Quebec's Île d’Orléans feels like a secret the French Canadians have been keeping to themselves. Who can blame them?

By Tanvi Chheda
October 16, 2019
Fall colors at Confiturerie Tigidou, on the Île d’Orléans
Courtesy of Confiturerie Tigidou

When explorer Jacques Cartier came upon the Île d’Orléans in 1535, he appropriately named it "Bacchus Isle," after the Roman god of the grape harvest. Still dotted with vineyards — and apple orchards, berry farms, and sugar shacks — this island is a gloriously idyllic destination for a Canadian fall getaway.

Grab your designated driver and follow this day-trip itinerary to sample some of its bounty.

Morning

Wake up at the Auberge Saint-Antoine, a beloved 95-room Relais & Châteaux property in Quebec City, and grab your designated driver for a spin round the island. Pick up some jams at Confiturerie Tigidou, opened in 2013 by husband-and-wife team Vincent Paris and Catherine Trudel. They produce nearly 80,000 jars of preserves per year in combinations such as strawberry-mint, raspberry-coriander, and blueberry-rosemary, many made with fruit they grow themselves. Sample them in the tasting room, housed in a historic barn.

Refuel with pastries at the darling La Boulange, set in a Second Empire–style building across from an equally charming church. Adjacent to the bakery is La Cabane, a shop that sells handmade wares such as ceramics and woolen products knitted by local artisans. For a pint and a full lunch, drive on to Microbrasserie de l’Île d’Orléans and the brewery’s on-site alehouse, Pub Le Mitan. Try the Suzanne Marceau, an amber beer with a hint of smoke and maple syrup (this is Quebec, after all).

Afternoon

Farther down the road, in a bright white building with a red roof, is Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau — one of the first apple farms and cider houses on the island. Sample ice cider, apple butter, homemade pies, and the apple-and-maple-syrup aperitif called mistelle. During the fall, the farm is open for apple picking. The nearby winery Isle de Bacchus specializes in ice wines made from cool-climate grapes such as Foch, Vandal Blanc, and Acadia Blanc. Grab a glass and a charcuterie-and-cheese board from the newly opened bistro.

At Cassis Monna & Filles, you can get a taste of crème de cassis, the famous black-currant liqueur. Founder Bernard Monna, whose ancestors were distillers in France, arrived in Quebec as a teenager and eventually acquired farmland on the island. His two daughters have since joined the business and initiated an expansion and renovation; the plot now includes 40 acres of currants and a modern tasting room, with views of the berry bushes and St. Lawrence River, plus a lively new restaurant, La Monnaguette. Try the whole catalog of infused goodies — wine, jam, syrup, mustard — and order the crowd-pleasing black-currant-and-vanilla soft serve for dessert.

Evening

For your last stop, head to one of the island’s newer wineries: the family-owned Vignoble Ste.-Pétronille. Pair the excellent whites (Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and more) with charcuterie or duck poutine from Panache Mobile, a seasonal pop-up from the folks behind the Auberge Saint-Antoine.

End the day back in Old Quebec with a truly Québécois dinner at the revamped Laurie Raphaël, which recently changed hands from father to son and daughter. The second generation is pushing the boundaries of French Canadian fine dining, incorporating local ingredients like maple, birch, caviar from Lake St.-Pierre, and seaweed from the St. Lawrence River.

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