Cobblestone sidewalks, quaint cafes, and a bustling arts scene are what most people think of when they imagine a Quebec City vacation. While those things are all frequently seen in Quebec City, there’s a completely different environment just a short drive away. Iles d’Orleans (Orleans Island, in English), an island about the size of Manhattan, is thought of as the garden of Quebec City. With a separate microclimate, this island offers delicious, locally made food and is a great change of pace from a city vacation.
A Morning in Iles d’Orleans Quebec
On my recent trip to Quebec City for the Women in Travel Summit, I had the opportunity to take a complimentary trip to Iles d’Orleans with Quebec Bus Tour. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and fun, and I really enjoyed learning about the island and tasting some of the local products from Quebec.
If you are visiting Quebec City with kids, I’d definitely recommend adding a trip to Iles d’Orleans to your agenda. Here’s the link to book a very similar trip to the one we took with the same company (I think ours was a bit shorter and included less/different stops). I definitely love the idea of taking the bus tour, because you get the history, narration, and stories of the area.
The small bus picked us up right outside the Chateau Frontenac. After boarding the bus and meeting our guide/driver Jean-Christophe, we drove the short distance to Iles d’Orleans. As we headed over the bridge to the island (the only way to drive on and off), we were able to get a quick glance at the Montmorency Falls, another place that I recommend visiting.
Despite sleeping in a king bed room by myself (a relaxing situation for any mom), I was still tired in the morning. So I was glad that our first stop was to Cafe La Maison Smith, a cafe that also has locations right in Old Quebec City. We tried samples of their delicious coffee, and had the opportunity to purchase items in their gift shop and cafe.
I’ll spend my whole life dreaming of the delicious soft serve ice cream dipped in sea salt caramel that I bought at the Chocolaterie de l’Ile d’Orléans. This cafe and shop also offers housemade chocolates in a separate location in the building. Although it was still pretty early in the morning, I’m so glad that I got a cone. It was so delicious.
I love cider, and Quebec City has lots of great local cider houses. I really enjoyed my visit to Bilodeaux Cidrerie, which offers alcoholic and nonalcoholic cider beverages, as well as food products made with cider (like apple butter). They also offer U pick in-season – check their website for more details.
Have you ever had ice wine? It’s one of my favorite alcoholic beverages. Made from frozen grapes that are picked in the winter, ice wine is a sweet beverage. Because of its location and weather, Quebec City has some delicious ice wines, and I especially enjoyed the one from Vignoble du Mitan. This winery also offers some other delicious wines, which you can try in their tasting room.
This beautiful spot offers alcoholic beverages and food made with cassis (blackcurrant). The food (mustards, salad dressings, etc) are absolutely delicious, and I also really loved the wine. In season, they also have a restaurant and a dairy bar, selling gelato and sorbets.
While I last visited Iles d’Orleans in early May, when there was still a bit of snow on the ground, I also visited the island in the summer a while ago. At that time we were lucky enough to sample some of the delicious strawberries that are grown on the island. If you visit during strawberry season, don’t miss out on the opportunity to try some.