If you live in Montreal and haven’t made the 3-hour road-trip to visit Île d’Orléans, you need to plan it soon. I can’t say I’ve visited many places in the province of Québec, but I’ve been visiting this island a couple of times a year every year since friends of mine moved there a few years ago. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen and is only a couple of hours’ drive. If you plan on going there but aren’t familiar with the island, are not sure what to do or where to go, here are some of my favourite things to do and places to go to when I’m there:
Driving/walking along Chemin Royal:
The island is very small, it’s only 34 km long and 8 km wide, and it is surrounded by the Saint-Laurent river. You can take Chemin Royal to drive around the island which is about 70 km, or you can go halfway taking the Mitan road to cut your ride in half and see farm animals along the way. I usually stay in the Saint-Jean area and we love to go for a walk and chill on the Saint-Jean dock to take in that gorgeous view… so peaceful! If the weather allows, there’s also a beach there (and more elsewhere on the island) if you want to go for a swim.
Boutique de la Vinaigrerie du Capitaine:
Located in Saint-Jean, I like to stop there for ice-cream while on one of our walks. You can also get a variety of organic black currant-based delicacies such as herbs, olive oils, vinegars, syrups, spreads, mustards, etc. I personally love their black currant jam!
La Roulotte du Coin:
Located in Sainte-Famille, this snack bar is by far one of my favourite spots to grab a bite to eat on the island. It’s a bit more expensive considering it’s a snack bar and not a restaurant, but worth every single penny. Their specialty is duck meat and their menu is mouth-watering: their potatoes are fried in duck fat, their foie gras (liver pâté) poutine is to die for, so are their pulled duck sandwich and fried duck feet for dessert, among other dishes. The ducks are bred farm-style by the owner, are NOT forced-fed and roam freely and happily outdoors. Even the cooking is home-made style, all products used for their dishes come from the island and no preservatives are used. Choose your favourite dish off the menu, pair it with the sparkling apple must, have a little improvised picnic on their premises and admire the beautiful view in front of you while you enjoy your food!
I’ve only been there once but definitely want to go back. You can walk around in the winery with a glass of wine (they sell them by the glass or the bottle) or go inside for a wine-tasting at their boutique. I suggest you get a table at the terrace, while indulging in a lobster roll from their restaurant Panache Mobile with a beautiful view of the winery.
The Montmorency waterfalls aren’t technically on the island, but they’re located right across the bridge, so you might as well check them out if you’re in the area.
Cassis Monna & Filles:
Originally from France, owner Bernard Monna and his daughters Anne and Catherine have mastered the art of black currant-based wine and liqueur. Check out their boutique and taste the variety of products they have. My favourites are their Crème de Cassis (to make a delicious Kir or Kir Royal), as well as their Fruité wine to make their Monaguette sangria (recipe here): they serve it at their restaurant and it’s SO good! You can also grab a bite at the Monaguette restaurant to discover how a dish can be elevated with black currant, all the while admiring the view of their black currant fields and the bridge from the terrace. Oh, and make sure you get a black currant and vanilla ice cream cone before you head out: they’re to die for!
Other places not pictured but strongly suggested:
–La Boulange for fresh bread or delicious viennoiseries
–Chocolaterie de l’Île d’Orléans for coffee on their terrace, their yummy chocolate variety or delicious ice-cream
-St-François observation tower to snap some pics
Of course, the activities mentioned in this post are the ones I’ve been doing on repeat, but there are SO MANY more things to enjoy on the island such as biking, kayaking, sight-seeing its historical sites, antique shopping, visiting art galleries, and experiencing all its culinary delights! To find out more, visit its tourism board website right here or its official website there! Oh, and whatever you do, don’t forget to grab a basket of the famous Île d’Orléans strawberries at one of the many stands you’ll see along the road. You can thank me later ;-)
Note: sorry for the inconsistency in the photo sizes/quality… some of the pics date back from years ago and I lost the original versions, some were taken with an SLR, others with a phone… bit of a mess :(