Charlevoix – a weekend with whales

Born and raised in Montreal, I have been conditioned to believe that I have originated from the best place in Canada, quite possibly the world.  Being an English-speaking Montrealer (or “Anglo”) on top of it all, it was rare that I would venture out of the safe compounds of this remaining English enclave.  The sole exception to that rule, was a nice overnight trip to Quebec City.

However, I had always been curious about the whale watching tours of Eastern Quebec, and one long-weekend I decided to give it a chance.  I really don’t regret it, as the region just might be one of my top three vacation spots.  Why the uncertainty?  Because this whale watching adventure was the focal point of a romantic gettaway, and I would really need to revisit the region as a single person to see if it still holds the same charm.  Maybe I could go there alone and pursue some artistic hobby, like learning how to paint, and become the next Emily Carr.  She never got married, and I probably won’t either.  Hmmm…. where was I going with this?

The drive took roughly five hours from Montreal to Baie-St-Paul, where we had booked a weekend package.  This included: accommodation for two nights, a buffet breakfast daily, one 3-course dinner, and a whale watching day cruise in the Saguenay Fjords.  We had added to this a trip to Parc-des-Hautes-Gorges, one of the two national parks in the area.

The room at our inn was quaint and cozy, with some of the best pillows I have ever rested my head on.  I wish I had taken one of those pillows… Equipped with a small t.v. and mini fridge, the room catered well to our needs for background noise and chilled champagne.  The breakfast offered standard fare, and was not entirely exciting, but provided a good start to the day.  The plated, 4 course meal for dinner was just what you’d expect: good French food with a selection of game meat and soft cheeses.  The baked brie and cranberries with maple syrup drizzle was memorable.

Our day at Parc-des-Hautes Gorges was a short one.  We were picked up by a school bus, which also brought us back to the hotel.  We attempted a 2km walk (yeah, we are very outdoorsy…) which was interrupted by long photo sessions of the surrounding views.  With all that fresh air, the chilled champagne mentioned earlier knocked us right out.

Day 2 involved a trip out to Ste-Catherine.  The route was confusing, and it was very cold and rainy.  We drove our car right onto the ferry, and I didn’t dare venture outside until we had to board the little cruiser.   Pressed against the window of this two level vessel, I was able to see a few beluga whales, all of whom were to quick for me to capture on film.  When I did dare to go outside, I was happy to catch the beauty of the Saguenay Fjords, if only for five minutes.

On our final day in Charlevoix, we took a stroll around the marina before packing up the car and checking out.  We took a nice driving tour of Ste-Irenee, the picturesque sister town of Baie-St-Paul.  The morning mist and post-rain fog allowed the green pastures to shine through the gray.  Very beautiful to witness, not so good for photos.

Sigh, now I want to go back RIGHT NOW!  I will close by saying that aside from my promising painting career, I think I would like to go in the summer months of July or August since May proved too wet.

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  1. Pingback: 30 by 30 in Pictures – No. 1 – Canada | See Simi Travel Blog

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