Fifteen minutes outside of Quebec City is a natural gem—Chute-Montmorency. While it is nearly as wide as Niagara Falls, at a height of 276 ft., it is 98 ft. higher. The water cascades into a basin 56 ft. deep. International tourists and Canadians alike stream in uninterrupted lines to experience the power of falling water from a suspension bridge which allows access from either side of the Montmorency River just before the falls drops and empties into the St. Lawrence.
There are two ways to get to the top of the falls. A couple of roomy cable cars are in constant motion ferrying 30 at a time to and from the top of the falls. The alternative requires more time, sweat and determination—a trudge up the 487 stairs on the right side of the mountain. Either way reveals wonderful views of this natural phenomenon.
For those who prefer the wilder side of life, traversing the falls via zip-line is an unforgettable event.)
Brave and fit visitors can zip-line across, a thrilling daredevil trip that takes 12-15 seconds. One can see the exhilaration on their faces as their bodies continue to pump adrenaline even after landing!
All that exercise hiking requires fuel replenishment. A very short drive over a bridge and voila, you’re on the Ile d’Orleans, a 21-mile long, 5-mile wide island smack in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. These 73 sq. miles are a mecca for the curious sightseer. Mile after mile there are small farms featuring all types of berries and currants, vegetables, apples, potatoes and various crops, maple syrup products, cider, art and craft galleries, specialty foods, bed and breakfasts, a fine bakery and charming restaurants. For lunch we stopped at the winery/agri-business, Vignoble Ste-Petronille, which has an upscale bistro food truck from restaurant Panache in Quebec City, which more than satisfied our hunger-pangs.
Exploring the island would take a few weeks but for the lack of time, this is a very condensed, highly abridged version that offers a soupçon of the local businesses.
Looking at the humble shrubs that populate the surrounding area, the word “sublime” hardly comes to mind. But hidden amongst those little branches and leaves are blackcurrants—the stuff of magic that, in the right hands, yields cassis. In it most refined state; the fruit is transformed into crème de cassis, a sweet liqueur that is an essential ingredient in turning mere champagne into a bubbly festival known as Kir. At Cassis Monna & Filles, there are 4 potable choices each with subtle differences, alcohol content and flavor palate. In addition, there are jams and spreads featuring, of course, blackcurrants.
Tigidou Loves You is the message on their business card. Here fresh local berries are converted into artisanal preserves and more. But the feast doesn’t stop there. The rooms in the old building are the prefect stage for objects, furniture and appliances from yesteryear with jars and bottles of their product deliciously arranged on wooden shelves. Yummy!
Apple cider takes on mythical proportions when the cold, quenching beverage comes from France or Quebec. Here the former fruit juice becomes a religious experience worth repeating again and again.
Lastly, a visit to Relais Pins brings new meaning to the word “maple”. Their syrup has an especially unique flavor and richness at this distinct maple-product boutique. The 6,000 trees are tethered to a system of tubes that collects the sap where it is then boiled down to 1/30th of its original volume into maple syrup. Nature, with a little help from humans, can accomplish amazing things. Sample this and much more on this amazing island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River.