The one thing on my list I wanted to do on my Montreal list was to go to the markets, and see the Biosphere if we had time.
Well, Montreal is small, so we got to do everyone on my list.
Gambit is truly a great travel companion because once my laziness of ‘I just want to rest in the hotel’ sets in, he will have none of that and push on. This will then drive me to feel guilty and go with him – not just to accompany him but just so I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.
To be honest, I had originally only wanted to go to Atwater Market but on the morning before departure, I read that it was a ‘tiny’ market… so changed my mind and went to Jean-Talon Market (Marché Jean-Talon). And as you will read below, Jean-Talon Market (Marché Jean-Talon) is actually small as well, so that is why we went to both.
We took the subway/train from Victoria Square station to Jean-Talon Station.
It was about a 5 min walk to get to Victoria Square Station and then another 5 min from Jean-Talon Station to the markets. Everything is flat so it was a breeze.
This market is not that big. For those from Sydney, think Paddy’s Market in Chinatown. And just isolate it to the fruit and veg area down at the back of the market. That’s pretty much how big this place is. BUT it is much cleaner than Paddy’s.
When we arrive, we walked down this first aisle that had meats and cheese. There was a lady who had a few tables set out with just bread laid out on them. We bought a plain croissant off her for CAD$1.50. OMG I will forever have dreams about that croissant. It was flaky, buttery, soft… I don’t know why I didn’t go back and eat all of its brothers and sisters.
So after walking around and getting a little disappointed on how small this ‘bigger’ market was, I did what I do best – which is to eat.
We stopped and bought a macron and Portuguese type tart from a vendor and they were OK.
We also walked outside the market to the businesses close by and went into a bakery/cafe, Au Pain Dore, and bought an almond and chocolate croissant which was again, OK.
I think the bar was set so high from by the first croissant that nothing was going to ever come close.
This market is small. It had two levels and because they are part of the same group of all the markets, it had a lot of the vendors. We bought some gifts for our friend who was minding Miss Ava as a thank you and decided to head onto the streets to find some lunch.
The highlight of Atwater Market (Marché Atwater) was seeing a vendor make Maple Syrup ice pop. He seem to just pour warmed up maple syrup onto a bed of chunky ice and then roll the syrup up onto a Paddlepop stick. $2.00 each or 3 for $5.00.
Lunch was a real highlight. We ended up going to Greenspot Diner.
I later found out that this place is a Montreal institution that has been around for a long time. Hmm.. think Katz Deli.
After we were seated, we were given menus but they were in French, and for breakfast. We wanted more lunchtime meals so we basically saw what other people were being served and ordered by pointing at what they had on their table.
Gambit went for a smoked meat club sandwich that could have easily, easily, been shared by 2-3 people.
I went for 2 Steamies, which is a Montreal hot dog where the hot dog toppings are loaded on the top of the meat and bun, instead of to the side of the meat. I asked for all the toppings – All Dressed. This included mustard, onions and sauerkraut. And although they looked small, they were very filling. The buns were nice and soft and fluffy.
All in all, lunch was enjoyable and when the bill came (as we had no idea how much anything we ordered cost), we were delighted to find out it was pretty cheap.
This is the point where I was full and slighted disappointed about the markets and wanted to go back to the hotel and ‘chill out’. And this is where Gambit said he was going over to Jean-Drapeau Park (Parc Jean-Drapeau) (where the 1967 World Olympics were held) to check out the Biosphere. It was something I wanted to see and was on my list so I changed my mind and went with.
We caught a Uber to the Biosphere and I think the lady driver didn’t speak much English so kept relatively quite throughout the drive.
When we arrived, seeing the Biosphere was really a mouth dropping sight to me. The sphere is huge. Making it quite impressive. And with a blue sky background with some clouds floating around made is a beautiful sight to see.
The Biosphere is a museum dedicated to the environment and is opened to the public. Our entrance fee was half the price as some of the halls were closed. So instead of $12 each, we paid $6.
Inside we learnt about whether polluting the air or water was most detrimental to the environment in the ECOLAB exhibit, and walked through the ONE exhibit – “Outfits from a New Era”. This was quite interesting and I took a photo of nearly each outfit.By Mélanie Casavant. Outfits from a New Era: 200 biodegradable and oxo-biodegradable bags, 90 plastic bags. During her university studies, Mélanie chose the name OKZOO (pronounced like the French “au cas où,” meaning “just in case”) to identify her brand, thinking to herself “Okzoo this is our last chance to save the planet.” In 1998, Mélanie moved to Montréal, where she designed her own jewellery line while continuing to paint and pursue graphic design. In 2003, while looking at a pile of plastic bags that had accumulated in her kitchen, she decided to do something positive, lasting and beautiful with this under-explored resource. By chance, she discovered how to compress plastic bags by hot-pressing them. In this eureka moment, she realized the full potential of the technique. Three years later, she launched her line of eco-friendly jewellery made from recycled local raw materials and used the same technique to create paintings in 2008. She dreams of the day when her creations will speak of a bygone era, as plastic bags become a rare commodity. By Geneviève Dumas and Geneviève Flageol. Outfits from a New Era: 2,000 shotgun shells, fabric. By Geneviève Bouchard. Outfits from a New Era: 97 salmon skins, 300 meters of fishing line, 40 mussel shells. By Bagnole. Outfits from a New Era: 40 airbags, 2 headrests, 2 seatbelts, 1 piece of carpet, leather from 2 car seats, 1 tire, 1 baby car seat buckle. By Marie Line. Outfits from a New Era: 6,800 pill bottles By Jeanne Cirume. Outfits from a New Era: 2 TV packages, 1 poutine container, 2 coffee cups, 1 street vacuum bag. Originally from Congo and born in France, Jeanne Cirume has now been living in Montreal for 11 years. Coming from a big family, she learns at an early age to recycle with her pediatrician father. She spends a great deal of her childhood in the small factory of her professional dressmaker mother, with whom she learns how to sew. In 2000 she takes on a job with the City of Montreal as a street sweeper, responsible for the collection of household refuse and recycling. The monstrous quantities of garbage she sees on a daily basis alarm her. She subsequently decides to launch her label “Lobiko” which offers a collection of bags made with recycled African printed fabrics and stuffed with styromousse as well as recycled clothing. Still street sweeper to this date, she’s an eco-activist among her entourage and continues to draw matter and inspiration from waste to carry out original projects. By Roxane Cheibes and Amélie Bruneau Longpré. Outfits from a New Era: 208 locks of hair, 1 hairstyling cape, 1 pair of used boots. By Geneviève Oligny. Outfits from a New Era: 1,796 pages selected from 78 books, milled paper, sheet of wood, linen rope, binders, typewriter parts. By Cul-de-sac. Outfits from a New Era: 36 computer mice, 120 cables, half of a computer keyboard. By Jennifer Bergeron (a.k.a. LeCha). Outfits from a New Era: 1,200 batteries. By Valérie Bédard. Outfits from a New Era: 800 meters of video tape, 800 meters of audio tape, 2,000 slides, 2 seconds of 35 mm film. . By Stéphanie Lévesque. Outfits from a New Era: 54 pieces of asphalt shingles, 8 sheets of plywood, 20 nails. By Maude Lapierre. Outfits from a New Era: 75 cans, 1,114 stainless steel rings.
We caught the train back to the Hotel and rested for a little while before heading out to Chinatown for some dumplings.
Gambit researched on Yelp and found this made-to-order dumpling place that basically only sold dumplings. Price wise it was good. It was about $10 for 15 dumplings. So you really have to like dumplings. We ordered prawn and pork steamed dumplings and pork pan fried dumplings. I didn’t like the pan fried ones. They were quite gross. I got the oily greasy burps afterwards. The restaurant was called Mai Xiang Yuan.
And to finish up our time in Montreal, Gambit wanted to walk through Old Montreal again. So we headed back there and had dessert at Crêperie Chez Suzette.
So, as Bugs says ‘that’s all folks’ as that concludes our Montreal trip. The next day we headed to Gare Centrale and boarded our train back to New York. But you already knew that by reading my Amtrak Adirondack post.
Overall I would recommend a trip to Montreal. It is a really cute little city. I especially like how most people spoke to us first in French and after I let them continue to speak for what I can only think was 3 to 4 sentences would I then explain that I didn’t speak French. But without any attitude or pretentiousness, they would simply say no problem, and repeat everything in English. No dirty looks or eye rolls, unlike the time I went to Paris.
[Frenchie – I really want to take you to Montreal when you come over! x]
My Top 5 – Montreal:
- I personally found the locals to be quite friendly.
- The public transport system is quite straight forward.
- The underground system is a little trickier but if it helps you stay warm, dry or cool, it is worth it.
- I just got to tick Canada off my countries list.
- Croissant. Proper, no kidding around with the butter content, croissants.