Sun streams through my window, birds are chirping and I smell espresso, it is a good morning to explore Charlevoix. My lovely hosts at Le Manoir Hortensia have prepared a beautiful breakfast and drafted a suggested itinerary for my exploration of the St Lawrence River Route from La Malbaie to Tadoussac. I can’t wait to get on the road and explore one of the most picturesque and beautiful regions of Quebec. From La Malbaie to Tadoussac I’m retracing the St Lawrence River Route in reverse of the early French explorers Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain, two of the founding fathers of Quebec. I also plan a few notable culinary stops along the way. I am in Quebec after all.
The famous La Route Du Fleuve (aka St Lawrence River Route) hugs the coastline of the St Lawrence River through most of Charlevoix. From Le Manoir Hortensia to my first stop in La Malbaie it is only a 10-minute drive. What is my first stop? To see the majestic Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu. Built in 1899 and then rebuilt after a fire in 1929 Le Manoir Richelieu has hosted the rich and famous from Canada and the USA right up until present day. The views from the river side rooms must be spectacular.
Stop #2 is for nourishment. A quick pit stop at Pains d’exclamation for fresh baguettes and coffee. I need some strength here as the smell of fresh baking is amazing. Only walking out with a baguette and a coffee took some will power on my part.
Back on the road I go. My next stop is to visit the 100+-year-old Fromagerie St-Fidele. I actually visit this place twice, once on my way to Tadoussac and again on my return to Le Manoir Hortensia. On my first visit, I pick up cheese and on my return visit, it is for an ice cream cone dipped in Maple Syrup. Very Quebecois wouldn’t you say? Want to try your hand at making your own poutine? They sell fresh, fresh, fresh cheese curds!
Ok, now I’m stocked up with provisions I’m back on the road to visit Port-au-Persil. The site of a wharf and a small river that flows into the St Lawrence River. With all the Spring run off this small river has turned into a major waterfall. Since 1870 this wharf and community served as a safe harbour for those transporting goods along the St Lawrence. Today it is a wonderful place to stop and take in the views. Also, a great picnic place if you love the sound of waterfalls.
My next stop is at the Baie-des-Rochers. A little less know than Port-au-Persil it is worth the detour off the highway to visit. The Spring runoff is high and the road down to the water is a bit rough. Signs of fallen trees are everywhere and during my visit were being cleared away. At the end of the road, I am rewarded with a spectacular view. The Baie-des-Rochers is a protected marine park and is so peaceful and tranquil.
An old row boat, a local fisherman and a roaring waterfall all mark this spot as beautiful.
Onto Baie-St-Catherine, the last city within the Charlevoix region. Here I make a quick stop at Pointe-Noire Interpretation and Observation Centre.
From here you can see the Saguenay River flow into the St Lawrence. On a good day if you are lucky you may be able to see Beluga and Minke Whales along with Harbour Seals. This is a spectacular spot to stop and take in the sites.
A short drive from here is the free Ferry that takes cars and passengers from Baie-St-Catherine to Tadoussac.
Once on the other side, it is a short drive to my lunch spot Cafe Boheme. Here I fuel up for my return journey with a Croque Monsieur. C’est tres bien! This cute town is well worth exploring on foot as it is quite small. Very picturesque and right on the water.
For me, it is time to return to my B&B for a little rest and snack before I head out to explore what Charlevoix has to offer for culinary adventurists. The cheese, baguette and beer I picked up make for a perfect pre-dinner snack. All made right in Charlevoix. It doesn’t get any better than this!
Huge thanks to my hosts Mario and Pierre from Le Manoir Hortensia for helping me plan out this amazing day along the St Lawrence River Route. A pretty spectacular day in my books.