there are some really nice sectors in these towns and some really not so nice ones. We came across a mini trailer-park in Longueuil as well as a really nice estate. So a bit of a mix.

Where you have to be really careful is if you have children. The school system in Québec does not let parents chose the school their children attend. They must go to the one designated by the schoolboard (call to check). It’s hard to know in advance what the make up of the school will be, so if you’d like to buy a house in Brossard or Longueuil, call up the school board Commission Scholaire Marie-Victorin and the head teacher of the school and ask what it’s like.

Hence, our decision was to focus on La Prairie and Boucherville which are both 95% French speaking Québécois communities with good schools, few social problems, parents who support and are involved with their children.

Saint Lambert is a small town that is part of Longueuil just at the bottom of Jacques-Cartier bridge. The houses there are older and quite expensive. You can get more for your money in other areas of the south shore. Longueuil is generally expensive; Brossard a bit cheaper. Greenfield Park is also expensive and is home to an International school with a good reputation – however they take students via an exam at 5 years old.

Saint-Hubert is further out, the houses are quite big and there is more land around them. There are a lot of newer properties; but the feeling we had was that the houses were less well maintained than in other areas.

Boucherville is the greenest most wooded area and is clearly very attractive. Parts of Brossard are very green too, but areas of new development are often very dull: houses are very similar and there are few trees.

La Prairie has a lot of new houses, but it has managed in general to maintain the character of the area in keeping mature trees and mixing many different house styles.

Let us know what your experiences of the south shore are but using the comments section below!

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We’ve been backa few times to La Prairie and it we’ve seen the light! It’s a nice small town, with generallly very nice areas and very, very little poverty. That means that when you send your children to school the kids are in the most part well supported by the parents and achievement should be high.

We spoke to the principal of one of the primary schools (Emilie-Gamelin) and he was very helpful, explained how the school works and would support the development of our children. 

So we’re looking now at La Prairie as one of our top locations to buy a house.

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When moving to a new city you have to find the things that you need to live your life how you like, and for some it means getting the right food. Montréal is a great city for this.

This weekend we went to both Little Italy and Chinatown.

Jean Talon market stall (Montrealfood.com)

Jean Talon market stall (Montrealfood.com)

Little Italy

Little Italy is centered around Boulevard St-Laurent’s intersection with Jean-Talon. It has several delis, bistros, supermarkets and of course the Marché Jean-Talon.

Jean-Talon is a huge fruit and vegetable market in building that was designed to be a bus station. The choice and freshness of the produce is incredible and it’s quite a bit cheaper than the supermarkets. I’ve never seen anywhere that gives a choice of around 10 different types of tomato in one place. It’s really worth a visit to this market and it may become your weekly shopping trip! The only moot point is the lack of organic fruit and vegetables, we only found one stall.

The Jean-Talon market has a car park on Avenue Casgrain, but it’s rather small and if you don’t want to queue to get in, arrive very early at the market! Officially the market opens at 8am.

 

Jean Talon Chillis (Montrealfood.com) 

Typical vegetable & fruit stall at Jean Talon (Montrealfood.com)

Typical vegetable & fruit stall at Jean Talon (Montrealfood.com)

Jean Talon Chillis (Montrealfood.com)

 

 

Elsewhere in little Italy there is the famous Italian supermarket called Milano. It’s a great supermarket with a large choice of mainly Italian products. There are even some fresh products available from the deli-counter. It’s well worth a trip here, especially for the pasta as it’s difficult to get a lot of Italian pasta in Montréal’s main supermarkets.

Milano supermarket: 6882 Saint-Laurent Boulevard

 

 

 

Chinatown

Montréal’s chinese community has been established for many years. Immigrants came over initially to build the railway line towards the west and the community has grown ever since.

Today, Chinatown is focused on Rue Gauchetière Ouest from St-Laurent boulevard. It’s about three to four blocks long and has restaurants and boutique shops. Noteworthy is the Harmonie Patisserie where you can taste asian cakes made with red beans and custard. Yummy! Be careful though, there are some which contain meat, unusual in western cuisine. 

A typical street in Montréal's Chinatown (urbanphoto.net)

Of course there are chinese supermarkets, and it’s very chinese with very little written in French, but a great variety of food. If you’d like even more choice, then you can take the car to the South-Shore and visit Brossard’s chinese stores. They are along Boulevard Taschereau from Blvd du Rome to Blvd du Matte.

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Vieux la Prairie (www.maison-laprairie.com)

Vieux la Prairie (www.maison-laprairie.com)

Today we passed through La Prairie to have a quick look. The town is on the bank of the Saint Laurent just east of Brossard. The old centre is quite pretty with a few shops, the rest is standard strip malls. We saw some suburbs that looked pretty good, very similar to Brossard, although we noticed that the gardens seemed slightly less well kept than those of Boucherville.

 

Another item of note was the market that looked really interesting on Chemin Saint-Jean

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Brossard

Brossard is the area just over the Champlain bridge from Montréal. It’s mainly residential, very green with modern and new houses. Brossard is part of the town of Longueuil.
View Larger Map

In distance terms, Brossard is not far from downtown Montréal, however the need to cross a bridge can mean that communtes can take some time. This is probably one of the main disadvantages of the area. Houses are much cheaper than on the island, most are very well maintained and the streets are calm and very green. An ideal place to bring up children?

Around the main thoroughfairs there are a whole host of strip malls that are being developed, so shopping is there. There are big supermarkets from Loblaws and IGA.

Choosing a house is difficult, in many areas one can hear the rush of cars from the motorways, and there is a high tension electricity line that runs right through the middle of Brossard. One wouldn’t want to live too close to that. So there really is a sweet spot right in the middle!

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Coming off the motorway onto Lakeshore Roadat Pointe-Claire is one of the most beautiful sites I’ve seen in Montréal. The sun was glistening off the lake, the trees and grass on the bank were a deep green. What a wonderful sight.

Pointe-Claire is very much cut into two by the motorway that runs through it (Highway 20 – direction Toronto). To the south there are houses in beautiful streets. Everything is very well maintained, even more so than at Longueuil. 

North of highway 20 there are yet more houses of course and a large concentration of shopping malls. The Fairview mall has over 200 shops and is a traditional indoor shopping centre. There’s a wide variety of shops, restaurants, cafes etc, as you would expect; oh and of course there is a food court. Even if you don’t live in the west island it’s worth a visit if you’re into shopping. 

Around Fairview there are several other strip malls with the standard big box retailers. For shops, you’re well served at Pointe-Claire.

The biggest downside we can see about living here is the distance to the centre of Montréal. It’s about 26km whixh should take about 22 minutes, but I’m sure that at 8:30am it will take somewhat more time than that. Pointe-Claiire is also served by a commuter train that is quite frequent during rush hours, but inexistant otherwise. See the AMT website for more information. 

The other thing to note about Pointe-Claire is that there is a lot more English spoken than in other areas of Montréal. Road signs are in both national languages, for example Arrêt becomes Arrêt/Stop.

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LaSalle and LaChine

LaSalle is a traditionally working class suburb south west of Montréal’s downtown core. It’s a bit of a mix actually. There are of course the standard white houses that are evident in the east of the island, but there are also some really nice areas with bungalows, trees, very green and well kept. It took us about 10 minutes in the car to get downtown from LaSalle (on a Sunday afternoon).

 

LaChine is a very pleasant suburban town. Most of what we visited was very pretty and well kept, although some houses were close to a motoway. Very definitely an area to consider.

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