Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Charleviox Quebec - Part Three of a 4 part series - Day Two

Belt Drive Betty  By Belt Drive Betty with photos by Belt Drive Betty and Ken Aiken

On this day of riding we would be having a late lunch in L’Anse-St-Anne in the Saguenay–Lac -Saint-Jean region!
The day’s route was: Rt 138 - Rt. 381 to La Baie - Rt. 170 with a side trip to L’Anse-St-Anne for lunch and continued to St. Simeon and Rt.138 to return to La Malbaie.
We would go through the Grands-Jardins National Park, and ride in some beautiful mountainous areas with spectacular scenery.
 
We encountered some gravel in the national park, three rather long stretches but the Honda maneuvered through it beautifully, other wise the road is in great repair and should be fabulous for this riding season once the repairs to those three spots are accomplished! As we came down out of the mountains heading toward Lac Otis the landscape shifted to seascape and it was breathtaking.
 
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We arrived in L’Anse-St-Anne at the Restaurant l’Islet. Nancy Donnelly, the media relation’s agent for the Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean tourism region, met us for what was going to be another memorable meal.
The restaurant looks over the bay and has a wonderful atmosphere. Our waitress who professed to not speak good English did very well in assisting me to make a choice off of the menu.
 
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 It amazes me just how many fabulous chefs there are in Quebec! I think there are as many talented chefs as there are painters, sculptures and bike builders! It appears to me that Quebec is a hot bed of creativity and I attribute that to these people being surrounded by so much incredible beauty; volatile and diverse in it’s history with the rich and long standing examples of a creative culture as is evidenced in the architecture. Even those of us with little measurable talent could not help but feel inspired here.
I had smoked trout for my appetizer and it was wonderful, no over powering fishy taste and the smoking was light and mellow. It was a very flavorful dish. For the main course I had the caribou sausage with blueberries (this region is world famous for it’s blueberries) served with a yogurt dip. The presentation of the dishes we ate here were colorful and well balanced. Ken and I both ate the same thing for a change! While the sausage was a wee bit dry, it was very flavorful and the yogurt dip did its job in moistening the elk.
We ate sugar pie for dessert and by the time I waddled down the steps to get back on the bike I
was a stuffed as a human being could get!
We road towards the covered bridge which has been turned into an art gallery of sorts! We got off the bikes and walked through the bridge admiring the local artists handiworks.
 
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Soon we had to get back on the road as we had a 7 pm dinner reservation at the hotel! My word I have never eaten so much fine, rich food in all my life!
 
As we headed out on Rte 170 towards St Simon, the landscaped changed yet again, back to one of pastoral hillsides, with light green buds everywhere. As we got closer to St. Simon and the water, the seascape unfurled in front of us. It was another vista that quite frankly took my breath away. It is always amazing to me how beautiful this country of ours is, how diverse and how very, very impressive it is.
The highway was filled with bikes. And from the smug and satisfied grins I was privileged to see, one thought kept running through my head, these Quebec bikers, these smug beggars, they know just how lucky they are to have Charlevoix as their playground, look at their smiles – I felt horrible, horrible envy hit me as I realized that I was going to be on a plane back to Alberta the next day and that they would still be riding in this magnificent part of the country.
 
And then I smiled, as I rode behind Ken, my eyes sweeping from side to side and taking in the drastic differences in the landscape – river to the left, rolling hills to the right, I remembered other rides, like the Cabot Trail, the MOM’s Highway in Ontario and Manitoba, riding in the badlands of Saskatchewan or the north Peace where I live… taking in the Kootenays, the magnificence of the inside passage and northern BC or the stunning majesty of the Yukon and realized, I feel the same way about every region I ride in – they worm their way into my soul and I become envious of those who get to live with the beauty all of the time. I often wonder if riders truly appreciate where they live and ride and how special it is. Well in Quebec, I did not have to wonder as so many riders shared with me how much they love this region whether we were talking face to face or simply riding by each other – their joy and satisfaction of having this incredible place to ride in was highly evident! Ken and I pulled into our hotel for the night.
 

Charlevoix Quebec the BEST KEPT SECRET of the Quebecois Biker (But not any more!) PART 2


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 By Belt Drive Betty with photos by Belt Drive Betty and Ken Aiken
 
PART TWO OF A THREE PART ARTICLE
La Maison du Bootlegger... all the fun you can have with your boots on!
 

  
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Ken & I pulled in to the parking area of what on the outside, appears to be just a really funky looking restaurant. As I was to soon find out, the place is far, far more that you could even begin to imagine!

 
 
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Out front of La Maison du Bootlegger is a frog pond with trees that are adorned with twinkle lights surrounding it. There are chairs and a fire pit where you can relax and listen to the frogs sing. They are apparently very tiny frogs with the most incredible music that comes from them, not the typical croaking one would expect to hear. 
 
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After inspecting the frog pond, I was hustled up some very winding and narrow stairs to the restaurant and our table.
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Johanne, the owner and our waiter, Yannick, introduced themselves and from there on in the evening became one that I will NEVER, EVER FORGET!
 
The sights, the smells, the tastes, the service – WOW, what a delight!
We started off by choosing a beverage – I had an incredible punch and I just knew if I had
more than one, I would be in real trouble! We were given these interesting menus and at first I cringed at the cost of the meals, that is until I was made to understand that they included salad, main course, dessert PLUS entertainment and a tour of the Sellar “home”.
Hmm, the $51 my meal of choice was going to cost looked pretty paltry now and once I ate, took the tour and enjoyed the entertainment, well, the price seemed hugely insignificant, but I get ahead of myself.
As we sipped at our drinks and ate some gorgeous breads, Ken began telling me some of the history of the restaurant and what a story! As he spoke, I was looking around the room, not one square inch appeared to be bare of artifacts of both significance historically or of a humorous nature!
 
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Ken told me all about Noire Sellar, a rich, privileged and by some accounts rather spoiled young man. This Pennsylvanian came to Charlevoix to start a business. Apparently he had been challenged to start a legitimate business or be removed from his father’s will.
 
Charlevoix was well known in the 30’s for its fishing and hunting. Mr Sellar bought the property La Maison du Bootlegger is on in the early thirties because of its vast number of lakes and the bountiful hunting, but it had no house for guests to stay in. Mr. Sellar found a house about 20 milesaway just north east of the Murray Bay River. Built in 1860, the Jesuit influence on the Turcotte family owned home is still visible in the building today! Mr. Sellar had to hire an interpreter in order to convince the Turcotte family to sell him the house. Once Mr. Sellar owned it the arduous task of dismantling the building and numbering every piece of board began. The dismantled home had to be transported by horse to its new location. In all it would take from 1936 to 1939 for the building to be completed.
 
I would learn far, far more about Mr. Sellar and the building I found myself in after my meal.
Right now though I want to talk food and customer service.
 
Up until now, the service in every establishment I have been in has ranged from very good to amazing, but there at La Maison du Bootlegger the words customer service took on a meaning that I LOVE – it became inspiring!
 
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Johanne and our waiter, Yannick
From Johanne Brassard the beguiling owner who’s Cher like dress style and appearance made me think of dominatrix, wild, carefree and yet edgy; to the serving staff, the customer service in this establishment was BRILLIANT.
Unlike the reserved perfection of the Fairmont and the casual outgoing service at L’Orange, the service here was fun – impeccable but FUN!
Every waiter, the bartender, the chef and the indomitable Ms. Johanne were tapping their feet to the music, laughing and smiling with each other and the patrons….you could just feel an electricity in the air! 
And then it began, a true feast!
 
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I had a wonderful salad followed by the appetizers that we ordered, mine was the most incredible French Onion soup called the Drunkards Soup, made with beer. There are no words to describe the flavour of that soup – it danced on the tongue leaving behind this incredible sweet and yet tarty flavor, not unlike honey!
 
Ken had the dip and oh my, what a tantalizing treat that was, sweet and picante on the tongue yet, creamyand smooth on the tummy… After the appetizers, we watched our steaks being cooked in a rather unusual BBQ pit that was built into the wall, all of the meats are grilled over maple coals and hickory chips.
 
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Chef du Grille and Bootlegger Steaks
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It was about 20 minutes to a half hour between the soup and the main course, and that went by so quickly watching the people, talking to our tablemates and just generally absorbing the atmosphere. The trestle tables in the restaurant make for interesting conversation between those sharing them!
Ken kept alluding that after the meal I was in for a treat and you could see that he was dying to tell me about it but was struggling, as he did not want to wreck the surprise!
 
When the main course came I WAS IN HEAVEN – I had the Wapiti (Elk) with shrimp, Ken had the tenderloin & shrimp if I remember right (You can tell I was far more involved with MY meal than his!)
My meal was absolute, utter perfection. The elk was grilled to an exquisite medium rare, the potato and vegetables were heavenly, aromatic and equally as flavorful, and all of this was capped off with caramelized onions.
 
Poor Yannick, when he came to ask how the meal was I said – “Sell my clothes, I think I died and went to heaven!”, I’m not sure he understood what I meant!
My husband has an expression that he uses when he likes the food he is eating and it is so totally appropriate for the meal I ate here – IT WAS A PARTY IN MY MOUTH – a flavorful and rich experience and the best was yet to come!
 
After our dinner plates were taken away, we were offered three choices for dessert, double chocolate cake, an orange boiled and filled with crème de menthe and a blow job shooter. Theminute I heard about the orange, well it was so unique – I HAD TO TRY IT!
 
You see they boil the orange to soften it up, then inject it with the liqueur and put this funny plastic straw/coring device into the top of the orange and then drench it with more liqueur.
Yannick had this funny line he delivered about the dessert choices but for the life of me I cannot remember it – it was something like suck bang blow, the orange was suck for obvious reasons and the blow job shooter was the blow, and the double chocolate cake was….darned if I can remember.
 
How can I describe the taste of the juice in the orange? It was like a creamsicle with a strong hint of mint, such contrasting flavors that went together so well and left you wanting more!
 
We had a few minutes after dessert and coffee before the tour was to start, so I took a few minutes and went outside to have an after dinner cigarette. As I sat on one of the deck chairs by the frog pond and listened to the frogs singing their little souls out, I thought to myself, how blessed am I to be here!
(You can listen to the frogs sing by clicking here)
 
I went back inside to be hustled off straight away for the tour… La Maison du Bootlegger’s story is one of the times of prohibition in the US and Temperance in Quebec. In Quebec, it was up to the parish priest as to whether or not the region was dry or wet; Charlevoix was dry until 1969!
 
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Mr. Sellar ran essentially two businesses, one legal, that of a lodge for hunting and fishing, meant to meet the dictates of staying on the right side of his inheritance and the other all about gambling and liquor!
This was a real story about a bootlegger and a speakeasy!
 
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As our tour guide spun the tale of La Maison du Bootlegger ‘s history and took us through narrow passage after narrow passage; through book cases that became doors – the rich history of the era of prohibition was laid out before us.
 
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Mr. Sellar was married and in his wife’s bedroom, hidden in a compartment that was a carpenter’s genius at play – the bootlegger would bring the alcohol and store it in the compartment that at first glance was just part of the wall. The bootlegger always came in the middle of the night so no one knew whom he really was.


 

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There was a gambling room and a living room, the cook’s quarters were also part of the tour and the room we ate in had been a speakeasy back in the day! And every room filled with memorabilia from the Sellar’s and their famous patrons!
 
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Cook’s Bedroom


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Living Room

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Mr. Sellar
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Priscilla Presley’s family is from the Charlevoix region and so the story goes, that the cook’s son was an Elvis Impersonator who signed one of the walls in a narrow passageway in Le Club de Mont. (That was the name of La Maison du Bootlegger during the ownership of Noire Sellar).
 
He signed it Elvis Presley # 2. Through an invitation to come and visit Le Club de Mont, the real Elvis not only came and enjoyed the place, he autographed one of the passage walls himself (Which is kept under glass) and became a regular at the Le Club whenever he and Priscilla visited the region!
 
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As our tour was coming to an end, we could hear music and laughter coming from upstairs in much higher volumes than they had been earlier and when we got back to the “speakeasy” it was to the craziest sight I have ever seen!
 
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There were people wearing funky hats, wild multi colored wigs, playing tambourines and singing their hearts out all to the music of the best house band I have heard in a good long while!
I found myself looking at the restaurant with informed eyes and realized that there were in fact solid wooden “blinds” that can be pulled down to cover the windows. All originally designed to foil the authorities in their attempts at catching illegal booze and those who would partake, but today they are just a part of the rich history and ambiance of the building that Johanne and her mother saved from neglect!
 
I had a giggle or two as I headed to the restroom, you see the main load-bearing beam of the roof cuts the “speakeasy” in half and you have to climb over it via a two step stair, this brought about the first giggle – can you imagine being really drunk here and landing on your face? OUCH! The second giggle was brought about as I saw the signs on the main restroom door.
 
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The band was impressive – how they could play with such wonderful rhythm and enthusiasm in the tiny alcove they called a band stand is beyond me, but the proof was in the listening!
Belting out songs everyone seemed to know no matter what language one spoke, (there was a whole host of Norwegian visitors in the place that night, on top of the locals and those of us who were English speaking).
The band had everyone jumping, laughing, singing and tapping his or her toes along to the music. They sang songs in both French and English and no matter which language; they did an amazing job of keeping everyone on their feet and having fun, never taking a break the whole time!
The bartender and the serving staff made sure that everyone’s beverage of choice was topped up and looked like they were having as much fun as the patrons were! Birthdays and special occasions were announced, appropriate songs and well wished delivered all by the most enthusiastic and efficient team of employees I have seen in a long, long time.
 
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The entire place, not unlike its proprietress, had this barely restrained wildness about it.
AND IT WAS CONTAGIOUS!
And over far too soon, but we had an 8 AM start on the bikes and so with a smile on my face and a sigh in my heart, out to the parking lot we went.
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Now the Honda and I were about to tangle and the Honda would win! You see, like a dumbass, I forgot to put the bike in neutral when I parked. Now remember at the beginning of this adventure me telling you about my clumsy braced up feet along with my chunky boots and that I had had some issues with the Honda’s shifter…well, picture this:
I get on the bike, turn on the key, and realize the bike is in first. I put my foot under the shift lever… the boot got trapped, I lost my balance as a result of the struggle in attempting to dislodge my foot and the bike and I go over in this slow, slow motion flop! Thank goodness the bike wasn’t running yet! Thank goodness I wasn’t alone as there I was with a 500-pound bike on top of meand I could not get my foot dislodged! Ken and a rider from Montreal came to my rescue – I was MORTIFIED but grateful for the cover of night! But yah know, it’s one of those stories you just have to share cause after you are over your embarrassment, you do realize how utterly hilarious the whole escapade must have looked!
We finally pulled into the hotel parking lot at about 12:30; I was exhausted but again so excited! I pulled off my gear, boots and braces – man did that feel good – I poured a hot bath, and went and sat on the balcony to wait for the tub to fill.
 
As I looked over the Saint Lawrence, the lights from 23 KM away dancing in the water, my mind was half writing this article and half day dreaming about what amazing adventure the morning would bring. I knew that I had to have everything packed up to be transported to a different hotel for Saturday night. I knew we had at least 3-400+ Kilometers of riding ahead of us, but what would that look like? And almost as important, what type of food was I going to get to try next?!?!!!
 
After a wonderful soak in the Jacuzzi tub, I settled into the extremely comfy bed and drifted off to sleep.
Three and a half short hours later I was up unplugging video cameras, clearing chips, answering emails, packing and repacking…I was told we needed to be on the bikes by 8 am. I was ready to go, and had even had breakfast by the time Ken came to collect me.
 
You’ll have to wait until next time to see what adventure Ken and the Charlevoix tourism team had in store for me next!

Quebec's Best Kept Secret Part 1

columnist bdb 


By Belt Drive Betty
with photos by Belt Drive Betty and Ken Aiken
 
PART ONE OF A THREE PART ARTICLE




 I was invited to ride the Charlevoix tourism region of Quebec by Ken Aiken. I was only too happy to accept when he explained to me how hard the region has worked at becoming motorcycle friendly!
 
On the flight to Quebec City, I was fortunate enough to be seated on the plane with Francois Gariepy, the delegate for the Charlevoix region; he was heading back to Charlevoix from the Rendezvous Canada Conference, which was held by the Canadian Tourism Commission in Edmonton. Between our time on the plane and during our layover in Ottawa, we had some 5 hours together to speak about the various aspects of motorcycle tourism, the Charlevoix region and many other fascinating topics. One of the most fascinating is that Francois is a rider and he was able to share with me his ideas on the most exciting things to do in Charlevoix while on a motorcycle holiday. Like Ken, Francois’ enthusiasm for the region and for motorcycling was clearly evident. I knew I was in for a very special time!
 
We arrived at the Quebec City airport and collected our luggage; Ken on his BMW, Elizabeth, Francois’s wife and a local guide who was operating the sidecar from a company called Charlevoix Eco-Mobilite met us at the airport.
 
It seems I was being chauffeured to La Malbaie in the sidecar!
I eagerly got my riding gear out of my suit case and got all geared up for the trip to La Malbaie some 2-2.5 hours away. I have never ridden in a sidecar before and while that was a treat, the bigger treat was the scenery as it began to unfold in front of me.
 
The stunning views of the Saint Lawrence River gave way to rolling hills and lovely curves. There is something to be said for being a passenger in a sidecar and the way you can look all around!
We climbed into the higher elevations of the Laurentian Mountains, and as dusk began to fall it did get crisp! With the sun waning on the valleys and peaks, I could see why they put me in the sidecar – they wanted to get the juices of my imagination flowing – to tempt me and stimulate me with a vague glimpse of what 2 and a half days of riding in the region would of fer. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
 
As we pulled into the hotel I saw the bike that I would be riding the next day, parked and fueled up. Of course I had to walk over and introduce myself to this gorgeous blue Honda. I had to sit on her , stroke her, check out the fuel and the fit…I was well pleased!
 
We went to the hotel’s front counter to get room keys and I was given two packages – one from Charlevoix Eco Mobility – the motorcycle rental company that provided the Sidecar and the Honda I would ride. Inside was a brochure on the company and the key to the bike! The other was from Charlevoix Tourism – a handy folder including a memory stick filled with information on the region.
 
As I headed downstairs via the elevator to my room I had the most incredible surge of excitement rip through me.
I put the card in the door of my room and swungthe door open. I stopped, paused and sucked in a big breath of air – “OH MY” was all I could say . The room was ENORMOUS! The balcony was the biggest I have ever had in a hotel and the bathroom – well, a Jacuzzi tub & it’ s own hot water heater – WONDERFUL!!!!!
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Photo courtesy Fairmont website
Of course, even though we had to basically drop our bags and run to the Fairmont for dinner, I still had to bounce on the bed a wee bit to see how that was going to be…hmmm, I was gonna love this room!
My tour guide, Ken Aiken knocked on the door, asking if I was ready to go eat. The answer a resounding yes, as it had been a long time since the snack in Ottawa! We walked down the twisty steep hill to the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, with Kengiving me a history lesson.
The building was magnificent, reminiscent of a castle and as Ken explained the hotel’s history to me, my mind’s eye fairly danced with the images he created with his words. The hotel was originally built in 1899 and had 250 luxurious rooms. In the fall of 1928 the hotel was decimated by fire; completely destroyed. A Canadian architect named John Archibald was tasked with the job of rebuilding the hotel using the newest of technology and building materials; namely concrete! The hotel reopened in June of 1929. Think about that for a minute. Destroyed, redesigned, rebuilt and open for business in 9 months! The next major retrofit of this arrestingly beautiful hotel did not take place until June 1998. 140 million dollars and one year later, the newly updated hotel reopened with 405 rooms all designed to make you feel like you were living in a castle! Le Manoir Richelieu boasts a championship quality 18-hole golf course, a world-class spa and let’s not forget; some of the best food in the region!
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Photo courtesy Fairmont website

There are some things in life that words simply cannot express. The things that your eye beholds is one thing, but expressing how those things touchyour heart is entirely another.
Throughout this entire trip this would become my dilemma; how to share with you the way the Charlevoix region touched my heart. The photos and videos I will share with you say far more than words can, but they still fall very short of expressing the emotions that the region evoked in me.
As we walked into the foyer of Le Manoir Richelieu, Eric Quesnel, the director of sales & marketing, greeted us. I was gifted with a kickstand puck and a folder on the hotel and then Ken and I were directed towards the dining room.
 
Chef Patrick Turcot joined us as our waitress brought us menus and after a few moments of discussion we were invited to the kitchen to take photos and cook our own foie gras!
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Ken & I with Chef Turcotte

What a trip that was!
After we were done preparing our foie gras, it was time to go to the dining room to eat it!
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Foie gras
Foie Gras ready to eat!
Served with candied apples and a bacon mousse the foie gras was perfection. The locally grown apple cider that was chosen to accompany the foie gras did far more than compliment! The light crisp taste of the apples contrasted with the velvety smoothness and the husky smoked taste of the dish and made this an appetizer one I took my time to savor.
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We broke bread, ordered some wine and Eric shared his views on motorcycle tourism and how important it is to the Charlevoix. He explained that Le ManoirRichelieu caters to motorcyclists in the summer and snowmobilers in the winter. Packages start at $220 per person, offering the motorcyclist secure indoor parking, cleaning cloths and supplies, a magnificent room, a breakfast buffet that is unparalleled in the region and a complimentary beverage.
 
When our main course arrived, Eric explained the philosophy behind their foods. Wherever possible, Le Manoir Richelieu purchases the ingredients from the area producers that are incorporated into the splendid menu offerings. Chef Patrick expanded further saying that these ingredients make his job a pleasure. The quality of the cheeses, the meats and the produce are amongst the best in the world, allowing him and his staff to create marvels that are savory and diverse.
I indulged myself with the Black Angus beef tenderloin served truffle flavored Roesti potato. The flavors of the potato and the meat complimented each other with such perfection. The steak melted in my mouth.
As we ate this gastronomical delight of a meal and shared wines from around the world and the region, the conversation waned and my mind started drifting off to the morning and what was in store for me. If all of this phenomenal food that I was experiencing at my first meal was provided by producers in the region and many of the spirits were too, then this trip would give a whole different meaning to riding! My attention was snapped back to the present as I finished my steak and was invited to partake in dessert! MMM! Caramel crème brule and rich coffee – the ideal way to end a perfect meal!
 
After a wonderful evening filed with marvelous, marvelous service and the most delectable of food, beverage and wildly stimulating conversation was over, Ken and I hiked back up the twisty steep hill to our hotel, chatting the whole way about our plans for the next day.
 
I was like a little kid in a candy store and the experience was barely getting underway! Sleep was hard to find that night but excitement and anticipation was not!
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Friday morning dawned with the most incredible view from the balcony of my room. As I sipped my morning coffee and worked on the computer to get the things ready for the layout of the Busted Knuckle, I again found it hard to concentrate. My imagination was working over time. Looking out over 23 kilometers of the Saint Lawrence and over the top of Le Manoir Richelieu I was wondering what it would have been like to live here 100 years ago…
 
After a light breakfast in the hotel breakfast room, Ken and I headed for the bikes. The Honda was going to take a bit of getting used to as my big clunky boots filled with ankle braces and the shifter did not like each other – over the next number of miles I did figure outhow to shift and get my foot out from under the shifter without wrecking the bike or myself! We wound our way up and down the hilly terrain, through alternating tight and gentle curves. Our first stop of the day was to visit a chocolaterie!
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Chocolate Shop
La Chocolaterie du Village’s primary location is in Les Eboulements and owners, Line St.Pierre and her husband Yves Huppe had so many tantalizing goodies to offer! I sampled dark chocolates with maple, Bailey’s, cherry and other delectable centers. I also sampled dark chocolate wafers with peppercorns and others with lavender laid on top. I was proud of myself as although I ate a large amount of this superb chocolate, I did have over 80 varieties to choose from and only chose 7 to sample!
 
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Ken & Yves chocolate animals.
Belgian chocolate, so exquisite – A lover of really good dark chocolate, I of course chose only from the dark chocolates available. Line & Yves use 21 different cacao beans from around the world and blend them into this most mouth-watering explosion of taste! I cannot imagine what the milk chocolate would have been like, as I did not try them, in hindsight, I wished I had.
 
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Yves & Line
Line and Yves traveled to Denmark to learn the trade and become master chocolatiers and they take their chocolate very, very seriously! So seriously in fact that many places carry their products! They have supply shops in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec City, and in Ottawa, and have even opened another shop of their own in Montreal!
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Our steeds in Iles Coudre
After some of the best chocolate I have ever eaten, we were back on the bikes and heading to L’Orange Bistro in Baie-Saint-Paul for lunch…Ken and I joked that this was going to be dubbed the “Eat to Ride, Ride to Eat” tour!
 
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Mill Entrance
On the way to Baie-Saint-Paul, we stopped at the Moulin Seigneurial des Eboulements – a working watermill that is set in one of the most picturesque of locations.
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lumber mill which runs on gas and water
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Before we went up to the watermill, Ken showed me the lumber mill. It is capable of running on both water and gas!
As we walked towards the watermill, we took a moment to admire the clay bread ovens and the water lock that holds the river at bay and feeds the mill. As we came closer to the mill, Ken explained the history for me:
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Clay Bread Oven

Built in 1790 by Seigneur Jean-François Tremblay on top the waterfall on Rivière du Moulin, that cascades down some 30 meters, the Moulin Seigneurial des Éboulements, has remained virtually unchanged over the centuries. With its original equipment and the Seigneurial manor just next door, it’s one of the last authentic examples of mills of this type in Québec. Generations of millers have resided in the adjacent quarters - a tradition that has continued to this day and today’s miller holds the same last name as the founder and guess what – HE RIDES!!!

 
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Mr. Tremblay

 
Visitors get to see the mill’s gears and its water wheel in action as the miller grinds the grain to make the wheat and buckwheat flours that are sold on the premises!

 
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The sound of the water rushing under foot and in the waterwheel itself (contained behind the glass) along with the whirring sound of the belts and gears turning is almost deafening. In the photo below you will notice that there is a lever almost touching the floor. That lever controls the waterwheel.
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The view of the river from inside the mill is absolutely stunning!
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The river as viewed from the millhouse.
During the tourism season, mid June – to early September, you can visit the mill for a paltry $4 for adults. If you at all love old buildings, remarkable scenery, impressive gears and mechanisms, then thisis a MUST see when you are in the region!
 
After visiting the mill, Ken and I were back on the bikes and heading to lunch!
L’Orange Bistro is so much more than a bistro. Once a Victorian home, it boasts 2-second floor rooms for rent that are decorated to match the period that the building came from. Downstairs is a mixture of period and modern décor that somehow just works.
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The huge outdoor patio that is very popular with riders as it allows them to watch their bikes that can be parked across the street in the big paved public parking lot. Our first waitress did not speak English very well and of her own accord promptly went and got a bilingual waitress for us. Francois’s wife, Elizabeth joined us and we visited while waiting for Francois to join us. Elizabeth was on a mission, she invited us to join them for a beverage at the surprise birthday party for Francois that evening, before we were to leave for Le Maison du Bootlegger for our supper!





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Inside L’Orange
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Inside L’Orange
We were offered a menu that has such a wide variety of things to choose from that my head was spinning in an attempt to choose one thing. In what would become the norm for most of our gastronomical forays, Ken ordered one thing and I another and we taste tested each other’s choices. Ken had poutine and a salad, I had a wonderful mushroom soup and pizza with French fries and Elizabeth had the calamari. After sampling each other’s fare, a unanimous conclusion was reached that while everything was tasty, the calamari was the hands down winner! It was amazing with a batter that was light but crispy and had a very lively zing to it and the squid was moist, flavorful and not all a chewy! Francois unfortunately detained, did not arrive until we were ready to leave!
 
With plans set for the evening, Ken and I headed out again to explore more of the Baie–Saint-Paul region. We traveled up and down some gorgeous but narrow roads filled with lovely sweeping curves. Pastoral describes the scenery that surrounded me, all lush and mellow, reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting.
With the sleeping valleys that are just now becoming green as the trees are leafing out and the incredible old homes, representing the grandeur of days gone by, you feel utterly transported to a different era!
At one of our stops, Ken explained the geological history of the region to me and how a rather hugemeteorite was responsible for the stunning vistas we encountered.
Charlevoix is in the heart of the Canadian Shield, the oldest land formation of it’s kind on the earth! The Charlevoix region was fashioned by a meteorite weighing 15 BILLION TONS that hit the earth an estimated 350 million years ago! Charlevoix is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and has been since 1989, which is unusual as most Biospheres are relatively uninhabited.
 
The region boasts three National Parks: - Grands-Jardins, - Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie, - Saguenay – Saint-Lawrence Marine Park And it covers some 6 000 km2 territory!
Pretty soon it was time to head back to Baie-Saint-Paul and La Muse Auberge for drinks.
 
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As we headed up the historic Saint Jean Baptistestreet it was evident that I was in for another sensory experience and a half!
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We were early and had time to take in some of the shops that inhabit the beautiful old buildings on this street. I am afraid I got lost in time in the Galerie d’Art Iris and did not explore as many shops as I would have loved to. The Charlevoix region is filled with incredible talent and this gallery showcased so many who practice their crafts in so many genres!
  
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We walked back to La Muse Auberge and Elizabeth, Francois’s wife, Manon from the tourism office and many others were beginning to get settled in for their birthday dinner. I had a green tea and listened to the discussion going on around me in French and English. It was amazing to me that these people all wanted to make sure I knew what was being discussed! The topic of discussion…Francois being late! Pretty soon Ken signaled me that we had to go if we wanted to be on time for our reservation at La Maison du Bootlegger. Every time Ken mentioned the place and someone tried to talk to me about it, Ken would politely but firmly tell them to SHUSH! And so we headed out to this place, me wondering what in the heck the big secret was.
It did not take very long to find out! But you will have to wait until next time!