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Richard Frisbie: Charlevoix, Quebec
Food For Your Soul on the Flavor Road of Charlevoix
Story & Photographs by Richard Frisbie

relfective waters at the Parc National des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivere-Malbaie, Charlevoix, Quebec

any articles have been written recently about Charlevoix, in Quebec, Canada, being an extraordinary culinary destination. The soon to be famous Food Train, the many artisanal food producers on the Flavor Road and the impressive vision of Daniel Gauthier's (of Le Cirque du Soleil fame) destination resort, Le Ferme all feed the culinary buzz.

firested shore of lake at Haute-Gorges-de-la-Rivere-Malbaie

But Charlevoix isn't only about food. It's a beautiful region to visit. The serenity of the coastal communities and the architecture of the pretty towns along the St. Lawrence River compete for your attention with the natural beauty of the many National Parks inland. One such, Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivere-Malbaie, is an exceptional example of accessible wilderness only a few hours from the urban charm of Quebec City.

sunlight sparling on the waters of a lake at Parc National des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivere-Malbaie

A rural mountain road, twisting past lakes and forests, ends at a ski lodge-style interpretive center. From there, people who are not hiking in can take a shuttle bus along the river, with the gorge walls rising high around them. The sheer cliffs look as if rock climbing could be a sport here, but, for now, it is primarily the winter ice that draws the climbers.

dam near an old logging camp at the Parc National des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivere-Malbaie, Charlevoix

The shuttle delivers you to the site of an old logging camp. A nearby dam, once used to hold back the water needed to float the log booms downstream to market, now keeps the water high enough for the sightseeing boat. The camp was replaced by a snack bar and gathering place where canoes, kayaks and camping gear can be rented. Civilization ends here; beyond lies wilderness.

In season, the park is a mostly motorless paradise for hikers, campers and kayakers. Trails course along the North side of the river with picnic and camping areas along the shore.

Captain Mario Lacroix aboard the sightseeing boat Le Menaud

A sightseeing boat, Le Menaud, travels the navigatable 5 miles of the river in a one-and-a-half hour cruise, opening the dramatic wilderness views to people of all ages and mobility. Waterfalls, wildlife and pristine natural beauty surround you as the only motorized transport, a Plexiglas-bubble riverboat, glides along the mirrored mountain waters.

Inuit stone cairns on a river shore, Parc National des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie

From bend after bend in the river, new vistas appear up the narrow gorge. On an isolated rocky point ancient inuksuk, or Inuit stone cairns, reflect the delicate balance of mankind's presence on these shores. Mountains scarred by glaciers and rock slides, others covered in second growth forest, beckon the adventurer in us all. The walls beg to be climbed, the ridges traversed and the river swum. Wildlife, both feathered and furred, populate the various ecosystems along the riverbanks, while those with fins swim the dark depths beneath the reflective waters. The park offers the opportunity to commune with nature - to dream.

two kayakers on the river

You can imagine the passing scenery used in countless action films, with the hero hanging from the cliffs or being tracked through the rugged back country. Surprisingly, no films were made here. Once the logging boom came to an end in the 1950s, the whole area became an isolated, nearly forgotten, National Park.

picnic table on a beach

Until now, that is. Hautes-Gorges is a gem of a wilderness area easily reached by car or motorcycle. Its rugged beauty is worth a detour off the Flavor Road, if only as an excuse to burn the calories already consumed, or the ones that will surely follow.

refelctive waters on a lake at the Parc National des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie

Parc National des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie is one of the core zones of the Charlevoix World Biosphere Reserve. It was named after a series of valleys cut deep into a range of high mountains. The gorge walls are among the highest rock faces East of the Rockies.

Charlevoix Region Tourism

Related Articles:
Traveling the Canadian Rockies; New Brunswick Autumn; St. Lawrence River Cruise; Nova Scotia in 4 Days; Canada's Queen Charlotte Islands; Towns on the St. Lawrence River; Banff

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Let Richard know what you think about his traveling adventure.

* * * * *

Hey Richard - another winning series of words, all put together in your usual brilliant, and very creative format. And hey, love those glorious photos - Wow, what scenery - looks like some sort of paradise. What a super life you lead!!!

--- John Clayton, Palos Verdes CA

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I want to go there!!!!!!! Mmmmm! Yes! Love the photos and your article, Richard! Have read the book, seen the play several times and now dream of seeing these historic places. I've been wanting to go to Spain for some time. Now at 12:30 a.m. I'm heading off to bed with songs from Man of La Mancha ringing in my mind. Thanks!

--- Betsy Tuel, Rosendale, NY

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You are fortunate to have Richard on your staff. Richard is a fantastic writer and a wonderful person. Congratulations to Richard and to you.

--- Denise Dubé, New England

Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Journey to the Bottom of the Globe: Exploring the White Continent of Antarctica

nguins on  shore as writer's cruise ship passes by, Antarctica
As a travel journalist I am constantly asked what are some of my favorite travel experiences. The list is endless. But there is one destination that seems to raise the most eyebrows. That destination is a cruise to Antarctica. Sadly, that cruise line I was on is no more, but today there is a plethora of cruise lines that offer similar packages. Here's a look back at my Antarctica cruise.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Quiet Man (Dispatch #17)

sunset at Galway Bay

The Palladian Traveler follows in the footsteps of some Hollywood icons as he goes "on location" in Cong to pay his respects to his all-time fave movie.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Would You Believe She Can Carry 800 (Yes, 800!) People!

Emirates Airbus A-380
As she came around the corner we could not believe how big she was. Massive, and yet incredibly beautiful – almost elegant in fact. Her lines were so symmetrical she seemed to blend into a classic example of astonishing good looks. The other fact that amazed all of us was how quiet she was. We felt sure that with the obvious overwhelming power she evidenced, she'd be extra loud. It's a cliché, but she was as quiet as a church mouse – or "as quiet as dreaming trees."

go there

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's Gold Country

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

go there

Eric Anderson's travel blog/review
Lake Charles’ Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras

dressed-up for the Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their children’s eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from last year’s Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already fed and are rubbing their stomachs.

go there

Fyllis Hockman's travel blog/review
Cedar Hill: Frederick Douglass' Home is as Imposing as the Man who Lived There

Cedar Hill, Washington DC
Having recently received a misguided shout-out from the president during Black History Month – Frederick Douglass has done an amazing job... – it seems a good time to revisit the cultural icon's legitimate place in history. And a visit to his home in Washington, DC – surely a place the current president might want to consider visiting himself – would be a good place to start.

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