Inside the walls of Old Québec, you’ll find much more than a pretty postcard. It may be popular with tourists, but it’s also beloved by locals, with shops and restaurants that have been around for decades and keep the Old City hopping.
Within the Old City walls, a lot of the best shops are on Rue Saint-Jean. You’ll find the latest books by Québec authors at Libraire Pantoute, gorgeous perfumes at Parfumerie Jolicoeur, fine knitwear at Ça va de soi, Dale of Norway’s timeless wool pieces at Jourdain, and decorations for your Christmas tree at Boutique de Noël de Québec—even at the height of summer! If you like hats, you’ll love Bibi & Cie, Chapelier. Up on Côte de la Fabrique, the original La Maison Simons store has been the place to shop since 1840.
Shopping, it is said, whets the appetite. Luckily there’s no shortage of options in Old Québec. For pre‑dinner drinks, try the back patio at Sapristi. It’s like a secret garden! For coffee, grab a newspaper and pull up a chair at Chez Temporel on Rue Couillard. Enjoy a pastry or three while you make new friends at one of the long communal tables at Café‑boulangerie Paillard. Chez Boulay-bistro boréal serves up stunning boreal cuisine, while sister shop Comptoir Boréal has meals and pastries to go and a nice selection of local herbs and spices. With imported beer and jazz music, Pub Saint-Patrick and Pub Saint-Alexandre are essential if you spend an evening out on the town.
Batinse has really typical Québec cuisine, kitschy-cozy décor, and a grass patio. Conti Caffe’s Italian menu has won over the lunch crowd. And for pre‑dinner drinks or a glamorous nightcap, pull up to the circular bar at 1608 – Bar à vin & fromages in the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.
Turn Back Time
After your meal, stop by the Morrin Centre for a look at a true Victorian library. Right next door you’ll find Maison de la littérature, a historic building that underwent a stunning renovation and now houses a collection of Québec literature and literary artefacts. For an evening that’s definitely out of the ordinary, follow a ghostly guide on a nightfall tour of the Musée Royal 22e Régiment at Citadelle de Québec and learn all about military life in 19th century Québec City.
By Annie Lafrance