We were only two couples in the B&B last night. Instead of the buffet style breakfast that was usually laid out on the dinning room table consisting of fruit salad, 4 different kinds of bread, juice, lemon and date loafs, cereal, quiche, granola, jams, peanut butter, cheese and grapes, we were served fruits, egg in a bagel, bacon and really strong coffee.
We planned our day as we ate our breakfast, exchanging notes with the couple beside us. It was decided we would visit Isle-aux-Coudres.
We headed South on route 138 and then turned off onto route 362, also known as Route du Fleuve. On one side of the road you can see the St-Lawrence and on the other side, luscious green fields.
The first village we came to was Saint-Irénée. It is a harmonious village filled with nature and culture. It’s defining feature is the Jean-Noël River.
The Jean-Noël River flows along 35 km, includes several impressive waterfalls, and then drains into the St-Lawrence. The river is located in the Canadian Shield that was shaped by the impact of a meteorite 350 million years ago.
Following route 362, we drove into another village even smaller than the last, Cap-aux-Oies. This village is located on a small bay of the St-Lawrence. The low tides leave shallow pools of salt water that are quickly warmed by the sun. It spans more than a kilometer and is frequented by nude enthusiasts.
The Charlevoix tourist train can be spotted all along the edge of the St-Lawrence. It is a passenger rail service between Quebec City and La Malbaie, a distance of about 140 kilometers.
The roads in the Charlevoix Region are steep. So steep in fact that the government has created crash zones for large trucks in case their brakes fail barreling down a hill.
At the base of the hill we found ourselves in the adjacent village of Les Éboulements where the ferry crossing for Isle-aux-Coudres is located. It’s a short 20 minute ride to the island and it is free.
Due to the nature of the tides and the currents, the ferry needs a little help in landing. One man from shore throws a rope to another fellow on board. He ties up the rope and then steps back. Gravity does the rest.
The ferry begins to swing around and then locks itself into place for a safe landing.
Jacques Cartier discovered the island in 1535. He named it Isle-aux-Coudres because he found plenty of hazelnut trees called “coudriers”. We did not spot any but did see beautiful landscapes of green vegetation leading out to the sea.
Originally porpoise fishing was practiced on a broad basis in conjunction with boat construction. Today tourism is the main industry, and the place is known for its historical sites, tourist accommodations, and craftspeople. On the beach near the ferry dock, there is a shipyard that is home to craftsmen who work according to ancestral techniques.
Religion is very important to the locals and crosses are visible all over the island. La Croix du Cap is the most interesting roadside cross. Built for mariners in September 1957, this cross has guided countless ships for many years. After sundown on the St-Lawrence, captains could spot it from afar all aglow with a hundred tiny lights.
Just beyond the cross on the other side of the river, you could see the church of Baie-St-Paul.
Closer to the shores of Isle-aux-Coudres was a lighthouse. The first lighthouse was built in 1931. A white light shone every 5 seconds followed by the foghorn. Attendants had to stay and operate the light and horn until the lighthouse became obsolete and was rebuilt in 1972.
Another historical site is the Saint-Louis Church which was built in 1885 and is recognized as one of the most beautiful churches in Quebec. This is a small replica of the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.
It was a raining windy day on the island. Not the best weather for tourists but if you preferred to play in the waves, this was the spot. Kitesurfing and paddle boarding.
Finally we visited Les Moulins or The Mill. There are two different types of mills; a windmill powered by wind.
A view from inside the windmill.
This is a water mill. Both ground the flour except they are powered by different natural resources.
And a look at the final product…
The cost of the entrance was $10 per person. I thought this was expensive for what we got – I wanted to get a picture of the windmill and I ended up getting the best photo off the gated property.
One interesting artifact that was in the museum was a sculpture of Jacques Cartier. His face was painted by Jean Paul Lemieux, a famous Quebec painter who lived on Isle-aux-Coudres.
We left the mill and headed back to the ferry. We did make a quick stop at the renown Boulangerie Bouchard for a slice of sugar pie – to die for!! Definitely a must if you make the trip to the island.
On our drive back, we came across the Alpacas farm and decided to visit. These animals are so adorable and playful.
An alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance.
There are two breeds of alpaca; the Suri alpaca and the Huacaya alpaca.
Alpacas were bred specifically for their fiber. Alpacas fiber is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to wool. These items include blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves and a wide variety of textiles. The fiber comes in more than 52 natural colors over the world.
Johanne was having fun taking pictures of the Alpacas. This guy was shy and kept moving away from the camera.
One final photo for the day.
That night we went to Auberge des Peupliers for dinner. It was located just up the road from our B&B. We shared the tataki tuna and the veal burger with goat cheese and avocado which came with a green salad and chips. It was a nice meal.
Tired from the day we fell into bed, bellies full, wondering what we will see in the magic gardens tomorrow.