claire-savardIf you’re looking to buy or sell a house on the South-Shore of Montréal, especially in the La Prairie, Brossard or Candiac areas it’s worth getting in touch with Claire Savard. She really helped us out and was highly professional: she listened carefully to what we needed, learnt what we liked and disliked as we visited houses and areas and we found her to be always honest.

One word of caution though if you’re interested in La Prairie. Claire does sell a lot of houses in La Prairie – it’s normal she has a very good reputation – so if you aren’t comfortable with your Realtor acting for the other party you may want to raise this up front with Claire.


Cupcakes in Montréal

Montréal cupcake
Cupcakes are a North American tradition and are very similar to Fairy cakes in the UK, or if I’m not being charitable “buns” as they’re sometimes called.

But my, it’s amazing what you can do with buns. Carrotte cake, squash flavour, lemon merangue flavour

… if that’s enough to tempt you then try out Petits Gateaux at 783 ave Mont-Royal E. You can take your cupcakes away or eat them there and then. Why not buy some and take them down to Park La fontaine and eat them there?

Price: $2.95+tax for one, $15.00 for six.


If you’re interested in knowing more about Montréal’s cupcakes, then this is a great blog posting from Under the High Chair

Christmas Loft

The holiday season is fast approaching and soon it will be time to decorate our houses with lots of Christmas decorations. If you’d like to go somewhere really special to select your favourite baubles, why not drive over the border to Burlington in Vermont? It’s just under two hours drive from Montréal.

Burlington itself is a nice small university town with one street of shops, a small mall and a few restaurants. It makes a nice day trip out from Montréal if you fancy a bit of shopping in the USA. Why not combine a trip to Burlington with a visit to the Chrismas Loft?

Located in Shelburne just south of Burlington, the Chrismas Loftis a large building just full of Christmas decorations and what’s more, they have a Christmas village in the centre of the store. The choice of baubles and decorations is amazing and the prices are correct. It’s a chic store, not bargin basement at all, without being extorsionately expensive.

Hint: if you’re driving to Burlington from Montréal, ignore your sat nav and take the autoroute 15-S towards New York State. Once over the border, leave the highway at exit 43 direction Champlain and then follow road signs towards Burlington. It takes about 5 minutes longer, but it’s a much more senic drive.

What can I say but wow! If you’ve never seen Hallowe’en in North America you’re in for a pleasant surprise! It’s really taken seriously here.

La Prairie in suburban Montréal organises a Hallowe’en party in it’s 340 year old historical centre. Amongst the old buildings a haunted graveyard was set up, one of the municipal buildings became an asylum for demented demons, locals stood on their porches giving out candies, sweets drinks to the children. There was even a live band playing music.

Adults and kids were all dressed up in Hallowe’en and other costumes. The atmosphere was great, everyone was enjoying the fun. Children were collecting their treats and examining the costumes of others.

Contrary to Europe, there was no alcohol served which really gave the place a nice family friendly atmosphere that really surprised me too.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone at La Prairie for organising such a super evening. We’ll definitely be back next year.

In the residential streets in Montréal, many houses are extensively decorated with Hallowe’en‘s key characters. Front lawns become graveyards, giant spiders spin their webs, and hords of children roam the streets ready to trick you if you don’t give them a treat! Actually I can’t imagine any of the very polite kids I gave sweets to wanting to play a trick.

Enjoy Hallowe’en North American style!

The first flutters of snow have arrived in Montréal. There is a small layer of snow on the cars and other items in the street.

Healthcare in Montréal

One of the things that Canada is known for is the poor quality of its healthcare. So lets get this into context first – Canada’s healthcare is ok, it’s just not as good as that of France, Belgium or the US. What it does have in its favour is that everyone can access it, unlike the US system where you need to pay.

In fact, Canada’s system is very similar to the UK’s NHS system and as you can imagine it has all of the same problems as the UK system. The one big difference is that the private industry here is strictly controlled so it’s difficult to queue jump without going to the US. If you’re not familiar with the NHS and Canada’s system, here it is in a nutshell:

Everyone has the same access to “high quality healthcare” free on point of delivery. The government is the principal healthcare provider. This means that you tend to get centralised, un-innovative, non-user friendly providers that…. well don’t provide much of a service.

In addition to this structural problem, one of the big challenges that Canada and Québec are facing is the USA. Next door doctors get paid oodles more cash than here in Canada, so if you’re a trained doctor why practice in Canada when you can get more money in the US? It’s worse out in the countryside – why live in the middle of nowhere and get paid less than you would in the states?

I don’t think that there are real plans to get this sorted out here in Canada any time soon and unfortunately the clock is ticking because the population is aging.

A bit of a story

I took my daughter to see the doctor this week with a minor problem. We went to a drop in clinic as we don’t yet have a family doctor. At 8:15am there was a queue outside. At 8:25am the doors were opened and we all trooped in. My daughter was about 5th on the list.

Around 9:45am the doctor arrived and started seeing the first patients. Yes, you read correctly, the doctor arrived over an hour after the clinic was opened. Each patient gets around 8-10 minutes with the doctor. The one we saw didn’t even want to correctly examine my daughter, we had to push him to do so.

Overall, not a good experience so we’ll be avoiding the Centre medical Mont-Royal on Papineau (near ave. Mont-Royal) in the future.

Cost of the consultation $125. I wish I earned so much for so little work! The insurance company were rather good though. You have to call them before seeing the doctor to open a case, and then call them back afterwards. I hadn’t done so by Saturday afternoon so they called me to see what had happened! I found that amazing.

Why did we have to pay? Well new residents aren’t covered by Québec’s health scheme until they’ve been here 3 months. This is to prevent health tourism. So we had insurance from Manulife for the three months at a cost of around $850 for the whole family with a $0 deductable.

Knowlton – Lac Brome

Knowlton is the largest village in the town of Lac Brome in the Eastern Townships. It’s very much a tourist destination with pretty Victorian villas and various cafés and restaurants. Situated on the edge of Lac Brome, Knowlton is a wonderful destination for a weekend away from Montréal or even for a Sunday lunch out. The village was founded by loyalist settlers that left the US after its declaration of independence from the crown.

There are a lot of nice shops to mooch around, although quite a few less than Magog. Knowlton is very much a village. The Knowlton Station shop is worth a look, they make great sandwiches and cake so worth popping in for afternoon tea too.

Knowlton has also a small museum which is worth a look with articles from the wars and the settlement of the area.

One of the nicer restaurants to eat in is “Le Relais” a old staging inn that is still operating as both an inn and a restaurant. If you’d like to eat here at the weekend it’s imperative to reserve in advance on + 1 450-242-2232.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the area that is reasonably priced, it’s worthwhile looking at Le Cyprès motel. Its small but clean rooms are around $100 + tax which includes a good continental breakfast. Reservations on: 1.866.243.0363