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Pamela MacNaughtan

It’s the beginning of January and the air in Québec City is so crisp I feel like I’m a popsicle that has been in the freezer for too long and I’m covered in ice crystals. In Ontario, I hide inside when the temperature drops, in Québec City I bundle up and gingerly walk through the streets, careful to avoid patches of ice as I gaze at the beauty of the old city covered in shimmering white snow.

The city is breathtaking in winter, but I prefer to sit inside a café or by a fire in a beautiful hotel than brave the blasts of arctic air which is whipping around the buildings of Québec City, stealing my breath and gripping my heart with its icy cold hands.

Settling into a cozy chair in an alcove at Bar Artefact, I peel off my winter jacket and bask in the warmth of the fire. This is, in my opinion, one of the best places to be on a chilly winter day.

Located inside Auberge Saint-Antoine, a family run boutique hotel in Québec City’s Vieux-Port neighbourhood, Bar Artefact features a long white marble bar that gives the space a Great Gatsby-esque vibe –brass accents and a colour palette of burnt orange, cream and steal blue warm things up. A space ideal for getting cozy, having intimate drinks or meeting fellow travellers and locals.

I’m not here for intimate drinks, or for the lovely oyster bar, I’m here for rich velvety chocolat chaud (hot chocolate). A treat I often refer to as ‘sex in a cup’ and look forward to each winter.

Tied with Érico’s for the best chocolat chaud in Québec City, the recipe at Bar Artefact is a delightful mixture of chocolate, cream and spices and reminds me of the hot chocolate I drank in Mexico City. Rich, velvety and deliciously filling, the house chocolat chaud (they also have a blend which is chocolate and cream, no spices) is accompanied by warm chocolate chip cookies. An added level of sweetness that my body definitely does not need, but welcomes anyway!

There are times when I need to cut the sweetness, and on those visits, I opt to order a cheese plate along with my chocolat chaud – which has garnered a few curious looks by the staff. Is hot chocolate and cheese not a thing? It should be! Savoury local cheeses cut the richness of the chocolat chaud perfectly.

Mind you, it will do absolutely nothing for your waistline.

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If you’re planning a visit to Québec City, I highly recommend either staying with Auberge Saint-Antoine or spending some time relaxing at Bar Artefact (or even having a delicious meal at their restaurant, Chez Muffy). The staff is incredibly friendly and the atmosphere is always warm and welcoming. Believe it or not, I wasn’t paid to say any of these things! I’ve been coming to Auberge Saint-Antoine since 2013, it is truly one of my favourite hotels (and families) in Québec City.

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