Quebec gastronomy is not just about poutine, far from it! Local products, delicious cheeses, organic meats… La Belle Province is undoubtedly the most epicurean region in North America. Here, we appreciate good food and gastronomic circuits highlight it. Close-up on the Route des Saveurs de Charlevoix, where gluttony is the most beautiful of virtues.
Quebec, this beautiful gourmet province ...
In Quebec, we fill up with large spaces, pure air… but also good products. Extensive breeding, short circuits and organic products are in full development. There are many quality meats and cold cuts, in particular. And, like us, Quebeckers - oh joy! - love cheese. In short, really enough to get away from it all without (too much) risking homesickness!
These local products are found on markets and on restaurant plates, but also through agrotourism circuits. Several regions of Quebec have implemented them, such as the Laurentians (“the Chemin du terroir”) and the region of Quebec (“the Parcours Gourmand”).
But if there is one pioneer region in terms of agrotourism, it is Charlevoix. It may be the smallest of the 22 tourist regions in Quebec, but it is very generous when it comes to eating well. It was here that the famous “ Flavors Route », Under the leadership of chefs Dominique Truchon, Éric Bertrand, Régis Hervé and Guy Bessone.
Today, the Route des Saveurs brings together some 24 producers, 20 restaurateurs and 5 affiliated members. The same philosophy: the love of good products. And, above all, sharing! All welcome us with open arms, Baie-Saint-Paul à Malbaie along the St. Lawrence River, but also inland. Their products can be found everywhere: at each other's, à la carte restaurants, in grocery stores ... and even in the smallest of gas stations. This shows how much Charlevoix is attached to its terroir ...
At the same time, a “Certified Terroir Charlevoix” label was created: we can be sure that we are dealing with local products. But in fact, which products? Impossible to name them all, but here is already a nice little selection ...
Good Quebec cheeses from Charlevoix
It is not only in France that cheeses are good there, Charlevoix is a treat for us.
In Baie-Saint-Paul, we can of course mention the Charlevoix dairy, an institution in place for over 70 years. The 1608, a cooked pressed cheese, is made with thermized milk (less heat than pasteurization). Most importantly, it is made from 100% Canadian cows. This breed, which has become rare, was born from cows imported from France (Normandy and Brittany) in the 17th century. It was relocated to Charlevoix in 2007.
Laiterie Charlevoix also manufactures Fleurmier (which is reminiscent of our Camembert) and Cheddar in fresh grain of the day, nicknamed “couic-couic cheese” in Quebec. Along with the fries and the sauce, it is one of the three key ingredients of the poutine, a dish that could not be more typical. To understand the history of cheese in Quebec and familiarize yourself with the different stages of production, take a look at the dairy's interesting “cheese economuseum” (free).
Another emblem of the region, 3 km further on: the Maurice Dufour refining house. But good ! Cheeses made from cow's milk, such as Migneron (semi-firm dough) and the Charlevoix sky (blue dough), that with sheep's milk (the blue is delicious).
For information, there are no raw milk cheeses in Charlevoix: it is at least thermized, but most often pasteurized. Moreover, they no longer really run the streets in Quebec, the fault of the very strict standards ...
Foie gras from Quebec and lamb from Charlevoix
By sinking a little further into the land, we come across Saint-urbain. A corner which makes the happiness of the amateurs of meat and cold cuts. This is where the Basque farm, which produces excellent foie gras and other duck breasts.
On the same land the chickens and pigs of the Organic Charlevoix meats (beware, delicious sausage!). The Charlevoix charcuterie also treats us; in particular, you should taste their “cretons”, the Quebec rillettes. Hotel buffets offer it for breakfast!
Finally, it's impossible to talk about meat without mentioning the Charlevoix lamb ! Raised on several farms, it has been recognized by an IGP label (indication of protected origin) since 2009. It was a great first for Quebec and even for North America. The product is highly appreciated by Dominique Truchon, chef of the gourmet restaurant Chez Truchon in La Malbaie and initiator of the Route des Saveurs. "It is almost a suckling lamb, it is not fatty and very fine to the taste", he specifies. As in all affiliated restaurants, its menu must indicate the name of the farms for each local product. “It is so important that customers know where the animals are coming from! »Adds the chef.
To accompany all this, there is no lack of good vegetables (market gardeners La Bordée des Corneilles, the gardens of Alexandre…), nor even mushrooms (oyster mushrooms from Charlevoix mushrooms, porcini mushrooms from Champignons Amyco…).
Cider, beer ... alcohols from Charlevoix
A magnificent way - the river route - connects the towns of Baie-Saint-Paul and La Malbaie. Around Les Éboulements, L'Isle-aux-Coudres is emerging. It is full of apple trees: those of the Pedneault artisanal cider house. In fine weather, by bike, we cross the " Orchard road », Through the apple orchards. And we don't leave without a little tasting!
You have to try their specialty: ice cider, made from apples that have frozen three times at -10 degrees. You can get them on site, of course, but also in their annex shops (in Baie-Saint-Paul, in La Malbaie) and in many other points of sale (bakeries, grocery stores, etc.).
After the cider, the beer! The Charlevoix microbrewery, in Baie-Saint-Paul, has been an institution since 1998. Hop, we dip our lips in the foam of the " Flacatoune ”(It means“ beer ”in Old French), a delicious blonde, brewed on site like all the others. In 2018, she received a gold medal at the Canadian Beer Awards.
More unusual, the heights of Baie-Saint-Paul give birth to the tomato aperitif wine (16% alcohol). Called Omerto, it is made by Pascal Miche and his wife from ancestral varieties of tomatoes. All in organic.
We sit down to eat on the Route des Saveurs
Here are some remarkable addresses on the Route des Saveurs:
- Restaurant Diapason: 1, rue Sainte-Anne in Baie-Saint-Paul. This is the story of Steve, an Alsatian chef living in Baie-Saint-Paul with his wife, Eve, of Canadian origin. A la carte, full of good Charlevoix products: organic meats, arctic char from the Éboulements fish farm, salmon from the Saint-Antoine smokehouse, Deo Gratias fresh cheese from Maurice Dufour ... Attached to its origins, it also offers some specialties from at home, like sauerkraut and flameküche (but always paired with regional products!). A delight, from starter to dessert. Count $ 35-45 for a full meal ($ 25-35 for lunch).
- Bakery Bread exclamation! 398, rue St-Étienne in La Malbaie. This artisanal bakery has been delighting La Malbaie for more than 15 years. Ideal formula for lunch: homemade soup and "grilled cheese", a hot sandwich with local cheese of your choice (Fleurmier, Migneron, etc.). To be enjoyed seated at one of the large tables. There is also a boutique area well stocked with local products: honey, cretons, cold meats, cheeses, coffee, flour ...
- Le Saint-Pub, restaurant of the Microbrasserie Charlevoix: 2, rue Racine in Baie-Saint-Paul. In the heart of Baie-Saint-Paul, the microbrewery pub offers simple cuisine, of course made with local products. Their specialty: homemade smoked beef with maple shavings. You can also order a poutine, the typical Quebec dish. Of course, we accompany the whole thing with one of their craft beer: Flacatoune, Vache Folle… there is a choice. Main courses $ 15,95 - $ 21,95.
- L'Auberge Bistro Chez Truchon : 1065, rue Richelieu in La Malbaie. In 2011, Charlevoix chef Dominique Truchon fell in love with a magnificent century-old inn in La Malbaie. Since then, he has done wonders with local products: lamb from Charlevoix IGP, homemade organic black pudding, foie gras from the Basque Farm, crème brûlée with goat milk from La Chèvrerie de Charlevoix ... A delicious gastronomic address in a unique setting , with fireplace. Mains $ 26-36. Table d'hôtes formula $ 60 per evening.
- The Le Bercail and Les Labours restaurants of the Hotel & Spa Le Germain Charlevoix 50, rue de la ferme, Baie-Saint-Paul. In addition to being good, in this hotel, we eat well! Two restaurants: Le Bercail for a snack, Les Labors for a rather gastro feast. But in both cases with good local products. Count $ 50-60 per meal.
- The restaurant at the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu hotel, 181, rue Richelieu, La Malbaie Polpette of kid from Charlevoix, foie gras from the Basque farm deglazed with cider from Pedneault orchards, char from Éboulements… it's hard to choose among all these good local dishes. All with a view of the St. Lawrence River. Tables d'hôtes $ 56.
Gastronomic events in Charlevoix:
- The Charlevoix debacle. It is the annual event of the Route des Saveurs. During a very convivial evening, we taste the good local products, cooked by the chefs of the region. On the program: cocktail & entertainment, four-course dinner, concert and after-party.
- "Cooking, cinema and confidence" festival. For three days in November, it celebrates art, cuisine and nature. Three themes dear to the region and in particular to the city of Baie-Saint-Paul, an artists' paradise and the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil.
Find all the tips, practical information and good addresses in Routard Québec in bookstores
To prepare for your stay, consult our Quebec online guide.
Quebec Tourist Office
Route of the flavors of Charlevoix
How to get there ?
- Direct flights from Paris to Montreal and Quebec with Air Canada.
- By car: an hour's journey from Quebec, via route 138 East.
- By train: from the Palais station (Quebec). Four hour journey between river and mountain to La Malbaie.
Where to sleep ?
See our selection in the article Charlevoix, the magic of winter
Where to buy typical souvenirs?
- Boutique at the Le Germain hotel in Baie-Saint-Paul : napkins from the weaver Anne-Marie Hamel, birch sap, local honey, Charlevoix Pure Laine socks…
- Charlevoix microbrewery in Baie-Saint-Paul: here we stock up on craft beers, such as Vache Folle, Flacatoune ...
- SAQ stores (Société des alcools du Québec): it is in these stores and not in supermarkets that you can buy alcohol. For example, we bring back a good gin (we recommend the KM12) or a whiskey with maple syrup.
- Confectionery Freshness and flavors, in Baie-Saint-Paul: you can find these famous maple syrup candies ... and many other sweets.
- Charlevoix Pure Laine : socks, slippers, hats… everything is made with wool recovered from sheep intended for meat (in general, it is unfortunately discarded). It's beautiful, warm and anti-waste. A store in Baie-Saint-Paul. The Charlevoix Museum in La Malbaie and the Le Germain hotel in Baie-Saint-Paul also sell socks.
- Boutique at the Musée de Charlevoix in La Malbaie: Charlevoix pure wool socks, ceramics, artisan textiles, paper from the Papeterie Saint-Gilles ...
- Pains d'Exclamation bakery in La Malbaie: many local products, cold meats, cheeses, cretons, flour, coffee, honey, maple syrup, canned mushrooms ...
- Cidrerie Pedneault in La Malbaie and Baie-Saint-Paul. In addition to the house ciders, a wide choice of local products (honey, preserves, maple syrup, etc.).