Atwater is the second largest fresh produce and flower market in Montréal, the first being Jean Talon. What it lacks for in size, it makes up for in character and having a tranquil location by the Lachine Canal. Buy a baguette, meat, cheese and Québec cider from the market and sit by the canal and soak in the spring sunshine.
If you’re visiting Montréal and you’re into food and flowers - then you will appreciate Atwater Market! A lot smaller than the better-known Jean Talon market, it is located west of the city. Its pleasant aspect is adjacent to Lachine, the canal that runs from the historical old port, to the end of the island (yes Montréal is an island!)
There is no better place to dip into local life than at Marché Atwater.
When I visited, at the commencement of spring, it appeared that the whole of rural Québec had been growing flowers just for this market! To imagine that there would be enough Montrealers to buy up all the flowers and plants on display filled me with disbelief.
Local Québécois embrace spring with gusto and passion, so there is a huge demand for anything, which grows. Plants, flowers, herbs, vines, vegetables - they all become an obsession for Montrealers at this time of year.
Spring is booming in markets and shops across the city, and this is poetically evident in the hallways of Atwater market.
If you’re looking for speciality items for a home cooked meal, it is also a great locale to buy in-season produce.
Looking at this variety of mushrooms, I wanted to make a risotto!
Yet, my friend and I were just picking up a few things for a picnic on the canal.
After sampling the local sparkling apple cider at a stall, we picked up a bottle for just over $11 Canadian. As we entered the adjoining produce shop, a charming Québécois man, greeted us and chaperoned us around, asking after our needs.
“A picnic, AHA!”
From there he took control - “Fromage? Oui, bien sûr!” (Cheese? Of course!)
“Dur ou mou? Fort ou doux?” (Hard or soft, strong or mild?)
He excused himself, telling us enthusiastically that he was going to “reserve” a baguette for us.
He returned to ask, “Viande?” (Meat?)
“Jambon? Salami? Epicé ou pas?” (Ham? Salami? Spicy or not?)
He called out to the man behind the counter, introducing my friend and I, explaining that we were having a picnic at the canal.
What did he think would go best with the cider we had bought?
Then, a tasting session commenced of different types of cheeses and meats, until we were satisfied with our selection. The truth was, it all tasted good but it was fun to just make the most of analysing, thoroughly, what would REALLY go best with the cider we had bought! As we left, he handed us two paper cups for the cider we had bought!
Now, that’s serious picnic consultancy!
With supplies in hand, we crossed the bridge over Lachine to the sunny side of the canal, laid down a rug and made a toast to spring time.
Bike riders, joggers, walkers, young and old, couples, singles, groups, you name it – everyone was outdoors making the most of the weather.
Montrealers make every spring moment a reason to enjoy the simple things, like sunshine by a canal!
If you want to soak in some Montréal ambience, Atwater is the place!
- The market is located at: 138 Atwater Avenue, Montréal, Québec, on the corner of Notre-Dame and Atwater
- Closest metro station is Lionel-Groulx, not Atwater (as one would assume!)
- Try some Québécois alcohol – Cider or Ice Wine
- Hire canoes from Adventures H20 or rent a bike from MyBicyclette – both of which can take you all the way to the Old Port of Montreal (about 3 miles)
Sally Watson is an Australian freelance travel writer, journalist, photographer and editor of Wing Woman Adventures. Instagram: @wingwomanadventures Twitter: @wingwomanADV Facebook: Wing Woman Adventures
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.