Earth : North America : Canada : Quebec : Southwestern Quebec : Montérégie
Montérégie is the region of Quebec immediately east, south and west of Montreal, extending to the borders of Ontario and New York State. The South Shore of the St. Laurent River, across from Montreal, is a series of suburbs serving the city proper. Further out, the flat valley of the St. Laurent provides for pleasant, airy farmland and countryside.
The Montérégie, named after the mountains that sporadically pop out of the St.Lawrence River valley, is a sort of "catch-all" tourism region rather than a distinct geographical or cultural area. The region is a mixture of Montreal suburbs and rural farming areas near the edges of Quebec.
In spite of this, a few generalization can be made about the region:
The majority of the people living in the Montérégie speak French. There are significant English-speaking populations in some towns. Most people can speak English to some degree; a lost tourist will almost always be able to get directions in English, although not always from the first person they ask. Traffic signs are in French, but are designed (with pictures and symbols) so that people who speak only English can easily figure them out.
Kahnawake and Akwesasne Reserves have made efforts to increase the use of the Mohawk language, offering language classes and using it on community radio and in some public events. Most people on the reserves speak English, and French to a lesser extent.
Some people may speak a third language, especially near Montreal, but outside native reserves it is uncommon to hear them spoken on the street. A working knowledge of French or English will be almost essential to communicate with locals.
By car If entering the Montérégie from Montreal, remember that weekdays from about 4:30-6:30pm weekdays is rush hour (often a 30 minute delay to cross a bridge). If entering the Montérégie from the United States, remember that the border inspection is most crowded on Sunday nights; you might wait in line for an hour or more. The rest of the time, it usually takes 5-10 minutes.
From New York: Drive north on Interstate 87. The Montérégie begins at the Canadian border.
From Vermont: Drive north on Interstate 89. The Montérégie begins at the Canadian border.
From Quebec City: Autoroute 20 leads into the northeastern part of the Montérégie.
From Ottawa: Take Highway 417 eastbound. The Montérégie begins at the Quebec border.
From Toronto: Take Highway 401 eastbound. The Montérégie begins at the Quebec border.
From Sherbrooke: Autoroute 10 westbound takes you to the Montérégie.
By Train The Agence Metropolitaine de transport[] has three commuter train lines that connect Montreal to some towns in the Montérégie near the city. (Blainville to Saint-Lambert, Candiac to Chateauguay, and Rigaud to Vaudreuil). Trains go toward Montreal in the morning; away from Montreal at night.
By subway Montreal's metro (subway) trains have one stop in the Montérégie, called "Longueuil-Université-de-Sherbrooke" []. This is located on the yellow line, which begins at the Berri-UQAM metro station in Montreal. Longueuil-Université-de-Sherbrooke metro station is connected to the main bus terminal of the Reseau de Transport de Longueuil[], which serves much of the South Shore.
By bus There are a number of regional public bus systems (known as "CIT"s) that serve distinct parts of the Montérégie, linking closeby towns together and connecting them with Montreal. Most of them focus on getting people to Montreal on weekday mornings and getting them back to the Monteregie on weekday nights.
Greyhound busses  also leave from Montreal's Bus Station (de Maisonneuve and St-Denis Streets) and serve various cities in the Montérégie.
In addition, the Reseau de transport de Longueuil [] operates bus routes between Montreal and some of its South Shore suburbs (Longueuil, Brossard, Saint-Lambert). These busses leave from the basement of 1001 de la Gauchetiere in Montreal or from Longueuil metro station.
By car The major highways through the Montérégie are:
Public transport Public transportation within the Montérégie region is quite limited, as most of its public transport is designed to get commuters to and from Montreal, rather than around the Montérégie region.
Driving through the Montérégie two unusual geographical features will strike you:
A few other features of Montérégie are pleasant to visit on a daytrip from Montreal:
As maple trees grow in the area, maple syrup is popular and plentiful in March and April. Some maple farms operate as "sucreries" or "cabanes a sucre" (aka sugar shacks), where tourists can see how the maple syrup is collected, and taste some for themselves. These are also one of the few places in Quebec where tourists can get a traditional rural meal. (Most locals only eat traditional meals on special occasions such as Christmas Eve, due mostly to its high fat content and association with traditional ways.) Traditional meals include:
Fine dining in the Montérégie is some of the best value for money in North America. Almost every town in the region has one or two good restaurants, usually with lower prices than those of Montreal. Usually, asking a local to point you to the most expensive restaurant in town will get you to the right place.
If a quick lunch is what you are after, the ever-present "Saint-Hubert" chain of chicken restaurants is surprisingly good.
The Montérégie is generally a low-crime area. Almost the whole area is served by the emergency number "911", which you can call to contact police, fire or ambulance services. The biggest danger is probably traffic accidents, especially in winter. There are long stretches of unlit and potentially icy roads; large farming fields on either side of a road can mean blowing snow and slippery patches. Many of the smaller routes with one lane in either direction have a speed limit of 90km/h. Snow tires are required by law on vehicles during the winter months.
Some seedy bars in the Montérégie are labelled "danseuses". This is a euphamism for a strip club, many of which are actually brothels; steer clear if you want to avoid criminal elements.
Akwesasne Mohawk Reserve, in the southwest corner of the Montérégie, shares a border with reserves in Ontario and New York. There are rare occurrences of confrontations with police in this area; police try to patrol for cross-border cigarette and alcohol smuggling and locals insist Quebec police have no authority on the reserve. This should not usually affect tourists, but is something to be alert to.