Montreal getaway: Top 5 reasons to visit the Jean Talon Market (photos)

Ripe strawberries, decadent chocolate and gourmet cheese… these are just a few of the sensual foods lining the aisles of Montreal’s Jean-Talon Market.

One of North America’s largest outdoor markets, Jean-Talon features 300 stalls of fresh, locally-grown produce. The most amazing thing about this Montreal institution? It’s open year-round, despite the notorious Canadian winter!

Scroll down for the highlights of the Jean-Talon Market, and don’t forget to visit on your next trip to Montreal.

#5. Fresh, local produce

Montreal Girls Getaway fruit at Jean Talon market

Warning: Walking down the aisles of Jean-Talon causes sensory overload. The scent of steamed corn wafts through the air as rainbow-hued vegetables jostle for your attention. You can’t help but wonder, have you ever seen strawberries this red?

Montreal Girls Getaway tomatoes at Jean Talon market

Eating fresh corn at Jean Talon Market in Montreal

Free samples and low-cost snacks abound at Jean-Talon. I tasted steamed sweet corn– right from the truck– with travel writer (and fellow New Yorker) Charu Suri of Butterfly Diary.

Sweet corn at Jean Talon market in Montreal

Garlic scapes at Jean Talon Market in Montreal


Chanterelles at Jean Talon market in Montreal

#4. Canadian classics

Sirop d Erable at Jean Talon market in Montreal

You can’t visit Canada without picking up a jar of pure maple syrup; it’s the perfect souvenir of a trip up north. You’ll feel good about buying your gifts at Jean-Talon since the vendors are local farmers and small business owners.

If you’re used to sliding jellied cranberries out of a tin can, make sure to pick up the real thing. Fresh cranberries are a staple of fall dishes in Canada and the US.

Fresh cranberries at Jean Talon market in Montreal

#3. Gourmet cheese

Cheese counter at Le Marche des Saveurs du Quebec in Montreal

Strolling down the aisles of this massive food market is hard work! Reward yourself by tasting locally-produced cheeses at Le Marche des Saveurs du Quebec, a gourmet boutique located next to Jean-Talon. Don’t leave without sampling Alfred le Fermier, a raw cow milk cheese, and Chevre Noir, an aged goat milk cheddar cheese.

Owned by a mother-daughter team, Le Marche des Saveurs only sells products made in Quebec; specialties include fromage, ice cider and craft beers.

Cheese at Le Marche des Saveurs du Quebec in Montreal

Leslie at Le Marche des Saveurs du Quebec in Montreal

#2. Chocolate and pastries

Tarts at Premiere Moison boulangerie bakery in Montreal

Nothing beats fresh berries– except sweetened berries sitting atop a rich cheesecake. My heart skipped a beat as I entered Première Moisson, a bakery located inside the Jean-Talon Market. Based in Quebec, this chain boulangerie serves pies and pastries to suit every taste. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, stock up on artisanal bread or charcuterie.

Dessert at Premiere Moison boulangerie bakery in Montreal

#1 – To brighten your day

Sunflowers at Jean Talon market in Montreal

It’s hard not to smile when visiting Jean-Talon. Meeting local farmers, nibbling on complimentary samples, and buying the freshest, most colorful produce you’ve ever seen– what’s not to love about this free, open-air attraction?


All of the above photos were snapped on a Cannon G11 at the Jean-Talon Market in September 2011.

My trip to Montreal was sponsored by Tourisme Montreal. For information on city attractions and events, visit the Tourisme Montreal website and Twitter feed (@VisitMontreal). Click on #MontrealArts to read my other Montreal posts.

About Leslie Koch

I'm a New Yorker with a passion for travel and art. I founded after returning from a year-long backpacking trip around the world. Find me on Twitter at @leslietravel.