For a dazzling shopping experience courtesy of our neighbors to the north, we highly recommend a visit to Québec City, not far from the Maine-Canada border. Yes, the city has a lot more to it than bazaars, markets, and malls, but that’s part of why we like it – shopping in Québec City means folding in centuries of history and culture while you scope out the latest in haute couture. So without further ado, we bring you our top 5 picks for Québec City shopping.
Our first destination when shopping in Québec City is always the Petit Champlain District. Part of the old city – founded some 400 years ago – this district is a treat to explore, given its worn stone buildings, cobbled pedestrian walkways, and entirely European vibe. Start your adventure with a coffee sipped on the Place Royale, then head to Petit Champlain Street where you’ll find notable vendeurs such as L’OCCITANE, Atelier La Pomme (where local artisans showcase leather and other handiwork), Charlevoix Pure Laine (featuring socks, hats, and more made of sheep’s wool), Pot en Ciel (for all of your kitchen needs), and the quirky-fun Confiserie Casse Cou (the only place where you’ll find replicas in miniature of more than 300 types of cars).
Working up an appetite? No worries; crêperies, bistros, pubs, and more dot the Petit Champlain District, ensuring you never go hungry. Our favorite casual stop for lunch is the Q de Sac Resto-Pub where you absolutely must get the White Pizza – a heavenly blend of olive oil, Parmesan, mushrooms, and countless delicious cheeses on a chewy crust that we just haven’t been able to find elsewhere.
2: Rue Saint-Jean
Part of the charm of Québec City is its city-within-a-city character; the old ville, still partly surrounded by ramparts, boasts an Old World, Parisian feel while the new city bustles with modern energy. To experience both – while getting your retail fix, of course – amble down Rue Saint-Jean. This stretch is littered with delectable restaurants but also sports some cute, inviting boutiques.
For example, inside the old city sits Souris Mini, a child’s clothing store that is just about the cutest thing you can imagine (the animal-patterned bags are adorable). The distinctly American Crocs is also along the route, as is Schonau & Tardif Luthiers (a musical instrument store sporting some previous-century gems), Le coureur nordique (a store with goodies for runners), and the Duchess d’Aiguillon (a beer haunt with delectable monkish brews).
As you shop, though, be sure to relish the setting – if you head east on Rue Saint-Jean into the old city, you’ll be able to pass through the city’s mammoth gate and experience what aristocrats, kings, and noblemen experienced centuries ago. To add to your appreciation of this historic moment, consider stopping by some of the old city museums; there are several inside the gates, as well as crisply manicured parks, government buildings, and the imposing Notre Dame de Québec.
Ready for something more food-focused while shopping in Québec City? The Grande Marché, north of the St. Charles River, is where to head. With over 100 purveyors and artisans onsite, you certainly won’t get bored (or hungry). Indeed, you can find artisan bakers, butchers, florists, chocolatiers, farmers, cheesemakers, and dozens of other vendors here – many of whom are ready and willing to give you samples before you buy. We won’t highlight any of our favorites here because, to be honest, we loved everything we tried. We just recommend browsing a healthy cross-section of the products on offer before you leave.
Also, keep in mind that Le Grand Marche hosts a slew of demos, tastings, live entertainment, and educational activities for all ages. Check their website for what’s upcoming – you may want to time your visit so you can participate.
More of a mall connoisseur? Don’t worry, Québec City has you covered with the Galerie de la Capitale – a bustling shopping destination with a keen focus on fashion (although other shops are certainly well-represented). You can browse about 280 stores here, including French Canadian-only brands. Grab your hair care products at Jacques Despars before nabbing some knee-high boots at ECCO and a fun Québec City puzzle at Griffon. Or just window shop as you try to pick up some French from passing conversations.
Oh, and here’s a unique angle: Les Galeries de la Capitale also boasts a “Mega Park” with 18 rides. Yep, a mall with an amusement park. You can find your standard bumper cars and arcade games, but there are a host of head-tapping oddities in attendance, too. In fact, the most thrilling attractions are those you likely have never seen before. The G Force ride comes to mind – but that might be best left to adults.
5: Avenue Cartier
Back on terra firma, head to the Plains of Abraham park north of the river. There you’ll find the beginnings of the bubbly Avenue Cartier. Part sexy, part hipster, part avant-garde, this six-block stretch boasts a cozy collection of eclectic shops, restaurants, and general French Canadian oddities. Les Halles Cartier, a shopping mall, is probably the best place to start – it’s not big, but has some jewelers, health specialists, and food stores perfect for a quick browse. If you need a few things to make for dinner, this is probably your best place on the street to get them.
Further up the avenue is Les Confiseries Pinoche, a confectioner with literal walls of candy. Sweet tooths should head here (or stay away, depending on your self-control). After your sugar fix, head north/northwest and you’ll find everything from a pet shop to a tobacconist, flanked by art shops, bistros, florists, and home goods stores. Given this eclectic mix, we were able to find everything on our six-month shopping list within a few blocks. It’s a shame we didn’t have enough room in our luggage to bring it all home.
We just touched on a few of the best places for shopping in Québec City. For more, check out the city’s tourism website.