Short on inspiration? Head to Baie-Saint-Paul. Did you know the town was named Cultural Capital of Canada in 2007? Not surprising, should you glance back in time. Many artists came to find inspiration in its colours, mountains and sea, wide open spaces and surrealist light. So many in fact that to count them, you’d need both hands and feet – and even then… Giants like Clarence Gagnon, A.Y. Jackson, Brymner, Cullen, Goldhamer, Jean Paul Lemieux and Marc-Aurèle Fortin all made Baie-Saint-Paul their home port at one time or another. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention the contributions of popular modern artists Yvonne Bolduc, Georges-Édouard Tremblay and Mary Bouchard.
Certain homes where great masters once lived are now genuine mini museums open to visitors. Such is the case with the home of a formidable coureur des bois and artist who marked more than one generation of local painters. It is also said that contemporary artist Guy Paquet – known for his endless Charlevoix skies – spent hours recreating the world on one great master’s front porch.
For all these reasons, Baie-Saint-Paul is a beacon to art lovers. Just take in the high concentration of art galleries on rue Saint-Jean Baptiste (25+), the gorgeous cluster of exhibitions showcased at the Baie-Saint-Paul Museum of Contemporary Art, a refreshed look at culture and heritage at Carrefour culturel
Paul-Médéric, the success of each edition of the International Symposium on Contemporary Art(34th edition in 2016) and that of the Rêves d’Automne art festival, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
For a quick glance at Charlevoix’s history, go for a spin over by Rivière du Gouffre (behind Caisse populaire Desjardins) where, under Leclerc Bridge, an immense fresco spins the tale of Charlevoix’s history. With the changing seasons, it showcases its agricultural, cultural, recreational and religious heritage. Entitled D’hier à aujourd’hui, the opus was created by three talented Baie-Saint-Paul artists: Jean-François Lavoie, Jocelyn & Serge Gilbert.