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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
Eugene Chaplin Introduces Chaplin's World Museum in Vevey, Switzerland

Charlie Chaplin and the Chaplin Museum
Lake Geneva/ Matterhorn Region and Switzerland Tourism recently blew into Los Angeles with the most esteemed guest, Eugene Chaplin. A man of remarkable lineage, he is the fifth child of Oona O'Neill and Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, the grandson of playwright Eugene O'Neill, the brother of Geraldine Chaplin and father of actress/model Kiera Chaplin.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Burren (Dispatch #14)

a dolmen at The Burren

The Palladian Traveler ventures back to the days of fearless Celtic warriors to search for some "stones to take you home" as he files his latest dispatch from the monochromatic moonscape known as The Burren.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Buckingham Palace – It's THE Most Popular Tour in Great Britain (Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)

Buckingham Palace exit
Is it more momentous for a Brit to do the Buckingham Palace tour than say an American or indeed any other nationality? Yes, I know that's an odd question, but if you grow up – as I did – in London back in the 1950s, getting inside Buckingham Palace was the stuff of dreams. Hence my surprise at touring BP in 2005.

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Paradise on Earth: The Romance of Tahiti and Her Islands

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
The first thing you notice is the fragrance. The intoxicating perfume of the tiare flower announces to your senses that you are in a magical place, overflowing with tropical vegetation and soothing trade winds. It is the same fragrance that the English seamen on the HMS Bounty also first encountered; but they came, not for flowers, but for breadfruit, intended as a new food staple for their slaves in the West Indies.

Eric Anderson's travel blog/review
Provence: As Much a Mood, a Spirit as a Destination

Christmas card
"On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" goes the song. Robert Goulet sang it and Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis, too, and it surely comes to mind when you stand on a bluff in the Luberon of Provence and stare across at the little hill village of Gordes. The view is the best part; the village's interior itself is not dramatic and stands as a warning of what contemporary popularity can do to the simple homes of 12th century working people.

go there

Fyllis Hockman's travel blog/review
Exploring Venice: Lost and Found. And Special Finds. Repeat.

Venice street musicians
Walking home to our apartment in Venice, we share a wave through the window with the owner of Baba, our local osteria. Leaving for a day of sightseeing, a cup of my favorite pistachio gelato awaits me despite the early hour. At the Bar Dugole, we relax after a day of sightseeing and order the regular: vodka for my husband and Amaretto for me.

Go There

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