Updated: Oct 3
“The Isle of Cheese”, as I call it, is a wonderland for foodies, oenophiles, and cheesemongers alike. Nestled in a snug section of the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City, Ile d'Orleans offers a respite from bustling city crowds for a day trip into more tranquil shores.
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Visit Montmorency Falls
Only 10 minutes drive from Quebec City, start your day trip to Ile d'Orleans with a visit to Montmorency Falls. Here, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy a morning hiking in nature all year round.
Remember that everything here is French, so it also goes by the name "Parc de la Chute-Montmorency".
You can buy your ticket for access to the falls and parking online in advance, which is recommended but not required.
For the really adventurous traveler, you can zip line across the falls or even scale the rock face for a very affordable fee around $30 Canadian per person. Most visitors just hike the many many stairs along the rock face and enjoy the views from the top, which includes a gift shop and outpost. Not feeling fit? There's also a cable car trip you can take!
Cross The Pont de l'Ile Bridge to Ile D'Orleans
After the falls, it is likely you've worked up an appetite. Cross the Pont de l'Île bridge from Montmorency Falls and begin your journey around the island.
How big is the island of Ile d'Orleans?: 74 Km around
How long will it take to drive around Ile d'Orleans?: About 1 hour without stops
With stops planned in advance, you can be sure to hit at least one or two wineries, a ciderie, and a fromagerie all in one trip. If you don't really want to plan it all (or do the driving yourself), consider a pre-packaged tour for less than $40 or perhaps make a plan to drop the car and rent bikes for your day of discovery!
Visit Some Wineries
Serenity can be found at Vignoble Isle de Bacchus, the start of your tour around the 74km (one hour) loop around the island.
Offering gorgeous hillside slopes of vines you can picnic, do some wine tasting, and take in the river scenery.
Other wineries on the island include (but are not limited to):
Saint Pierre Le Vignoble
Cassis Monna & Filles
Le Seigneurie de Liret
Le Vignoble du Mitan
Be sure to check their websites in advance for seasonal closures.
Go To A Cidery and Orchard
Cideries are also popular in Canada, serving up hard ciders made from the land you see around you.
Offered primarily in champagne flutes, these fancy feeling drinks can be enjoyed on their own or as part of a cocktail.
Enjoy ciders at some of the following orchards:
Domaine L'Ange Gardien
Note that several of these cideries also offer grape wines.
Visit a Cheese Shop
One example of a cheese shop on your route is Les Fromages de l'isle d'Orleans - full of charm and history, and of course dozens of cheeses on offer - be sure to stock up for your afternoon nibbles.
Try Some Maple Products
Maple products can be found everywhere you look in Canada, and Ile de Orleans doesn’t disappoint. From places called “cabane a sucre” or, sugar shacks, both kids and adults alike will enjoy sampling a variety of maple based products from jams to candies and of course, syrup. Some even offer pancake breakfasts or other down-home sit down meals.
Shop for Local Produce
Farm stands, produce shops and other local sellers can be easily found along your 74km drive. Bring home the best souvenirs from pate, cheese, maple products, to jams and jellies, sweets and fresh produce.
Spend The Night At a Bed and Breakfast
The scenery in Ile d'Orleans is incredibly romantic, so why not park the car, rent a bicycle and just bop around slowly - winery to winery? All that drinking is hard work, so have an afternoon nap at your B&B on the island and regroup for a romantic dinner later that evening.
Return to Quebec City
Whether the next morning after a restful stay at a B&B or later that afternoon, enjoy a few nights in Quebec City to soak in the cities' French culture and cuisine, stunning historical architecture, and cozy alley shops.
After a day touring Ile d'Orleans, hiking, eating cheese and sipping on wine, you deserve a great French meal. I recommend Le Lapin Saute in the heart of Old Quebec City. Just about everything on the menu is made from rabbit, so make room for their rabbit charcuterie board!
Then, say bonne nuit to your perfect day trip enjoying Ile d'Orleans and Quebec City.