entries filed under 'paris' tag:
posted by Odin on Apr 24, 2009
'VIA Train 60 entraining' by Bobolink, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
So I read an article a few weeks ago by Andy Riga from the Gazette about the proposed train shuttle between Trudeau airport and downtown, and I thought to myself "what a waste!"
I have always thought that Montreal lacked a lot when it came to public transportation, whether it was to the airport or elsewhere in general. And it definitely sounds like a good idea to add a fast way go get to the airport from downtown (something that most large cities of importance, especially in Europe, have always had).
BUT, at what cost? And to serve whose interests? Expected to cost $800 million, one wonders whether it's worth spending that much of our money on something that's only meant to serve commercial interests rather than your average Montrealer.
For let us not kid ourselves; the winners here are not the citizens of Montreal, who will undoubtedly pay this costly bill, but rather the conglomeration of corporations, hotels and businesses scattered around our commercial hub located around Central Station.
Businessmen and some tourists may find the shuttle a cheaper and faster alternative to getting to their office or hotel downtown. However, as a Montrealer, this new shuttle doesn't really help me out that much, unless I lived close to downtown or a metro station that is within reach from Central Station.
The question is; how am I supposed to take advantage of this new line when the rest of the island has such little metro/train coverage? Suppose I just got back from a trip, and I took the new line downtown; am I supposed to take an interminable metro/bus connection with my luggage to get home?
If you really think about it, it is only a small area lying in the middle of the island that can really benefit from this shuttle. Everybody else will still have to take a taxi or have someone drive them, since from Central Station you can only go so far by metro.
In Paris, for example, I can understand the need and benefit from a direct train ride from the airport to the middle of the city (which exists, by the way). From Châtelet-Les Halles, where the shuttle drops you, you can pretty much get anywhere by metro and/or RER (a crossover train-metro system that covers both the city and its suburbs).
We live in a relatively small city of only 2 million people. We really do not need to go all out and spend like crazy just to join the ranks of cities with 10+ million citizens. I say, increase our on-island coverage first and fix most of its current problems, then maybe we'll talk about this project.
To summarize, I am not against such a shuttle service; I'm just not sure if taxpayers should pay for it, since it will be mostly serve corporate and commercial interests. Why don’t THEY get slammed with the bill?
posted by Odin on Apr 15, 2009
'Air Canada Airbus A330-343' by abdallahh, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
Recently, I read somewhere that Porter airlines is doubling their flights between Trudeau airport and Toronto City Centre. Big deal! I'd be more interested if they halved their prices maybe, not doubled their flights.
You know, it's hard enough living in Montreal with the kind of winters we get, what's worse is that you can’t get anywhere decent without spending an arm and a leg.
So I went on Porter's website, to check out what a weekend in Toronto would cost me, and found out that the cheapest return-ticket I could get went for $296. I picked a ticket two months down the line, leaving Friday evening and returning Sunday evening.
Now that's just nuts if you ask me! 300 bucks to go to a next-door boring city like Toronto (no offense). I go to New York once or twice a year, and I always pay around $400. A couple of months ago, I bought a return ticket from Montreal to Nashville, Tennessee for $750, and I booked way ahead of time.
These prices really don't make any sense. How is it that in Europe, you can find amazing deals to go to amazing cities, while we can't even go to Toronto for less than $300? Of course, you can go by train for around $155 (for the same weekend in June), but do I really want to spend five hours (times two) in a train just to spend a weekend in Toronto?
Since I've been living in Paris, I've traveled around a few times for great prices. Lately, I took the train to Amsterdam for 50€ (about $75). $75 won't take you anywhere from Montreal! To make things better (or worse for Montreal), the train system is so much faster here in France. Paris-Amsterdam takes just over three hours for a 500km trip, as opposed to five hours for Montreal-Toronto (also a 500km trip, 540km to be exact). Today I can buy a Paris-London return ticket for 77€ (about $115) for that same weekend in June.
And trust me; these prices do not even begin to scratch the surface of the kinds of deals you can find in Europe. I haven't even addressed the budget airlines, since it seems that's a concept that doesn't exist for us Montrealers, so there isn't even a basis for comparison. EasyJet and Ryanair, the two biggest European low-cost airlines, offer ridiculous flight deals every now and then. Also, Expedia.fr and other similar vacation brokers offer flight/train-hotel combos that make Expedia.ca look like a rip-off.
Typically from Montreal, we head off to Mexico or the Caribbean to help with our winter blues. Generally speaking, you won't find any packages under $1000 for a week in a four-star hotel or better. From Paris, on the other hand, not only do you have great choice for a sun-filled destination (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, ...), but you can find all-inclusive deals starting at 500€ ($750) or lower for four-star hotels.
My point is not to say that Europe is better than Canada. Even the States have more reasonable and affordable travel options than we do. I just want to know why there isn't more competition and choice for us. Is it that there isn't a big enough market in Canada? Maybe the demand is too small to take advantage of serious economies of scale? Do the big corporations have some sort of monopoly on prices?
I don't know, but right now I'm feeling very jealous of Europeans, and I'm definitely going to miss traveling around when I return to Montreal.
posted by Odin on Mar 17, 2009
'Louis Vuitton' by Coc@, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License
Last week I read an article from France's Le Figaro about how the government ordered the Louis Vuitton flagship store on Paris' Champs-Élysées to close on Sundays.
The country has been debating whether to allow stores to open on Sundays for a few months now. Currently, the law wants to limit Sunday opening to leisure, sports, recreation and cultural activities, none of which, naturally, the luxury clothing and accessories store provides. The French are hardliners when it comes to the principle of “repos dominical" or Sunday resting, even when faced with a largely tourist-oriented landmark such as the Louis Vuitton store.
After reading the article, I couldn't help but feel a little jealous of the French, especially since I've been working among them for almost a year now. Why can't Montreal, or Quebec more generally, adopt such an attitude? Do we REALLY need to shop on Sundays? Granted, I would still want certain supermarkets and such essentials to open, but I would be happy to see the consumption machine take a complete halt on Sundays, allowing people to spend more time on other recreational and cultural activities.
Some may object and claim that Saturday alone is not enough for shopping. To those I would respond by asking how can it be enough for a much larger city like Paris then? Especially since our stores open until 9 PM a few days near the end of the week, which is not the case in Paris, where most stores open until 7PM six days a week.
So why can't we adopt such a rule? Are we that absorbed by consumerism? Is it because shopkeepers WANT to work more? Or because stores cannot afford to close one extra day? If so, why not? Why aren't they making enough money the rest of the week? Would unemployment rise if shops needed fewer people in order to close on Sundays? Or do we simply not value leisure and relaxation as much as the French and other Europeans?
posted by Odin on Feb 26, 2009
'Montreal Twilight Panorama 2006' by David Iliff, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License
I know the title of this blog is MTLRants, hinting that it's all about pointing the bad and negative side of things, but I want to start it off on the positive end by praising what I now refer to as my city, Montreal. I say 'now refer to' because I am not originally from Montreal.
I have lived 17 years elsewhere prior to moving to Montreal around twelve years ago. Also, since then, I have left Montreal for around a year on two different occasions, one of which is still in progress. I have been in Paris since April of 2008, for career reasons (yes, I am running a Montreal-geared website from France, duh!), and while the experience has been enjoyable for the most part, it made me realize even more how great of a city Montreal is. Before coming to Paris, last year, I was actually starting to get bored with Montreal, leaning towards the typical clichés that most people use to bash the city, from the cold to the lack of career opportunities and such. So with that state of mind, I welcomed the Paris adventure with open arms. However, after 10 months in France, I am more than ready and willing to come back home (which will hopefully take place this summer).
Keep in mind that this post is not about comparing Montreal against Paris solely. I have lived in five cities in three different continents in my life, and I have traveled quite a lot, so my basis of comparison is broader than it may seem.
In short, of the places I've been to, only in Montreal can you find such a rich, multi-cultural mix of people that are truly integrated and equal, in an affordable metropolitan urban environment that is very laid back and that balances leisure and career at the perfect level. That last sentence is somewhat long and probably isn't written very well (not that the rest of my blog is), but it sums up the values that place Montreal on the top my list.
First, no one can deny how multi-cultural Montreal is. You have your Quebecois, your Anglo-Canadians, your Italians, Greeks, Arabs, Asians and others. This is not unique to Montreal at all. Western Europe probably has a higher percentage of immigrants from visible ethnic minorities than North America. However, they are nowhere near as integrated and viewed as equal as in Canada and the States. Obama's recent election win confirms this. In France, it is very rare to see blacks or North-African Arabs in powerful or prominent positions, and England is centuries away from even seeing an Indian or Pakistani on the ballot . In Paris, the companies I have so far worked with employ predominantly a white French workforce.
Second, Montreal is a very affordable city, compared to metropolitan cities of equal size and importance. Everything from real estate to transportation and food is significantly cheaper than in any of the major North American or European cities. Where else can you still rent for less than $500 a month?
Finally, Montreal is not a stressful city like New York, London or Paris. It is not over-populated and you do not feel like everyone around you is constantly in a rush. You are not relentlessly competing against time, space or other people. Montrealers do not place their career on the top of their priorities, yet they are not lazy either. They are very efficient and productive, yet they enjoy life.
To sum up all of the above, I find that Montreal really provides the perfect mix of North-American modernity with European charm and quality of life. Our streets are clean, our buildings are new, our apartments are spacious, our people are bilingual and friendly, our metro is fast, our restaurants are excellent, our night-life is reputable and our cultural activities are plenty. Sure, we pay a lot of taxes, our winters are long and cold, and our career opportunities leave something to be desired. But nothing is perfect. Yet, Montreal comes as close to perfection as possible.
So to you, Montreal, my city, I dedicate this comment and this website.
Now let the ranting begin :)
about the blog
MTLRants© is Seek Odin's brand new blog, bringing you entries from our staff and other contributors. The blog will cover topics and issues related to SeekOdin's central themes. Mostly, it will deal with the difficulties and frustrations of dealing with service-related businesses in Montreal.
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