01 of 09
15 Montreal Public Markets You HAVE to Visit
Montreal's public markets are one of my simplest joys as a humble local, meandering through their sights and smells, particularly the city's flagship marchés publics open year round, as listed below.
Comparing produce and prices while dreaming up my next killer cooked-from-scratch recipe, it wouldn't take much to convince me to spend the whole day in one of them too, if I didn't run out of arms (and portable cart space) to carry all my foodie purchases within the first 30 minutes of shopping.
Come to to think of it, it wasn't that long ago when visiting a farmer's market was part of everyday life.
Before the developed world turned its collective stomach toward grocery chains, supermarkets and wholesale warehouse clubs, public markets were the hub of community, a town's source and supply of perishable provisions.
Eggs, meat, fish, dairy,... spices and fresh fruit and vegetables were gathered in one spot as locals stocked up their households in between fits of gossip and social niceties. After all, before electrical telegraphy and the invention of the telephone, public markets were the easiest if only practical way to catch up with friends and assorted frenemies as well as organize local affairs. Most folks ended up at the market at some point or another so it simply made sense.
Case in Point: Montreal's 18th Century Market Shows Visitors How Settlers Used to Live
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02 of 09
As if the Jean-Talon Market, one of North America's largest farmers markets, doesn't get enough praise as it is. Of all of Montreal's public markets, this is the one that changed my life and turned me into a from-scratch cook.
You can eat like royalty, in your own home (or hotel room for that matter), after a few visits to Marché Jean-Talon. Note the use of plural. I said "visits" for a reason. One isn't enough to fully embrace just how special this market is. Even after countless trips over the course of years, I STILL discover new and exciting products complete with fresh cooking and produce selection tips from vendors.Continue to 3 of 9 below.
03 of 09
Marché Atwater. This beauty right here is the first public market I had ever visited. I was a grade school pipsqueak and yet I still remember the sharp taste of that medium gouda I sampled at the market's resident cheese shop, La Fromagerie Atwater. And the lamb. Good God, the lamb. It cost a small fortune, over $40 for two leg of lamb steaks, but the meal that came out of it was unforgettable.Continue to 4 of 9 below.
04 of 09
Marché Saint-Jacques was supplying locals with farmer produce as early as 1868, years before the once modest space transformed into the art deco-detailed building standing today, just south of Parc La Fontaine. However, its longstanding public market space was closed off in 1960 to make way for city administration offices. There were a few commercial enterprises that were allowed to open as of 1983, but nothing of major note.
By 2007, city hall sold the building off under the condition that the new owner dedicate the ground floor to public market activity yet again. And so Marché Saint-Jacques slowly reemerged with a grocer, cheese shop, bakery and a handful of specialty produce shops following suit over the course of several years. In warmer months, outdoor vendors add themselves to the mix, as with other major Montreal public markets who also offer outdoor vendor space in the spring, summer and fall, selling... flowers, herbs and fresh fruits and vegetables.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Yet another of Montreal's "big five" public markets, Marché Maisonneuve has a similar timeline to that of Marché St. Jacques in the sense that while it opened at the turn of the 20th century, city administration shut it down in the '60s only for its to reopen in the '80s. Fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as a butcher shop, cheese shop and fish store are also on site.
See Also: Montreal's Hottest BrewpubsContinue to 6 of 9 below.
06 of 09
Marché de Lachine
Marché de Lachine, Montreal's smallest of the "big five" public markets is open year-round, selling the usual suspects, and has the makings of a delightful pit stop during a day of cycling by the Lachine Canal if ONLY to taste the ridiculously delicious chocolates, croissants and assorted pastries sold on location by Marius et Fanny. Just bike up the Lachine neighborhood's 18th avenue past one block. You'll reach it soon enough.Continue to 7 of 9 below.
07 of 09
While we're on the topic of Montreal public markets, I'd like to bring up Marché Bonsecours because there's occasionally some confusion over what the Old Montreal institution sells exactly. Well, it's not fresh produce and assorted perishables, at least not anymore. It used to be a public market way back in the day, as early as 1847 when the iconic building was first inaugurated only to close in 1963, in tandem with a handful of Montreal farmers markets that also ceased operations in the '60s. Today, the Bonsecours Market houses boutiques carrying the lines of local fashion designers -apparel, leather goods, accessories- in addition to art, souvenirs, and collector's items.Continue to 8 of 9 below.
08 of 09
Montreal's Seasonal Public Markets
While Montreal's "big five" public markets are open every season of the year, the city also has its fair share of seasonal markets which open as long as the weather is warm enough to support them, anywhere from late April to late October.
For the purposes of this list, I've included the better known market staples that have persisted over the years. Note that in addition to these trusty seasonal markets, the city also features dozens of hyperlocal grass roots pop-up markets in the summer and even fall which service nearby locals. While they get occasional plugs from local media here and there, their schedules and locations are spread mostly through word of mouth.
Montreal Metro Station Markets
If you're a local and looking for a great deal, head to Frontenac Metro. Produce is refreshingly affordable. Other Montreal Metro stations that feature small to modest-sized open-air fresh produce markets include Rosemont Metro (not in 2015, closed for renovations), Papineau... Metro, Sauvé Metro and Shebrooke Metro (just west of it at Carré St. Louis).
As for visitors, I would say that the most tourism-friendly public market pit stops are located at Mont-Royal Metro Station (a great spot to grab some healthy snacks before before heading up to the mountain), at Côte-des-Neiges Metro (an apple with that St. Joseph's Oratory visit?) and at Square-Victoria Metro (this one is tiny though, more flowers than anything else, so if you require top tier sustenance that's affordable, start walking down McGill, the street right in front of you at the flower stand, and take a left on St. Paul for some of the best baked goods you'll ever eat at Olive and Gourmando, also one of Montreal's Best brunch spots).
Finally, if maple delights are your thing as much as they are mine, get thyself to Phillips Square on Ste. Catherine Street in downtown Montreal. It's filled with maple products, chocolates and berries. Sometimes an assortment of flowers are on location. Bonus: there are often jewelers lined up beside the stand selling their handcrafted wares. And keep an eye out for the best pizza in Montreal. It's at the opposite end of the square.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09