Imagine the rural Quebec of a storybook. Tall evergreens and maple trees that blaze crimson in autumn and drip sap to be made into syrup in spring. Farmland, dotted with farmhouses and animals, rolls up from the mighty St. Lawrence River. There’s likely a charming town nearby, with cute shops and restaurants.
Now, how about the ability to see all of this in real life, on an actual farm that has been turned into a boutique hotel? Le Germain Charlevoix Hotel & Spa is your dream answer.
The town of Baie-Saint-Paul in Charlevoix
The hotel is on the edge of the très charmant town of Baie-Saint-Paul. It’s favoured by artists and entrepreneurs from Quebec City, an hour away, who decided to leave the big city to enjoy their lives while pursuing their dreams. This means the town is full of artisan workshops, galleries, street art, museums, pop-ups, and co-working spaces, plus the coffee shops and restaurants that keep creatives fueled.
The region is called Charlevoix. It’s made up of several cute towns; wilderness for skiing and hiking; lots of farms producing incredible cheeses, lavender, organic meats, and even wine made from heirloom tomatoes; plus the St. Lawrence River and its many whales, including white belugas.
Le Germain Charlevoix Hotel & Spa
Le Germain Charlevoix has 147 rooms in five differently themed buildings spread out over what was once an immense farm. The old farm, which burned down in 1997, inspired the design, though there’s now a contemporary feel. Exposed wood beams and barn-door-like walls are main features, plus you’ll find accents like hooks and table legs in the shapes of sheep and pigs. Linens are Egyptian cotton and bamboo, black and white photos hang from the walls, you can listen to your tunes through the iPod dock, make your own in-room Nespresso, and keep your toes warm on the heated bathroom floors.
Le Germain’s grounds are ideal for strolling. There are paths which lead you to ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits, and beehives. The fields have grazing sheep, highland cattle, and alpaca. You can even see the alpaca from the onsite Nordic spa. Soak in one of the outdoor pools while you smell the nearby lavender and watch for the cartoon-like alpaca to look your way.
Once you’ve done several warm-hot-cold-warm circuits in the Nordic spa, it’s probably time for dinner. You might be in the countryside, but at Le Germain, you’ll be treated to sophisticated meals based on local and organic ingredients. Le Germain has two restaurants, Le Bercail and Les Labours, the latter with an open kitchen. Try the confit, tartare, or pheasant, all paired with local Quebec wines. Les Labours also serves an excellent buffet breakfast where you can sample honey from the hotel’s beehives.
Want to explore more of Charlevoix? Ride the scenic train — the station is right on the property — along the St. Lawrence to La Malbaie. There, stay in another iconic Canadian hotel, the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu (you may remember the castle-like hotel as the site of the 2018 G7 summit). It’s an ideal base to see the beluga, minke, fin and humpback whales further north in the St. Lawrence. Sometimes they even swim right by the hotel.
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Canadian writer & photographer specialising in travel, food & responsible tourism