Charlevoix, Quebec itinerary in 4 days

Including La Malbaie and Baie-Saint-Paul
St-Lawrence-River.JPG
Skip down to:

Several years ago my husband and I did a road trip to Eastern Canada (Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton Island and Halifax). On our way home we stayed in a small town on the south side of the St. Lawrence River for one night. It was breathtaking and we decided that we had to come back to that region as the St. Lawrence deserves its own special trip (and itinerary!).

The Charlevoix region of Quebec is located east of Quebec City along the north shores of the St. Lawrence River. It is a mountainous region consisting of several small towns and a few provincial parks with beautiful hiking trails. The St. Lawrence is a large river which flows in a roughly north-easterly direction, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Although we were not able to fit this into our visit, there are whale watching tours and kayak adventures as well. This trip can easily be combined with a couple of days in Quebec City or a few days in Montreal.

Day 1

La Malbaie

Charlevoix-Quebec-St.-Lawrence-River
 
Hotel

La Malbaie:

Fairmont Le Manoir Rechelieu

♥♥♥♥

This grand hotel on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River offers updated and comfortable rooms but the main reason to stay here is for the breathtaking views of the Saint Lawrence River and the grounds of the hotel. There are walking trails as well as Muskoka chairs and picnic tables to admire the beautiful views with a glass of wine. 

Noteworthy Restaurants

La Malbaie:

  • Bellerive Restaurant. Located in the Fairmont Hotel, this is the more casual restaurant in the hotel. It has a patio with gorgeous views of the river. The food is mediocre but it's worth it for the views.

  • Restaurant at L'Auberge Trois Canard. This lovely restaurant is located in the Trois Canard Inn and has beautiful views of the St. Lawrence River. The food is very good, traditional French Canadian cuisine. They specialize in duck but also have delicious fish and meat dishes.

  • Restaurant L'Orchidèe. This casual restaurant offers French food as well as pastas and burgers. The portions are big and it is reasonably priced.

  • Chez Truchon. Located on a nice street with restaurants in the centre of town, this restaurant has a really nice covered patio. The food was very good and had a modern twist to traditional French Canadian food.

  • Boulangerie Pains d'exclamation This small bakery/cafè in the town of Malbaie is a great place to have a quick lunch or pick up some food for a picnic. They bake their own bread.

Museums

Museum of Contemporary Art of Baie-St-Paul. This is the only art institution in the Quebec region devoted entirely to contemporary art. It has an impressive collection of contemporary art by Quebec artists. A real gem in this small town.

Evening

After a long day of driving from Toronto (ten hours, sheesh!) we arrived at the Fairmont Le Manoir Rechelieu. This grand hotel is situated in the outskirts of La Malbaie and is located on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. It offers updated and comfortable rooms but the main reason to stay here is for the breathtaking views of the Saint Lawrence River and the grounds of the hotel. There are several walking trails as well as Muskoka chairs and picnic tables to admire the beautiful views with a glass of wine. 

We checked in and ate dinner at the Bellerive Restaurant located at the hotel. This is the more casual restaurant. The food was mediocre but the views from it's beautiful patio were spectacular.

After dinner we went for a walk along the trails located on the hotel grounds. On the way back we got some marshmallows from the front desk of the hotel and roasted them in the large fire located by the river.

Day 2

Baie-Saint-Paul

Baie-Saint-Paul.JPG
Hiking Trails/Provincial Parks

The Provincial Parks in Quebec require a reservation which we made the day before. Although they didn't ask for proof of reservation, it is recommended that you make one.

Parc National Des Grands-Jardins. This is a Provincial Park located about 45 minutes from La Malbaie. This park has craters and valleys that were formed during the ice age and were formerly glaciers. It is very rugged and the valley below is now comprised of rivers and farmland.

 

Parc National des Hautes-Gorges-de La-Riviere-Malbaie.  We did a 9km peaceful hike along the Malbaie river gorge to the top of a mountain where there is a bridge over the falls. This river is known for its salmon fishing. There is a boat ride you can take at the top of the river but we didn't have time.  

Itinerary Add-ons

This itinerary can be combined with:

Morning

We had a hearty breakfast at the hotel overlooking the St. Lawrence River. Not a bad way to start the day!

After breakfast we headed to the lively town of Baie-Saint-Paul. This is the main town in the region and is quite lively with lots of restaurants and galleries. 

We drove over to Katabatik which is a company that offers kayaking along the river. If you want to do this activity it is best to book it in advance as by time we got there, they were sold out for the day. Instead we left our car in their parking lot and walked along the shores of the St. Lawrence River and then through a forest and farmland which led us into the heart of Baie-Saint-Paul. It was a lovely walk.

The town was crowded with people wandering in and out of shops, galleries and restaurants. We went into the Museum of Contemporary Art of Baie-St-Paul. This is the only art institution in the Quebec City region devoted entirely to contemporary art. It has an impressive collection of works by Quebec artists. A real gem in this small town.

Afternoon

After walking back to our car we decided to head back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation. On the way, we stopped at a few food establishments to check out cheeses, meat and baked goods. While reading about the Charlevoix region I saw some ads for a Flavour Trail and also an Art Trail. To be honest, we didn't find it was well organized and many of the establishments and art projects were a bit of a disappointment.

 

We stopped in a small deli in La Malbaie and picked up some cheese, pate, baguette and a bottle of wine which we ate at the picnic tables back at the hotel overlooking the beautiful river. It was the perfect late lunch.

Evening

This evening we walked over to Restaurant at L'Auberge Trois Canard. This lovely restaurant is located in the Trois Canard Inn and has beautiful views of the St. Lawrence River. The food is very good, traditional French Canadian cuisine. They specialize in duck but also have delicious fish and meat dishes. It is around a 15 minute walk from the hotel along some quiet country roads.

Day 3

Parc National Des Grands-Jardins 

Parc-National-Des-Grands-Jardins-Quebec.JPG

Morning

This morning we headed out to Parc National Des Grands-Jardins. This is a Provincial Park located about 45 minutes from La Malbaie. The Provincial Parks in Quebec require a reservation which we made the day before. Although they didn't ask for proof of reservation, it is recommended that you make one.

Once at the park we took an 8 km round-trip trail up to Le Mont-du-Lac-des-Cygnes. While it was uphill for 4 km and a bit of a challenge, the trail is well marked and the incline is shallow with lots of switchbacks. There are a couple of small lakes along the way. It is definitely worth the challenge. Once at the summit, the views are spectacular.

This park has craters and valleys that were formed during the ice age and were formerly glaciers. It is very rugged and the valley below is now comprised of rivers and farmland. There are places to sit and rest on the rocks at the summit and have a snack while admiring the views.

Afternoon

After this hike we headed back to the hotel and stopped at Boulangerie Pains d'exclamation This small bakery/cafè in the town of Malbaie is a great place to have a quick lunch or pick up some food for a picnic. They bake their own bread. We bought some freshly baked bread, cheese and other other goodies which we ate heartily overlooking the St. Lawrence River at the hotel.

 

Evening

Tonight we drove into the centre of town for dinner at Restaurant L'Orchidèe. This casual restaurant offers French food as well as pastas and burgers. The portions are big and it is reasonably priced.

Day 4

Parc National Des-Hautes-Gorges-De-La-Riviere-Malbaie

Hautes-Gorges-De-La-Riviere-Malbaie-Quebec.JPG

Morning

After breakfast this morning we headed to Parc National des Hautes-Gorges-de La-Riviere-Malbaie.  We did a 9km peaceful hike along the Malbaie river gorge to the top of a mountain where there is a bridge over the falls. This river is known for its salmon fishing. There is a boat ride you can take at the top of the river but we didn't have time.  

The drive to the park is quite scenic as you pass through small towns and by several lakes.

Afternoon

We arrived back at the hotel and had our late picnic lunch outside.

Evening

We walked out to Chez Truchon for dinner. Located on a nice street with restaurants in the centre of town, this restaurant has a comfortable covered patio. The food was very good and had a modern twist to traditional French Canadian cuisine.

After dinner we walked back to the hotel, roasted some marshmallows, and headed to bed as we were driving to Montreal in the morning for a few days. See Montreal Itinerary in 4 Days.