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Jean Talon Market in Montreal’s Little Italy section is a fabulous open-air market selling local produce, meat, cheese, and other products. It’s a must-see destination for anyone visiting Montreal.
Several years ago, I discovered my all-time favorite farmers’ market.
I was visiting Montreal with my family, and we decided to get lunch at the crepe stand at Jean Talon Market. I had read about it in a Montreal guidebook, and it sounded like a fun place to visit.
When we stepped into the market, I was blown away. Rows of vendors covered an entire city block with bright palettes of berries, peppers, greens, and eggplant. Locally made cheese, cider, and baked treats beckoned from all directions. I didn’t know where to begin.
It’s a bit of a blur, but I think my husband saw the look on my face and told me to wander on my own for a bit while he watched our then 6- and 8-year-old. I got lost in the rows of Quebec’s finest food. I bought a gorgeous pint of mixed berries that cost next to nothing, along with a jug of locally made apple cider. We ordered a selection of crepes from the Creperie du Marche and had a feast right there at a table in the middle of the market.
When we traveled home from that visit several years ago, I knew we’d be back. And this past summer, we did return to Montreal. The kids were older, we all had passports, and I had one destination in mind as we arrived in the city after the 5-hour drive from Boston. Before we even checked into our hotel, we parked at Jean Talon and paid homage to the market.
It didn’t matter that I had a private tour of the market scheduled through Montreal Tourism the next day. I wanted to be back at Jean Talon as soon as possible.
I may sound a bit obsessed, but I’m not the only one. Montrealers love Jean Talon Market. It’s the pride of the city for many locals. Some people avoid the grocery store altogether and do all their shopping here during the warm weather months. I’d be right there with them if I lived here.
Jean Talon Market Highlights
Produce: The center of the market is made up of produce from dozens of area farms. You’ll find table after table of fruits and vegetables, and many samples are available so you can taste before you buy. Out-of-area produce like lemons, bananas, and avocados are available too, so you can get all your fruit and veggie shopping done in one place.
Meat and Fish: The market features several butcher shops and charcuterie vendors selling high-quality meat. There are a handful of fishmongers as well, where you can get fresh or frozen sustainably harvested fish.
Cheese: Quebec is blessed with liberal raw milk laws. As a result, the cheese is especially rich because it can be made with fresh raw milk. Shops in and around the market offer a wide variety of amazing cheese, and we were able to sample several different flavors. There’s something for every palate here.
Shops: Along the periphery of the market, there are dozens of specialty shops. Le Marche des Saveurs, Epices de Cru, and Cuiz’In are great places to pick up food-related souvenirs and gifts. We sampled some delicious ice cream and sorbet at Havres-aux-Glaces. And the Creperie du Marche, situated right in the middle of the market, serves savory and sweet crepes. It wouldn’t be a visit to Montreal without a crepe, and this shop even has a gluten-free version.
Jean Talon Market is off the beaten path in Montreal, so parking is easy in this area. The market is also conveniently located at the Jean Talon metro stop. We loved traveling around the city on the Metro during our visit this summer, and it’s an affordable way to get around with the metro 3-day pass.
If you’re planning a trip to Montreal, Jean Talon Market is a must-see attraction. It’s not a tourist destination, which is one reason I love it so much. It’s where the locals shop. Make sure you stop by for a true taste of Montreal.
Have you been to Jean Talon Market? If so, I’d love to hear your impressions in the comments. Is it just me, or is this place one of a kind?
Disclosure: We were hosted by Tourisme Montreal. All opinions and obsessions are my own.