Straddling the St Lawrence River, the tree-covered hills of the Charlevoix region make up one of the most picturesque areas in the province of Quebec. In winter, Charlevoix is home to one of the best ski hills in the region while in summer and fall, hiking, biking, and whale watching take center stage.
This unspoiled region is named after the famous French explorer, François-Xavier de Charlevoix (who arrived here in the mid-18th century) and is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The area is well known for the extensive hiking and biking trails across its two national parks– Les Grands-Jardins and Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie–while the Le Massif ski resort draws many visitors in the winter. For whale watching, head to Tadoussac for an excursion on the Saguenay fjord.
The artist’s enclave of Baie-Saint-Paul is another highlight, where Canada’s famous Group of Seven painters lived and worked extensively. For foodies, the Charlevoix region is a delight, with local producers making cheese, foie gras, and craft beer that can be tasted on-site at local farms, or enjoyed in the region’s restaurants.
Things to know before you go
- If you’re planning to hike, remember to follow basic safety practices--don’t hike alone, tell someone where you’re planning to go, wear sensible clothing and bring water and snacks with you.
- It’s possible to rent ski gear at Le Massif and mountain bikes at various outdoor shops in the region.
- Keen climbers will enjoy the Via Ferrata route in Grand Jardins National Park.
How to get there
The Charlevoix region is very large, covering almost 4,000 sq km (1,500 sq miles). Many visitors head to popular locations like the Les Grands-Jardins and Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Parks, the ski resort at Le Massif, and the towns of La Malbaie, Tadoussac, and Baie-Saint-Paul. Trains link Quebec City with La Malbaie and Baie-Saint-Paul, stopping at Le Massif in winter. The area is also readily accessible by car.
When to get there
Each season brings different reasons to visit Charlevoix. In winter there’s great skiing, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing. In spring the snow melts, revealing hiking and biking paths that can be enjoyed right through fall. Fall is harvest season, when visitors can taste the best of local produce.
Visit the Albert Gilles Copper Art Museum
Just a short drive outside Quebec City is the Albert Gilles Copper Art Museum, a unique destination dedicated to the metalwork of Albert Gilles. Born in Paris, Gilles worked for Walt Disney in California, and was commissioned by Pope Pius XII to create a special chalice for the city of Montreal before moving to the Quebec region and continuing his work as a coppersmith.
- La Malbaie
- Shrine of Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré (Sanctuaire de Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré)
- Albert Gilles Copper Art Museum and Boutique
- Orleans Island (Ile d'Orléans)
- Via Ferrata Montmorency
- Montmorency Falls Park (Parc de la Chute-Montmorency)
- Ice Hotel (Hotel de Glace)
- Bora Parc Valcartier
- Quebec City Old Port (Vieux-Port)
- Port of Quebec (Port de Québec)
- Quebec Museum of Civilization (Musée de la Civilisation)
- Museum of Francophone America (Musée de l'Amérique Francophone)
- Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church (Église Notre-Dame-des-Victoires)
- Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral