(Wendake, Québec, Canada)
While I love the dramatic hills of the Charlevoix region, our underpowered car was a little less enthralled. After a couple of days in Cap-à-l’Aigle, we returned to the Quebec City area and our car was noticeably happier. Our first real stop was at the Cap-Tourmente National Wildlife Area. Located just east of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, this is off the beaten tourist and transportation path.
The wildlife area is apparently a haven for birdwatchers but we were happy just to get out of the car and do some hiking in a natural environment. What we didn’t realize, until we checked in to the interpretation centre, was that there was other wildlife in the wildlife area. This was the first time that I had been directed by park staff to read a sternly worded notice about what to do if you encounter a black bear.
We read the notice and, as suggested, made sure that we made plenty of noise while hiking. Within two minutes, however, we saw something right on the trail that got us really worried. As you can see from the photo above, a large animal had been here quite recently. We still don’t know if this was from another animal, was planted by staff as a warning, or really was from a black bear. Any readers with knowledge of black bears are welcome to comment!
The rest of our walk was uneventful, but maybe that’s because we were focused on making noise and moving quickly! We managed to work up quite a thirst and were ready for a frosty treat by the time we returned to the car. We soon reached the village of L’Ange-Gardien. It was clear from the signage that Les Délices Royales would have ice cream but we didn’t know precisely what to expect.
It turned out that Les Délices Royales was a throwback to the soda fountains of the past. In addition to all kinds of vintage candy, they had every kind of cold/frozen treat you could imagine. They also had something we had never encountered before: icerolls, a treat that appears to have originated in France. Just watching the preparation was worth the price. It’s very hard to describe how they are made: it involves combining cream and fresh fruit, flash freezing them at -30’C, and then “rolling” them off the frigid surface. They look like crêpes but are essentially flattened and rolled ice cream. Mine was made from blueberries, cherries and dark chocolate…it was absolutely delicious.
Our base for the night was the Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations in Wendake. This is a luxury hotel run by the Huron (Wendat) First Nation on their land in the northern part of Quebec City. The architecture is stunning (see the photo at the top of the post), but the decor is also completely different from what you would find in a typical hotel.
The hotel is filled with natural materials: wood, stone, and even fur! It overlooks a lush ravine; in fact, the rooms are only on one side of the hotel so that everyone has a view of the forest. A sweet smoke (kind of like incense) greets you in the lobby and you completely forget that you are in Québec‘s second largest city. The restaurant is also devoted to First Nations cuisine: we only had breakfast there but there is some truly adventurous dining to be had if you are there for lunch or dinner.
Stay tuned for more unexpected surprises as we head towards the Laurentians!