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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
Three Musical Pilgrimages: Mozart, Grieg and Hendrix

Troldhaugen Villa in Bergen, Norway
Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) could read and compose music, plus play the violin and piano, when he was five years old. Born into a musical family in Salzburg, Austria (then the Holy Roman Empire), he had a unique ability for imitating music, which first became evident when he recited a musical piece by simply observing his father conducting a lesson to his older sister. This led to a childhood on the road, where the young prodigy performed before many of the royal courts of Europe.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Irish Goodbye (Dispatch #20)

Irish sunset

The Palladian Traveler brings to a close his 20-part series on the Emerald Isle from an upscale restaurant in downtown Dublin where he files his final dispatch and then quietly slips away.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Two "MUST SEE" Truly Spectacular Places in Europe. Here's Why.

Culzean Castle, Scotland
The Han Grotto and Culzean Castle. As the name of my Traveling Boy feature is "Travel With a Difference," it's important to me to always bring you offbeat and unusual tourist places around the world you may not know about. These two fit that category to a T, and they're absolutely worth a visit. One's in Scotland and one's in Belgium. Culzean (pronounced CULLANE) Castle is located near Maybole, Carrick, on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.

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
Puerto Vallarta: Magic and Mayhem on the Malecon

Cedar Hill, Washington DC
So I heard that you could spend from dawn to dusk on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and never get bored and I thought, "Okay, I'm up for that challenge." Well, maybe not the dawn part – I'm not a morning person – so I had no problem leaving those early hours to the joggers and those seeking an early start to catch their red snapper for dinner.

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