In the morning, Dave sat by the St Lawrence with Isle d’Orleans in the background and could also see Québec City in the distance. Then the water started to receed and he was surprised to see the tide going out this far from the Atlantic. Majestic.
The Charlevoix tourist region of Quebec extends from roughly Quebec City to past the Saguenay River along the north shore of the St Lawrence River. It includes rolling terrain, fjords, headlands and bays. Named after a Jesuit missionary, it is home to Canada’s first resort community – La Malbaie. It is teaming with art stores, music festivals, luxury inns and gourmet food. In winter there is some of the best skiing in Canada. We had heard a lot about the area and were looking forward to seeing it.
We took a leisurely drive to Baie-St-Paul after climbing to 740m and descending again. We went to the local laiterie (cheese factory store) for lunch enjoying some fresh baguette, paté and fresh cheeses, yum. Stopping at Gite des Petits Messanges, Nicole told us that it was already full for the night. We had a reservation for the following night.
We contented ourselves with walking down the streets of Baie-St-Paul lined with boutiques, art stores and restaurants. Très joli mais trop de gens pour nous. We drove down to the beach and luckily found a room in a lovely auberge. Great pizza dinner after wine and snacks with live music. Another superb day came to an end.
Next morning we enjoyed the buffet breakfast of exquisite cheeses, quiche, fruit, breads and charcuterie. Then we went to the nearby Baie-St-Paul beach for a few hours. This was not before Dave had a dip in the pool at the auberge next door and we walked a nice trail.
After a light lunch we did some shopping and headed for the Gite des Petits Messanges. Nicole was most friendly and gave us an upgraded room with a queen bed. She agreed the room had been prepaid for and said that she does not get paid by Expedia until we leave. Hence it was Expedia who had charged us the full amount for the room in advance, contrary to their online offer. They had blamed this pre-charge error on Nicole when I disputed it. Enough said.
We slept reasonably well after a great dinner of salad and Italian poutine at the brasserie in town. Up and at it the next day we drove to the ferry crossing at St Simeon. Beautiful views of the St Lawrence. We waited about 2 hrs and caught the ferry to Riviere de Loup on the south shore. It is amazing how many cars they pack in. Then the fun began.
When we arrived in Rimouski, pop. 50,000, every room in town was completely taken due to various festivals, construction workers holidays, etc. So we drove 20 km further to Sainte Luce and stopped at Julie’s Motel et Casse-Croute.
Julie was talking with 2 women as I entered but said she did have a room available. So we all drove in a convoy a bit further down the road to see a lovely restored house. We were 3rd in line as she showed the rooms to all of us. Meanwhile her cell phone was ringing constantly. Her standard question was “Combien de personnes etes-vous?” Then she would invite even more people to come and see the 4 rooms that she had available.
The first lady made her selection of the room that we wanted but then changed her mind as there was no private bathroom. The 2nd lady then chose the same room but Julie wanted a bit extra for her kids. She left. Finally we got to choose the nice sunny room. As we were finalizing the terms she kept saying in French to Marie and elbowing her, “Hey he speaks French eh.” about me. Then her cell phone would ring and “Combien de personnes etes-vous?”. We laughed so hard at this good natured lady multi-tasking with a friendly smile and a laugh.
So we spent a delightful evening there including another great meal at a very crowded bistro by the beach nearby. Phew, another few great days here in Quebec!