Much has happened on this mythical Baie-Saint-Paul street where stopping is a must. In town, it’s also called la main or main street. Every year, thousands of visitors come here to chat – the local expression in French is chouenner – meaning to stroll, shop, have a drink on a patio, sink your teeth into terroir goodies or simply see and be seen. In fact, any reason is good to head over to rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste to soak up the local culture.
This artery is narrow yet not very long. Its livelier portion spans less than two kilometres, between Baie-Saint-Paul Church and Rivière du Bras Bridge. The perfect little fitness trot, no? Recently, sidewalks have been added with pretty flowered rest areas. And keeping up with the times, those overhead electrical wires are now gone ‒ buried underground. It’s far nicer in photos that showcase its architecture, indicating the town wasn’t built yesterday. It was on this street as well that Cirque du Soleil performers led by Guy Laliberté and Gilles Sainte-Croix held their first summer fairs in the early 80s.
You’ll also enjoy sitting down in one of the quaint cafés and renowned restaurants, and shopping terroir products or a gift for Gail. Drop into the local artisan soap shop, the regional microbrewery, the candy shoppe or the ice cream parlor. It’s also a major hub for art lovers. According to some, rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste has the highest concentration of art galleries per square foot on one single street, in all of Canada. You can either window shop or pop in and out of galleries to admire their vast palette of local and international artists. This is where gallery owners share their passion with curious travellers, without fuss or fanfare. Sometimes this street is also invaded by painters, here to immortalize on canvas the most inspiring of Charlevoix street scenes.