I spent this past weekend in Montréal, one of my most favorite cities in the world. Montréal first captured my heart during a visit in 2002 and I never pass up an opportunity to visit. I love the fact that city incorporates the old with the new. I love feeling like I am in Europe when I am still in North America. And I especially love walking along Rue Sainte-Catherine while enjoying a maple-sugar crêpe.
With nearly four million inhabitants, Montréal ranks as the second-largest city in Canada, and the second-largest French speaking city in the world (second only to Paris). The city takes its name from Mont Royal, a triple-peaked hill situated in the center of the Island of Montréal. Mont Royal is a wooded park that provides welcome green space in a bustling urban environment.
I scoured the city for hours searching for the welcome sign. This was not an easy task given Montréal’s aging infrastructure, massive construction projects and inconvenient road closures. I almost came up empty until I found this billboard at P.E. Trudeau International Airport. (As you can tell in the photo, the sun was setting on my last day in Montréal when I took this photo.)
To be honest, the welcome was not what I had expected. Certainly I was not surprised that it is in French (I would have been surprised if it wasn’t), but I’m not quite sure why there is a heart and a kiss symbol on the sign. These elements are not particularly representative of Montréal. At first I thought that this was not an official welcome sign but perhaps an ad of some sort. But the logo is used on the Tourism Montréal Web site, so it is legitimate. But I am disappointed that a city with so many unique characteristics has such as banal welcome.