Baie-Saint-Paul

Inspirations of the moment

Inspirations of the moment

A simple visit becomes memorable...

With your sweetheart, family or friends, Baie-Saint-Paul’s countless activities are perfect for crafting long-lasting memories. Here, rural and country life bubble with an effervescence that makes this town an unequalled destination to discover.

Baie-Saint-Paul Beach

Baie-Saint-Paul Beach

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A beach ‒ downtown? Yep. No! Where? Here, in Baie-Saint-Paul. Set off down rue Sainte-Anne, on foot or wheels, and follow Rivière du Gouffre. Less than a kilometre from there, the sea breeze gently awakens your senses. At the end of the road, the landscape opens onto a river, an estuary and its islands. On the pier, each step feels like you’re slowly walking into a picture postcard.

Lively at any hour of the day, Baie-Saint-Paul Pier is the perfect place to size up this seaside village, tucked away in a deep valley. To the west, the sandy beach stretches for kilometres. This is where countless families rendezvous in summer to plant their parasol, spread the picnic blanket and enjoy the scenery, protected from onlookers by a lovely sand dune covered in tall grasses. Let’s get the pails and shovels out! The sand is just the right texture for making the best sandcastles. At low tide, kids love rolling, making ‘mummies’ in the clay ponds that also appeal to the young at heart.

With the channel straight ahead, budding seafarers enjoy watching cruise and cargo ships slip by, with an eye turned toward their iPhone. Did you know that the Port of Québec’s website – portquebec.ca ‒ features an interactive map pinpointing maritime traffic? To identify the flags from different countries, pull out those binoculars!

On very windy days, keen kite surfers also converge on this site. Travelling with your kayak? Launching is easy, with hours of fun paddling around out in the big bay, but check the tide schedule. Raining? It’s as magical as it is inspiring.

Baie-Saint-Paul Beach
Baie-Saint-Paul Beach
Baie-Saint-Paul Beach
Go Green, Down by the Pier

Go Green, Down by the Pier

This is the ideal spot to take advantage of a river that, here, is also the sea. On the quai de Baie-Saint-Paul, the 360° view is breathtaking. You could spend hours spinning round, admiring the changes in light, the coming and going of the tide and humans in motion. In summer, Baie-Saint-Paul Pier is a top attraction among photo buffs, seafaring adventurers and meditation enthusiasts.

The pier is set against a backdrop of mountains. To the north, you can even spot Parc national des Grands-Jardins’ tall peaks, towering high above Rivière du Gouffre’s waters, a river teeming with fish that throws itself into the St. Lawrence. Twenty kilometres separate Baie-Saint-Paul from Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, our neighbour across the water. Needless to say, this river is majestic!

You’ll enjoy strolling over to le Boisé du Quai, a magnificent stand of pine appreciated by birders and sweethearts alike. Go for a walk or if you’d like to discover the forest’s natural resources and incredible edibles, hire a guide. I really enjoyed the forest product tasting at the end of the tour. On the Boisé’s west end, climb the observation platform overlooking the saltwater marshes. The view is amazing and it also offers a perspective on the Accalmie shipwreck, one of Charlevoix’s oldest schooners and at one time, artist Guy Paquet’s studio.

Interested in green building principles? Mix business with pleasure by visiting Habitat 07. At Le Boisé’s entrance, a small sustainable home reigns as master over the river and landscape. Inspired by ancestral savoir-faire, the structure couldn’t be more off-the-grid. Photovoltaic panels, green roofing, straw bale insulation ‒ it has everything for a fully independent energy-sourced home. Pull out your note pad and be inspired!

Go Green, Down by the Pier
Go Green, Down by the Pier
Go Green, Down by the Pier
Train de Charlevoix

Train de Charlevoix

Charlevoix is huge. Immense. You can wander for hours and hours, from the river’s shoreline to its backcountry where terroir growers and producers make magic. And where the mountains reach skyward with panache. To see it all takes time. Lots of time. You only have a little? Here’s the perfect solution: climb aboard the Train de Charlevoix. It offers a spectacular condensed visit, breathtaking scenery, an extraordinary experience.

For some, the experience starts at Parc des Chutes Montmorency, ten minutes from downtown Québec City. Others choose to leave from Baie-Saint-Paul Train Station, a greener mode of transportation to explore the region…why not leave your car behind? What an atmosphere in the train station! The Sunday farmers market means you can even stock up on local edibles and picnic later or bring goodies home to offer as gifts ‒ if that little mouse doesn’t get to them first!

Train de Charlevoix delivers lovely riverside panoramas. As it meanders down the line, hugging the mountainside, only metres from the river, the on-board experience is almost poetic, brimming with emotion. From Baie-Saint-Paul to La Malbaie, the train crosses through coastal villages, tooting a friendly greeting on its way. Locals often wave as it goes by. With a little planning, you can get off at Saint-Joseph de la Rive, in Saint-Irénée or La Malbaie, its final destination before returning to Baie-Saint-Paul. Feel like discovering Petite-Rivière-Saint-François? Great! The train also travels westward to that charming riverside village, nestled at the foot of the mountains.

On board, why not taste some fine terroir products, prepared here in Charlevoix? Or sip on a refreshingly cold beer or glass of wine, as you admire colossal scenery that leaves no one indifferent. The entire rail corridor? 125 kilometres!

Train de Charlevoix
Train de Charlevoix
Train de Charlevoix
Baie-Saint-Paul Museum of Contemporary Art

Baie-Saint-Paul Museum of Contemporary Art

Baie-Saint-Paul has long been a cultural capital where artists from here and away come to draw their inspiration. In the galleries, contemporary art needs no invitation to come inside! But within the walls of the Baie-Saint-Paul Museum of Contemporary Art is where you can stimulate your eye, big time. Did you know that the BSPMCA is the only regional museum of its kind? Not bad ‒ for a town of 7,800 residents! It should also be added that every year, Charlevoix welcomes over 850,000 visitors, a fair number of whom consider art to be a way of life.

The Museum’s brick edifice is downtown in the cultural quarters. Just wait to see what renowned Québec City architect Pierre Thibault did with the old Le Laurentien cinema. Its façade is adorned with immense glass panes that reflect the image of the neighbouring church’s bells. That alone is amazing. Inside, the use of space, the size of the display areas – and their content of course – is pure eye candy. The big hall dedicated to the memory of Françoise Labbé, the founder of la Corporation du Centre d’art in the mid-80s ‒ a major national exhibition centre showcasing Charlevoix’s artistic and cultural activities ‒ is where all major exhibitions are on display. You don’t want to miss Fenosa & Picasso ‒ A Friendship, this summer’s must-attend exhibition, here until November 6, on its North American debut. Until this same date, you can also see Oser voir autrement : Les grands collectionneurs III, a phenomenal foray into the world of French Canadian collectors.

Looking for inspiration? Plunge into the universe of live art, for the entire month of August for the past 34 years, by visiting the International Symposium on Contemporary Art. This year’s event welcomes 12 contemporary artists from Québec, Canada, the United-States, France, Switzerland and Senegal. The Symposium even features Sur le motif together with Le Sentier de l’Art ‒ or the Art Trail ‒ a photo exhibition & walking tour featuring 31 outdoor art exhibits across town. Dynamic and deeply inspiring!

Baie-Saint-Paul Museum of Contemporary Art
Baie-Saint-Paul Museum of Contemporary Art
Baie-Saint-Paul Museum of Contemporary Art
Strolling Down Rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Strolling Down Rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Much has happened on this mythical Baie-Saint-Paul street where stopping is a must. In town, it’s also called la main or main street. Every year, thousands of visitors come here to chat – the local expression in French is chouenner – meaning to stroll, shop, have a drink on a patio, sink your teeth into terroir goodies or simply see and be seen. In fact, any reason is good to head over to rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste to soak up the local culture.

This artery is narrow yet not very long. Its livelier portion spans less than two kilometres, between Baie-Saint-Paul Church and Rivière du Bras Bridge. The perfect little fitness trot, no? Recently, sidewalks have been added with pretty flowered rest areas. And keeping up with the times, those overhead electrical wires are now gone ‒ buried underground. It’s far nicer in photos that showcase its architecture, indicating the town wasn’t built yesterday. It was on this street as well that Cirque du Soleil performers led by Guy Laliberté and Gilles Sainte-Croix held their first summer fairs in the early 80s.

You’ll also enjoy sitting down in one of the quaint cafés and renowned restaurants, and shopping terroir products or a gift for Gail. Drop into the local artisan soap shop, the regional microbrewery, the candy shoppe or the ice cream parlor. It’s also a major hub for art lovers. According to some, rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste has the highest concentration of art galleries per square foot on one single street, in all of Canada. You can either window shop or pop in and out of galleries to admire their vast palette of local and international artists. This is where gallery owners share their passion with curious travellers, without fuss or fanfare. Sometimes this street is also invaded by painters, here to immortalize on canvas the most inspiring of Charlevoix street scenes.

Strolling Down Rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste
Strolling Down Rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste
Strolling Down Rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste
A Day Hikers’ Paradise

A Day Hikers’ Paradise

Charlevoix is one of those destinations that makes you feel like jumping into the landscape, both feet forward. Not surprising that with these lovely verdant valleys and majestic mountains, hiking has become a four-season national sport. Summer brings its share of small marvels well worth discovering, either alone or with your sweetheart, family or friends. Interested? Choose from three hiking tours, each with its very own breathtaking vistas.

Parc du Gouffre Trail ‒ From downtown Baie-Saint-Paul, this trail covers 7.4 km. It begins meandering along Rivière du Gouffre then takes you into the backcountry in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Midway, several belvederes offer commanding views where picnic tables are set up so you can boost your energy levels before taking to the trail again, onward toward trail’s end, at Le Genévrier.

Les Florents Trail ‒ From Le Genévrier (Route 138), the trailhead takes you on an 18.2 km hike with two possible exits ‒ at km 7 & km 11. The farther you go, the higher you climb so that by km 9, you’ll not be surprised to find a paragliding site. Because the backcountry has that special je-ne-sais-quoi, I really love hiking le Sentier des Pointes’ 10.9 km from the secondary trails behind La Ferme Basque, in Saint-Urbain.

Rivière Rémy Trail ‒ This trail is reached from Rang Saint-Jérome where you can park your car. After crossing Sentier des Florents, you meet up with Rivière Rémy trail that hugs the river for just under 2 km, until the lookout where the views are magnificent. To get out of the woods however, you must backtrack. But in the other direction, the terrain and vistas are just as pleasant. Inspired? Time to lace up those shoes!

A Day Hikers’ Paradise
A Day Hikers’ Paradise
A Day Hikers’ Paradise
Espace Baie-Saint-Paul

Espace Baie-Saint-Paul

In the heart of Baie-Saint-Paul is a place where a page in Charlevoix’s history has been written every day since 2004. Carrefour culturel Paul-Médéric is an exceptional showcase for Charlevoix’s artists and artisans, from yesterday until today. I recently dropped in, intrigued by what I had heard about Espace Baie-Saint-Paul, an exhibition centre spotlighting the destination’s history, heritage and dynamic culture. I wasn’t disappointed.

If you’re a history buff, come over this way. This interactive exhibition helps people understand why the pretty Baie is so rich and well-established. Technology is blended into the experience so you can explore by theme or by attraction, depending on your interests. As soon as you walk into this space, you are amazed by the quality of the giant images reproduced on five large screens (five screens, five themes). Click on the big colourful dots. The screen quickly shifts. A treasure trove of information pops up about the destination, in relationship to the five themes that interest you ‒ Nature, Culture, Heritage, Landscapes and Origins.

Comfortably ensconced in an armchair, you can travel vicariously through these images, watching a themed video of your choice. That’s all fine and swell, but did you know that to really feel history’s footprint on the landscape, you can also do a driving tour? Just download Apple store or Google Play’s free mobile app and voilà ‒ have the indispensable touring tool. Again, there are five visitor tours for discovering the region’s best-known and best-kept secrets via fifty or so GPS-located points of interest, supported by vintage photos, video clips and assorted content. Four-season tours that can be done on foot, by bicycle or by car!

Espace Baie-Saint-Paul
Espace Baie-Saint-Paul
Espace Baie-Saint-Paul
Inspire dantan.summer
Baie-Saint-Paul,
inspirations of yore