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A quiet break in Baie-Saint-Paul
The small town of Baie-Saint-Paul sits alongside the St Lawrence River in Canada’s Quebec Province, less than one hundred kilometres from Quebec City. Known for being the hometown of the now world famous Cirque du Soleil, Baie-Saint-Paul is a popular destination with Quebec residents thanks to its close proximity to the provincial capital. Visitors come to enjoy its relaxed atmosphere, historic architecture and boutique shopping, plus it’s convenient access to surrounding natural scenery. With lush green fields and forest trails, Baie-Saint-Paul is also an ideal spot for nature lovers.
An historic town close to Quebec City
At less than a ninety-minute drive from downtown Quebec City, the location of Baie-Saint-Paul easily allows it to be reached as a day trip from the province capital. However, many visitors choose the smaller town as a spot to base an extended holiday from, thanks in part to its laid-back atmosphere and limited population. Therefore, there are a variety of Baie-Saint-Paul hotels on offer, from large modern chains to independent guesthouses and homestays. Many of these are housed in picturesque historic buildings, in some cases dating back to the nineteenth century. Indeed, Baie-Saint-Paul was first established over 350 years ago and the core of the town was built up alongside the Rivière du Gouffre as it meets the larger St Lawrence River. This is still where the main commercial activity in the town is housed, with a variety of restaurants, bars and cafes plus most of the town’s shopping opportunities. Thanks to its compact size, exploring central Baie-Saint-Paul is easily possible on foot from the majority of accommodation options.
Boutique shopping and riverside dining
The Route 362 highway passes directly through Baie-Saint-Paul and immediately from this street lies Rue Saint Jean Baptiste running parallel to Rivière du Gouffre. Visitors can find an assortment of local eateries and bars here, many of which have outdoor seating overlooking the water. Indeed, for such a small town, Baie-Saint-Paul has an incredible range of culinary options, mostly due to the influx of tourists creating the necessary demand. Rue Saint Jean Baptiste is also home to the finest boutique shops in the town, selling a range of independent clothing and accessories, plus multiple souvenirs shops offering local produce such as art and crafts. The French influence in the local culture can be seen throughout, giving the town a much different vibe to most of Canada. Therefore, visitors have a variety of options to spend time in the centre of Baie-Saint-Paul, with many amenities within a short distance of any hotel. For guests self-catering in Baie-Saint-Paul, there are multiple supermarkets as well as independent grocers in town, ensuring all needs can be met.
Quaint architecture and tranquil parks
Aside from shopping and eating, the town centre of Baie-Saint-Paul also contains several other points of interest for visitors to explore. The Museum of Contemporary Art is the main museum in Baie-Saint-Paul and it showcases an array of local artists’ work as well as offering further insight into the region. In addition, just wandering the central streets of the town it is possible to find many photogenic historic buildings, many of which are simply the houses and cottages of Baie-Saint-Paul residents. There is also the Église de Baie-Saint-Paul Catholic Church, located close by Route 362 and one of the tallest buildings in the town. Part of the charm of a small town such as Baie-Saint-Paul is the ability to walk into quiet and scenic spots within minutes of the town centre, one of the ideal places for this is Parc Boisé du Quai alongside the banks of the St Lawrence River. Just a couple of kilometres south of the Route 362, this outdoor park is an excellent location to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and pleasant river views.
Day trips to nearby natural highlights
There are dozens of smaller parks and nature reserves within a short drive of Baie-Saint-Paul and these are a significant draw for visitors to the area. The Grands Jardins National Park is one of the finest examples; located just thirty kilometres north it is easily possible as a day trip and provides excellent opportunities for hiking, fishing, kayaking and a whole host of other outdoor activities. During the winter months, there are even an assortment of cross country skiing trails, ensuring that the park and region have a year-round appeal. Another popular destination with outdoor enthusiasts and families is the island of L’Isle-aux-Coudres on the St Lawrence River. This small island is accessible by ferry and is home to a few beaches and a host of historic buildings, just a few kilometres south of Baie-Saint-Paul, making it another feasible day trip.