3 stops around Québec City
Canada’s Québec province, where French is the official language, has an Old World flavor combined with areas of relatively undeveloped parks, agritourism, and picturesque villages such as those in the Charlevoix region, just an hour northeast of Québec City.
Stop 1: Québec City
Walk through the walled Old Town dominated by views of the Château Frontenac (a hotel). In addition to French heritage, Québec City celebrates its First Nations history, notably at the Museum of Inuit Art. Rent a bike at the Old Port Farmer’s Market and pedal the fourteen-kilometer loop along the St. Lawrence River to Montmorency Falls.
For Russian-style banya (sauna) treatments, get a massage at Izba Spa. Vegetarians dine well at Le Commensal, a cafeteria-style buffet (860 Rue St.-Jean).
Artifacts from the Auberge St. Antoine’s past incarnations are artfully scattered throughout this luxury hotel, a history and archaeology buff’s dream.
Stop 2: Île D’Orléans
Just a fifteen-minute drive from Québec City, this bucolic island offers rocky beaches and brightly painted houses and barns—many with traditional mansard roofs. Pick your own produce and sample local delicacies on the island’s many farms.
Highlights include the Ste. Pétronille vineyard and Ferme Monna’s black-currant cassis farm. The orchard at Domaine Steinbach, an organic farm with a stone ancestral home, produces apples that are hand-pressed into ambrosial cider, juice, and vinegar.
Giron de l’Isle is a spotless B&B with a homemade, three-course breakfast replete with Québécois delicacies.
Stop 3: Charlevoix Region
This scenic coastal and mountain district, known for hilly farmland on the banks of the St. Lawrence, is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. You can follow one or several of the region’s proscribed circuits—the Gourmet Route, Arts & Crafts Trail, Maritime Heritage Trail, Landscapes and Vistas Trail—or mix and match sites along the way.
Steep rock faces plunging down to the Malbaie River are dramatic in Hautes Gorges National Park. Explore the canyons and gorges on foot, bike, canoe, or kayak.
A drive along the river rewards you with quaint, colorful towns, churches, and barns. The area is dotted with “economuseums,” interpretation centers where the locals demonstrate skills performed in the traditional way. St.-Joseph-de-la-Rive has St. Gilles handmade paper, Les Eboulements features the organic Jardins du Centre, and Baie-St.-Paul offers two award-winning artisan cheese makers.