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Explore this land where the forces of nature have wrought a spectacular fjord and a magnificent lake that’s more like a small inland sea, encircled by golden beaches
Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean is more than impressive! Take a tour around the vast Lac Saint-Jean, explore the steep cliffs and dizzy heights of the bluffs along the fjord or visit the charming and lively Haut-Saguenay – it will take your breath away wherever you go!
Among the region’s wide variety of attractions: the small village of Petit-Saguenay, nestled deep in the mountains and reminiscent of a Swiss village; Baie des Ha! Ha!, which has the highest tides in all of Québec; and the famous fjord, listed in the book Enduring Treasures from National Geographic as among the five nature destinations to explore in North America.
Waiting to welcome you are its warm-hearted people, who love to party, and whose astonishing spontaneity and melodious accents are pure delight. Some like to tease and will tell you that their blueberries are so large that one berry is enough to make a whole pie! Nothing surprising here, really, because this delicious wild berry grows in such quantities here that the inhabitants of this region are affectionately known as “Bleuets” (blueberries). If you’re drawn towards adventure and nature, then this is your next ecotourism destination!
A region that’s larger than life…
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Flavours of the region
The inhabitants of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean have kept their culinary traditions alive; here among other menu items you’ll find: freshwater Atlantic salmon (ouananiche), elk, Saguenay tourtière (meat pie), soups and salads made with large broad beans (gourganes) and Perron Cheddar cheese. Wines, artisan breads, honeys and goat’s milk cheeses will also grace the table.
When you talk about regional flavours, the blueberry immediately comes to mind. This Quebec myrtle, a symbol of the region, is found north of Lac Saint-Jean. Blueberries are used in all the regional dishes – in pies, jams, fruit sauces, candies, sauces accompanying meat dishes and even in the excellent chocolates and aperitifs from the Trappist monks at Mistassini. What classics! As for the tasty Saguenay tourtière, it was originally made from partridge and other small game, covered with pastry and baked slowly for a long time. These days, restaurants continue the tradition using farmed meat products.
Did you know?
In 1870, a fire lit to burn a few trimmed branches developed into a violent firestorm. Over 3,900 km2 of territory were razed. To protect themselves from the fire, people took refuge in caves or submerged themselves in rivers and lakes. In 1971, a huge landslide at Saint-Jean-Vianney shifted the equivalent of 8 million m3 of clay and sand. In 1988, an earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale hit the area. In 1996, more than 260 mm of rain fell in 50 hours during a torrential downpour (the equivalent of 3 m of snow), causing several rivers to overflow their banks. Did we say this region was larger than life? We should add that its people demonstrate courage that is legendary!
A little history
In 1838, 21 employees of the Société des Vingt-et-Un, a forestry company, left Charlevoix to colonize the region. First, a forestry industry was established. This was followed by cheese making, the aluminium industry and blueberry operations. In 1880, cheese making really took off, with the establishment of about ten Cheddar cheese factories. Under the British Regime, cheeses were reserved for the nobility and Cheddar cheese became one of Canada’s most important exports, after furs, dried cod and construction lumber. Fromagerie Perron in Saint-Prime is one of the best examples of cheese-making know-how, passed down through four generations, thus ensuring the exceptional quality of this internationally famous cheese.
For more information about the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region: