As hiking in national parks seems to be a popular Canadian pastime, we wanted to visit a couple of them. The first one on our route was Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park, which is located approximately a two-hour drive away from Québec City. What interested me in this national park is that there were not only hiking trails, but also a possibility to take a boat ride along the river that runs through the national park. I’m not much of a hiker and my boyfriend is even less so, so boat ride while enjoying the scenery is just what we needed.
We arrived at the national park about an hour before the boat ride at 1 o’clock. This national park is car-free, so you need to stop at the visitors’ center, park your car, and buy tickets, after which you can take an old school bus to different stops in the national park. We got off at the last stop where the boat was leaving from.
The boat fits about 40 people and I think there was about 30 of us. I was expecting a peaceful boat ride while enjoying the views, but in fact there turned out to be a guide, who spoke almost the entire trip, which was super annoying. Firstly, because it was in French, which I don’t speak very well and secondly, the sound quality was atrocious, so even if I understand some French, this made it just impossible to distinguish anything. Also the guide had some sort of treasure hunt for the kids onboard, so the trip was pretty far from the peaceful sightseeing I was expecting.
Either way, the views were magnificent and there were plenty of people kayaking in the stream, which looked enviable as this was once again a rather hot day.
After one hour, just when we were about to turn back, the weather suddenly changed and it stated to rain cats and dogs. I stopped being envious of the kayakers then and there as it suddenly felt nice to be in a covered boat. 😀
In the end the two-hour boat ride was a bit too long especially with everyone crammed under the roof hiding from the rain, but it was interesting that the weather was halfway wonderfully sunny and on the way back dark and menacing. Quite different views on the way there and back.
When we got back, it was time for the next departure and there were only three people boarding that boat, so it seems that one o’clock departure is the most popular one and the rest might be a bit more peaceful.
On our way to La Malbaie, we stopped for a little while in Saint-Irénée, which in itself was quite an unremarkable village, but it had a very nice shoreline and was lovely and peaceful place this time in the evening.
We were staying in an inn called Auberge La Chatelaine, which look idyllic, but was actually an immensely impractical place. The bed was tiny, there was no air conditioning, and the sink had the British version of faucets – one faucet for the cold water and one for the hot. Also during breakfast the tables were so dainty and tiny that I could barely fit my feet under the table and my boyfriend didn’t have a chance. 😀
On the upside the breakfast was made from scratch by the owners and they did try to make our stay very comfortable.
Inn owners recommended several places for dinner and ended up in a restaurant called Chez Truchon, which was supposedly the best restaurant in La Malbaie. It was in fact pretty good, much better than anything we had in Québec City. 😀
And we also got to try Canadian wine for the first time. I have no idea why, but it never even crossed my mind that such thing as Canadian wine might exist and the fact that is was actually quite good, completely surprised me. Unfortunately I was driving, so I needed to limit myself to one glass.
After dinner we drove the 5 min drive back to our inn and tried to get some sleep in the crazily hot hotel room with a rickety bed.