Fall getaways: Charlevoix, Quebec
“Farm to table” and slow food, have been a normal way of life for the geographically blessed citizens of Charlevoix. Just east of Quebec City and tucked away from mass tourism, people enjoy centuries-old traditions of sustainable farming and community-oriented agriculture. You can get to the region on a new purpose-built train “The Train of Le Massif de Charlevoix,” a venture of one of the founders of the Cirque du Soleil, who invested a chunk of his circus fortune into the region he loved as a child. (The last train of the season leaves October 13). Climb aboard at dramatic Montmorency Falls, watch historic churches roll by and see coastline you can’t access any other way.
You can break your trip into two parts: Baie-Saint-Paul and La Malbaie. (Or just focus on one area; there’s more than enough to do.) For the first leg, disembark at Baie-Saint-Paul. Guests arriving on Sunday will get into the region’s fresh food vibe right off the train — that’s farmers’ market day, and the market, right next to the train station, is brimming with baskets of blueberries and lobster mushrooms. Stay at the hotel La Ferme, an expansive property with gorgeous design and prices for all budgets; room categories range from dormitory-style to luxury boutique. Breathe deep and take in the grandiose landscape from outsized chaises on the grounds before setting out to explore. Bike along the Flavour Trail, stopping at a charming revived boulangerie, and artisanal cheese makers. Check out galleries in town, or just walk the woods or beach. You’ll want to finish the day with a sunset dip in La Ferme’s outdoor soaking pools. The next stage of the train journey brings you to La Malbaie, where there’s whale watching at Baie-Sainte- Catherine, or golf at Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu.