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Displaying items by tag: Quebec

 

 

QuebecfestivalFor three days we had gloried in Quebec City’s SAQ New France Festival - for 13 years, an annual extravaganza.  A celebration of the first Europeans to arrive in North America, it is an exciting event with its musicians, street entertainment and fine French-Canadian food all engulfed in an aura of exhilaration and joy.

 

On the last evening of our stay we capped our visit by attending ‘Les Chemins Invisibles,’ created by the famous Cirque du Soleil exclusively for Quebec City’s New France Festival. It was an evening of enthusiasm and ecstasy – what the Quebecois call ‘joie de vie’ (joy of life).

 

As I stood among thousands of people listening to the clapping hands, my mind was some distance away, deep in thought, contemplating Charlevoix.  Designated as a world biosphere by UNESCO in 1989, the region offers a breathtaking landscape that we planned to briefly explore.  I had traveled through this part of Quebec several times before, and each time I had found something new and exciting. 

 

As the standing ovations of the crowd echoed on all sides, I was thinking of my upcoming venture through this, the first resort area in Quebec: a natural world of lakes, mountains, trees and other tourist enticements.

 

Early the next morning, our group of eight boarded a mini-bus and commenced our journey, driving along the Côte de Beaupré, following one of the oldest thoroughfares in North America.  Called the Avenue Royale or the Route of Nouvelle-France, it is edged by structures that cover three centuries of history. 

 

QuebecSainte Anne DeIn about 40 minutes, after passing the majestic Montmorency Waterfalls, a spectacular natural wonder, we came to the famed pilgrimage site of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré - for 350 years a mecca for the faithful journeying here to seek healing for their ailments, or just to pray.  Each year more than a million and a half pilgrims and visitors come to experience the calm and peaceful tranquility of this revered basilica.

 

 

 

 

 

Quebec CharlevoixAfter driving for a short time through a tree-filled countryside, we climbed a short distance upward, then turned and stopped on the edge of a crater formed some 350 million years ago when a 15 billion-year-old meteorite smashed into the earth.  The 56 km (35 mi) wide crater, whose outline can be seen from outer space, is one of the few inhabited craters on earth. It forms today the heart of the Charlevoix region – a rich farming and tourist area with charming villages and brooding mountains that some 35,000 inhabitants call home.

 

 

 

 

We followed the shore of the St. Lawrence River, stopping a number of times to enjoy the breathtaking scenery, until we stopped for lunch at Le Domaine Forget – a tranquil music school set in a serene country atmosphere, where about 600 summer students pay $500 per week to be professionally trained and then put on concerts in a very modern music hall.

 

Once a large historical estate, it is located on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, in St. Irénée.  From May to September, the school hosts an International Festival and is home to a Music and Dance Academy where these students come to hone their skills in music and dance with the greatest teachers in the world.

 

Leaving the serene world of music, we drove to Maison du Bootlegger, located at La Malbaie (Sainte-Agnes).  With a clandestine history going back to 1860, it gives one a peek into the underworld of the surreptitious activities that occurred during Prohibition.  During that time, the owner of Maison du Bootlegger decided to thwart the authorities by building walls inside the house and hide the real vocation of the facility: gambling and drinking.  It is now a tourist restaurant featuring fine food, entertainment and guided tours that take you through a maze of fake walls, secret passages and hidden corridors and bars. 

 

Quebec Charlevoix 1The current owner, Johanne Brassard, in her charming way, welcomed us into the attic where in the days of Prohibition, the owner used to welcome important people in its Club des Monts.  Doctors, gentlemen, judges, lawyers, and many others of the Canadian and American elite came here to drink and gamble in those days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quebec Charlevoix 2We sampled the house’s delicious drinks, and then were taken on a tour of the house by Johanne’s daughter.  We went through an amazing labyrinth of secret passageways and noted many famous people’s names, such as Elvis Presley, that were engraved upon the walls. 

 

Our guide and her mother, like all the staff, were fun people who doubled as workers and dancers, or other entertainers.  Like one of my colleagues said, “You need not be a gambler or a drinker to enjoy yourself here. It looks like even the workers enjoy their jobs.”

 

That night, resting at the nearby elegant L’Auberge des 3 Canards, I reflected on our day’s journeys through the picturesque tourist region of Charlevoix and ending up at the Bootlegger.  I felt contentment thinking of Brassard and her flourishing business built on the reputation of a historical episode.

 

 

 

 

The next morning, after driving for a little over half an hour, we were in the village of Baie-Saint-Paul, located at the bottom of the crater.  A lively tourist village par excellence, it is filled with antique shops, art galleries, gift stores, tiny museums, pleasant restaurants and inviting inns.  A charming town where Cirque de Soleil began, it is said to be mainly inhabited by tourists.

 

After strolling along the town’s main street and browsing through some of the edgy shops and art galleries, we ended up touring the Museum of Contemporary Art.  Tired and weary from our time at the Museum, we entered for lunch at the La Microbrasserie Restaurant le Saint-Pub– a homemade beer establishment, with an attached fine restaurant.  After the owner explained his brewing process and talked about his new brewery that is about to open, we dined on locally produced products washed down by the unique beers of the house.

 

Quebec Charlevoix Baie SainSated, some of our group went kayaking while the rest, like myself, strolled the main street of Baie-Saint-Paul, the Niagara-on-the-Lake of Charlevoix, enjoying the flower-decked structures and innumerable art galleries.  Our home for the night was the tiny 12 room inn, Auberge La Muse, located in the heart of Baie-Saint-Paul.

 

That evening, as we waited to dine at the inn’s Chez Boquet Eco-Bistro, I thought about a saying I had heard: “Staying in one of Charlevoix’s quaint inns hid amid the beauty of nature is like drinking all evening without a morning hangover.” – this truly was exemplified by this quaint inn.

 

© Habeeb Salloum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IF YOU GO

Le Domaine Forget de Charlevoix, 5 rang Saint-Antoine, Saint-Irénée, Québec, Canada G0T 1V0.  Tel: 418 452-8111.  Fax: 418 452-3503. E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Website: www.domaineforget.com


La Maison du Bootlegger
, only a 1 1/2 hour drive from Quebec City, the Bootlegger restaurant specializes in steaks, $30- $50 CDN. 110, Ruisseau des Frenes, La Malbaie (Sainte-Agnes), Québec, Canada G5A 2C8.  Tel: 418 439-3711. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Web site: www.maisondubootlegger.com

Two Good Places to Stay and Dine in Charlevoix:

 

Auberge La Muse, 39, Saint-Jean-Baptiste St., Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Québec
G3Z 1M3.  Tel.: (418) 435-6839 / 1 800 841-6839.  Fax: (418) 435-6289. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Website: www.lamuse.com

 

Auberge des 3 Canards, 115, Côte Bellevue, La Malbaie (Pointe-au-Pic ) Québec G5A 1Y2. Tel: 418 665-3761 / 1 800 461-3761.  Fax: 418-665-4727. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Website: http://www.auberge3canards.com

 

For Further Information Contact:

 

Tourisme Québec: for complete tourist information in Québec, call: (514) 873-2015 or toll free: 1-877-363-7777, or visit the web site: www.bonjourquebec.com or http://www.bonjourquebec.com/ca-en/charlevoix0.html

 

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