How many rooms will your next house have?
I hate correcting a Canadian about Canadiana, but that is the complete opposite of my experience. If Quebequois or Parisian French does not flow naturally and natively and you're over the age of five, everybody around you will speak English at you regardless of your fluency. Previously mentioned friend has lived their entire life in Montreal and speaks French (and Joual) fluently, and random clerks will still immediately switch to English regardless, because the accent is still that of an English speaker's.
My limited high school French augmented by occasional guidebooks has fared no better, and much worse. It's only been in the rougher parts of Montreal or in the rural parts of the province where people will speak French no matter what, because they haven't got enough English to converse with.
All Montrealers know English but given the choice they would rather converse in French. Trust me when walking down the street or schmoozing in a cafe or a restaurant you'll get a more sociable response if you demonstrate to the native folk in that city that you have at least tried to learn something about their native tongue. Of coarse your friends reception could have been different from mine for the simple reason he lives there while I'm western Canadian. There's always been quite a bit of how should I say it....anglophone vs francophone exasperation due to Quebecers feeling their language and culture was targeted for Anglosizing years ago by the anglophone ruling majority. Here's a little amusing exercise to try out. Next time you're there ask a trusted friend whose a Montrealer why all the business signs that have English words on them are in smaller lettering compared to French wording. I guarantee you your friend will look a little embarrassed when he/she explains it's the law and that the now ousted Parti Du Quebecois bought in provincial legislation to make it illegal to have signs with English that had lettering larger then French lettering. The most amusing part about it, they actually had people running around Quebec City and Montreal with rulers measuring signs to be absolutely sure English lettering wasn't larger then French lettering. Quebecers stopped being amused when they discovered tens of millions was sunk into the little exercise of having a small legion of people run around all day long with rulers and ladders doing nothing except measuring signs lettering.
Edited by DigitalFreak - 12/13/12 at 8:32am