Our first introduction to Marche du Vieux-Port was cruel. We’d just arrived in Quebec City from Mont Tremblant, and struck up a conversation with a gentleman staying at our hotel. (Affiliate: Check out our hotel here.)
“You must not miss that market across the street,” the man said in his musical French accent. “They have the best blue cheese I’ve had in my life.” He went on for about ten minutes about this life-changing blue cheese.
So, why was this mean? Well, I was secretly two months pregnant at this time, and knew that many blue cheese varieties are off limits to preggos since they’re unpasteurized!
I vowed to never set foot in that stupid market that would serve only to tempt me. How glad I was that I broke that vow during our visit… three times, in fact!
The impetus for our first foray into the Marche du Vieux-Port came from our hungry toddler. It was the afternoon following our encounter with Blue Cheese Man, and Devi was ravenous, yet none of us had the energy to attempt sitting down at an actual restaurant.
“Maybe,” mused my husband Colin, “we should just go to the market across the street that guy was salivating about and pick up some munchies for Devi before he eats us whole.” I grudgingly agreed, on the condition that I would get a (non blue cheese) snack, myself.
The market took my breath away. Flowers! Fruits! Jams! Syrups! Pastries! I scampered about like a reindeer on leave from Santa, inhaling the aromas of strawberries and basil and agonizing over which treat to buy.
Meanwhile, Devi was busy trying to knock over a glass display of infused oils. I graciously let Colin wrangle the little guy, since I’m a famous travel photographer and had to focus on eating cookies — er, my craft.
We ended up buying a vat of fresh strawberries which had just been harvested from a nearby farming island. Heavens! Having those strawberries in my mouth was like a troupe of angels in red sequined dresses doing the cha-cha on my taste buds.
SO DELICIOUS! Devi devoured a dozen tender crimson orbs and became drenched in red juice and happiness. Our first trip to the Marche du Vieux-Port was a rousing success.
This first tale illustrates why no visitor to Quebec City should miss the Marche du Vieux-Port: Not only is the food local and scrumptiously fresh, but it’s also extremely affordable since the market is used more by locals than tourists. Plus, it’s a feast for the eyes, too!
We ended up in the market the next day, too, because I (or perhaps my fetus) craved cheese. I trudged up to the artisanal cheese stand the man had raved about, bracing for a non-pasteurized slap in the face and a fast about-face.
To my absolute joy, the ladies behind the counter had tons of pasteurized options, including a fresh brie whose creator was there that day handing out her handiwork, herself! I purchased that, and a fresh baguette for less money than a fancy Boston coffee.
Just like that, our lunch was born: Cheese and French bread. Quebec City’s slogan is, “So Europe, So Close!” for a reason, my friends. We felt positively Parisian, eating our simple feast while lounging on the back patio of the market, watching St. Lawrence river roll by!
Our final visit to the market was one I recommend you replicate if you have small children and an upcoming long car ride departing from Quebec City. Colin came up with the bright idea that he would do all the packing for the final departure from Quebec City while I ran laps with Devi around the market like an Arabian stallion (er, teetering baby pony).
The logic was that our little man would thusly tire himself out enough to make the eight hour drive back to Boston a breeze. My challenge, and I chose to accept it, was to simultaneously buy us road snacks and take blog photos whilst keeping Devi from sticking his face into the open vats of strawberries and ripping off flower faces.
Miraculously, we achieved all tasks! What’s ideal about the market is it has all styles of food to go, including a delicious quinoa and vegetable salad, plus sandwiches which I bought for the road.
I’ll stop typing for a moment now to let you just take in the next few photos which document more luscious sights you will encounter on a stroll through the Marche du Vieux-Port.
Once he finished packing our suitcases and loading the car (a task made far easier without a toddler in the room to pull all the clothes out of the suitcases), Colin tracked us down in the market.
We spent our last half hour in lovely Quebec City savoring a fresh strawberry and maple syrup crepe from one of the many crepe kiosks in the market. We sure left the city with a good taste in our mouths!
In short, you should put Marche du Vieux-Port on a par with le Chateau Frontenac for must-see Quebec City attractions. All it will take is a mouthful of those fresh, local strawberries, and you’ll know what I mean!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!