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Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec, Canada

Souvenirs de Charlevoix sign, Baie Saint Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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souvenirs de Charlevoix sign, Baie Saint Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Baie-Saint-Paul, one of the oldest towns in Quebec, is the cultural capital of Charlevoix. Painters and other artists have long been drawn to the region for its natural beauty. Baie-Saint-Paul is also the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil.

Rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Galleries, boutiques and cafés line the busy rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste. It is a great place to find all sorts of souvenirs of your trip, from woolen socks to fine art.

woolen shop, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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woolen shop, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Bouquet, Baie Saint Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Bouquet, Baie Saint Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Le Pot aux Roses, Baie Saint Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Le Pot aux Roses, Baie Saint Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

artist Marc-Aurèle Fortin monument, rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Baie Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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artist Marc-Aurèle Fortin monument, rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Baie Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Shâmane cosmetics, Baie-Saint_Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Shâmane cosmetics, Baie-Saint_Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

La Tannerie, Baie Saint Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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La Tannerie, Baie Saint Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

The kind of traditional houses with mansard roofs immortalized by Clarence Gagnon in his enchanting winter landscapes are found here and along the side streets.

rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Browse the work of Quebec’s finest landscape artists past and present amidst the original furnishings in the gallery of Maison René Richard (free). Richard lived here during the last 43 years of his life and met with other artists like Gagnon, Fortin and the Group of Seven. A tour of the studio is $7 CAD.

Maison René Richard, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Maison René Richard, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Musée d’Art Contemporain, with national and international contemporary art, ($10, seniors $7 CAD) and Carrefour Culturel Pail-Médéric (free) are nearby, just past Baie-Saint-Paul’s Church. Canadian artists come here in August for the Symposium of Modern Art and make a giant painting of the theme of the year.

Restaurant Bistro Mouton Noir’s chef-owner Thierry Ferré, from the Brittany region of France, incorporates local products in his cuisine. The Bohemian decor is reminiscent of the 1980s when a group of about twenty street performers met here. (main dishes, dinner, $34-$41 CAD)

Mouton Noir, Baie Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Mouton Noir, Baie Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

 

salad, Mouton Noir, Baie Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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salad, Mouton Noir, Baie Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Restaurant Bistro Mouton Noir, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Restaurant Bistro Mouton Noir, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Two of those performers, Gilles Ste-Croix and Guy Laliberté, went on to found Cirque du Soleil. Laliberté eventually bought out Gauthier, who returned to his roots to invest in three major projects — the Train of Le Massif , Hôtel La Ferme, and Le Massif de Charlevoix ski area.

Train of Le Massif at La Ferme, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Train of Le Massif at La Ferme, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

La Massif de Charlevoix, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Le Massif de Charlevoix ski area, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

The Flavour Trail

Canada’s Slow Foods Movement, farm-to-fork program, and Flavour Trail originated in Charlevoix. This epicurean destination offers opportunities to sample the province’s finest signature products.

 

flavor trail sign, Boulangerie Bouchard, l'isle-aux-Coudres, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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flavor trail sign, Boulangerie Bouchard, l’isle-aux-Coudres, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

La Route des Saveurs de Charlevoix, Charlevoix’s Flavour Trail, is a result of the close ties between chefs and local growers and producers. This adventure in gastronomy is a circuit of over forty local growers, specialty producers, and restaurateurs who open their doors to visitors. Ciders, artisan beers, pâtés, cheeses, fois gras, fresh produce, baked goods, meats and fine chocolates are but some of what is found here.

The trail runs from Petite-Rivière-St-François to La Malbaie and includes L’Isle-Aux-Coudres. We made several stops along the way.

Le Migneron cheese, Maison Mayrice Dufour, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Le Migneron cheese, Maison Mayrice Dufour, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

We savored Ciel de Charlevoix and Le Secret de Maurice before selecting Le Migneron as our favorite at Maison D’Affinage Maurice Dufour in Baie-Saint-Paul. There are samples of the fine award-winning Quebec cheeses — blue cheese prepared with ewe’s milk and a brie that stays runny even when chilled. It is even possible to visit the sheep.

Maison D'Affinage Maurice Dufour in Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Maison D’Affinage Maurice Dufour in Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

The bakers had risen with the sun to make their baguettes, bâtards, a round bread aptly called Meteorite, and more at Boulangerie Meunerie La Rémy in Baie-Saint-Paul.

Boulangerie La Rémy mill, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Boulangerie La Rémy mill, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Boulangerie La Rémy bread,including Meteorite, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Boulangerie La Rémy bread,including Meteorite, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Organic wheat is ground into flour as gushing water turns the gears of a watermill that dates to 1827.

water wheel. Boulangerie Meunerie La Rémy in Baie-Saint-Paul
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water wheel. Boulangerie Meunerie La Rémy in Baie-Saint-Paul

Cirque du Soleil co-founder Daniel Gauthier opened Hôtel La Ferme in Baie-Saint-Paul in 2012. He planned to renovate the largest freestanding wood barn in Canada as lodging for his other venture, the ski area at Le Massif de Charlevoix, a ski mountain with the highest vertical drop east of the Canadian Rockies.

original farm model, La Ferme, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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original farm model, La Ferme, Charlevoix

The barn burned down before he could start. Instead a chic yet casual award-winning five pavilion complex was built and decorated in a style reflecting the agricultural nature of the area.(Rooms from $229 CAD. Dormitory from $85 CAD, package plans available.)

La Ferme, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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La Ferme, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

pool and grounds of La Ferme, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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pool and grounds of La Ferme, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

farm implementts La Ferme, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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farm implementts La Ferme, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Chef David Forbes’ uses Charlevoix products in his seasonal cuisine du marché (market fresh cuisine) served in the hotel’s Les Labours Restaurant.(Dinner main dishes $25-34 CAD)

dessert at Les Labours Restaurant at Le Ferme, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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dessert at Les Labours Restaurant at Le Ferme, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

During the summer season Le Train of Le Massif de Charlevoix travels between Montmorency Falls in Quebec City and Hôtel La Ferme.

Train of Le Massif at La Ferme, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Train of Le Massif at La Ferme, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Train of Le Massif at La Ferme, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Le Train of Le Massif de Charlevoix, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Le Train of Le Massif de Charlevoix, Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

The gourmet menu of regional flavors served onboard during the two-hour trip was created by the chef of the Manoir Richelieu.

pastry tray, Train de Le Massif, charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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pastry tray, Train de Le Massif, charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

breakfast on train of Le Massif de Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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breakfast on train of Le Massif de Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

The route runs along the St. Lawrence past charming villages and offers mountain and sea vistas accessible only by rail.

view of tunnel from Le Train de Le Massif, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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view of tunnel from Le Train de Le Massif, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

approaching Baie-Saint-Paul by train, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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approaching Baie-Saint-Paul by train, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

It is the most scenic rail excursion in eastern Canada. An iPad multimedia presentation describes points of interest along the way like Basilique Sainte Anne de Beaupre.

Train of Le Massif iPad presentation with Sainte-Anne, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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iPad presentation while passing Basilique Sainte-Anne aboard Le Train of Le Massif , Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Basilique Sainte Anne de Beaupre, Quebec, Canada
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Basilique Sainte Anne de Beaupre, Quebec, Canada

Train of Le Massif, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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Train of Le Massif, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

 

Train of Le Massif, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
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inscription, Train of Le Massif, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Smart travelers have discovered another great reason to vacation in Canada. After years of trading at par or less, a U.S. dollar buys $1.27 Canadian dollars (CAD) July 9, 2015. That means a Canadian dollar costs just seventy-nine cents. Why not opt for a trip like this with a built-in discount?

Prices and exchange rates are as of July 10, 2015 and subject to change.

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