From sustainably sourced sea urchin to nationally renowned cranberries, the province is rich in one-of-a-kind offerings
Looking to fill your senses with awe? It’s the perfect time to visit Québec. Home to award-winning food and drink, beautiful countryside to explore and artisans who have honed their craft for decades, Québec is the ideal vacation spot to spend the vibrant summer and colourful fall months.
Journey to La Belle Province to enjoy authentic delicacies, including creative poutines, award-winning liqueurs and locally-sourced seafood. Meet the families who have owned and operated artisanal businesses for decades and learn about their sustainable practices. And venture beyond the beaten path as you meander through seaside towns and peaceful hillsides rich with the province’s history. There’s something perfect for a solo adventure, couples’ getaway or family trip. Plan the vacation you’ve been waiting for and get ready to fall in love with Québec.
The region halfway between Montréal and Québec City, south of the St. Lawrence River, is home to award-winning farms and the foods Québec is known best for: namely, poutine. Roam between rich, hardwood forests and vast, open agricultural land, teeming with opportunities to sample goods grown meticulously by passionate farmers.
1. La Miellerie King has all things honey
Miellerie King_/ Les Maximes
Get a taste of 100-per-cent locally-made spirits at La Miellerie King, a distillery and honey farm in the picturesque countryside of Centre-du-Québec. Try meads, spirits and liqueurs crafted from pure, unpasteurized honeys – like the cold brew coffee honey liqueur or the rosé honey wine. La Miellerie King also offers delicious honey-based eats to take home, including honey caramel, honey wine vinegar and honey barbeque sauce. Each product is made with honey from the distillery’s hives and flavoured with aromatics often gathered in the local area. Take a free, guided tour during your visit to learn more about La Miellerie King’s distilling process, from bee to bottle.
2. Sample local sweets, cheeses and more at Balade Gourmande
La Balade gourmande / Tourisme Victoriaville
Visit the largest outdoor market in Québec and try the bursting assortment of flavours the province has to offer at Balade Gourmande. For more than 20 years, the first two weekends of October have brought together passionate artisans, food producers, and restaurateurs amid the autumn colors and beautiful landscape. Six market circuits take visitors on a journey through exhibits hosted by more than 100 vendors, who come from throughout the region with locally-cultivated vegetables, apples, cranberries, fresh pastas, meat, chocolates and more. Don’t miss out on free samples as you peruse the exhibitors, including cheese makers, wineries, coffee shops and smokehouses. With plenty of options for cozy accommodations nearby, a visit to the Balade Gourmande makes for the perfect fall getaway.
3. Take a dive into the birthplace of poutine
Festival de la poutine de Drummondville
Come see the place where poutine was born during a visit to Centre-du-Québec. From its unpretentious beginnings as a simple snack of fries, cheese curds and gravy, poutine has since grown to a nationwide phenomenon, appearing on the menus of famous Canadian restaurants and snack shops around the country with a variety of toppings and additions. But, at its roots, poutine is a comfort snack, to be enjoyed by all. Explore the unique poutines available at restaurants throughout the region, from a Cajun-inspired poutine with shrimp and pepperoni at L'Établi Brasserie Urbaine in Drummondville to poutine topped with pulled pork at Fromagerie Lemaire in Saint-Germain-de-Grantham. If you’re looking for an authentic poutine experience, there is no better place to find it than in Centre-du-Québec.
4. Learn about the renowned Québec cranberry at Canneberge en fête
Ever wondered about how Québec cranberries make it into baked goods and snacks across the country? Learn everything you ever wanted to know about the annual cranberry harvest at the Centre d'interprétation de la canneberge's cranberry festival, a yearly celebration during the first two weeks of October. Take a wagon ride through a cranberry farm and explore vast cranberry fields, which are typically flooded throughout the harvesting process to create what’s called a bog. Along the way, a guide will teach you about how this small red fruit is grown throughout the region – afterwards, stop by the food truck to try a slate of dishes made with cranberries, like juice, vinaigrette, jams and terrines, or hit the store to pick up some cranberry goodies. With tour options available for groups, families, and individuals, the festival has something for everyone – just be sure to book your tickets in advance.
In the maritime regions of Québec, in the eastern part of the province along the St. Lawrence River, a vast range of culinary delights have flourished. Cuisine here is unlike anywhere else, set apart from the rest of the province by the flavors of the sea. A trip to this part of the country will welcome a handful of unique eating experiences: Try urchin, shellfish, seaweed, lobster, fresh or smoked fish, snow crab and spirits amid awe-inspiring coastline views. Here, local producers are happy to share the secrets of their one-of-a-kind crafts: So, come prepared to indulge.
1. Spiny treats off the coast of Côte-Nord
Mathieu Dupuis/Le Québec maritime
Québec’s Côte-Nord is the perfect place to try green sea urchins, the delicacy known locally as the “foie gras of the sea.” These small, spiny sea urchins proliferate in the waters of the St. Lawrence River, leaving beautiful, smooth shells along the shore. From the months of March to May and October to December, divers carefully hand pick sea urchin shells and deliver them to local chefs and food artisans. Find green urchins cooked, adding a light, floral flavour to any dish. Or try one raw to experience their sweet and briny natural flavour. This emerging local delicacy is harvested sustainably throughout the region to ensure that the species and seabed remain healthy.
2. Sample riverside spirits in Bas-Saint-Laurent
Distillerie du Saint-Laurent / Tourisme Bas-Saint-Laurent
Find exquisitely handcrafted spirits near the shores of the St. Lawrence River at the Distillerie du St. Laurent. This Bas-Saint-Laurent distillery is world-famous for its gin made with creative infusions. Grab a bottle of the distillery’s award-winning St. Laurent Gin infused with the salty taste of hand-harvested seaweed or sample the refreshing Gin Citrus made with notes of juniper and mint. A variety of other alcohols are available – including acerum, a spirit made with maple syrup. Stop by the new location by the sea in Pointe-au-Père.
3. Experiment with Gaspésie’s renowned seaweed
Daphné Caron/Un Océan de saveurs
Seaweed, a superfood, is abundant in the easternmost part of the province, on a peninsula where the St. Lawrence River feeds into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This nutrient-rich delight is embedded in Gaspésie’s creative food scene. Using locally-grown sugar kelp, wakame, nori, and sea lettuce, expert chefs and food artisans across the region add unique flavours to soups, sauces, fish and seafood dishes. Try out the “Bacon de Mer'' from local boutique Un Océan de Saveurs, where weeds are hand-picked by divers, or find seaweed creations to try at home, like Seabiosis’s seaweed pesto. Local food distributor Salaweg (which translates to “it’s salty” in the language of the Mi’gmaq people) markets several other seaweed products, like sea relish and a tartar mix made with seaweed. Here, profits are reinvested to support several First Nations communities. And if you’re not sure how to cook with seaweed products, don’t worry – Salaweg has a range of recipes to try!
4. Sample seal off the Îles de la Madeleine
JF Cyr/Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine
Through regulated and responsible hunting practices, this traditional meat is available in local restaurants for all to try. With a rich flavour that melts in the mouth, it’s the perfect meat to taste during your visit. Local butchers expertly prepare raw, lean cuts of harp and grey seal meat as tataki or tartare. The Côte à Côte butcher shop in Cap-aux-Meules also offers seal meat as dry sausage, liver mousse and spicy merguez sausage. Take advantage of your time on this archipelago located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and try a delicacy that’s been enjoyed for thousands of years.
Québec is the birthplace of the Artisans at work experience, which works to promote and showcase artisans and their traditional trades, inviting visitors to watch and learn along the way. Today, there are dozens across the country and 35 in Québec, which display the process of producing everything from furs, glass and soaps to chocolate, cheese and flour. The common thread? Meeting the artisan and respect for traditional know-how that’s been passed down and evolved over generations.
1. Sample the nectar of Québec bees from Miel des Ruisseaux
Miel des Ruisseaux
Discover the exciting world of beekeeping and get a taste of more than just honey at Miel des Ruisseaux - Beekeeper ÉCONOMUSÉE. The family-owned business specializes in distilling mead, or honey-derived wine, from nearly 600 hives of nearly 100,000 local honeybees. Take a guided tour to see a real hive and sample honey gathered right on the premises. Afterward, learn about how honey is distilled in the beekeeper’s virtual reality experience. Miel des Ruisseaux was founded in 1997 and began producing mead from its exceptional honey in 2007. Today, it remains the only producer of mead in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region. During your visit, you can also find a variety of award-winning honeys and other honey products to take home, like soaps and balms.
2. Buy a finely-cultivated bottle – or two – at Distillerie Grand Dérangement
Distillerie Grand Dérangement
The distilling process of some of the region’s finest spirits is on display at the Distillerie Grand Dérangement - Distillery ÉCONOMUSÉE in Saint-Jacques, Lanaudière, a municipality founded by around thirty Acadian families. Step into the distillery and learn about how the entire distilling process, from grain to bottle, is carefully organized to produce the finest liqueur while upholding environmentally sustainable practices. First, grain is carefully cultivated and harvested for processing. Then, it is distilled, aged and, finally, the spirits are bottled. But that’s not the end of the process – after distillation, the organic residue is used by a local cattle farmer. Before you leave, stop by the tasting room for the organic gins and vodkas that the Distillerie Grand Dérangement is famous for.
3. Family-made cheeses are in at Fromagerie La Station
Fromagerie la Station / Gaëlle Leroyer
Experience the cheese-making tradition of Québec’s Eastern Townships at Fromagerie La Station - Farmstead cheese factory ÉCONOMUSÉE. Located in the rolling hills of the Compton countryside, this family-run cheese factory has been operating in the region for nearly 100 years. The farm was first established in 1928 by Alfred Bolduc, who acquired the land. Today, the Bolduc-Routhier family is following in his footsteps, creating certified organic cheese made from the milk of dairy cows, who graze freely on land that is free of pesticides and herbicides. During your visit, learn about each step of the cheese-making process as you observe cheese ripening rooms, take part in an immersive multisensory experience in a cheese aging room, and explore the grounds on a meandering interpretive trail.
4. Le Ricaneux’s berry wines are sure to delight
Le Ricaneux / Tourisme Chaudière-Appalaches
Meet some of the pioneers of berry-based wines and liqueurs in Québec at Le Ricaneux - Berry wines ÉCONOMUSÉE. At this farm in Chaudière-Appalaches, aperitif and dessert drinks are made using decades-old techniques from fruit harvested on the land. Visitors are invited to take a guided or self-guided tour through the grounds to learn more about the production process, sit for a tasting session or participate in a virtual reality experience about liqueur production. Take in the beautiful farm from the terrace or wander through a trail to a secluded picnic spot. Operating as an artisan producer since 1988 and passed down through the family, Le Ricaneux is now the oldest company of its kind still in operation in Québec.
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail’s Globe Content Studio on behalf of Bonjour Québec. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.
CREDITS: Concept and oversight by JESSICA ROBINSON; Editing by Audrey Carleton; Art direction, design and development by AASHISH ARORA; Project management by JANINE COLE