Montréal is such a charming city–its architecture reminiscent of Europe. In addition to quaint residential neighborhoods, there are squares and parks, and plenty of outdoor cafés. Old Montréal, in particular, is a heritage district with many buildings from the 1600s.
Montréal is European in other ways, too. There are the cobblestone streets, several large cathedrals and over 59% of the population speaks French. To me, the one aspect where Montréal seemed to fall behind was in its lack of an outdoor, European-style, fresh food market. That was, until I stumbled upon the Atwater Market.
I still don’t quite understand how this amazing market hid from me for so long. I now know that there are more than a dozen year-round open-air urban Public Markets throughout Montréal, of which Atwater is one.
Atwater Market sits adjacent to Lachine Canal, about 30 minutes south-west from Old Montréal. Inside the concrete, Art Deco building are individual stalls of independent cheesemongers and butchers, bakers and grocers. The butcher shops are filled with beautifully cut meats, prepared and unprepared. The cases at the cheesemongers overflow with hundreds of hard and soft cheeses, patés and preserves. One stall makes fresh pasta, another chocolate, another sells fish and seafood.
Outside, circling the building, are tables and booths stocked high with fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and berries. Tents form the final outer ring, circling the produce tables. These are filled with a dizzying selection of fresh plants and flowers. See Google Images of the market.
In addition to the growers and producers, Atwater Market features groups of truck-style restaurants with nicely appointed picnic tables under cover. The vibe is relaxed, communal and village-like. The market is held year round, but once the first frost hits, walls are erected to shelter shoppers from the weather.
On previous trips to Montréal, we’ve always been dismayed at the poor options for food shopping. Now we understand – this is where the locals shop.
Getting to Atwater Market by metro can be confusing. While there is a stop called Atwater Market on the green line – Angrignon, it is not the closest stop. (It’s a 16-minute walk from this station to the market.) Instead, take the orange line – Côte-Vertu- and get off at the Lionel Groulx. From there the walk should only take ten minutes.