Île d’Orléans is an oblong island located in the middle of the St Laurent River about 30 minutes east of Quebec City. Because of its location, the island benefits from a microclimate that makes it ideal for agriculture. Île d’Orléans enjoys a range of soil types ideal for many kinds of crops. Ninety percent of the island is made up of farmland, which makes it the perfect agritourism destination for food lovers. Couple all those bucolic fields and farms with a historic heritage and the result is one of the most interesting regions of Quebec to visit.
Île d’Orléans is divided into six municipalities. Visiting the island can be as short as a day trip from Quebec City or on your way to Charlevoix or as long as a few days spent enjoying its beauty. It’s especially stunning in the summer as well as in the fall when the bright autumn foliage is at its height. Below are some of our favourite activities to do while on Île d’Orléans.
What to see, do and eat
As soon as you cross the bridge to Île d’Orléans (and admire the Montmorency Falls from afar), take a left on Chemin Royal (Route 368) that winds around the entire island. The first stop will be at Cassis Monna et Filles, a five-generation family business of liquorists. Cassis Monna are the first producers of black currant wines and liquors in Quebec. Here you can taste their wines and many other black currant products such as mustards, vinegars, syrups and more. You can also grab lunch or an ice cream cone and admire the stunning view from their terrasse.
Further down Chemin Royal you will come across the only microbrewery on the island, the Microbrasserie de Île d’Orléans. Stop by for a pint or a bite at their pub Le Mitan and its beautiful terrasse in the back. Don’t fill up though, there’s still a lot more eating to do on the island!
The next stop on this gastronomic road trip around Île d’Orléans is La Ferme d’Oc, a farm specializing in raising duck and geese. La roulette du coin is the food truck attached to the farm and it is some of the best food on the island. Try the house burger with a duck and pork patty topped with cheese, a slice of foie gras and a garlic mayo and served in a brioche bun marbled with black garlic produced on the farm.
Drive along Chemin Royal and admire the gorgeous views on either side of the road no matter what season it might be. Your next stop is Les Fromages de l’isle d’Orléans and its many artisanal cheeses. Stock up on cheese and a history lesson from the employees decked out in period costumes before you hit the road again.
A few minutes down the road is the Observation Tower, a tall wooden structure from the top of which you can get a breathtaking 360º view of the beautiful fields and surrounding vistas. The climb is well worth it and a great exercise to work up an appetite for the next few stops.
The next stop is La Boulange, an artisanal bakery in the Saint-Jean municipality further down Chemin Royal. Everything at La Boulange is hand shaped on sight. Everything here is delicious including all the fruit tarts made with island produce but the croissants and pizza are an absolute must! If you are too full to eat, get some to go because you are going to want some later on.
All that delicious bread from La Boulange would go incredibly well with the delightful jams from La confiturerie Tigidou made strictly with fruit and herbs grown on the island.
Le Moulin de St-Laurent in the Saint-Laurent municipality is one of the best restaurants on the island. If you are staying on Île d’Orléans overnight, make sure to book a table here or to stop by for lunch. The restaurant is located inside a 1720 flourmill and surrounded by the most enchanting greenery and falls. The menu is seasonal and features local terroir products. The Moulin de St-Laurent also has accommodations with a view of the water.
A little shopping couldn’t hurt at this point in the trip and 3 Poules à l’Île boutique in Saint-Laurent is the shop to visit while on the island. Everything from vintage signs, embroidered linen, gorgeous dinnerware, fashion accessories, handmade jewelry and many more unique objects can be purchased at this charming boutique.
Your next stop is at the western tip of the island in the small municipality of Sainte Pétronille. A must stop here is La Chocolaterie de l’Île d’Orléans for the handmade chocolates, obviously, but also for the excellent chocolate dipped ice cream cones.
The last stop on this most delicious island tour is one of the best, the Vignoble Sainte Pétronille and their Panache Mobile restaurant. Sainte Pétronille makes hands down some of the best wines on the island, if not the province. Grab a glass of their excellent rosé or crisp whites and tour the property on your own or sign up for a guided tour with one of the Sainte Pétronille experts. The Panache Mobile canteen from Le Panache restaurant in Quebec City operates at the vineyard all summer long serving elevated fast food including a duck confit poutine.
This drive can take one day but you can also stretch it out longer and spend more time admiring the stunning views around each bend in the road. You can also reverse it and turn right as you first cross the bridge to the island.
Île d’Orléans is also home to many sugar shacks, vineyards, cider makers and pick-your-own farms, from strawberries (the best in the province!) to apples, pumpkins and more, so make sure to refer to this site and visit a few of them while on the island.
Cover photo of Île d’Orléans by User: P199 at Wikimedia Commons