My husband and I are thinking of taking a vacation in Gaspe,Quebec. But we don't speak a word of French. Will that be a problem?
Well, in fact, until early XX Century the whole Gaspe area was populated in majority by English speakers. They were loyalist from the US, Irish, Jerzey and Guernesy natives.
Until the 1970s there were English unilingual towns scattered around the peninsula but mostly on the southern Baie des Chaleurs side. You will still find villages, like Carlton, that are still majoritarly English now but almost everybody but the seniors speak French too. As for the French, with the original tourist being mainly Americans (Georgia O'Keefe was in the firsts to discover this area) and the possibility of learning English from their neighbours it has always been part of the local hospitality to cater to English speaking visitors in their language. So no problems at all in that region.
Just be aware that the road signs are in French and the distances and speed are in kilometers. So you can probably get some flier explaining the translation at a tourist info center but many road sign are pictographs anyways. Somebody might also suggest a website later on this thread.
Just to add to rickb's comments, here are some typical speed limits;
Highways: 100 km/h (60 mph)
City streets : 50 km/h (30 mph)
Playground / School zones : 30 km/h (20 mph)
Although the Gaspe is French, most people in the tourism industry speak some basic English, or can easily fetch somebody who does. This goes for most every hotel and motel, restaurant and shop that a tourist might visit.
Here's a secret I learned, not from the Canadian government which just imagines that everyone in our country should be fluently bilingual, period, but from the Americans. Go to the Voice of America website and on internet radio, listen to a couple of programs in what VOA calls Special English. Listen carefully, because this is how you should speak English in the Gaspe: slowly, clearly, enunciating all consonants, keeping sentences as brief as you can, avoiding slang, and using international words wherever possible.
Most Quebeckers learn high school English the way you had to take high school French. They won't easily break into conversation in English, but may recognize key words when you're brief and clear, and speak slowly. We're able to do fine.
The biggest challenge will likely be the highway signs, but if you've ever been to Montreal or Hull, you've already vaulted over this hurdle. Most important messages will be clear. For the rest, make a guess or have a passenger look up the word in a pocket French-English dictionary.
Remember, as a Canadian, you're already more familiar with French than you think. You've seen bilingual packaging all your life. Not only that, but English is liberally sprinkled with French words brought to Britain by William the Conqueror in 1066. Your speed limit signs, in Toronto and in Gaspe, don't say "Speed Limit" like they do in Buffalo. They say "Maximum"!
I'm no better at it than you, and we had no trouble!
Happy travels, and let me know if I can help further!
Thanks,everyone,for taking the time to reply. Really appreciate all your help.
We were originally planning to go to the Bay Of Fundy but then changed our minds after seeing Gaspe on the map --it seems to have a fantastic location.
Have a lovely weekend !
You're Welcome, rsnToronto !
I am resident of Gaspe.
Most of the population speak English.
if you have any questions on tourism etc... do not hesitate to ask!
Welcome to the Gaspe!!
Welcome aboard... would love to see you stick around TripAdvisor... we have a shortage of members from the Gaspe. Nice to have someone living in the region available to answer detailed Questions.
Thanks for the welcome!!
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