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Thanksgiving in a Montreal friperie

12/15/2013
Why does Bert look terrified? Why does Bert ALWAYS look terrified?

Why does Bert look terrified? Why does Bert ALWAYS look terrified?

Jen and I visited one of the most beautiful cities in North America over Thanksgiving break and the only thing I wanted to do was shop at a friperie. At the friperie, I found a great kid’s Christmas CD but somehow we wound up in “Black Friday” hell.

First of all: What’s a friperie?

A friperie is what the French call thrift stores in Montreal.

Jen’s friend Brian has lived in Montreal for 10 years and knows about friperies. Brian said he saw good a friperie on Centre Street. He passes the friperie on bus rides through Point St. Charles, a scruffy, working class neighborhood between an old shipping canal and a railroad yard.

If Montreal friperies are anything like American thrift stores, scruffy working class neighborhoods are where you want to be.

So on a chilly Saturday morning Brian, Jen and I took the underground Metro to the Charlevoix station. We walked down Centre Street and looked for the friperie. We passed a mosque in an old storefront, a few small furniture and home appliance stores and two huge old Catholic Churches right next to each other. Brian said one was French and the other was Irish. I couldn’t tell which was which.

After a 10 minute walk Brian started to question his memory – was the friperie really on Centre Street?

“Yes, there it is!” he said.

“It’s closed,” I joked.

We crossed the street.

It really was closed.

Fortunately, Brian knew of a small, corner friperie near the Metro station. We decided to salvage our adventure and check it out.

The smaller, corner friperie was packed like a Times Square T-shirt shop . I scored a fantastic Sesame Street Christmas CD ($2) and a beautiful green kid’s v-neck sweater made in Ireland ($1). I also lost my mittens. I set them down during the 10-minute shopping spree and didn’t realize they were missing until we were on the bus heading  downtown.

No worries, said Brian, there are many department stores downtown.

Now Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October…but the department stores still like to celebrate “Black Friday” in November. Of course, Black Friday shifts to Saturday when everyone works during the week.

We walked into a  raging blizzard of holiday shoppers as people in puffy coats and knit hats stormed across, over and through the aisles, shelves and escalators of the  finest stores in downtown Montreal.

“How did we wind up in hell?” I  asked Jen.

Surprisingly, I found the gloves I needed, battled through a line of impatient Frenchmen and we all fled to the nearest underground metro stop.

While we waited for the next train I dug into my friperie bag, glanced at my Sesame Street CD purchase and saw track #3:   “I Hate Christmas” by Oscar the Grouch.

“C’mon Oscar, I just saved you from a friperie. We’re hanging out in Montreal and I’m bringing you back to Maine. Your Christmas is gonna be pretty good.”

Brian and Jen outside Notre Dame Cathedral in  Montreal

Brian and Jen outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal

Pew inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal

Pew detail inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal

Monreal Fire Fighters Museum and Station #30, Mile End, Montreal

Fire Fighters Museum and Station #30, Mile End, Montreal

At Imadake japanese restaurant. Home of the Sake Bomb

At Imadake, a Japanese restaurant on St. Catherine.  Home of the Sake Bomb

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2 Comments
  1. Why does Bert ALWAYS look terrified?

    Bert does not always look that way. He has an alter-ego…

    http://web.archive.org/web/20001109003600/http://fractalcow.com/bert/bert.htm

  2. My favorite post. I, too, subscribe to Oscars Christmas sentiment. I am so looking up this song. 😀

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