Following our day relishing the charm and cuisine of Kamouraska, my travel companions and I spent two more days experiencing the food, wine, and natural beauty of the maritime regions of Québec. Here’s the second part of the story.
Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac to Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski
From our hotel in Rivière-du-Loup, we headed inland from the St. Lawrence River about 35 miles to the city of Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac on beautiful Lac-Témiscouata.
Culinary and artistic delights
Auberge du Chemin Faisant
12, Vieux Chemin, Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac (Cabano)
Open year round
Liette Fortin and Chef Hugues Massey, owners of Auberge du Chemin Faisant, have furnished their inn and restaurant in a captivating style. The fine restaurant behind the unassuming façade of a mid-20th century modern home in the Cabano area of Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac surprised me with its delectable cuisine and artistic décor.
The art collection includes paintings by Guy Paquet who is known for showcasing regional landscapes and scenes (bottom left above). I also admired the work of Daniel Renaud who creates intriguing sculptures in alabaster stone such as the piece shown top left above that appears to be a fish on one side and two ducks on the other. The inn’s six guest rooms and other areas are also artistically decorated with vintage furnishings and antiques.
It was a treat to enjoy refreshing cocktails in the perfectly relaxing setting on one of the terraces overlooking gardens in the back yard. Afterwards, surrounded by the gallery of works by Québec artists, dining at Auberge du Chemin Faisant was a very enjoyable multi-sensory experience. We were served several courses of delicious regionally-inspired and locally-sourced fusion cuisine, including those shown and described above.
Fromagerie Le Détour
100, route 185, Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac (Notre-Dame-du-Lac)
Open year round
Driving about five miles further east of Cabano, we came to Fromagerie Le Détour, an award-winning cheese factory in the Notre-Dame-du-Lac area of Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac. While sampling several varieties of cheese (they have over 20 made from the milk of sheep, cows, and goats), we spoke to owner Ginette Bégin about her highly-acclaimed products. Le Verdict d’Alexina, a soft cheese made with three types of milk was distinguished as “Best Blended-Milk Cheese” at the 2014 Canadian Cheese Awards. Another of the factory’s award-winning and very popular cheeses is Grey Owl, a creamy goat cheese with a dark vegetable ash coating.
Travel tip: Admire the beautiful scenery of Lac-Témiscouata. We drove around the lake about 25 miles to our next stop in Auclair, but there is also a ferry that goes from Notre-Dame-du-Lac to Saint-Juste-du-Lac (a 15 minute ride) that runs from late June to late October.
145, route du Vieux-Moulin, Auclair
Open year round
A first for me on this trip was learning about the vinification of maple syrup (a well-known product of Québec) to make alcoholic beverages at Domaine Acer. I was pleasantly surprised by the elegance of the four wines we sampled: “Prémices d’Avril”, comparable to a dry white wine; “Mousse des Bois”, a sparkling brut created using traditional Champagne methods; and two apéritifs, Val Ambré and “Charles-Aimé Robert”.
The business was established in 1972 by Charles-Aimé Robert to produce high quality syrup from their maple groves. In 1992, his son Vallier Robert took over the business and introduced other maple products. After extensive research and serving internships with French winemakers, he began development of the wines. Vallier and his wife and business partner Nathalie Decaigny launched their first alcoholic products in 1997. A guided tour of the facility is quite educational about the production process beginning with the harvesting of maple sap in the 120 acres of maple groves.
A serene retreat
300, Chemin des Écorchis, Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski
Open year round
After a peaceful drive through green hills and valleys 70 miles from Auclair, we reached Domaine Valga, a rustic inn overlooking Lac des Frères near Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski where we spent the night. In its forest setting, Domaine Valga is a wonderful place to get in touch with nature and enjoy outdoor activities while in staying in a comfortable log building with 9 simple and cozy guest rooms, five of which have private bathrooms. There are also two chalets on the property that sleep up to 9 each. We were made to feel at home as we enjoyed the hospitality of owners Chantal Vallée and Éric Gagné who provided us with a hearty welcoming meal.
Éric and Chantal acquired the over 180-acre property in 2002 and have created this getaway for vacations and special occasions, and as a base for outdoor recreation such as hiking, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, snowmobiling, and skiing. Within walking distance of the inn, they also operate one of the largest aerial parks in Québec, Forêt de Maître Corbea, with zip lines and other recreational activities.
Travel tip: Driving through this inland area of Bas-Saint-Laurent, be careful to watch for moose crossing the roads. They will most likely be spotted between dusk and dawn in the woods along the highways.
Stay tuned for the third part of our maritime Québec road trip.
Disclosure: My maritime Québec experience was hosted by Québec Tourism, but my opinions and perspectives are totally my own — as always.