The Charlevoix region has a dramatic landscape containing rolling terrain – with great lookouts into the Saint Lawrence River I may add – fjords, headlands and bays that will captivate even the most seasoned of tourists. Whether you visit national wildlife areas such as Cap Tourmente, important art and cultural centres such as Baie-Saint-Paul or music festivals in Le Domaine Forget, you will quickly fall in love with the region and never want to leave. Just remembering all this makes me want to hop into the car for a long drive.
|With my old pal, Jacques|
I especially enjoyed Île-aux-Coudres, a small island named by Jacques Cartier during his adventures through the Saint Lawrence River in the 1500s. The name for this off the beaten track destination originates from archaic French meaning hazel tree (coudriers). They must have had some fabulous homemade Nutella back in the day. The only way to tour the island is by hopping aboard the local ferry service. Bring your bike if you are an avid cyclist. The typical ferry route runs from the town of Saint-Bernard-sur-Mer and docks on the shore of Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive.
This once-isolated community survived primarily on fishing porpoise and by building boats. Taming the seas was much more important back then as commercial airliners had really bad service in flight – sorry for the bad joke, I just had to do it. There aren’t too many commuters these days that get to work by boat or Jet Ski. Tourism is now their main bread and butter and like I have shared several times, they really know how to take care of you in Quebec. There are several historic sites to visit such as old mills and farms, pleasant country style hotels to spend a romantic holiday and plenty of local crafts to bring back for your dearest friends and family.
The Ile-aux-Coudres is also well known for its apple products, something I was not aware of at the time. If you are a knowledgeable individual in this department, able to tell the difference between a Fuji and a Gala apple, power to you my friend. For me it’s Granny Smith or bust. The real nectar of the gods in my mind is apple cider. There certainly is nothing like a warm cup of apple cider on a cold winter evening, am I right? Just make sure when you pick it up and take a swing, it’s not actually a 4 liter jug of apple vinegar – been there, done that… and lived to regret it. Read labels people! If you don’t, it’s usually vinegar.
|Maman and Dad in front of an old mill|
Now, what can I recommend? I suggest you drive around or cycle throughout the island at your leisure and do plenty of window-shopping. You can easily spend a half-day just wandering around even enjoying a good meal while you are there. In regards to the cidreries (cider houses rule, don’t they), I can certainly recommend the Verder Pedneault, located at 3384 Chemin des Coudriers. Two thumbs up, and throw in a toe while you are at it. The sales people were friendly, helpful and willing to share some secrets on recipes and pairings.