Among the most beautiful villages in Québec, there are some real gems. All the villages in Charlevoix evoke dream-like magnificence, so we really can’t decide between them. They’re all amazing for a variety of reasons. This article reveals some well-kept secrets in the six villages of Charlevoix listed on the Association des plus beaux villages du Québec (Association of the most beautiful Québec villages).
Quality selection criteria
Founded almost 25 years ago, the Association des plus beaux villages du Québec lists more than 40 carefully selected villages. They must have fewer than 8,000 inhabitants, sites of visual interest (panoramas, views, belvederes), present one or more architectural heritage sites of historical and cultural value, and adopt a harmonious integration of urban elements (discreet signage, meticulous landscaping, etc.). It’s clear that the chance of discovering a unique experience is guaranteed!
With its incomparable beauty, this place has been inspiring painters, writers and travelers for a very long time. Les Éboulements (literally “the landslides”) owes its magnificent topography (and probably also its particular energy) to a meteorite that struck here nearly 400 million years ago. It summarizes all the wonders of Charlevoix: a breathtaking view of the St. Lawrence River and the surrounding mountains, art created in the many creative workshops, plus active farming and animal raising on its plateau.
Le Jardin des Chefs and its famous Gorria pepper
Did you know that Espelette pepper has a Québec cousin! It’s Gorria pepper, cultivated since the 1980s by the Leblond family after having received these mysterious seeds as a gift from a man who had returned from the Basque countries. Visit the on-site shop to browse the products. A visit to observe production is sometimes possible through the gourmet tours offered by Zofa Excursions.
The Auberge de nos Aïeux has been given a facelift!
To the delight of the world’s vanlifers, digital nomads or young troubadours, it’s now possible to enjoy a young and welcoming atmosphere with the brand new facilities of the Auberge de nos Aïeux – including mini-refuges, ready-to-camp tents, a co-working space, a heated swimming pool and 12 spaces for parking vans.
From Les Éboulements take the road plunging towards the river and find yourself driving through a small town filled with gems. Time freezes on the sublime banks of Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive. Within a very small radius are concentrated indelible traces of seafaring know-how and important maritime history that goes a long way back.
Auberge de la Rive for gatherings and connections between locals and travelers
Presenting a series of engaging cultural events that will take place until the fall, the auberge is nestled between the river and the gulf welcoming guests, locals or visitors to a warm and friendly ambiance that encourages spontaneous conversations. In particular, it’s the storytelling and song evenings around the fire or cinq à sept (happy hour!) that will inspire you to mingle with the people of the village.
Canyoning-Québec and the Cimon waterfall are accessible to everyone
Are you an outdoor enthusiast but not a daredevil? The canyoning initiation site adapted and supervised by guides at the Cimon waterfall is ideal for learning and a successful first-time experience!
Showcase par excellence of the evolution of the daily tides, Saint-Irénée’s landscape is constantly evolving. Add this enjoyable stopover to your itinerary and take your time. Charming accommodations and restaurants are set up along the beach to promote a holiday atmosphere and allow you to spend a short or long time… It’s all up to you!
Delicious biscuits and prepared meals at Chez Léon et Lily
In addition to its strategic location on the Saint-Irénée beach and offering an incomparable panoramic view, the diversity and delicacy of the products on sale at the Biscuiterie artisanale Chez Léon et Lily will make you want to buy and consume everything completely guilt-free.
Unearth unique finds at the Antiquaire de Saint-Irénée
The ancestral barns that you will come across on the road will probably give you the urge to unearth some beautiful artefacts from the past. It’s a genuine trip back in time inside this antique shop filled with treasures.
Pointe-au-Pic (La Malbaie)
Still bearing the vestiges of the meeting of cultures between American bourgeoisie and local artisans, several vacation homes dating from the last century are perched along this magnificent sector of La Malbaie. The Train de Charlevoix station is right there so disembarking passengers can stroll along rue du Quai to uncover precious finds in one of the shops or have a bite to eat, always against a beautiful blue and salty background.
The surprising wine list at the Auberge La Marmite
Discover an eclectic selection of natural wines, mostly private imports, in a warm and welcoming setting. Excellent local and imported tastes in a restaurant serving comfort flavours with quality products and a distinct aesthetic.
Pretty creations on rue du Quai
At Indigène art et culture, high quality objects are selected to illustrate the work of some twenty artisans from the region and around the province. In the shop itself, there’s a space for Jewelery l’Amulette featuring creations made from real plants and flowers collected during the jeweler Bénédite’s many forest walks.
Cap-à-l’Aigle (La Malbaie)
Getting wider at this point, the St. Lawrence River kisses the steep slopes of this pastoral village that flourishes in flower-bedecked lodges and charming inns. It’s a somewhat quiet area comprised mainly of private residences, although the Jardins de Cap-à-l’Aigle is the place to admire the wide variety of lilacs in the spring, or take the beautiful path through the undergrowth the rest of the year. Pssst… there are even some lovely little waterfalls.
Prestigious chalets in a contemporary style
The Terrasses Cap-à-l’Aigle real estate project brings together beautiful examples of contemporary architecture discreetly scattered around an intact forest that promises the most comfortable services and a view that will take your breath away. Better yet, all the villas can be rented.
Take a break at the Port de Refuge in Cap-à-l’Aigle
With around sixty berths, the Port de Refuge de Cap-à-l’Aigle is the only port between Québec City and Tadoussac that’s accessible for small craft at all times. It never silts up with the tides so the water level always allows navigation. This is a beautiful place to watch the comings and goings of the many sailboats.
This is where the fragrant air becomes very salty. The sea scent enchants you in this small bay that nearly disappears into the rocks. The abundant presence of sea parsley inspired Samuel de Champlain to coin the Port-au-Persil name when he discovered this haven in 1626.
Pottery classes all summer long
You can design beautiful pieces yourself at the Poterie de Port-au-Persil workshop-school. It’s a great opportunity to get your own hands dirty and design a beautiful souvenir to suit your unique taste. In addition to learning about this relaxing pastime, enjoy an excellent river-view coffee and admire the creations of the craftsmen who have touched this same land for years.
Port-au-Persil ciders… and much more!
If you go to the quay, you may get the chance to meet Laurence, a local devotee who tells great stories about what has shaped her little town. She welcomes you to the Cidrerie de Port-au-Persil every day from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm – if you don’t see her, ring the bell and she will join you. A new lilac cider will hit the shelves soon, so keep an eye out!
These pearls are just a tiny part of all the beautiful discoveries you will make if you give yourself the chance to get lost and travel unknown roads. Enjoy your new discoveries!