And thus, on a bright end-of-summer Saturday morning, we decided to pack our bikes, bathing suits, and little ones, and spend family time visiting the Isle-aux-Coudres near Baie-St-Paul, Charlevoix.
Not knowing for sure if the temperature would be on our side on this end-of-August/sort-of-beginning-of-Fall day (you know how cold it can get along the river), we brought our bathing suits, but also some warmer clothes.
We left around 9:15 AM from Quebec, and we took the road on that beautiful end-of-summer Saturday morning.
It takes around an hour and a half car ride from Quebec City to get to the St-Joseph-de-la-Rive’s ferry.
Some ferries leave every 30 minutes and make the round trip from St-Joseph-de-la-Rive and Isle-aux-Coudres.
The whole thing is free. We can take the ferry by car, foot, bike, motorcycle, VR… In short, we’ve seen it all.
Once on the boat, there’s a small relaxation area on the deck with benches and quite enough space. We can climb and enjoy the view while crossing the river. Very pleasant!
A quick tip: while the Covid-19 is still striking, we are asked to wear a mask on the ferry if we leave the car.
WAITING FOR THE FERRY: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
The waiting to embark on the ferry at St-Joseph-de-la-Rive can be very long.
We got there around 11:00 AM, and we got on the boat around 1:00 PM. There were many people on that bright end-of-summer Saturday morning, and it took a lot of time. It was our worst mishap of the day, and the info wasn’t given anywhere.
Our hopes to take a bike ride around the isle, to stop and have lunch along the way to finally spend the rest of the day by the riverside were pushed aside since we were already late, and with our little boy’s patience running thin. At 1:00 PM, we had to rethink our planning once on the other side of the river, hungry from not having lunch yet.
For your info, though, the way back from the Isle-aux-Coudres on the ferry to St-Joseph-de-la-Rive was better. We retook the boat at 3:30 PM and waited for only 15 minutes. A waiting time far more reasonable.
And since it was our first time trying this ride, I can’t tell if it really was “normal” and everything…
BIKE RIDE ON ISLE-AUX-COUDRES
Without knowing beforehand, we had in mind to take a ride around the isle by bike thinking: “Hey, why not take a little tour of the Isle-aux-Coudres?”. With nearly 24 km to make the whole trip, with a lunch break, we thought we could do it.
In the end, with our little mishap, we decided to take a ride in the car for a while, to stop at a restaurant, and to take off by bike after filling up.
That way, we also realized that the first part of the isle where we were dropped off is hillier than the other part (so more challenging by bike with the kids we carry in children seats behind us – and my 5-months pregnant self). So it worked out well in the end since we could realize the problems we would have had while having the opportunity to reshape our plans to fit our conditions.
After lunch, we headed toward the river’s shore road on the other side of the isle and begun our bike ride.
It’s useful to know that there are no bike paths. However, we took the Chemin des Coudriers which isn’t too busy. It also is quite rough, so beware of potholes. However, the river’s view is splendid, and the air is filled with the river’s scent.
We also stopped to take a look at the low-tide, to explore the muddy soil where we saw small shrimps and where we played in water puddles.
Then we took the road back to the car and crossed the isle again to meet the ferry.
We had our own rides and equipment, but know that if you do not, then the Vélo-Coudres company offers many options of bikes, quadricycles, and more, so you can enjoy the place while cycling.
WHERE TO EAT
The options to freshen up and eat aren’t abundant on Isle-aux-Coudres, but the isle is so small that we understand. On our part, we chose Le Corylus Resto-Bistro. It’s a nice place on the river’s shore where you can eat various local dishes.
From ciders to sparkling apple must, stopping by the “pâté croche”, lobster roll, fish n’ chips, Charlevoix’s cheese and local sausages, the menu is garnished.
We chose the local cold cuts, cheeses and meat pies plank, fried squid and kids meals for the young ones. We ended our meal with a carrot cake and a cheesecake; both made on the spot.
WHAT TO DO ON ISLE-AUX-COUDRES
Our day wasn’t as fulfilled as we wished it would be because of the long wait at the ferry, but if we did have had more time, we surely would have gone:
– Visiting the Pednault cidery: https://www.charlevoixenligne.com/
– To eat an ice cream cone at Aux Fruits du Biscuitier: https://auxfruitsdubiscuitier.com/
– To snack on Bouchard bakery’s pastry (also known for it’s “pâtés croches”): http://www.boulangeriebouchard.com/
So here you go! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
This post was translated from French to English by:
My name is Sophie, a passionate language learner, and a full-time dog mom. Long walks, soothing cups of tea, Japanese learning and the search for beauty are my everyday life. Slowly but surely is how I do things, contemplating the peaceful ways of time and the enchanting notion of living the moment.