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!
As luck would have it, Jürgen and I arrived during what everyone swears is one of the worst Quebec springs in recent memory. For every sunny day, we've had six that were rainy and cold. But luckily Montreal has plenty of fun things to do indoors, and we still have a couple months to get outside and experience the city's famous street life. Here are our first impressions, after one month.
Montreal's largest religious complex, and certainly the largest we've seen in North America, the Oratory of St. Joseph is located in the heights of Mont Royal, and enjoys commanding views over the city. With multiple chapels, an underground church, a museum, and of course the crowning basilica, the Oratory is stunning in scale, impressive even to non-Catholic visitors.
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.
In 2012, Major League Soccer expanded to Montreal, finally giving the city another top-tier team to follow besides the Canadiens. The Montreal Impact play in the Stade Saputo, within the Olympic Park, and we decided to check them out for a Saturday match against the Colorado Rapids.
One of the largest gay villages in the Western Hemisphere is in Montreal. A square of blocks centered around Rue St. Catherine, Le Village has provided a place of acceptance and inclusion for the city's gay community since the 1970s.
You know what every city needs? An environmentally-conscious community center with an adjacent eco-park, and a theater for year-round circus performances. Well, I'm joking, but the more I think about it, the more I believe it's true. Montreal has exactly such a place in TOHU, an utterly unique attraction in the neighborhood of St. Michel, which focuses on the environment, community, and circus culture in equal measure.
Founded in 1964, the Musée d'Art Contemporain was the first museum in Canada dedicated entirely to works of contemporary art. In 1991, the MAC moved into its new location on the Place des Arts, where it hosts exhibitions from the world's most famous contemporary artists.
This came as a surprise to me, but Montreal is apparently famous for its bagels. It makes sense, given the city's strong Jewish community, but still: when I think "bagels," New York is what comes to mind, not Montreal. That unconscious mental association might have changed forever, though, now that I've been introduced to the bagels of St-Viateur.
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.