Montreal Chinatown

  Canada: Montreal, Quebec - September 2009

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

A little piece of Asia in Montreal: here's a glimpse of Chinatown, in two short videos.

These are two very similar montages, because I wanted to test the video function of my iPod Nano and compare with that of my small digital camera.

Chinatown # 1

Here is the first sequence, shot with the new iPod Nano.

Chinatown # 2

Here is the second sequence, shot with my antique Canon Powershot A95.

Filming with an iPod Nano: bof

Frankly, the image quality is better with my little APN, I think. The weather was a little gray, and the Nano's tiny sensor seems to have trouble handling the lack of light, even more so than my Canon Powershot A95, which is nothing extraordinary. I find the Nano's rendering a little greenish.

The Nano is also so small, it's hard not to move. Still shots always shake a little.

Another thing I noticed: the Nano, despite its tiny size, is less discreet. Oddly enough, people didn't pay too much attention to my banal little APN (it's a trick, they think I'm taking photos, when in fact I'm filming, hey! hey!). With the iPod Nano, they felt they were being filmed, and more often tried to avoid the lens.

Chinese district

Other than that, Chinatown made little impression on me. In fact, Montreal's Chinatown is limited to two or three streets, the busiest of which is the pedestrianised rue de the Gauchetière where I shot these two short films.

In fact, there are plenty of other street corners and neighborhoods in downtown Montreal that deserve to be called "Chinatown", such is the presence of the Asian community. I've seen plenty of Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian restaurants, sushi and noodle vendors, mini-markets and other Asian fast-food outlets.

But in Chinatown, there's one guy you can't miss, if you like Asian sweets: the seller of candy with dragon beard (Dragon's beard candy), featured in my videos.

These are sweets made from sugar, peanuts, sesame seeds, coconut and chocolate... And the famous dragon's beard, those funny stringy strips with which he coats everything. Four dollars for a box of six.

Apparently, it's something of an institution in the neighborhood. The little counter, where you can watch the candy being made, is a big hit with tourists.


  Canada: Montreal, Quebec - September 2009

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  1. Hey!
    Nice these little videos!
    It's true that the one taken with your digital camera is "sharper"...
    A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit London's Chinatown, which in my opinion is very similar to Montreal's...
    Finally, when you're young and thirsty for the exotic, a little goes a long way!
    Otherwise, there's some mail waiting for you...

  2. @Laurent: The music was coming from the DVD and record store featured in the videos. Live atmosphere, like a day at the jumble sale!
    @David: Yes, I'm not that convinced by the Nano's video option... in a pinch. As for Chinatown in Montreal, I simply regretted that the neighborhood wasn't a little larger. No doubt, having visited so many big Asian cities, I'm becoming more "picky"...

  3. Hi Corinne,
    I'm happy that you like Montreal so much. Having lived 9 years in North America (English Canada, NY State and SF), Montreal is not very exciting or very different from other cities in East America. Of course there is the French side, very atypical on this continent, but when I was there, 6 years ago during a business trip, the only thing I noticed was that they were very pretty girls in the metro, much more laid-back, charming and exotic than their Paris counterparts ☹

    Having lived for 3 years in San Francisco - city that I urge you to visit if you have not done it yet - I allow myself to make a comment on the Chinese sweets: they do not really exist ☺ What you as seen it may be an adaptation of Chinese cuisine to Western tastes. If I remember correctly the only Chinese candy is a kind of sweet soup of beans, that I had the misfortune to taste during the wedding banquet of a Chinese colleague.

  4. @Max: It was the first time I set foot in a big North American city ... Unlike you, for me everything was new! I dream of visiting San Francisco and New York too ... It will come!
    As for any Chinese sweets, I'm not an expert on the subject. One thing is certain: the famous "Dragon's Beard Candies" is very popular with visitors to Montreal's Chinatown. Otherwise, I have already tasted, in Indonesia, pastries filled with a red bean paste .... And I loved!

    @ Hélène from Mauritius: Welcome to Little Bubbles Elsewhere! Delighted that you like it. Mauritius is one of the destinations that I intend to discover a day soon. All the people who speak to me tell me the same thing: the mixture of cultures is one of the great charms of the island. When I go, I would not miss a trip to the Mauritian Chinatown !!!

    @Nono: Yes... new bubbles, a change from my usual tropical destinations! As for the guys in the Quebec metro, I found them to be much friendlier and smiling than those you meet in the Rennes or Paris metros.

  5. Funny bubbles ... always so refreshing.Ta photo gallery is an incentive to discover Montreal. Max, he thinks the girls are pretty. And you, how do you find the guys in the subway?

  6. Were Montreal's Chinese celebrating in this year of commemoration of Mao's accession to the supreme soviet. How do Chinese in the diaspora view the emergence of their homeland?

    Now, a question to the community that breathes the little bubbles:

    the video reminded me of a public service TV program in the 70s and 80s, where a dozen young French-speaking people travelled the world at will, armed with a small camera. Each week, they would send in a report on a subject of their choice, and a jury - professionals, as I recall - would decide on the rankings. I was a kid, and it made me dream.

    Does anyone remember the show's title?

    I went to Ina.fr but without the title of the show, it's hard to find! Thanks in advance

    PS: the image is much brighter on the Canon, indeed.
    PS 2: the background music would make you want to "pedestrianize" China Town, but our local background music has nothing to envy it.
    PS 3: I agree about San Francisco. Magical atmosphere.

  7. Mmmmm, "Musique d'ambiance" says Richard? Was I the only one who firmly believed it was Corinne singing! I even recognized a little accent in the Chinese... Okay, I'm out 😀

  8. @Richard: But in Montreal's Chinatown, I seem to remember seeing a banner celebrating the 60th anniversary.
    Otherwise, I have no recollection of the show you're talking about... It should be fun to rediscover, that thing.

    @Max: Another myth shattered...

  9. @Richard: The round-the-world race? We had the equivalent in Quebec, which went by different names over the years.

    @Corinne: The camera of the iPod Nano is still much higher than I thought! Not bad at all when you do not want to lug a gadget more in his travel bag. Did you go to Bubble Tea at Magic Ideas finally?

  10. @ Marie-Julie: Since I carry around a camera that does video anyway, the Nano's video sensor is a bit superfluous as far as I'm concerned. I'll use it for troubleshooting, perhaps, on a daily basis, on occasion, but probably not when traveling... As for Chinatown, no, I didn't stop off at Idée Magique. I didn't linger too long, in fact, as the afternoon was well advanced, still rainy, and I'd just had a late lunch at Schwartz's, my stomach well (too) weighted...