Highlights from francophone Canada

We’re back! I am a huge advocate of vacations for everyone, but if you’re a translator it’s especially important to get out to your working language areas regularly. Even if you just sit around in your hotel room and watch TV, you’ll be learning something. (We did that for a few days, when my husband came down with a cold, and I loved using Québecois news channels to attune my ear to their accent!) And for French translators, I cannot more heartily recommend a visit to the beautiful province of Québec.

Montréal is to Paris what Chicago is to NYC: just as much culture, at a slightly more reasonable pace and with friendlier people. Our arrival was blessed by some unseasonably warm weather—mid-40s (F) every afternoon for our first week, lots of sunshine. Perfect for touring all the different quartiers. By far our favorite indoor stop was the Museum of Archeology and History, built over and around the excavation of the original town, Pointe-à-Callière. What an innovative and unusual way to showcase the city’s long history! I also bought enough French-language reading material to last me the next year.

Québec was a francophile’s dream. Deliciously European architecture, far fewer English speakers to derail my practice, and some amazing cafés and pâtisseries. Every now and then a horse-drawn carriage clip-clopped past our hotel window. Quite romantic! The Plaines d’Abraham were a 5-minute walk away, offering a great survey of the area along the St.Lawrence River. When it got cold (and I got tired of shopping), the Musée de l’Amérique française was a great hangout. Entrance is free during the off-season, so you can duck in and out as much as you want to peruse the exhibits capturing an extremely well-balanced North American history from the French perspective. They’re installed in a few buildings of what used to be a large seminary complex—the chapel is by far the most colorful church I’ve ever seen.

We thoroughly enjoyed our long break. I’ve already noticed a difference in my work after the recharge; I had to look up a few more words than usual, but once I began typing, the sentences just flowed off my fingertips.

What about your experiences with long breaks in work? Do vacations help you? Feel free to share your favorite destinations!

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