Marché Jean-Talon (One Grad’s Greatest Day 1)

A twenty minute walk from my apartment in Villeray is all it takes to get to what has been described as North America’s largest open air market (National Geographic, 2008 Map of Montreal).

I did this walk just yesterday.  It is November and it is clear after three days rain.  The leaves are mostly down, yellowish brown.   It is a bit misty, you can see your breath, and a slight steam rises from pavement drying in the sun.

I put on my hiking books and fall overcoat, the one with browns and oranges in a blurred darkish plaid pattern.  Headphones, Sibelius’ 2nd symphony on the iPod, down the spiral stairs in front of my study room window, and I’m heading towards the market.

The music makes the air seem more clear, it doesn’t intrude at all into my enjoyment of the fresh feeling of finally being out of the house.  It is just past noon, I’ve had a late breakfast because it is Saturday, but I can feel a little twinge of hunger like lunch time might be near.  A perfect time to head to the market.

A half a block from my house is one of those little postage stamp parks with a mini-playground and parents socializing with each other as they keep an eye on their kids.   I turn off the main street, and make a quick jag into the back alley behind the little park.

I prefer to walk to the market by back alley.  This way I see more cats, I see the backyard gardens that still have flowers in them, even in early November.  Add to those colours the bright or faded hues hanging from clotheslines, something you only see at the back of apartments, never in front.

I kick leaves, I weave between speed bumps, I nod as I pass people doing laundry or weeding or just out for a walk like me.  A small boy on a bicycle nearly runs into me making a sharp right turn.  I smile and dodge his front wheel, give a quick wave to the boy’s parents to say it’s OK.

Past Jarry and Villeray streets, I keep to the back alley.  Traffic is pretty thin right now, so it’s no problem crossing the major streets.  This time I’ve chosen my route well, and I pop out right at the point where I can enter the market without having to go around the big music store on Jean Talon.

Before entering the market I go a couple of extra blocks past the market to the MultiMags and pick up a paper and, because I’m feeling good, a copy of the latest Granta on Pakistan.  Back at the market with my MultiMags bag, I go around through the front entrance to a Polish pastry and coffee shop I favour.

I order my café regulier en francais.  I love this place because for under $2 you get a great cup of coffee with heated and foamed milk and sugar, and it is always scalding hot.  Add to that a ‘Pavot’ bun with its hint of orange zest and lots of cinnamon, and I am done.

I sit out front of the market on Henri-Julien and it is even warm enough with my big coat and hat to read for a spell.  Basking and relaxing in the moment, I pull out my new magazine and begin to read.  As I sip my coffee and savour every word, I want this moment never to end.

This is my weekly treat to myself, it is a great way to wind down, and I recommend it highly.

Source of images:

(Part 1 of a series of 10 “One Grad’s Greatest Day” reflections)

4 thoughts on “Marché Jean-Talon (One Grad’s Greatest Day 1)

  1. Definitely one of my favorite places in Montreal. I am looking forward to going back, and hopefully doing some research there about Food Security in the city. ❤ Thanks for posting!


  2. I feel like I am there. I remember the hanging gardens of springtime there, aromatic with herbs. Your writing of the market evokes the smells and memories of Marche Jean Talon for me.


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