I was visiting Montreal for a week early December, flown in for work. A graveyard shift that would allow me to get in some sightseeing during the day. I was able to book a rental vehicle for my commute and to use as I traversed the city. I booked with Enterprise requesting a sturdy SUV to get me through any potential snow. And was more than happy to see the 2022 Mercedes GLC300 waiting for me at the airport, with not a drop of snow on the ground.
I was already comfortable with the luxury of the Mercedes make, and felt the pride of driving around and being seen in one away from home. All the classic Mercedes hallmarks were present with a large emphasis on the lighting. Adjustable colouful ambient lighting; a flicker of the headlight to start, as if to greet you; and interior lights in the cabin that transition on and fade black to shut.
Given that I was clocking in plenty of road time in a city I am not familiar with, it was nice to have all the safety features of Blind Spot Detection, Lane Assist, Forward Collison Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Parking Sensors aka proximity sensors, and Backup Cameras. The backup cameras were so clear and stabilized, broadcasted in quality
high definition across the infotainment screen. This is touch screen for the most part, but you do have the option to maneuver around it using the tiny square touch pad, located on the steering wheel. Although this is a challenge when driving, given the potential for pot holes, speed bumps and rugged winter worn roads.
The seats are comfortable with plenty of fine tuning options to have yours suiting you. They were also great to nap on when you roll the chairs back and have the seat flatten out like a reclined table. In short, the 2022 Mercedes GLC300 was a luxury performance vehicle that felt like it, and was worth it. It drove easy through congested areas and had enough horsepower to keep up on the extended highway system. Not having to worry to much about my travel, I was able to take in the drive itself and come to the conclusion of the following notes on what it is like driving in Montreal, Quebec.
I know that Quebec has been known to want to branch off from Canada, and be it own separate country for some time now. However, it was until living here for a week did I realize their justification of this. I was able to see first hand all the differences between Montreal and the rest of Canada in just their roads and driving alone. They are as follows in 10 points, written in comparison to by driving experience in Vancouver, British Columbia.
No. 1: Lights
I found there to be an excessive amount of lights at each intersection and on its corners. Not just red, yellow, and green but directional arrows and symbols I have never seen before, to further complicate.
2: Highways and Overpasses
The highways and overpasses look intimidating with underground and tunnel driving. There are multiple turn offs and lanes, you are bound to take a wrong exit and get lost at least once. And trust me when I say this (as I am prone to wrong turns and getting lost), there is no way to take the wrong exit. Everything is somewhat of a loop and somehow interconnected, so a wrong turn could only mean a small delay because somehow you will make it back on to the highway towards your intended destination. I don’t know how it works, but it just did, a handful of times.
There are a lot of parking spots in Montreal, but not a lot of spots you can park in. The majority of them are hard to decipher, as they are confusing with a list of different times. Many are for residential parking only, which is probably due to the fact that many older historic buildings still stand, and many have been built before the need for parking lots and/or underground parking. This is the city’s solution. The result, parking at a great distance or winding down 13 levels to park at the very last spot in an underground parkade.
4: Parking Meters
When you are luckily to spot a paid for metre, instead of putting your license plate into the machine, you are inputting in the numbered spot that you are occupying. Each spot is signified by a labelled poll. Each assigned a series of letters and numbers that you input to a machine and the end of the block. Easy enough to use, however, I prefer the ease and ability to login to an app and pay from there.
Not only because my visit coincided with a conference (COP15), but there appears to be a larger amount of police stationed around high traffic areas and on the shoulder of many highway passes. I walked around the city feeling safe, knowing there was a cop on every corner, with additional units surrounding my hotel in the heart of Old Quebec. Police in cars, police on horses, and police on bikes. You wouldn’t dare to Jj-walk with so many of them directing intersection traffic, let alone speed.
6: Stopping Lane
Where illegal side of the road stopping is commonplace in BC, in Montreal there are conveniently placed and luxuriously spacious stopping lanes. They are great for allowing delivery personnel and people just to pause quickly and hop out of their vehicle for a quick errand. Although even without the physically drawn stopping lane, people are still prone to turning on their hazard lights and pausing as if there was one. i.e. in bike lanes.
7: Construction Zones
Construction it’s everywhere. It is like the city is constantly being maintained, constantly being rebuilt, and constantly under construction. Although there are hardly any individuals directing traffic with visibility vests, hard hats, and road signs on sticks.
8: Left Turn Lanes
Left turn lanes are common thanks to there being up to 3 lanes on a typical roadway. So the one on the left is always for turning, which makes it quite easy to do so, without slowing and delaying regular forward-going traffic. I did not see much congestion, even during rush hour.
Gas is completely reasonable in Montreal. By the time I needed to pump up it was was 144, where as coming from BC we were seeing it close to 190 a litre, at the time.
10: No Emotions on the Road
Driving in Montreal it’s pretty matter of fact. It is black-and-white, where it is what it is. There is no courtesy, no waving cars into traffic, or pulling over to allow a faster car to pass. When you are changing lanes and someone lets you through, you don’t need to acknowledge and say thank you with a wave of your hand back in appreciation, it is just a given. On the same token there is no emotion put into driving. Not one shouting match or a finger flung up in anger. There is no niceties, there is no anger, you just get your destination the best way you can.
And on a similar vein, everyone is pretty forgiving on the road. If you have to stop suddenly or make a weird reverse or turn, no one really says boo. It just happens and is normalized.