Jean-Talon Market is not only the biggest outdoor market in Montreal, it's one of the biggest in all of North America. The huge row of vendors (covered during the chilly season) seems to go on forever, and around the periphery, there are a bunch of great shops for Québec cheeses, maple products, gelato, hanging meats, fresh-caught fish, and ciders. You can have a whole meal there or just graze on apple slices and bumble about. Here are some favorite stops.
Every gelato and sorbet flavor here is killer, especially the maple brûlée (with all the crackle bits inside), strawberry with black pepper, Masala chai, pear cider, and grapefruit. They are super patient with sample monopolizers too. Look for new flavors on the blackboard.
This is a boulangerie-charcuterie-and-patisserie all in one. It's a mini chain in Montreal but always packed with locals and tourists alike. They have a "pain du mois" (bread of the month) which was orange and chocolate during my visit, in addition to the regularly-stocked rustic loaves, piles of croissants, cheesecakes, tarte au sucre (basically sugary goo in a crust), all kinds of pâté, and even frozen chocolate croissants to bake at home. premieremoisson.com
Some people collect spoons, others collect jams. But if you're a spice enthusiast, this claustrophobic two-story nook crams in every herb, jarred sauce, and dried leaf imaginable. epices.ca/fr/
This poissonnerie (fish shop) has beautiful smoked salmon and trout from the Gaspésie region of eastern Quebec. And it wouldn't be Canada without something mapley. Look in the freezer for maple syrup-soaked salmon bites.
While there's plenty of fresh produce stalls inside, this little market along the periphery has more obscure items like Chinese artichokes, purple carrots, and funky-looking mushrooms straight from Alice in Wonderland. Apparently Montreal is fascinated with mini-produce so look for doll-sized pineapples and zucchini too.
Le Marché des Saveurs du Québec
At the edge of the market, look for this Best-of-What-Québec-Has-to-Offer shop. There's a whole section devoted to maple products (even a pepper grinder with maple sugar mixed in) and a glass case of Québec cheeses. Also, a great selection of Montreal's own Liberte yogurts, including flavors like apple pie, mocha, coconut, and orange-almond.
Bonus Video: The Free Samples at Jean-Talon
Check out more of my Snapshots from Montreal.