Handmade & Heartwarming Gifts – A Quebec City Holiday Shopping Guide

Handmade & Heartwarming Gifts – A Quebec City Holiday Shopping Guide

Article and photos by Sarah Williams

Around this time of year, what aspect or aspects of living in Quebec City help to get you in the mood for the holidays?  Perhaps it’s the decorations or the holiday music (which, like most places in North America, start making an appearance in late October).

Maybe it is the annual Toy Parade, which rolls through the streets of the lower town in mid-November?  Every year, a contingent of white cube vans leads the way, flanked by volunteers, collecting the lightly used (and new) toys that the spectators bring along to donate.  These toys are given a second life by the non-profit organization, Reno-Jouet.  Tucked away inconspicuously in the back of a brown brick building, in an industrial park, Reno-Jouet has a twofold mission.  Not only are they helping to make the earth a little greener by revitalizing unwanted toys and putting them back into circulation, they also offer said toys at extremely reasonable prices, helping low income households to have a happy Christmas. 

Some folks shun everything remotely holiday related until a significant date, of their designation, has passed, in an effort to avoid getting overly saturated too soon. For example, they may make it a rule not to put up any decorations or play holiday music until after the first of December, or at least until there is a layer of snow on the ground.  However, even the heart of the most hardened Grinch is guaranteed to grow three sizes at Noël d’Antan, the annual outdoor Christmas market held in the village of Cap Santé(around 40 minutes west of Québec).  There, you are transported back to Christmas past with local artisans selling their wares out of rustic huts, musicians playing traditional “Québecois” music, a wrought iron stove with a roaring fire for warming your hands and toes, and yummy homemade food and treats (the warm, fresh doughnuts and hot spiced wine are personal favourites). This event is the perfect way to ease yourself into the holiday spirit.

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be a chore, slugging through the crowds at big box stores and malls; Noël d’Antan is proof that it can actually be quite enjoyable. There are other markets right here in the city where you can find a similar experience.  Here is a list of some upcoming or ongoing events:

The German Christmas Market – November 30th to December 9th, 2012

Ideally located in the scenic  Place de l’hôtel de Ville, right in the heart of the upper town of Vieux Québec, shoppers can take advantage of the opportunity to view the magic of the old town decorated for the holidays, while purchasing handmade gifts for their loved-ones. This traditional outdoor German market has all the gastronomic essentials, including mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, bratwurst, and Christmas cookies.

Le Salon des Artisans de Québec – 6th to the 16th of December, 2012

This is the place to go for the greatest variety of handcrafted gift options.  There are around 250 artisans gathered under one roof (at the Centre de Foires, Expo-Cité), including 50 purveyors of locally-made food products, for your perusal.  Another great feature– entrance to the salon is free!

Marché de Noël Signature du Vieux-Port – November 22nd to December 31st, 2012

The Old Port Market is actually open year-round nowadays, but there is a considerable holiday focus during the weeks leading up to, and immediately after, Christmas.  The stalls, around 70 or so, are full during this time of year, displaying food and handicrafts from local artisans.  Île d’Orleans is usually well represented. 

Salon Nouveau Genre 8 – December 8th – 9th, 2012

For two days only, the basement of the Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, in the hip neighbourhood of St-Jean-Baptiste, will feature a wide array of extremely creative folk, hocking their wares.  This is the place to find a unique gift for that friend or family-member who already has everything.  There is artwork, ceramics, jewelry, furniture, clothing and other accessories; you’ll be amazed with the calibre of the young talent on display.


About the author:

Sarah Williams is a mother of three young children, and a freelance writer.

Sarah had her first experience living in Quebec while earning her bachelor’s degree in Communications at Concordia University (MTL) in the late nineties.

Hailing from Cobourg, Ontario, Sarah moved to Quebec City in January of the year 2000. For her, this city is the perfect balance of the small town feel of her hometown in Ontario and the vibrant francophone culture of Montreal.

Professionally, Sarah has worked a fair bit in the media as a copywriter and researcher; for Global Television, and for a T.V. cooking show (what’s cooking).

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