Quebec, Canada’s European ambiance is one reason the province is a popular getaway in North America. Another is Quebec’s charming Charlevoix region between the Saint Lawrence River and the Laurentian Mountains. Not only is the area beautiful, but it is also a food lover’s paradise. The Charlevoix Flavor Trail or La Route Des Saveurs features some four dozen local growers, producers, and restaurants throughout the area known as a vacation haven for early 20th-century aristocrats. Tastes of artisanal cheeses, craft beers and ciders, aperitif wines, fresh produce, exotic meats, and more await visitors traveling along the 89-mile route. Here are some of our favorite stops on this ultimate foodie road trip.
Disclaimer: Some of our encounters along the Charlevoix Flavor Trail were hosted by Tourisme Charlevoix. All opinions are our own based on our observations and experiences.
1. Le Bistro La Muse
Start your Charlevoix Flavor Trail adventure with a warm and relaxing breakfast at Le Bistro la Muse in Baie-Saint-Paul. Ingredients are fresh and locally provided by many producers from the Flavor Trail. Choices offer something delicious for whatever you want to start your day in a welcoming environment. Fresh breads, cheeses, homemade jams, eggs, fruit, Benedicts, waffles, crepes, and more are all made with care. Gluten-free offerings and accessibility show their attention to detail and guest comfort. In good weather, you can also sit outside on the large terrace and look out at the happenings on the town’s main street.
2. Laiterie Charlevoix
Coming from Wisconsin, we can’t help but feel an affinity for wonderful dairy enterprises. Laiterie Charlevoix is a family cheese farm, factory, and store that emphasizes the artisanal aspect of making cheese. Founded in 1948 by the current manager’s grandparents, the dairy is known for its wonderful cheese curds, the heart of poutine. Visit the cheese ECONOMUSEUM to explore the history of cheesemaking in Quebec, and if you visit the dairy in the morning, you might just catch a cheesemaking demonstration. Don’t forget to take some cheese with you from the many selections available at the store.
3. Centre De L’Emeu De Charlevoix
If you like big birds as we do, you will be thrilled by the opportunity to visit Centre de L’Emeu de Charlevoix, a farm, museum, bistro, and boutique celebrating all things emu. You can take a self-guided tour and see more than 400 emus on the farm while learning all about the products that come from one of the world’s largest birds. While you’re there, check out the bistro for samples of emu-focused dishes such as an emu burger, emu pita pizza, or spaghetti a la bolognese with emu. The museum processes pure emu oil, a unique odorless oil with many beneficial uses such as protecting skin from sun damage, reducing inflammation, easing muscle and joint pain, and healing diaper rash, canker sores, and chapped lips. Don’t forget to stop by the boutique to check out the skincare products, feather dusters, and other emu gifts.
4. La Ferme Basque De Charlevoix
Another worthwhile farm visit is La Ferme Basque de Charlevoix. This farm produces exceptional quality duck foie gras using sustainable and respectful practices based on traditional Basque heritage methods of production. Their products are certified Terroir Charlevoix and they focus on artisanal production, authentic recipes from their homeland, and thoughtful practices that respect the well-being of their animals. Products include mousse, pate, rillettes, cretons, the prized magret duck breast, and more.
5. Restaurant Le Saint-Pub
For lunch or even just a delicious local brew, stop into the Restaurant le Saint-Pub in downtown Baie-Saint-Paul. There’s a lot to enjoy at this fun and popular local hangout where locals and visitors mingle cheerfully. Salads, charcuterie platters, poutines, sandwiches, burgers, and various specialties fill the large menu, with a big beer menu to match. Their beers became so popular that they added a new large brewery to produce beer that is sold throughout Western Canada, but the Saint-Pub brewery is still used to create exclusive brews for the pub.
6. Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu
Take a little respite by visiting one of the most gorgeous spots in all of Quebec at the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in the scenic little village of La Malbaie. Highlighting local cuisine, the Richelieu has several options for dining, including many products from the local farms on the Charlevoix Flavor Trail. If you’re interested in a round of golf, you can also check out the Richielieu’s golf course, which is beautiful and recently upgraded to include a new nine-hole course in addition to the 18-hole course, both with gorgeous panoramic views. You can get some delicious take-out food from the clubhouse’s Le Point Cardinal. Or just enjoy a drink and some spectacular views on one of the terraces or at La Brise Lobby Bar with the Saint Lawrence River flowing by.
7. La Chocolaterie Du Village
When your sweet tooth is aching, chocolate is a great option to calm it down. And La Chocolaterie du Village has plenty of treats to satisfy you with something wonderful. With more than 50 varieties of Belgian chocolates, 24 different fudge choices, 27 hot chocolates, and ice cream to go with them, these artisanal chocolatiers know what they are doing. They work with cocoa imported from 21 countries and offer fair-trade, gluten-free, sugar-free, and organic options. Located in the beautiful area of Les Eboulements, there’s no better spot to have a sweet treat.
8. Boulangerie Pains D’Exclamation
Freshly baked bread is a treat wherever you are. So when you’re on the Charlevoix Flavor Trail, stopping at Pains d’Exclamation is a great idea. Pains d’Exclamation is one of the Charlevoix pioneers of sourdough bread and offers incredible breads, pastries, sandwiches, and other baked goods to hungry customers. Using natural stone-ground flour and other items from local producers, the bakery’s delicious croissants, and unique “pizzaguettes” are perfect to take with you on the road. Pop in for a treat savory or sweet to take with you.
It’s rare we encounter something totally new in the culinary world, so when we discovered someone making wine out of tomatoes, we had to see what was happening. As it turns out, Omerto has produced the first tomato wine in the world. Based on a secret family recipe dating back to 1930s Belgium, Omerto’s tomato wine now comes from a careful blend of tomato varieties grown in Charlevoix just for this purpose. You can visit the Domaine de la Vallee du Bras estate for a tour and discover this unique beverage for yourself. If you’re hungry, you can add a tasting to complement the wine with local specialty dishes.
10. Le Mouton Noir
Neighborhood restaurants that are loved by the locals provide wonderful cultural as well as culinary insights to a place. That’s why we highly recommend making a stop at Le Mouton Noir, a small but lively local haunt with delicious food and local inspiration. The restaurant also has an outdoor waterfront terrace overlooking the Gouffre River. Dishes include many ingredients from Charlevoix Flavor Trail producers including foie gras mousse and magret de canard from La Ferme Basque. Mouton Noir, or Black Sheep, is a charming little nook in Charlevoix that fills your stomach with delicious food and your head with delightful images of this enchanting area.
11. Auberge Des 3 Canards
After a long day on the Charlevoix Flavor Trail, you can finish off with a visit to the delightful hotel and restaurant Auberge des 3 Canards. Situated on a lovely property with a view of the Saint Lawrence River, the place got its name in a funny way. The original owners were three doctors, often referred to as the “three docs.” Docs got transformed into “ducks” and the “three ducks” and the name stuck. The grounds are lovely, with lots of room to stroll and enjoy panoramic views. The restaurant serves outstanding local cuisine in a lovely open environment. Dishes include homemade smoked salmon, mussel chowder, and beef filet mignon as well as a chef’s tasting menu, vegetarian, and other specialties. Save room for desserts including a local cheese plate or the special soft cheese from Laiterie Charlevoix served flambeed with local whisky and maple syrup. A perfectly sweet experience to finish your adventures along the Charlevoix Flavor Trail. If you’ve got the time, spend the night in this delightfully unpretentious inn.
Don’t just eat and run at the places that you visit along the Charlevoix Flavor Trail. Part of the pleasure that comes from enjoying the artisanal treasures offered by the participants is learning about their passions and hearing their stories. Whether they share their family history, a challenging situation overcome, a happy discovery, or deeply held beliefs about a process or product, you’ll enjoy connecting with these talented and dedicated culinary professionals and learning how they bring their passions to life. It's fun making memories on this happy flavor trail. Want more? Read up on our favorite nine ways to experience Europe in Quebec, Canada.