Ok, well it's been a month since we returned from Quebec. I had meant to start posting about the trip sooner, but then... what with my trip to Thailand and... well, in the circumstances, the delay is forgivable.
The intervening month also made it more fun to re-live the trip as we went through our 500-or-so photos. I've decided to start with what, I think it's fair to say, was our favourite part of Montréal: Marché Jean-Talon.
We really liked Montréal. It had a great pulse to it. There was always life on the streets. Colour, noise and people spilled out of shops, dining rooms and parks. And nowhere demonstrated this joie de vivre like Jean-Talon markets.
Located in the Little Italy district, Marché Jean Talon is Montréal's and perhaps even North America's, largest open air market with over 300 stalls in the summer months. It is open year-round despite the blistering winters however there are of course fewer stalls and they are located indoors.
The Market is spread over several blocks and contains acres of farm-fresh produce and specialty stores that drew us in and dazzled with the beautiful colours, the sounds of hawkers and the lure of smells that wafted from every direction.
The place is mecca for food and foodies.
The surrounding stores include patisseries, chocolatiers, poissoneries, chacuteries, baristas, frommageries, Moroccan and Italian delis...the list goes on. There are also several great restaurants nearby.
Around lunchtime, we'd often find that we'd gravitated towards the markets... which was lucky. Sometimes we'd make our own feast comprised of the local produce. Sometimes, though, it would be too much to resist the delicious smells wafting from the shops lining the market - like this Moroccan deli which barbecued delicious chickens over smoking coals and sold us spicy lamb kofta baguettes.
There are several picnic tables provided (although it can be hard to get a seat on weekends) that are perfectly situated for DIY lunches and people watching..and there is so much to look at.
The Little Italy district is a fascinating one with an eclectic mix of characters like some Italian boys we met straight out of the Sopranos who were peddling crates of Mama-Mia wine grapes to the wine-making locals. The boss was fascinated by our Australian accents and told Pauly to go get us a bunch of grapes: an offer we couldn't refuse.
Jean-Talon Market is located just east of the intersection of Rue Jean-Talon and Rue St-Laurent. If you are catching the Metro, then the Jean-Talon station is convenient - only a couple of blocks away.
Marché Jean-Talon is a must-see for anyone wanting to taste of Montréal's food culture. Colourful and intoxicating, you won't want to leave.
7070, Henri-Julien St., south of Jean-Talon St.