By Amanda Halm
When it comes to Quebec City shopping, Petit Champlain and the Old Port are the beaten paths. Instead, head for the rue Saint-Jean, outside the walls, to prowl for locally made fromage, aged Italian balsamic vinegars and sexy lingerie as well as the truly bizarre: a sitar simulator, an outfit made entirely out of chocolate, a cookie-cutter in the shape of a pig’s head.
Many Quebec first-timers say they feel like they’re in Europe. We can’t blame them with all the open-air cafés and winding pedestrian streets. For true European flavour, head to the Épicerie Eropéenne, owned by an Italian family. Drool over the fancy French cheeses and imported Italian rainbow pastas. It’s a little bit of everything from many countries across the pond. 560 rue Saint-Jean.
Need a gift to take home? Most sane people go wild for the truffles made daily at this museum shop. Peep through the window and see confections being made in real time, or watch a video on chocolate-making. Show up early to satisfy a sweet tooth: locals beat Quebec’s notorious weather by sipping hot chocolate in Érico’s cozy windowside nooks. 634 rue Saint-Jean.
Maison Jean-Alfred Moisan
Step back in time—way back to 1871 at épicerie Maison Jean-Alfred Moisan, the oldest grocery store in North America. An array of rare and local items, fine-food imports, a wide selection of beer, and a cozy coffee counter make it a must-shop. Pick up such “necessities” as wine-infused salt, bison terrine, Quebec cheeses, imported olive oils, zebra-stripe pasta and ice cider. 699 rue Saint-Jean.
Take a Break>> Between hitting the shops, pop into spooky St. Matthew’s Cemetery (755 rue Saint-Jean). Worn, 19th-century tombstones, a church-turned-public library and winding stone pathways create the perfect setting for ghost hunters or history buffs.
Lee Love Boutique Érotique
Lee Love may not be the best place to bring the kiddies—it’s a hair salon and lingerie/sex-toy boutique in one. It is just the place, however, to kick-off a wild girls’ weekend and get all dolled up by the coolest coiffeurs in town. 819 rue Saint-Jean.
Postscript>> When it’s all over, celebrate by sampling local brews at La Ninkasi (811 rue Saint-Jean). Watch the game, browse local art, or see a band in a laid-back environment.