Is Montreal Canada's happiest city? I have wandered a lot of streets in a lot of different cities in my life and I have never encountered so many happy surprises. Indeed the city does have a "joie de vivre" that doesn't exist in other cities, or perhaps it is just the Holiday (Happy) Season.
After wandering the streets of the city for the past 10 days Montreal has become my happy place. I thought Portland and Austin were happy places, but Montreal wins hands down with its crazy cast of characters and shops.
I am not just speaking of the people, who indeed seem to be happy even in winter when it is snowing but also the many man-made characters I encountered as I wander Montreal's Rues and Avenues.
I hope these photos will convey to you how Montreal's sense of fun and surprise combine to create a happy sense of place.
One the the key elements of a "happy city" in my mind is how friendly people are to strangers. Montrealers couldn't have been more friendly to us.
From the store owner who offered to drive us to the St. Michel Market when we asked if we were going in the right direction (it was just 5 blocks away) to the couple who shared their bottle of wine with us at Les Jardins des Panos restaurant when they realized we didn't bring any wine (it is a bring your own wine only restaurant).
Or how the young lady working at the LNF vintage store was more than willing to share her hot tips with us on where to get the best finds. She even gave us her name, phone number and email if we wanted to contact her later.
Don't believe people when they say Montrealers won't speak to you in English. We never once encountered a local who when we said "Bonjour, do you speak English" wasn't willing to talk to us in our native tongue. We loved how many Montrealers said with a smile, "You practice your French and I will practice my English!" We loved that!
Next year Montreal is celebrating its 375th Anniversary, if you are looking for someplace interesting to visit, Montreal should be at the top of your list.
For me, Montreal has definitely become one of my happy places.