I arrived in the late afternoon after catching the “tourist train” from Quebec City. Okay so technically its called the Charlevoix Light Train, but it operates purely to transport tourists from Quebec City to the Charlevoix Region, and while it might be more expensive and time consuming than driving, it’s a great option to reach Baie-Saint-Paul with little effort required. The train will take approx. 2 hours, whereas to drive is half the time from the same departure point – but at the end of the day, whichever option suits you best!
Driving in Charlevoix
I chose to take the train to Baie-Saint-Paul and rent a car there (making it easier to collect/drop-off at the same point), which was a great way to see the region. You will indeed need a car once in the area if you wish to look around and it is the way in which all visitors get around, so consider booking a rental car in advance. So where should you go from Baie-Saint-Paul? Be sure to check out the “Flavour Trail”, where you can drop in to various artisan shops – i.e. cheese makers, chocolatiers, and local artists. Also the Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park is a great opportunity to experience the vast landscapes of the region, further driving on toward La Malbaie to stay overnight.
Where to Stay
As soon as I disembarked the light train from Quebec, I checked in to the highly celebrated Hotel Germain Charlevoix for my first evening in Baie-Saint-Paul. This hotel was created by Cirque du Soleil co-founder, Daniel Gauthier, who has done a fabulous job in encouraging artistic development in all areas of the hotel. You’ll notice art for sale throughout the hotel, as well as an extremely artistic approach to food in the restaurant, and live concerts on the weekend featuring local talents. If you have just one creative bone in your body, this hotel will be more than a bed for the night, and will surely leave you feeling inspired.
In La Malbaie, I checked into the homely Auberge Chez Truchon, which has recently been renovated, but thankfully retains its’ quintessential French countryside charm.
What about the food!?
As was to be expected of a region that retains its’ historically French roots, the food was absolutely flawless. My most memorable meal in the region was undoubtedly my dinner at Hotel Germain Charlevoix, which felt like a journey from paddock to plate, whilst I even watched the chefs cook the meal right in front of me! Deeeelicious!
Art Galleries in Baie-Saint-Paul and Beyond!
The entire Charlevoix region is filled with artists at work and on display. Many of the galleries you will step into offer the chance to meet the artist, or even see them painting out the front! Here’s a list of some of the best galleries to visit in the region.
So, you want to go to Charlevoix?
First things’ first, book a train ticket on the Light Train to Charlevoix.
Stay a night in Baie Saint Paul at the Hotel Germain Charlevoix.
Book a car rental in advance and collect on your second day in Baie-Saint-Paul.
Hit the road! Be sure to stop along the Flavour Trail, visit the Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park, and make your way up to La Malbaie.