As passengers travel along the 140 km between Québec City and La Malbaie, they are exposed to rare landscapes marked by incomparable riverside scenery, and countless points of interest to have made the region’s reputation. Come now, you too: All Aboard!
Highlights of the trip
Departure: Chute Montmorency
Between river and cliffs, le Parc de la Chute Montmorency is one of the province’s most spectacular sites. Cascading down 83 metres – surpassing Niagara Falls by 33 metres - its imposing waterfall dominates the landscape. Day or night, the place is simply magical.
Ile d’Orléans is dubbed by many as the isle of savoir-être. Its vocation in tourism is undeniable, and is expressed in the very quality of its inns and B & Bs, local fine dining, specialty food shops, its rich cultural heritage, pastoral scenery and of course, the ever present St. Lawrence River. A mere stone’s throw from the capital city, Ile d’Orléans is considered by some as Québec City’s garden.
Ranked among Canada’s earliest colonial settlements, Saint-Joachim is a picturesque village rocked by the waves of the St. Lawrence River. Here natural sites abound, such as Canyon Sainte-Anne with its 74-metre waterfall, and the hiking trails criss-crossing Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Reserve. A journey through an enchanting - and historical - setting!
At Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Reserve on the St. Lawrence sandbanks, bird lovers are definitely in heaven! To date, no fewer than 320 species of birds have been observed here. Each September, on the occasion of their migratory stopover, nearly 75,000 great snow geese spread their wings from these shores. An enthralling show!
The St. Lawrence River
It was afloat its tides and currents that Jacques Cartier made his incursion onto our continent in 1534. The St. Lawrence River is truly unique in every way. Did you know that at its mouth, expert captains (St. Lawrence Pilots) are mandatorily called in to navigate the estuary? Today still, the St. Lawrence River is an important gateway for the transporation of goods, as well as for cruise ships found basking in its waters in ever greater numbers.
Petite-Rivière-Saint-François is the very cradle of colonial life in the Charlevoix. The village is the first site where early settlers occupied the region in 1675. Tucked away at the base of Le Massif de Charlevoix Ski Area, Petite-Rivière-Saint-François unfurls as a narrow strip of land that hugs the shoreline, on a distance of over 6 km. At low tide, rocks dominate the scenery, creating the illusion of countless whale backs.
Nestled in a valley on the shores of the St. Lawrence, at the mouth of Rivière du Gouffre, Baie-Saint-Paul was selected as the Cultural Capital of Canada in 2008. The town is a veritable haven of tranquillity and a place of inspiration for countless artists and artisans. Here art galleries abound. From year to year, festivals and cultural events proliferate, attracting a clientele that’s avid for culture, and the great outdoors.
So named for its impressive number of hazel trees (coudriers), Isle-aux-Coudres has only been connected to the mainland since 1930. As always, its wind and water mills busily prepare wheat and buckwheat flour. Tours of its artisan ciderhouse and economuseums, or a round-the-island bicycle adventure to admire the countless roadside crosses are but a few fine reasons to ferry across the waters.
Les Éboulements / Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive
Perched amid tall peaks, Les Éboulements’ landscape is unique. It is said that these mountaintops were fashioned by the fall of an asteroid over 350 million years ago. At water’s edge, the village of Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive with its Maritime Museum, clay figurines (santons), artisan paper-making facility and ferry to neighbouring Isle-aux-Coudres stretches out in all its charm, along the riverbanks.
Known in other times as Saint-Irénée Les Bains, visitors once flocked to this coastal village for the benefits of its famous therapeutic mud baths. Located between Les Éboulements and Pointe-au-Pic on the St. Lawrence seashore, surrounded by cliffs, the village has preserved its old-time charm. Saint-Irénée Beach has long been considered by many as one of the Charlevoix’s loveliest sandy beaches.
Stopover: La Malbaie
La Malbaie is considered the cradle of resort vacationing in Canada, with over two hundred years of history to its credit. Whether strolling down Rue du Quai in Pointe-au-Pic or making the slow ascent along Chemin des Falaises, both are a lovely invitation to discover the scenery’s quiet, bucolic charm. Here, anything is possible - from whale-watching cruises to a not-to-be missed tour of the highly acclaimed Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu and its many attractions, including Le Casino de Charlevoix.