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The Marché Jean-Talon

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Opened in 1933, the Marché Jean-Talon is one of North America’s largest public markets, with dozens of stands selling fresh fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses and more. For those lucky enough to live nearby, the Jean-Talon is a daily part of life. For the rest of us, it inspires fits of jealousy. Why isn’t there a market like this in my neighborhood? It’s a valid question, so somebody answer it!

Jean Talon Market

The Jean-Talon is incredible. First off, the prices aren’t just competitive with the grocery store in which we shop, they’re much better. And the produce is of far superior quality. There’s just no comparison. Furthermore, you’re getting something you’d never get (or want) in a supermarket: human interaction. You’ll chat with the guys putting broccoli in your bag; they’ll be squeeze-testing the avocados, and suggesting tomato varieties that might work best with your recipe.

And then there are the specialty shops, selling stinky cheeses and strange pates. There’s a fish shop, a crepes shop, a chocolate shop. There’s a stand selling Turkish sweets like baklava and lokum. There’s even a corner shop which exclusively sells cooking books; now that’s an inspired idea for a food market, which I’m surprised we don’t see more often.

So yes, I hate the Jean-Talon. I hated it while I was walking around, and I hate it right now. Just thinking about this market fills me with bitterness. I mean, I just returned from my neighborhood IGA, carrying two bags full of mediocre, overpriced food. If you’re one of the few lucky enough to live near the Jean-Talon, congratulations. I’m slow-clapping for you, do you hear it? Enjoy your amazing produce, jerk.

Location on our Map
Marché Jean Talon – Website

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May 13, 2016 at 10:46 pm Comments (3)

The Marché Maisonneuve

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As we approached the Marché Maisonneuve, our excitement grew. We love visiting markets, especially when they’re set inside buildings as beautiful as this one. But within seconds of stepping inside, our enthusiasm disappeared. The market which once graced its interior is gone, and the building is now used as a community center. Today, there was an amateur arts and crafts show.

Marche Maisonneuve

But even if there wasn’t much to see on the inside, the Marché Maisonneuve remains a handsome building. It was built in 1912, and designed by architect Marius Dufresne, whose former home we had already toured. For years, the Marché Maisonneuve served as a public market, although it was closed in the 1960s. Today, it opens up on weekends for special events.

If you’ve come in search of fresh fruits and vegetables, you won’t have to go far. The new Marché Maisonneuve is found just meters away from the old one; basically in its parking lot. Set inside a modern hall, the new market is packed with excellent shops selling everything you might need: a bakery, a greengrocer, a fish monger, a health food store and more.

Marche Maisonneuve

In shopping terms, we actually preferred the Marché Maisonneuve to the Atwater Market, because it was a little more down-to-earth; the kind of place we could actually see ourselves shopping at regularly. Now, if they could just get all these shops back into the original building, it’d be perfect.

Location on our Map
Marché Maisonneuve – Website

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May 10, 2016 at 10:11 pm Comments (0)

The Marché Bonsecours

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Constructed in 1844, the Bonsecours Market borders the old port of Montreal and the Notre Dame de Bon Secours church for which it’s named. For most of its life, Marché Bonsecours was the city’s main produce market. Today, you’ll find clothing stores, restaurants and craft shops inside, as well as a textile museum.

Marche Bonsecours

A regal building inspired by the Custom House in Dublin, the Marché Bonsecours looks more like a place for governing than for shopping. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that’s exactly what it was built for. Bonsecours served for one year as the seat of Canada’s legislature, and later as Montreal’s city hall. But after 1878, it became a farmer’s market and remained so for nearly a century, until being marked for demolition in the 1960s.

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Luckily, the Bonsecours Market was saved from the wrecking ball and, in 1984, it was declared a national heritage site. Today, it’s found new life as an upscale shopping hall. There are about a dozen shops inside, including fashionable clothing stores, along with those selling souvenirs like maple syrup and Eskimo statues. On the bottom floor, there’s the small Museum of Costume and Textile of Quebec.

Unless you’re in the mood to shop, or fascinated by the history of textiles, you’re probably not going to spend a lot of time inside the Marché Bonsecours. It’s such an impressive building when seen from the outside, the interior comes as something of a disappointment.

Location on our Map
Marché Bonsecours – Website

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May 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm Comments (0)

The Marché Atwater

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Set inside an imposing art deco building on the waterfront near the Lachine Canal, the Atwater Market is home to a wide variety of butchers, bakers and produce stands. The market was too far away from our apartment in Old Montreal, but this was probably a good thing. If we had shopped there every day, we might have been healthier and happier, but we’d also have gone broke.

Atwater Marche Market

The Marché was constructed in 1933 and named after local politician Edwin Atwater (who’s also been honored with a nearby metro station). It was part of the public works projects which were designed to stimulate growth in Montreal following the devastating 1929 stock market crash.

Since its earliest days, the market’s primary focus has been selling high-quality produce and meats to the citizens of Montreal. A number of delicatessens can be found within its walls, although not as many as you might think. The market building looks enormous from far away, but it’s actually quite narrow, with space for just a couple rows of shops.

Atwater Marche Market

But you’ll find stands selling every type of delicacy you might want. There’s one dedicated entirely to sausages, with dozens of flavors such as “truffle” and “broccoli.” There’s a massive bakery, a shop selling specialty cheeses, a wine store, plenty of butchers, one that focuses on Italian pastas and sauces, and any number of fruit and veggie vendors.

We visited just before lunchtime, and that was a mistake. It was as though my stomach had developed its own eyes and nose. Even if I wasn’t physically looking at them, my stomach seemed hyper-aware of all the most delicious foods. It would grumble to alert me, then drag me over to the ricotta-stuffed shells… the baby-back ribs… the wide-ranging selection of pates and jams. “Stop it, stomach, or it’s tofu again for you!”

As much as I’d have liked to indulge my every desire, the prices at the Atwater Market kept us from splurging. Unless you’re loaded, this isn’t a place for day-to-day groceries. But if you’re looking for a certain sort of cheese that the supermarket doesn’t stock, or preparing dinner for a special occasion, it’s perfect. And even if you’re not planning on buying anything, it’s worth stopping by just to see the architecture and admire the beautiful food.

Location on our Map
Marché Atwater – Website

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April 22, 2016 at 2:34 pm Comments (2)
The March Jean-Talon Opened in 1933, the Marché Jean-Talon is one of North America's largest public markets, with dozens of stands selling fresh fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses and more. For those lucky enough to live nearby, the Jean-Talon is a daily part of life. For the rest of us, it inspires fits of jealousy. Why isn't there a market like this in my neighborhood? It's a valid question, so somebody answer it!
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