Marché Jean-Talon

Just off Jean-Talon between Saint-Laurent and Saint-Denis
Montréal, Canada

Submitted by: Desmond Bliek

A multicultural public market.

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Why It Works

This market is extremely large, about twice the size of Pike Place. It's at the heart of the Little Italy of Montréal, an area settled originally by immigrant Italian families seeking space to market-garden. Now at the heart of the city, the dense two story rowhouse neighbourhood gives way to a large open space, which is filled with market sheds that cover the stalls of producers, which are all local farmers (though they do sell non-local produce). Along the north and south sides of the site, there are rows of shops (in converted two story rowhouses) selling mostly fish, baked goods, meat, and almost anything else, including a couple of cafés and an instrument shop. Not at all a tourist place, though tourists do visit. Accessible easily by métro (Jean-Talon) and bus, with a bit of parking that's always so crowded that it doesn't really work anyways, which is great.

What Makes Marché Jean-Talon a Great Place?

Fits in wonderfully with the character of the area. The surrounding buildings have changed over the years to cater more to the market, converting from rowhouses into (at least on the bottom floor) shops of various kinds. Close to a major métro stop (Jean-Talon), and between three major arteries in Montréal, it is simultaneously an intimate part of the neighborhood and a landmark known throughout the region.

The first thing one notices is the color of the market, as well as the crowds of different people. Vehicles are a bit intrusive, particularly when making deliveries, but there is a large amount of pedestrian space. No market security is provided, but there is the usual police service. The market is quite clean as markets go, with specific areas set aside for recycling and garbage collection. There's not much seating, but several of the adjoining cafés and bakeries have added outdoor terrace seating to their indoor spaces. The sheds are a bit ugly, unfortunately, but there's a million sights and smells below them to distract you. They come in handy during the winter months, as well, though it gets exceptionally hot and humid during the summer, contributing to some smells that are not particularly wonderful.

Always busy, and always open. A very multicultural part of a very multicultural city; there is every type of person or group of people one could imagine. Space is used well, though there is, in my opinion, a bit too much devoted to parking, as well as a bit of an unused area to the west side of it. The best activity by far is tasting all of the free samples provided by each vendor while comparison shopping.

I frequently meet friends here, and have shown it off to visitors from out of town. The ages and ethnicities seem to reflect more diversity than is actually present in Montréal, and people are generally friendly, except for busy periods (weekend afternoons) when it can get a little crowded.

Contact Info:

Le Marché Jean-Talon: 514-277-1588
Montreal Public Market Management Corporation, Administrative Office: 514-937-7754

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