Île d’Orléans – also known as the “Garden of Quebec” – is a perfect destination for cyclist or families for a day trip from Quebec City. Located in the Saint-Lawrence river, Île d’Orléans is an enchanting island where you can experience agri-tourism, scenery and heritage. The island has many breathtaking viewpoints, including one over the Montmorency Falls.
Île d’Orléans is the cradle of French civilization in North America. In fact, the island had been long inhabited by indigenous tribes until French explorer Jacques Cartier first set foot on it in the 16th century. There is no surprise to the reason why French people decided to settle there; it was because of its fertile soil and the abundance of wild grapes growing in the island.
Since the day of the first French settlers, agriculture has been the main economy. In fact, the island is very popular for its produce of apples, strawberries, potatoes, maple syrup and wineries. During your trip in the island, it is possible to visit vineyards, sugar shacks and other local farms.
You can also enjoy the aroma of Lavender as you stroll through the island and more specifically at The Seigneurie de l’Île d’Orléans, which is a beautiful farm composed of numerous themed gardens.
Île d’Orléans is divided into 6 municipalities, which you can easily explore. You can stop by in each of them as you are driving and check out the shops, stands or farms you see.
As we were limited in time, we only stopped by Sainte-Pétronille. This little town is located in the Western part of the island and overlooks the Montmorency falls. But it also offers beautiful views on the bay of Beauport and on the vineyards. You can get to visit multiple things in Sainte-Pétronille such as a chocolate factory, a blackcurrant liquor factory or a winery. We opted for the last one.
The visit of this winery was a great surprise and I highly recommend it. We got to taste their local production of white, red and liquored wines. I really got amazed about the quality of white wines that they produce and could not help buying 2 bottles.
Finally, we also stopped by the Chocolaterie de l’Île d’Orléans to get some energy with a home made ice-cream before hitting the road.
Our next stop was Montmorency Falls. Located between the river and the cliffs, the falls are one of Quebec’s most spectacular sites. They are easily accessible both from Quebec City and Île d’Orléans. The falls can be seen from different perspectives as there are staircases allowing visitors to have the falls in front of them, as well as a suspension bridge over the crest of the falls. The latest option is really worth it to admire the intensity of the water flow.
Overall, we really had a great day visiting Île d’Orléans and Montmorency Falls. I highly recommend you stop by both of these sites if you happen to be in Quebec City.