Featuring world-class food, culture and scenery, this hidden gem is ready to welcome you.
In a province with no shortage of natural beauty, Charlevoix might be Quebec’s best-kept secret. About an hour’s drive east of Quebec City, the region is situated at the mouth of the mighty St. Lawrence River and is defined by its dramatic landscape of rolling hills and breathtaking vistas in almost every direction.
The region owes its unique topography to a meteorite that landed there 400 million years ago, creating what’s known as the Charlevoix Crater, much of which is now designated as a UNESCO-designated World Biosphere Reserve. These days, thanks to vibrant agro-tourism, unique local culture, gorgeous scenery and the upcoming opening of North America’s first Club Med resort, Charlevoix is one of the most exciting vacation destinations in Canada.
Whether travelling via the Mountain Road or the St. Lawrence Route — two of the most scenic drives in the country — visitors in autumn will be treated to a magnificent show of changing leaves set against the region’s charming villages and coastlines. With a broad selection of inns, cabin rentals, hotels and B&Bs to choose from spanning all tastes and budgets, the many treasures of Charlevoix are all within easy reach.
Charlevoix isn’t just a region, it’s also a terroir. With such a bounty of local produce and products, including cheeses, craft beers, artisanal spirits and organic meats, the Table Agro-Touristique de Charlevoix has its own seal of certification (as with many regions in Europe), designating both geography and quality. You won’t have to look hard to find it, either. Dedicated foodies can follow the Charlevoix Flavour trail – a network of local chefs and producers that threads through the region – all of whom subscribe to the philosophy of simple, terroir-driven food. There’s simply no better way to discover the taste of this unique region.
At this junction of the St. Lawrence River, the waters of the Great Lakes, the Saguenay basin and the Atlantic Ocean meet, creating an ideal habitat for vast numbers of marine species — some 13 species of whale among them. River cruises and Zodiac tours offer up-close views of these spectacular creatures, while observation points all along the shore (particularly in Saguenay-Saint-Lawrence Marine Park – the only national marine conservation area in eastern Canada) offer vantage points to observe them from land. Be sure to plan a stop at the Pointe-Noire Interpretation and Observation Centre, where you can learn about beluga whales, minke whales, seals and seabirds, as well as observe them in the wild.
As the birthplace of the world-famous Cirque du Soleil, Charlevoix boasts a thriving arts scene led by a wide variety of local artists and artisans. Start an art tour at the always-surprising Musée d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul, one of the few contemporary art museums located outside a major city centre in Canada (and one of many galleries in Baie-Saint-Paul), or stroll through the sculpture garden at the Domaine Forget de Charlevoix. Then hit the road to explore dozens of smaller galleries and workshops that make up the Charlevoix Art Trade Route, including six innovative “economuseums” where artisans share their unique savoir-faire with visitors.
Golf and Outdoor Sports
A good game of golf is as much about the setting as it is about the course, and this is where Charlevoix excels. The region’s three world-class courses each offer their own majestic views, from mountain ranges on one side to the St Lawrence on the other. And if you’re looking for something a little higher-octane than a round of golf, there are cliffs to climb, winding roads to cycle, and trails to explore by quad bike.
With more than 550 kilometres of hiking trails throughout the region, from mountain summits to riverside strolls, there are countless ways to soak up the natural beauty of Charlevoix – particularly when the autumn foliage is at its most dramatic. And the region’s unique position between mountains and ocean doesn’t just provide unforgettable views: The diversity of the landscape also means you can hike, sea kayak, mountain bike or get in touch with your creative side and do some plein air painting. With so much to see and do, Charlevoix is bound to leave you eager to come back for more.
Start planning your trip today at tourisme-charlevoix.com/en/.
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Tourism Charlevoix. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.