© Gare Cralle
Hidden glories of the Saguenay
12 reasons to spend your summer along Quebec’s spectacular fjord
There’s a little corner of Quebec that’s a world unto itself; a community of villages that celebrates isolation by its devotion to its forest and farms, lakes and rivers. Iconic Quebec painter Clarence Gagnon (1881-1942) would have been right at home among the small-farm houses set on winding hilly roads edged by conifers.
The region defines itself through geography, dominated as it is by Lac-Saint-Jean and the Saguenay Fjord on the north shore of the St. Lawrence. Water and woods are never far.
Appreciation of terrain is evident in the paintings many residents do en plein air. There’s also a gastronomy based on local produce. Blueberries are particularly abundant, so much so that residents are known throughout the province as Bleuets, a proud point of distinction. And the blueberry pies? Superior!
Things to do
In late spring, summer and early fall, whale watching, hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking are almost rabid activities for locals and visitors alike. Rent a bike and hit the Véloroute des Bleuets (veloroute-bleuets.qc.ca). The website provides all the information you’ll need to join the paved cycling trail at a variety of locations through the region.
Rock climbers, kayakers and zipliners will find it all at Parc Adventures Cap Jaseux (capjaseux.com) near Sainte-Fulgence. Exhausted after a day in the open? Sleep in a dome in the woods overlooking the fjord.
Ready for a quieter pace? Explore the historical village Val-Jalbert (valjalbert.com), a pretty and partly restored 1920s company town that was ahead of its time.
Here’s a surprise: the “wild” zoo at Saint-Félicien (zoosauvage.org is home to 77 species, which make it one of the most comprehensive in North America. Here, the visitors are enclosed while the animals roam free.
For one the best kayaking experiences anywhere, dip you paddle in the fjord at L’Anse-Saint-Jean with Fjord en Kayak (fjordenkayak.ca). The town and surrounding hills and the river are a treat in every way.
Recuperate from your day on the water at Édouard-les-Bains (edouardlesbains.com/fr/spas-nordiques-edouard-les-bains.html, an outdoor Nordic spa in the village of L’Anse-Saint-Jean. The next day consider taking a Saguenay Fjord cruise with Croisières du Fjord (croisieresdufjord.com. Tours leaves from a dock just down the hill.
Where to stay and eat
Get back to the land at the Parc National du Fjord-du-Saguenay (sepaq.com/pq), a wilderness park with camp sites, self-contained chalets and some good hiking trails.
On your visit to L’Anse-Saint-Jean, consider spending a night or two at Auberge des Cévennes (auberge-des-cevennes.qc.ca), an older inn with rooms that have fine views. The food’s pretty good too.
If you find yourself in Saint-Félicien, plan to dine at Auberges des Berges (auberge-des-berges.qc.ca, website in French only), a hotel with a fine menu.
Cap au Leste (capauleste.com), website in French only) in Ste-Rose-du-Nord is a cute country bistro restaurant. The view from the deck is worth a stop all by itself.
Bergerie de la Vieille Ferme (agneaudufjord.com) in Saint-Fulgence has a P'tit market where they sell products from their farm. There’s also a restaurant that serves lunch and dinner. Best choice? Locally raised lamb.
Quebec microbrews are known for their strength and character. A good selection of Quebec wine from the Eastern Townships is available in the local Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) (saq.com).
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