A roundup of Montréal’s public markets

Mayssam Samaha

Mayssam Samaha is a food and travel writer and blogger and the founder behind the blog Will Travel for Food. She travels the world in search of the next culinary discovery. From Iceland to South Africa, she’s already visited over 30 countries and there’s nothing she enjoys more than wandering around a farmers’ market in a foreign city. She is also the founder of the SAISONS intimate dinner series highlighting Québec products and chefs.

NOTE: As of June 2020, Montréal is moving toward a progressive reopening of businesses and a return to many public activities, while respecting public health guidelines on social distancing and the use of non-medical masks. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites of the businesses and attractions mentioned in this article or to call to verify whether they are open and what their current hours are.

If you travel for food, then you probably like to visit local markets. They’re the most direct–and colourful!–way of going on a delectable tour of what the local culinary culture is all about. You will discover seasonal ingredients, unique local specialties and colourful characters to chat with. Below are some of Montréal’s favourite public markets.

Jean-Talon Market

The Jean-Talon Market is one of the oldest and largest open-air markets in North America. It started out as a lacrosse field in the north part of Montréal. The city bought the land after the economic crash of 1929 in order to build a market and create jobs. The market–then called Marché du Nord–opened in 1933 and was mostly frequented by Greek, Italian, Vietnamese and Irish immigrants who bought live poultry and meat on Fridays and Saturdays.

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The Jean-Talon Market is located in the heart of the Little Italy neighbourhood and open year round. It counts 150 local fruit and vegetable vendors at the height of the season, between May and November. In addition to fruits and vegetables, the market counts flower stalls, an SAQ (Quebec Alcohol Society), spice shops, butchers, cheese and fish mongers, a chocolate shop, an ice cream parlor, an Italian specialty store, pastry stores and an array of specialty shops.

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Atwater Market

The Atwater Market was also established in 1933, in the southwest of the city, just south of the downtown area. This market is famous for its tall clock tower and art deco architectural style, which makes it one of the most beautiful ones in North America. Open year round, it boast an interior space with many butchers and other specialty stores as well as vendors all around the main building selling fresh and seasonal produce, flowers, Christmas trees when in season or other local specialties.

The market’s location along the Lachine Canal bike path makes it popular with summer bike riders who stop here for an ice cream cone or a quick lunch. If you do get the chance to have lunch there, stop by the seasonal Satay Brothers stall for one of the best Southeast Asian food in Montréal.

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Maisonneuve Market

The Maisonneuve Market opened around 1910 in a beautiful Beaux Arts-style building in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood on the east side of Montréal. It was frequented by locals who flocked to the market to purchase produce from farmers, burchers and fishmongers. Much to the clients’ disappointment, the Maisonneuve Market was closed in the 60s, only to reopen in the 80s because of the pressure exercised by local citizens. In 1995, the market moved to its present location–a modern building–where locals continue to flock to shop for local ingredients from their favourite purveyors. Much smaller in size than the Jean-Talon or Atwater markets, the Maisonneuve Market offers all the necessity of its larger counterparts including flowers, fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, fish, baked goods and Quebec-specific products.

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There are several other, seasonal neighbourhood markets for you to explore. Find out more about their locations and opening hours.

Mayssam Samaha

Mayssam Samaha is a food and travel writer and blogger and the founder behind the blog Will Travel for Food. She travels the world in search of the next culinary discovery. From Iceland to South Africa, she’s already visited over 30 countries and there’s nothing she enjoys more than wandering around a farmers’ market in a foreign city. She is also the founder of the SAISONS intimate dinner series highlighting Québec products and chefs.

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