Exploring the Charlevoix Region in Québec, Canada

Farm in Charlevoix

On a recent trip to Québec, we found it would be easy to spend the entire time in Québec City with its beautiful architecture, museums and parks, excellent restaurants, and warm hospitality, but, to really experience the culinary scene of Québec, you must travel the Flavour Trail into the Charlevoix region. Just an hour north of Québec City, Charlevoix is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and this unique agriculturally rich area features what is known as the Flavour Trail.

Charlevoix is the source of some of the finest ingredients produced in Canada. There is also plenty to see and do along the Flavour Trail and beyond, especially when traveling by car, so allow several days to enjoy the sights and scenery and take in the flavors of this spectacular region.  We’re going to take you on a journey through Charlevoix and showcase some of the artisans, things to do, and places to eat and stay along the way. This is the first article in a three-part series of travel through the Charlevoix region of Québec.

Bird watching along the St. Lawrence River

Bird watching along the St. Lawrence River

Charlevoix offers a range of activities that will invite you to return during all four seasons and depending on the season, the highlights of your visit will be different. The Flavor Trail showcases the best of the culinary experience of the region where you can sample the fruits, produce, meats, pâtés, cheeses, wine, jams, jellies, baked goods, ciders, artisan beers, wines, smoked and cured fish, and chocolates, all provided by over forty artisans along the trail. This is an exceptional agritourism experience that is best experienced from April through October.

Map of Charlevoix

* Map of Charlevoix

In the winter months, the mountainous region is transformed into a winter wonderland with opportunities to ski at Le Massif de Charlevoix, go snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or sledding down a 4.6 mile (7.5 km) sled run that winds down Mont Liguori with spectacular scenery at every turn.  From Late November to early December, the charming town of Baie-Saint-Paul is host to its annual European-style Christmas Market where you can find regional artisan specialties.

Storing wood for the winter season when outdoor sports and skiing are very popular

Storing wood for the winter season when outdoor sports and skiing are very popular in the region

When departing from Québec City, travel north along the St. Lawrence River to Petite-Rivière Saint-François where the trail begins and it ends at La Malbaie. To learn more about the artisans of the Flavour Trail, click here http://www.tourisme-charlevoix.com/en/circuits/flavour-trail/

How to Get There

By rail

The rail line along the coast of the St. Lawrence River in Charlevoix

The rail line along the coast of the St. Lawrence River in Charlevoix

For a relaxed view of some of the beautiful scenery, the Le Train Léger de Charlevoix (with a seasonal schedule) leaves Québec City in the morning, with stops along the way, and returns to the city every evening. However, plan to spend a few nights in one of the beautiful hotels on the rail line, such as the Fairmont Le Manoir Richlieu or Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix (formerly Le Ferme) and immerse yourself in the amenities and activities that each of these properties and small towns have to offer.

The impressive Fairmont Le Le Manoir Richlieu overlooking the St. Lawrence River

The impressive Fairmont Le Le Manoir Richlieu overlooking the St. Lawrence River

By car and what to see along the way

For a more active and in-depth experience, rent a car and travel the scenic by-way. You can visit many of the towns, food artisans, and cultural centers throughout Charlevoix and pause along the way to take in the breathtaking views.

We rented a car so we had more flexibility in our schedule and could visit the local producers, arrange to see the highlights, and of course, take advantage of the photo opportunities while traveling north on Highway 138. Just outside Québec City we stopped to enjoy the view of Montmorency Falls. A short drive from the city, Parc de la Chute-Montmorency (Montmorency Falls Park), boasts the largest waterfall in the province of Québec and at 84 meters (275 feet) high and 46 meters (150 feet) wide, these falls are 30 meters (99 feet higher) than Niagara Falls. A spectacular scene viewed from a distance, you can spend ½ day or more hiking up the falls or take the cable car to the top and walk the suspension bridge across the falls to enjoy a picnic lunch and the view from above.

Montmorency Falls

Montmorency Falls

The cable car is one option to reach the top of the falls

The cable car is one option to reach the top of the falls

Twenty minutes outside Québec City, you have the opportunity to visit The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré where many healing miracles have been credited to Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. Almost one million visitors per year enter through the doors to seek healing and pray for those in need. The Basilica is 350 years old and people from around the world come to visit this important religious shrine.

The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré

The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré

Crutches and walkers have been left as a testament to the healing powers of the Basilica

Crutches and walkers have been left as a testament to the healing powers of the Basilica

Also nearby is Canyon Sainte-Anne. The Saint-Anne Falls carved this dramatic canyon through the rocks. You can cross the walk bridges to “feel” the power of the river and the views. For the more adventurous, try the zip lines. Not so adventurous? There are beautiful pathways around the canyon that are easy to navigate.

Canyon Sainte-Anne

** Canyon Sainte-Anne

Here is Part 2 of the series – Charlevoix – The Flavour Trail and Le Domaine Forget and the last article, Where to Stay and Dine in Charlevoix and Part 3 – Where to Stay and Dine in Charlevoix.

* Map of Charlevoix is courtesy of Charlevoix Tourism

** This photo is courtesy of Canyon Sainte-Anne

Disclosure – We want to thank Tourisme Québec, Charlevoix Tourism, and Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix for their assistance during our trip to Charlevoix. We have not been compensated for this article and the opinions expressed regarding our experience are our own.

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