It is another beautiful day in Charlevoix, Quebec. I have woken up wondering how I will top my previous days’ adventures exploring the St Lawrence River Route from La Malbaie to Tadoussac. I saw two great waterfalls, ate locally made cheese and saw the majestic St Lawrence River from an old lighthouse turned interpretive centre. It was amazing. Today’s adventure will take me on a ferry to Isle aux Coudres. An island 30 square kilometers in size in the middle of the St Lawrence River. Named by Jacques Cartier in 1535 for its abundance of Hazel trees, “Coudriers” in French, the island is famous for its friendliness and 23 km of roads perfect for cycling. Will I cycle? I doubt it but I will check out its famous cidery and bakery. All aboard the ferry to Isle aux Coudres.
The above video was produced by the tourism board of Isle aux Coudres and gives you a great sense of what I am about to experience. The first thing to do is get there though. The ferry is free and leaves every hour. Make sure to check the schedule ahead of time to plan out your trip so you don’t have to wait too long.
Once on Isle aux Coudres, you have a choice to go left or right. There is no right or wrong choice as all roads lead back to the ferry. I chose right and drove up to some of the higher elevated parts of the island. The first place I stopped was at Boulangerie Bouchard. It has been around since 1945 and is famous for Pate Croche and Grandmere Pie. The Pate Croche I will share with you later, but Grandmere Pie is basically Sugar Pie with Pets de S0eur inside. What is Pets de Soeur? It is the leftover pastry from pie shells, rolled out and rolled up like cinnamon rolls with your choice of filling. My Grandmother used to make these all the time when I was a kid. They are often affectionately referred to as “Nuns Farts”.
If you are hungry, this is a good place to stock up on some picnic essentials.
Back on the road, I continue armed with a two-day supply of Pets de Soeur and a fresh coffee. There are plenty of photography scenes along the way including this roadside chapel. One of two it is just big enough for about three people inside of it. Built in 1838 it is one of two chapels that are part of the Corpus Christi procession.
Taking a detour off the island perimeter road my next stop is Le Moulins De L’Isle Aux Coudres. The only site of its kind in Canada, this museum houses a fully functional watermill (1825) and windmill (1836), as well as a miller’s residence. I mistakenly thought it was closed so I didn’t explore it as fully as I would have liked. Next time I should just go up and try the door.
Back down to the perimeter road, so I can continue my exploration of the Island. It always amazes me when I see a river affected by the ocean tides. Here on Isle aux Coudres, you can see that the tide is out.
My next stop is at Cidrerie Verger Pedneault. They have a huge selection of ciders to try including an amazing Ice Cider. That was my absolute favourite. You can taste, tour and buy here. Just be careful how much you taste if you are driving.
It’s time to return back to the mainland so I head back to the ferry. While on board I open the Pate Croche au Porc I purchased from Boulangerie Bouchard.
First off what is a Pate Croche? In the early days when the men went out to work on the St Lawrence River, the wives would make meat pies aka Tourtiere for the lunches. Imagine trying ty eat a pie while the boat is rocking on the river. It would have been a mess. So the wives got creative and rolled the filling into the pastry and sealed it up, much like an empanada. This was much easier to hold and eat while on the river. So, of course, I must eat mine while I ferry across the St Lawrence River.
And that was my day on Isle aux Coudres. Next time I’m back I want to rent a bike and cycle the same route I drove. Stop off at Bouchard for sandwiches and salads, cider at Verger Pedneault and picnic on the bank of the St Lawrence. Maybe I’ll even book a B&B and stay the night. Merci Beaucoup Isle aux Coudres, jusqu’à la prochaine fois “until next time“.