Though it's in Canada, much of French-speaking Quebec celebrates French culture -- that distinct sense of joie de vivre and a deep passion for food and wine as art. This includes flaky croissants, fluffy baguettes, and buttery pastries, of course. If you are visiting Old World European-style Quebec City, a 400-plus-year-old walled city, you'll want to sample the best from the most gifted local bakers. Oui, there's a reason Cond? Nast Traveler readers ranked Quebec City in the top 20 World's Best Food Cities. Find out for yourself.
Locals adore no-frills Le Paingr?el in the St-Jean Baptiste neighborhood. Why? For its daily offering of seasonal breads, masterfully crafted by hand using traditional techniques and various organic flours, including rye, spelt, and wheat. Of course they have baguettes too, but you'll want to try hazelnut, fruit, sourdough, and, chocolate loaves as they pop out of the oven. The aromas here are absolutely are intoxicating.
You'll need to try this local institution simply because it took 2010's "best in Quebec City" butter croissant honor -- not easy in light of the stiff competition. Praised by all the major guides, Paillard Caf?-Boulangerie makes its own French-style delectable breads using sea salt and baker's flour blends. In an airy, classic bistro setting with high ceilings and communal tables, the bustling caf? with multiple locations specializes in Parisian-style snacks like jambon-beurre sandwiches, soup, macaron cookies, and those lip-smacking croissants. Don't miss the ice cream, either.
Le Croquembouche Bakery
Something less commercial? Try Le Croquembouche, a busy, spacious bakery and pastry shop named after the French pastry-ball tower dessert. Those with a sweet tooth will be treated to housemade creamy eclairs, various cakes, Danishes (orange-and-anise, pistachio), macarons, truffles, fine chocolates, sorbet, and gelato. There's also fresh-baked bread, airy croissants, pizza, gourmet sandwiches, quiche, soup, and great coffee. Croquembouche arguably has the biggest selection in the city. Sit, eat, and savor it all.
La Boîte à Pain
Make like a local and line up with French-speaking regulars at cute La Bo?te ? Pain for long, slim baguettes called ficelle stuffed with anything from smoked salmon and roasted pork, to goat cheese with Kalamata olives. Croissants are giant -- as are most pastries here -- and the 30 house breads baked daily, including chocolate-chip brioche, are scrumptious. In fact, many of Quebec City's top restaurateurs get their bread here. Try all the other top-notch dishes, too. We recommend sampling soups, salads, quiches, pizzas, calzones, artful desserts, and Caf? au Lait. The name, by the way, means "the bread box" in French.
After you sample Quebec City's most delicious baked goods, do not by any means stop there. There's still the whole dining scene, not to mention the entirety of Montreal to nibble through as well. Quebec is a big province filled with delectable food and wine, farms and cheese. There's much more culinary research to be done -- you've only nipped the tip of the croissant, so to speak.
Read more about what to see and do in this charming destination at the Quebec City Tourism website.