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A Moveable Feast Across Quebec City During Its Summer Music Festival

Quebec City’s storied music festival, the Festival d’Été, kicked off this morning with over a million concert goers attending hundreds of performances spread out across dozens of venues over 11 days. It’s the 50th year of the festival, so it’s going to be a biggie. Among the artists on the massive bill are Muse, The Who, Metallica, P!nk, Gorillaz, Kendrick Lamar, The Backstreet Boys, Lady Antebellum, Flume, Melissa Etheridge and Migos.

We had the pleasure of taking it in last year. Not only was it one of the most amazing concert experiences of our lives with one day surreally blending into the next (helped along by outdoor performances by Duran Duran, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bryan Ferry, Peter Gabriel, and so on) but it also gave us an opportunity to really sink our teeth into the food scene. We wanted to eat at restaurants that were really emblematic of the city’s current gastronomic identity, and I don’t think we were led astray.

A selection of awesomeness from Pied Bleu
A selection of awesomeness from Pied Bleu | Photo: Michelle Sproule

The best of the many restaurants we dug into – all of them recommended by some of our colleagues in media and the food and beverage industry – was Le Bouchon du Pied Bleu – which began as a celebrated charcuterie shop and expanded next door to include a Lyon-inspired restaurant. It had a real farm-to-table feel to it, its unassuming interior of checkered table cloths and mismatched plates the perfect set up for the food, which really felt true to place (see image gallery below). To contextualize it for Vancouverites, think of it as a fantastic hybrid of Oyama and the newly opened St. Lawrence in Railtown. It’s that good.

Also representative were L’Affaire est Ketchup – a tiny, vernacular home cooking boite with just eight tables; Patente et Machin – an equally unpretentious (and just as enjoyable) eatery a few blocks away; and Kraken Cru – a diminutive but lively (bordering on the chaotic) oyster and raw bar that felt a lot like a Quebecois spin on a Vancouver concept at first but was entirely its own very good time. (It wasn’t until later that we learned all three were owned by the same people.)

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Tiny, impactful finds at the Farmer’s Market | Photo: Michelle Sproule

With long festival-going days leading into long, festival-going nights, coffee played a big role in our explorations. We kept returning to two spots, Cantook on the Rue Saint-Jean drag, and Saint-Henri, an expansive and slick open concept cafe in the Saint-Roch neighbourhood that also dealt in artisanal Sumo doughnuts on the side (much like 49th Parallel does with Lucky’s Doughnuts).

If you have the good fortune of being in Quebec City for Festival d’Été right now or at any time in the near future, these recommendations will hold you in genuine, first-rate stead. You’re going to have an amazing time, and we wish were along for the ride!

  • Beinvenue
  • Graffiti detail | Festival d'été de Québec
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  • Street detail | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Street detail | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Street detail | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Cantook Coffee | Quebec
  • Cantook Coffee | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Street detail | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Line-up at off site venue for Festival d'été de Québec
  • Wandering Old Quebec City during Festival d'été de Québec
  • Street detail | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Sumo Donuts at Saint-Henri Micro-Torréfacteur | Festival d'été de Québec
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  • Saint-Henri Micro-torréfacteur | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Street detail | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Exploring Quebec City during Festival d'été de Québec
  • L'Affaire est Ketchup | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Freshness at L'Affaire est Ketchup | Festival d'été de Québec
  • A refreshing glass of chardonnay at L'Affaire est Ketchup | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Starchy side of awesomeness at L'Affaire est Ketchup | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Festival d'été de Québec
  • Checking out Quebec City during Festival d'été de Québec
  • Pied Bleu | Eating in Québec City during  Festival d'été
  • Retail distraction | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Festivities everywhere
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  • Quebec City Staircase | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Patente et Machin | Dining around during Festival d'été de Québec
  • Patente et Machin | Dining around during Festival d'été de Québec
  • Festival d'été de Québec
  • Starting early | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Crowd | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Waiting for Bryan Ferry | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Bryan Ferry takes the main stage on the Plains of Abraham
  • Duran Duran
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  • Duran Duran
  • Crowd detail | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Screen reflection | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Night Crowds at Festival d'été de Québec
  • Quebec
  • Kraken Cru, exterior | Festival d'été de Québec
  • City detail | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Farmers Market | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Farmer's Market finds | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Checking out corners of the city during Festival d'été de Québec
  • Wandering | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Le Pied Bleu | Quebec City
  • Digging into a little saucisson en croute at La Bouchon du Pied Bleu | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Window table at La Bouchon du Pied Bleu | Quebec City
  • Crowds start to gather on the Plains of Abraham | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Picking a good spot | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Feeling it | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers | Festival d'été de Québec
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  • Flea getting into it | Red Hot Chili Peppers | Festival d'été de Québec
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  • Night at Plains Of Abraham | Festival d'été de Québec
  • Societe Cigare Bar | Festival d'été de Québec

photos: Michelle Sproule

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