Everyone falls in love with Charlevoix – a quaint and breathtakingly beautiful region an hour east of Québec City that is nestled between the Laurentian Mountains and the St. Lawrence River. And we’re not the first to think so! Former U.S. President William Howard Taft once described Charlevoix, “as intoxicating as champagne without the morning after headache.”
What was once a prime summer vacationing spot for the upper elite of Canada and the Eastern United States has since become one of Canada’s most desired year-round destinations. Ideal for foodies, nature lovers, thrill seekers and art enthusiasts, this destination is the perfect place for your next business meeting or retreat.
We had the pleasure of visiting in the fall and have highlighted our stay along with recommendations on what to do and see in the area.
For the adventurer. Bring your running shoes (or skies). Between Les Florent, Le Pioui, Le Mont-du-Lac-des-Cygnes and La Chute Trail, adventure awaits you in the backcountry with its national parks or alongside the St. Lawrence shores with trails designed for hiking, biking and skiing. If you’re visiting in the winter, check out Le Massif de Charlevoix, a ski area located in Petite-Rivière-Saint-François. Its vertical drop is 2,526 feet, the highest in Eastern Canada and east of the Rockies.
For the creatives. Visit Baie-Saint Paul –the first town of the Charlevoix region you will see if arriving from Quebec City. Founded over 350 years ago and known as the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil, this charming village is now filled with art galleries, boutiques and farm-to-table restaurants. Whether you are strolling the charming Saint-Jean Baptiste Street or wandering in the fields to taste local products, this town is sure to inspire your every senses.
For the foodies. Follow La Route des Saveurs, a trail from Petite-Rivière-Saint-François to La Malbaie, where you can stop for a tasting or sit down to dine and indulge in local ciders, beers, chocolates, meats, produce and cheeses. Oh the cheeses! Quebec cheeses have become the envy of the world and for good reason. You can’t leave Charlevoix without trying their mozzarella cheese curds. Listen for the “squeaking” sounds when you chew, that’s when you know they’re fresh!
For the history buffs. Continue to La Malbaie, a region considered the cradle of resort vacationing in Canada. It is here that the first ships sailed with wealthy Americans on board looking for a beautiful change of scenery that the region has become famous for. Even if you aren’t staying at the historic Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, you don’t have to be a guest to enjoy all that it has to offer year round. Indulge at one of its’ four restaurants (we recommend Le Saint-Laurent overlooking the St. Lawrence River), spend a day at the spa while your partner enjoys the infamous 27-hole golf course and reunite to explore the property’s astronomy observatory and later, the casino (if you’re feeling lucky).
For the corporate clan. Go local! Featuring everything from a grand ballroom accommodating up to 1,000 to smaller meeting rooms for more intimate gatherings, the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu is designed for any type of event; large conferences, reception dinners and virtual meetings alike. All meeting rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and supported by in-house experts available to make your local meeting, one to remember.
For the animal lovers. Willing to venture a little further? Tadoussac is calling. This small village located between Saguenay and the St. Lawrence River is known as one of the best places in the world for whale watching. While you can often spot these mammals from the shore, there is nothing like the experience of going on a sea excursion in a zodiac to get up close to two or three different species – and we saw five! When in town, you will want to support local by staying at Hotel Tadoussac, which seems to belong to another era. This hotel centrally located overlooking the Tadoussac bay is the perfect blend of history, nature and hospitality.
It’s those exact qualities that make Charlevoix a top pick for both personal and business travel. Host your next meeting in a province rich in culture, innovation and inclusion, rewarding your employees with experiences that will support the local economy all while keeping them engaged and inspired to continue over performing and exploring their own backyard.