What is the biggest culture shock for an American visiting Quebec?
I visited Quebec when I was 12 with my family, and let me tell you it was a real eye opening experience. I believe it was the first time we vacationed somewhere where we had a language problem, having priorly only stuck to English-speaking places and our native India. Truth be told, many of the locals do not know English, only French, though the people claim to be bilingual. You will quickly realize that you are, in fact, in a French predominant province in otherwise English majority Canada. It truly feels like another France located in North America. I found it highly fascinating actually.
The city is quite beautiful and reminds you of Europe where they even have a Notre Dame cathedral, such as in France. But, I will say that life there is not as fast-paced or stimulating as a European city such as Paris. It still retains a quintessentially North American lifestyle.
I will say, that those Americans or even Canadians who do not have an open enough mind to appreciate non Anglo cultures, I can see them constantly complaining over the lack of English and catering to their conveniences. But for true cultural connoisseurs who recognize the exquisiteness and beauty of French language and culture, Quebec will be quite the rewarding experience for you.
I'm not from the USA, but here's my take on it:
Québec's a significant part of North America in which not only is the prevailing language not English but in which it's considered offensive to speak English and where you're unlikely to receive acceptable service if you don't speak French. Even the car license plates carry a very clever, but subtly anti-anglophone message - Je me souviens.
Don't get me wrong. I love Québec. I have no problem with a French first policy. The people are just great. I get great service in Québec. But then I respect their history and I respect their culture and I respect their language and I'm more than happy to use it within Québec.
It works both ways, and I find them very tolerant of the fact that my accent, syntax and vocabulary is much more that of continental French rather than Acadian French - but I understand them and they understand me and they're well aware that I'm not trying to ram English down their throats.
It would have to be the language . Montreal metro is much more bilingual than the other cities but many of the "bilingual" people have a limited grasp of English.
However to be fair I believe that you can be served in near perfect English in touristic establishments. For example In old Montreal you are very likely to find anglophone servers in restaurant. The English will be different than what you are used to but should have no major issues in communicating.
there is an anglophone population in Quebec.