Oct 232015
 

From my first day in Kamouraska to my final night in Rimouski, I enjoyed the food, wine, art, and natural beauty of maritime Québec. This is the third and final post in my maritime Québec road trip series.

Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski to Rimouski via Sainte-Flavie and Grand-Métis

After a lovely day in Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac and a peaceful stay at Domaine Valga in the woods of Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski, our group traveled northwest about 15 miles back to the St. Lawrence River and the Gaspésie region of maritime Québec. So began a day of delightful surprises.

Intriguing art

Centre d’Art Marcel Gagnon
564 route de la Mer, Ste-Flavie
Open year round

"Le Grand Rassemblement" ("The Great Gathering"), sculptures on the St. Lawrence River shoreline at Saint-Flavie, Quebec

“Le Grand Rassemblement” (“The Great Gathering”), sculptures on the St. Lawrence River shoreline at Sainte-Flavie, Quebec

In Sainte-Flavie we stopped at the Centre d’Art Marcel Gagnon, a restaurant, inn, and art gallery to see “The Great Gathering”, a nature and art exhibit of over 100 sculptures on the shore. The statues seem to come out of the sea or go back in with the tides. Then we were on our north 5 miles to Grand-Métis.

A feast for the senses

Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens
200, route 132, Grand-Métis
Open May 30 to September 27 (2015 dates)

Along the path at Estevan Lodge at Reford Gardens, fish sculptures seem to jump over the bushes from the St. Lawrence River to the house.

Along the path at Estevan Lodge at Reford Gardens, fish sculptures seem to jump over the bushes from the St. Lawrence River to the house.

If you visit maritime Québec from late spring to early fall, Reford Gardens should be a must-visit site on your itinerary. It was one of my favorite venues on the trip with a combination of highlights – natural beauty in its setting on the St. Lawrence, exquisite gardens, fine dining, and art.

During the summer of 1926, Elsie Reford began laying out the gardens and then supervised their construction here on the grounds of the family’s summer home. Today, the gardens operate under the direction of her great-grandson, Alexander Reford.

Bursts of flowers and fragrances everywhere at Reford Gardens. The Himalayan Blue Poppy (top right) is very rare, but grows splendidly here.

Bursts of flowers and fragrances everywhere at Reford Gardens. The Himalayan Blue Poppy (top right) is very rare, but grows splendidly here.

We got a special early glimpse of the Himalayan Blue Poppy, a very rare flower that Elsie Reford grew from seeds in the 1930s, one of the first gardeners in North America to attempt to grow this poppy.

Brunch at Estevan Lodge: Omelette with chives, northern shrimp, geranium mayonnaise (top left); Homemade maple ham, grilled tomatoes, mustard sprouts (bottom left); desserts

Brunch at Estevan Lodge: Omelet with chives, northern shrimp, geranium mayonnaise (top left); Homemade maple ham, grilled tomatoes, mustard sprouts (bottom left); desserts (right)

At Estevan Lodge Restaurant in the former family home built in 1887, we enjoyed the creatively delicious dishes of Chef Pierre-Olivier Ferry highlighting local products, including sustainable seafood from the St. Lawrence, edible plants, and fresh vegetables from the garden. The “Métis Bloom Spoon” (shown below left) is a gorgeous mouthful of edible flowers hand-picked by the chef.

"Métis Bloom Spoon", a fresh and aromatic treat created by Chef Ferry with edible flowers that we picked from the garden, Reford Gardens in Grand-Metis, Quebec

Métis Bloom Spoon”, a fresh and aromatic treat created by Chef Ferry with edible flowers picked from the garden

I was especially drawn to the festival gardens with innovative garden installations, some permanent and others part of the 2015 season. Since the festival began in 2000, landscape architects and designers from all over the world have participated. This year’s collection added five new installations to the 20 from previous years. The installations are fun, touchable, interactive, reflect a connection to the natural world, and express the ecological perspectives of the designers. In the colorful and interactive exhibit shown top right below, “Se mouiller (la belle échappée)”, visitors participate by donning the boots and walking in the water which represents wetlands.

Selected works from the 16th International Garden Festival from top left: "Making Circles in the Water", "Se mouiller (la belle échappée), "Line Garden", and "Afterburn" -- Reford Gardens, Gran-Metis, Quebec

Selected works from the 16th International Garden Festival from top left: “Making Circles in the Water”, “Se mouiller (la belle échappée), “Line Garden”, and “Afterburn”

From Grand-Métis, we began our journey south back into Bas-Saint-Laurent for our final evening in Québec.

Fine dining and imaginative accommodations

Auberge du Mange Grenouille
148, rue Ste-Cécile, Le Bic, Rimouski
Open May to the end of October

I imagined myself preparing to take center stage as I entered Auberge du Mange Grenouille where owners Carole Faucher and Jean Rossignol have created a unique experience in their theatrically-decorated inn. Carole, an actress whose flamboyant and infectious personality exudes the essence of the inn, was a delightful hostess.

Auberge du Mange Grenouille -- Left: my uniquely-decorated room; Right: Views from my room and inn exterior

Auberge du Mange Grenouille: My uniquely-decorated room (left); views from my room (right)

Each room captures the imagination with diverse and in some cases, avant-garde furnishings, art, and décor. My room was lovely with French doors that faced the woods and coves of Bic National Park. On the opposite side of the room, a window overlooked a small garden and fountain.

From top left: Canadian buffalo short ribs, onion potato puree, shoulder filet, glazed carrots, white turnips; pan-seared scallops and shrimp, green peas, tomatoes, small onions and ricotta pasta; crab coquettes, smoked hot pepper mayonnaise, corn salad; scallop and asparagus appetizer; and a Québec Chardonnay from Les Pervenches

From top left: Canadian buffalo short ribs, shoulder filet; pan-seared scallops and shrimp, ricotta pasta; crab coquettes, smoked hot pepper mayonnaise; scallop and asparagus appetizer; Québec Chardonnay

The dining room was lively with guests of the inn enjoying a leisurely meal and an ambiance of joie de vivre.  The menu offers tastes of locally-sourced products such as Kamouraska lamb and other meats, regional seafood, and vegetables. As beef short ribs are a go-to comfort food for me, my choice was Canadian buffalo short ribs which hit the spot perfectly in this warm and welcoming setting.

Time to say “au revoir

The beauty of maritime Québec along the St. Lawrence River at Reford Gardens in Grand-Métis, Québec

The beauty of maritime Québec along the St. Lawrence River at Reford Gardens in Grand-Métis

It was amazing to think how much I was able to see and do on a three-day road trip. I’m looking forward to future excursions into the maritime regions of Québec to experience more of its cultural, culinary, and natural riches.

Travel tip: The closest regional airport to the points of interest I visited in Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie is in Mont-Joli. There is a car rental facility on site. Check with Québec Maritime tourism for detailed information about getting to and around the maritime regions.

Disclosure: My maritime Québec road trip was hosted by Québec Tourism, but my opinions and perspectives are totally my own — as always.

  15 Responses to “Maritime Québec: Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski to Rimouski”

  1. What an incredibly beautiful place – I can’t wait to visit. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Ohhh, I just love the art at the top, The Great Gathering. We have something similar in the UK by Anthony Gormley. It was supposed to be a temporary structure but when the time came to remove all the statues, the locals protested so they’re still there. All the food you ate looks fab, too! 🙂
    Julia

  3. It looks like you had an amazing time. I love the use of edible flowers!

  4. Certainly a feast for the senses, Cathy. Each stop seemed to top the previous one.
    Ms Redford’s garden is absolutely beautiful. I’ve always decorated each room in my house with different themes but mine is a feeble attempt compared to Ms. Faucher’s Auberge. Thanks for the tour.

  5. I need to get to Maritime Quebec! This looks so awesome. I particularly love the fancy food spoon. 🙂

  6. Thanks for highlighting Maritime Quebec! We only got a small taste of Canada this year when we did a roadtrip up to Vancouver Island, LOVED it though so are planning to spend some decent time exploring the rest of the country in 2016. This is now on my list!

  7. Wow, it looks like you had an amazing time! Thank you for showing me Quebec and for listing places to sleep and eat – very helpful 🙂

  8. Sounds like a wonderful day in maritime Quebec. I love all the outdoor art. And the edible flowers in the spoon are so pretty.

  9. Love the whimsical art, and the flowers are gorgeous. Even the ones to eat.

  10. Wow! Simply wow. Loved the photos and the tour and what took the prize were those spoons filled with blooms!

  11. What a fabulous way to finish your tour. The art, the gardens and the food just made me want to leave home and visit Quebec though I think I might wait for warmer weather now!

  12. What beautiful place and I love that “Le Grand Rassemblement” I always loved Quebec and I have visited several times I guess I missed this part of Quebec. Lovely post, great pics and incredible story.

  13. The Great Gathering sculptures on the St. Lawrence are so intriguing. I’d love to hear more about their origin. Oh, yeah, and the food and flower gardens are extremely appealing! Thanks for the recommendations.

  14. Ooh that would be a lovely area to visit. We were on the other side of the river once at Tadoussac and wanted to go where you were but it was too early in the season and nothing was open. We would love to go back one day. There are some mighty pretty food shots in your post and loved the quirky art too.

  15. This is definitely a part of Quebec that needs my attention. Absolutely love the sculptural pieces in the water and the food looks divine.

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