“It’s not winter until it’s all white!” That’s our motto. We love summer (Mariam much more than Henry, but still, love is love 🙂 ). So much so that as long as it’s still sunny outside and the temperature is above 0 degrees Celsius, we act like it’s summer. We do the same activities: we take long walks, we go to festivals, we have barbecues and picnics – you name it, we do it!
Though it’s late September right now, a quick look outside shows us that it’s not. It’s sunny, the trees are still lush, the sun is out, and people are still smiling (in Montreal, this is a clear sign that it’s a warm outside). And what’s one of the best things to do when it’s nice out like this, you ask? Hitting one of the public markets in the city. Ohhh yes!!!
Whether you love cooking, eating, playing guitar, meeting new people, or simply taking a stroll, there is definitely a market that will meet your needs. Montreal has several public markets that range from very large to super tiny. Today, we’ll talk about our three favorites, and tell you a bit about why we think they’re worth visiting.
If you like to cook and you tend to make a variety of dishes regularly, this is definitely the market for you. Jean-Talon Market is huge. From fruits to vegetables, from restaurants to cafes, from bookstores to gift shops, this market has a lot going for it. Every time we go there, we end up staying about 4 hours. There is a lot to see, to buy, and… well… to eat. It’s located in the vibrant neighbourhood of Little Italy and boasts some of the best local produce you need.
This is a very busy market. And not just on the weekend. You can go any given day of the week and still see people flocking to buy their ingredients for their dinner meals or to grab a quick bite right there before going home. Its size makes it quite diverse as you will be able to discover fruits or vegetables you did not even know existed. On top of the many local produce, you will also find lots of foreign goods too, like Ethiopian berberre, Algerian mint tea, or Indian curry.
If you’re looking for something more intimate, this is definitely the best market for that. You want to get to know the person who sells you your produce and create a lasting relationship with your baker or butcher? Then Maisonneuve Market is for you. The first time we went there we were quite shocked about how small it was compared to the other markets we frequent. However, we quickly realized that everyone knew each other and so there was a sense of community among the clients, the farmers, and the rest of the staff.
Being that it’s a market with smaller crowds, you can even go there for some calm time with your family, or to have a long conversation with a friend you haven’t seen for a while, or to simply read a book in peace. You may find that it is quite refreshing to be away from the many, many, many people (and cars) you see in other large markets.
Design and location-wise, we pick the Atwater Market. It is very big (just not as big as Jean-Talon Market) and has a lot of produce and products to choose from (local and international). For us however, what gives it an extra edge is the fact that it’s located near the water. Nothing beats eating your ice cream by the canal [Henry: Except maybe eating two ice cream treats by the canal 😛 ]. The structure of the market itself is beautifully designed and there are many activities around the market (open barbecue in the summer, pumpkin decoration contest in the fall, and Christmas events in winter). Going to Atwater Market feels like a fun outing whether you buy something or not.
For those who prefer organic produce, we noticed that this market had a lot more options than the two mentioned above. Also, the market is located near a pharmacy, two huge supermarkets, and many restaurants. So you can pretty much spend your whole day around the area doing different things.
So all in all, these are our top three markets in Montreal (someday we’ll tell you our favourite markets elsewhere in the world). We’d love to hear about your experience going to public markets. For us, we find that there are many benefits to doing our groceries at markets. For one, we get to build our local economy; two, we feel a sense of community since we know our farmers and merchants and we genuinely like to know how they are doing; third, we get to learn about new recipes and meet people from different parts of the city (but also from abroad); and finally, there is the fact that we get the opportunity to shop outside (of course).
What is your favorite market (in Montreal or elsewhere)?