When in Québec City, go to the bakeries (or boulangeries) and eat the pastries! Or, the viennoiseries, if you prefer. We chose the latter, though I was unfamiliar with the word before researching Quebec City’s bakeries.
Thanks to a Google Translate fail, I learned the meaning of viennoiseries. Before the fail, I kept noticing that bakery websites had pastries and pastries. There was a definitive grouping on each site. One pastry section would have the croissants, raisin snails, and turnovers. The other, macarons, eclairs, and tarts. One day, the automatic translate function didn’t work and I noticed the word viennoiserie. When I clicked on the link, I saw croissants and similar items. My curiosity piqued.
Viennoiserie is French for “things from Vienna” and refers to those delicious croissants, danishes, escargot aux raisin (raisin snails), and more. They’re considered the bridge between breads and pastries. Like bread, active yeast and white flour are on their ingredient list. Like pastries, they tend to be richer and sweeter.
We Try The 3 Best Bakeries (Boulangeries) in Québec City #WorthIt
How did we decide which three bakeries to spend our time in? We looked at their star-rating on Google, plus the amount of reviews. Some Québec City bakeries that didn’t make the list had a higher rating than these three, but only a fraction of the reviews. For us, that means they haven’t been tested enough.
For example, while Paillard’s rating was 4.4 (not the highest), it also had the most ratings, 3,500. There are bakeries in Québec City with a 4.9 rating, but not even 5 percent of the reviews.
The bakeries are listed in the order that we visited them. It is too challenging to rank them. However, there was one pastry that so delighted us that we can’t help but declare it the best.
Note: All of our testing was done in blustery, cold, April. The wind was fierce and the temps ranged between freezing and 50-degrees Fahrenheit. The town was still charming and the weather made the warmth of the bakeries and the cappuccinos they served extra cozy. Maybe it was the beauty of the city, but more often than not the wind and the cold felt invigorating and my constant refrain of “oh that wind though!” made us laugh. Romantic places will do that to a person.
Since it was the first bakery we visited, it was the first time I noticed that pastries and viennoiseries are kept apart from one another, just like they are on the websites. The space is cheerful and clean with pops of red against a white backdrop. When we went, it was a Sunday afternoon and it was BUSY.
I ordered a Croissant aux Amandes (Almond Croissant). Chris decided to have the Escargot aux Raisin (Raisin Snail) and Chausson aux Pommes (Apple Turnover). Knowing a bit of French is handy in the bakeries. If I hadn’t known any, we wouldn’t have noticed the Apple Turnover. Pretty much everyone working behind the counter in the bakeries we visited spoke English with ease, or at least more ease than I speak French with.
The crowd at the bakery was in good spirits. A man played the accordion. We sipped our cappuccinos, ate our treats, and enjoyed. I did steal a couple bites of Chris’s Raisin Snail and liked it even better than my Almond Croissant. He didn’t share any of his Apple Turnover.
As soon as I saw the beautiful Croissant aux Fraises (Strawberry Croissant) in the case, I knew I had to try it. Chris, studious, consistent leisure-tester that he is ordered the Escargot aux Raisin again. This time, for his extra sweet he had a Danish topped with lemon curd and berries.
Chris thought the Escargot aux Raisin at Le Croquembouche was as delicious as the one at Paillard. This time, I stole a bite of Chris’s Danish. It was good, but not as amazing as my Strawberry Croissant (in my humble opinion).
We made it to Le Croquembouche around lunchtime on a Saturday. Again, not as early in the day as we prefer when it comes to visiting a bakery, but we coordinated stopping at this bakery with catching a train to Montréal. The warm-toned woods of its furnishings and mossy green walls provide a cozy, relaxing atmosphere. It was busy, but not crowded.
We timed our trip to La Boîte á Pain just right, arriving a little before 9 a.m. We ordered cappuccinos, Escargot aux Raisin, a Butter Croissant, and a Dulce de Leche CRUFFIN! Have you heard of a Cruffin before? It is happiness, joie de vie, and everything I’ve always wanted a treat to be. Really. It was that good. It’s also a croissant in the shape of a muffin that’s made using brioche dough.
The Butter Croissant and Escargot aux Raisin were great, but we were blown away by the Cruffin. If you have to choose just one pastry during your time in Québec City (or maybe anywhere), we recommend the Cruffin.
To get a closer look at what Québec City and the above-mentioned bakeries are like, check out our Are These the 3 Best Bakeries in Québec City video.