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When the headlands and cliffs fall abruptly into the salty waters of the river, and row upon row of valleys and mountains form incredible panoramas, you’ll know that you’re in Charlevoix...
Nature does it in style in Charlevoix, an area that UNESCO recognized in 1989 for its exceptional natural heritage, granting it international status as a World Biosphere Reserve.
Along the St. Lawrence River, you’ll come across villages tucked into tiny bays, perched on the summits of headlands or clinging to the sides of mountains. Adding to their charm is a rich architectural heritage. Once you leave the riverbank, you’ll enter a wild, mountainous region. You’ll see the highest rock walls in eastern Canada, and cross wide plateaus carpeted in lichens. Incredible!
The region extends as far as the Saguenay River, where fresh and salt water meet, and where you can even watch for whales. Take the ferry from Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive and explore the charming island of Isle-aux-Coudres, either in your car or by bike. Artists, poets and writers have long been seduced by the beauty of Charlevoix. The same will happen to you! And a visit to the area when the fall colours are at their best is a pure delight.
Dramatic mountains and escarpments!
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Flavours of the region
Along the “Route des Saveurs”, where farmers and restaurateurs collaborate in presenting you with their products and exciting menus, allow yourself to be tempted by:
Soupe aux gourganes (soup made with the large broad beans typical of the area), wildfowl pâté, “pâté croche de l’Isle-aux-Coudres” (potted ground pork) and dishes made with duck or goose;
Charlevoix pork, organic chicken, turkey, veal and lamb – and even emu, well known products sought after by epicureans;
cheeses such as Migneron, Ciel de Charlevoix and Saint-Fidèle cheddar; trout, duck conserve and foie gras, duck terrines and pâtés, salted herbs, beer, artisan breads and many other delicious treats.
Charlevoix is essentially an immense crater (from Baie-Saint-Paul to La Malbaie) formed when a huge meteorite fell 350 million years ago. A fireball 2 km in diameter weighing 15 billion tons gouged a half-moon shape 56 km in diameter in the Canadian Shield, and sank it 5 km below the surface! The 768 m high backwash that it caused created Mont des Éboulements. Thus, as you make your descent into Baie-Saint-Paul, you are in fact entering the crater. If you climb Mont du Lac des Cygnes (Parc national des Grands-Jardins), you’ll be right on the edge of the crater. Ironically, if that huge meteorite had not fallen, Charlevoix’s landscape would now be quite plain.
You are now in one of the first regions in the whole of North America to have been developed for tourism! The beauty of the landscapes has been attracting visitors since the end of the 18th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, the region became so popular that the opulent 250-room Manoir Richelieu Hotel was built at “Murray Bay”, today known as La Malbaie (Pointe-au-Pic). High society from Quebec, Canada and the United States travelled here aboard luxurious paddle steamers.
A little history
Did you know?
For more information about the Charlevoix region: