Heading east in Quebec
With all the changes in travel, you might as well have more than one plan to get away in the summer of 2021.
We hear less about it in the media, but it has just as much to offer on the tourist front as its very popular counterparts. And I named the Chaudière-Appalaches region in Quebec, which is slowly opening up again. In time for the summer holidays.
Valérie, member and author on the milesopedia website, will join me to introduce you to this region. Two other members will help us because they live there. Thank you Karine and Jean-Phillipe.
We thought that Western Canada, the Magdalen Islands and the Gaspé Peninsula could use a little break from the hustle and bustle. In any case, the season is rather advanced to book there. So we’re getting ready to go somewhere else to get some fresh air.
We’ll show you our great discoveries with four articles instead of one. Are you ready for nature destinations, original activities, cities and villages?
Following the water
This first article presents pur favourites of the Navigators’ route that I had the pleasure to explore a few years ago and again a few days ago. Just in time for the orchards and lilacs to bloom.
The Navigators' Route
This ribbon of asphalt is almost 500 km long and runs along the river on Road 132. It crosses three regions of Quebec between Nicolet and Rimouski, including the Chaudière-Appalaches portion. Here are our recommendations for stops and visits.
Visit of the most beautiful villages
Lotbinière, Saint-Antoine de Tilly, Saint-Michel-de Bellechasse, Saint-Valier, L’Islet and Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. They are considered among the most beautiful villages in Quebec.
We stopped to admire the ancestral houses, to stroll along the banks of the St. Lawrence (there are several rest stops) and of course to taste the beers, ciders and wines at one or more of the seven producers of the Route des Alcools .
Accommodations (and/or restaurants) suggested by Jean-Philippe:
Auberge Auprès du Clocher in St-Michel (Airbnb).
A stop at the beautiful marina of St-Michel.
A detour by taking the turnoff that leads to the village of St-Vallier, historic village and place of origin of “La Corriveau”. The ancestral houses are magnificent.
Another stop, still on the 132, between St-Vallier and Berthier-sur-Mer. La Fromagerie du Terroir de Bellechasse offers local products, very good ice cream and of course, the inevitable fresh “Kwick Kwick Cheese” daily.Jean-Philippe
Amazing region of Lévis
We won’t want to miss:
- The Chevalier-de-Lévis terrace for its breathtaking view of Quebec City.
- The Parc des Chutes-de-la-Chaudière and its footbridge suspended over the river.
- The Quai Paquet for its evening water jet shows which should take place in 2021. And to let the children cool off on hot days.
- The Parcours des Anses, where you can ride, walk or run for 15 km along the river while admiring the superb view of Quebec City. At its eastern end, the route allows you to connect southward to the “Harlaka Route” which joins the Bellechasse cycle route.
Yum! The pork chops at Barbacoa! The beef tartar at the l’Intimiste on Bégin Street, where all the other restaurants are recommended.
Or a stop at the very first “Chocolat Favoris“, located in a beautiful ancestral house.
Ah! The Mosaïque cafe with its choice of board games!
And don’t forget the very popular take-out counter Sushi d’Éli . Beware, the locals love it: you have to call at noon to get them at dinner time.
Finally, the delicatessen: Aux p’tits oignons to fill up on local products. You can sit there in normal time to sip a latte with soup of the day and good hot meals.Jean-Philippe
Two islands in the St. Lawrence that you don't want to miss
Grosse-Île: To combine history and cruising, a visit to Grosse-Île, which welcomed our Irish immigrants in quarantine, is a must.
A Parks Canada guide leads us to The Lazaretto, the last remnant of the island hospital, and tells us about this piece of Canadian history. A memorial marks the loss of those who could not escape the plague.
After the excursion to Grosse Île, linger a while on the Berthier-sur-Mer wharf to watch the sun set behind Mont-Ste-Anne! There is a small hill to the right of the Quai that you can climb to get a great view.
Still on the Berthier-sur-Mer wharf, enjoy good burgers/tacos/chops at Théo BBQ, a unique open-air restaurant. Recommended accommodation/restaurant: the Motel-Restaurant de la Plage and its panoramic terrace.Jean-Philippe
L’Îsle-aux-Grues: If there was only one place that had to be visited on the Navigators’ Route in the Chaudière-Appalaches region, it is, in my opinion, this one. An island 7 kilometres long that can be discovered on foot or by bike and that has kept its traditions.
I was lucky enough to attend a real mid-Lenten celebration, which is no longer common in Quebec. The island’s cheese factory also produces renowned cheeses. The Riopelle de l’Isle. The Canotier de l’Isle, the Tomme de Grosse-Îsle and the La-Bête-À-Séguin, does that ring a bell?
Finally, the Jean-Paul Riopelle nature reserve, named in honour of the painter who lived there, invites us to go hiking.
You can get to the island by ferry, boat or if you want, by plane. This is how the few children on the island travel to school in Montmagny in the morning and evening.
Montmagny and l'Islet
The banks of the river in Montmagny are classified as a protection zone for the White Goose, and access is limited.
However, it is possible to have access to the river and its sunsets by staying at the Pointe-aux-Oies campground . (Sites 617 to 632 and odd sites 33 to 43).
Not camping? The campground’s observation tower is open to the public and well worth a visit!
In the evening, Jean-Philippe proposes to meet in the downtown area (rue St-Jean-Baptiste). He reports that there are often free outdoor shows on Place Montel.
Restaurants suggested by Jean-Philippe
Café-Bistro Au coin du monde, La Maison Rousseau (there is often a chansonnier on the terrace), Lafontaine Resto-Bar, Microbrasserie Côte-du-Sud, Restaurant Bangkok, Resto l’Olivier, Restaurant La Couvée (Hôtel l’Oiselière).
In L’Islet and St-Eugène, Jean-Philippe suggests:
- A stop in l’Islet-sur-Mer in the parking lot between the primary school and the church. To admire the breathtaking view of the river. In the fall and spring, it is one of the best places to observe white geese. The Islet-sur-Mer wharf has the advantage of being much less crowded than those of St-Jean-Port-Joli and Berthier-sur-Mer.
- A visit to the Musée Maritime du Québec with its two ships: the icebreaker Ernest Lapointe and the Bras-d’Or.
American Express Cobalt™ Card holders: Marché Tradition de l’Islet accept American Express cards. Take advantage of this opportunity to fill up on Shell gift cards!
Accommodation and food:
Auberge La Marguerite at l’Islet-sur-Mer
Auberge des Glacis in St-Eugène: my favourite of the region! Ancestral house hidden in a small row in the municipality of St-Eugène, nice rooms and excellent restaurant offer.Jean-Philippe
A must! The history of the region can be discovered at the Musée de la Mémoire Vivante..
Visit the many local artisans who have shops.
We stopped at the marina to observe the river and the many boats in dry dock.
Finish your exploration by sipping a good beer on the terrace of the Ras l’Bock microbrewery! Take the opportunity to talk to the locals who gather there in large numbers in the evening.
La Coureuse des Grèves. Chez Manu. La Libellule. Le Portobellissimo. La Queue de Homard. La Roche à Veillon.
Auberge de la Belle Époque, Maison de l’Ermitage.
I also recommend the Chalets de la Chaumière. These cottages are a little outside the village, along the river and offer tranquility, relaxation… and a VIEW!Paroles de Jean-Philippe
Here we are at the end of our journey on the Navigators’ route.
A few more kilometres and we enter the Lower St. Lawrence region. But Chaudière-Appalaches still has some very nice surprises in store for us.
The hinterland or “le haut”, as the locals call it, awaits us in parts 2 and 3. Heading south!