Montreal’s Atwater Market is located in the Saint-Henri district of the city, it has been an icon of the area since its opening in 1933. Year round there are a diverse mix of merchants and specialty shops. In the warmer months there are vendor stalls lining the outer sidewalks. They sell both local and imported fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers.
It’s clear that the produce vendors take great pride in what they sell. Mouth watering berries, apples and other fruits are placed in artful displays. With markets like this I don’t see why anyone would shop at a traditional grocery store. Montreal and other areas of Quebec province are lucky to have access to year round homegrown produce. Our visit was during late September when the market had an abundance of pumpkins and many other varieties of squash and gourds. As vegetarians the colourful array of vegetables had us going googly-eyed.
We have never seen such giant leeks before.
In the upper section fresh seafood is available and there are butchers specializing in sausages and high quality cut meats.
As cheese lovers we were anxious to get to Atwater Fromagerie. At the first step into the shop our mouths hung open. We had indeed entered cheese paradise. We had no idea where to even start, there were hundreds of cheeses to choose from.
We decided to let an expert make our selections. I approached a man who stood behind the counter and told him we would like to purchase a small portion of three local cheeses, whatever he recommended. We left with a soft goat cheese, an oka, and an aged cheddar. A purchase of port jelly, some kalamata olives, a package of water crackers and a fresh-baked baguette completed our lunch. As we sat at a small tables in a public space of the market, I’m sure we looked like a pack of chipmunks shoveling bread and cheese into our faces. I have honestly never tasted goat cheese with such an amazing texture and flavor.
Be sure to go into the back rooms of the fromagerie. They carry delicatessen products, local and imported micro brewery beers and many other fine foods.
After all this bread and cheese, was there room for dessert? Of course! We would find it at the Premiere Moisson bakery. Our heads spun with the choices of decadent selections that filled the bakery cases. We decided to try the maple sugar pie. Thank goodness they had a small one that we could share. It’s like a butter tart, but with a maple sugar filling. Very sweet, but delicious.
On the other side of the bakery is the deli section with many choices of foods to take home, such as pates, lasagna, meat loaf, chicken wings and other various casseroles.
Now that our bellies were full we could enjoy exploring the rest of the market without wanting to buy everything in sight. Another shop we took a particular liking to is Les Douceurs du Marche. They have an assortment of gourmet and ethnic grocery items, including herbs, salt, mustard, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and syrup.
The Atwater market can be easily accessed from the Lionel-Groulx Metro Station or the Lachine Canal bicycle path.
138 Avenue Atwater
Mon to Wed 7am to 6pm, Thur and Fri 7am to 8pm
Sat and Sun 7am to 5pm
There are several other year round markets like this in Montreal, the other most notable ones are the Jean Talon Market and Marche Maisonneuve. We stopped by the Jean Talon for a look as well. It is in the Little Italy district of Montreal. This market has more of a rustic feel, with an equally good selection of produce and other food vendors. I wish I could attach a rope to one of them and drag it home with me.