Rolling countryside, rich history, welcoming people and a vibrant arts-and-culture scene await visitors to Québec’s bucolic playground, Charlevoix. Flanked by the St. Lawrence River to the south and the majestic Laurentian Mountains to the north, Charlevoix is an idyllic summertime escape for city-dwellers in search of fresh sea air and greener pastures. And there’s no better time to visit than this summer, thanks to exciting new attractions, like the historic Cité Mémoire, relocated from Montréal, and more.
What to see
After Montréal en Histoires, it’s the dazzling arrival of Cité Mémoire Charlevoix
Inspired by the region’s storied past, Cité Mémoire Charlevoix is a new multimedia experience that takes viewers back in time via a series of dazzling outdoor light displays. Created and produced by Michel Lemieux with text by playwright Michel Marc Bouchard, the immersive public art exhibit launches this June in its first new location, having previously been Montréal’s famed video circuit project.
Almost two years in the making, Cité Mémoire Charlevoix features five unique tableaux depicting the fascinating characters and historic social, cultural and political moments that shaped the region. The bilingual videos star 25 francophone, anglophone and First Nations actors—including Vincent Leclerc, Guylaine Tremblay, Tamara Brown and Charles Buckell-Robertson—alongside 47 Charlevoix locals cast to portray various notable figures.
Starting each night at dusk, the cinematic projections will illuminate local landmarks and heritage sites including Musée de Charlevoix, the Pointe-au-Pic church and the rocky cliffside opposite the Pointe-au-Pic wharf. “Each projection lasts approximately 10 minutes and is played in a loop, which frees the audience from the constraint of a fixed schedule,” explains creator Lemieux. “The five tableaux unfold in images, words and music, animated by a spirit that is sometimes playful, other times poetic.”
Enhance your experience with the app
Visitors can download the bilingual Cité Mémoire mobile app to access narrative commentary and musical soundtracks designed to accompany each of the projections. The app also features 70 unique audio stories and augmented reality works that can be enjoyed at any time, taking listeners on a guided tour across 2,000 square kilometres of the region.
What to do
Soar over the city on Le Vol de l’Oiseau mécanique
Another nocturnal attraction debuts in Charlevoix this summer with the unveiling of the world’s first mountainside night-time carousel, Le Vol de l’Oiseau mécanique. The large-scale attraction invites visitors to fly between sky, land and sea aboard the six-kilometre chairlift at the Massif de Charlevoix. The hour-long experience takes riders soaring under the stars while glittering light-and-sound displays illuminate the rugged landscape below.
Charlevoix’s summer musts
When the sun comes up, Charlevoix offers a wide range of warm-weather activities for visitors looking to make the most of the region’s natural beauty. Some of North America’s best whale watching can be enjoyed aboard a zippy Zodiac in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park. With a unique tidal flow of both fresh and salt water, the protected ecosystem is home to 13 whale species and thousands of aquatic birds and marine mammals.
Those who prefer their adventures on dry land can head to Grands-Jardins National Park to discover scenic hiking trails and rugged via ferrata climbing routes, or hit the links at Charlevoix’s renowned golf courses. The 27-hole course at Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu Golf Club offers breathtaking views from a rolling hillside, while the historic Murray Bay golf course lays claim as the third-oldest golf club in North America.
Where to stay
The centrally located town of La Malbaie is the perfect jumping-off point from which to explore the lush landscapes and sandy shores of the Charlevoix region. Boasting plenty of small-town charm, the seaside locale is home to upscale hotels, boutique inns and agrotourism attractions specializing in sustainable ingredients and farm-to-table fare. A prominent holiday destination among the high society set throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, La Malbaie is an area steeped in history and is widely considered to be one of Canada’s first tourist hotspots. American president William Howard Taft famously spent the warm-weather months at his La Malbaie summer estate, inspiring bourgeoisie visitors to flock to the countryside in droves.
How to get there
A picturesque hour-long drive northeast from Québec City, Charlevoix is easily accessible by car or, for travellers who prefer taking the scenic route, via train. This summer, a new green hydrogen-powered train will take to the rails as the first zero-emission train in North America. Departing from Montmorency Falls station for Baie-Saint-Paul station, passengers will travel along the banks of the St. Lawrence River past charming pastoral villages built against the rocky slopes of the Canadian Shield. The train is scheduled to run Wednesdays to Saturdays throughout the summer months so be sure to plan accordingly.
Visit tourisme-charlevoix.com to plan your stay in La Malbaie and learn more about Cité Mémoire Charlevoix at montrealenhistoires.com.