Food & Terroir

¡Soy Loco!

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Which of these locations is loco? Let us be your guide to an authentic Charlevoix experience!  

(This article is the first in a series, more great places to discover will follow.)

Chez Veilleux

Yes, we’ve got internet in Charlevoix, too. That’s where we’re seeing best poutines in Quebec being ranked. We check these rankings to see whether there’s a winner from around these parts and, every time, we think the writer of the article in question has missed THE best poutine in the province. No one’s discovered this never-ending source of delicious "brown sauce," yet! So, today, Go Charlevoix is proud to be the one to spill the beans, starts the rumours, and give you the scoop: the best snack bar, Bar Billard Chez Veilleux, is located in a half-basement in downtown La Malbaie; those who know the place just call it “Chez Veilleux.” We love our waterfront and village snack bars: Chez Chantal, we adore the generous lobster rolls, Ginette, your hamburgers are filled to overflowing, Chez Poucet, you’re the most adorable french fry stand on four wheels, Élisa, your flavours are authentic and La Goélette, you’ve got the most complete ice cream parlour in the area… But, wherever else we might go in the summer, we always come back to Chez Veilleux. For poutine with great Saint-Fidèle cheese that squeaks between the teeth, but also for the exclusive specialty that, when ordering, immediately gives away the true regulars: the Veilleux. A hamburger, dark-brown sauce dripping from the bun, nothing like the “hot hamburger” you’re familiar with… So run over to get the calorie-rich, salty treat served just the way you want it by the friendly team,  who playfully refer to each other as "baby," every so often.




Check business hours carefully, or even give them a call to confirm what times they’re open; summer hours can be rather unpredictable, as the team splits its time between Chez Veilleux and the La Goélette snack bar, operated by the same owner.


La quatrième chute

We don’t want to burst your bubble, but the St. Lawrence River's water is a little cold to spend the day dipping in and out of! No question about it, beach days are great, but when you’re really in the mood to dive (watch your head!) and swim in a natural body of water, spots hidden in the woods or swimming in a freshwater river is often preferable. Every (or almost every) city or village has its well-known local hangout. The municipality of Saint-Siméon is no exception and has not one but two rivers within its borders, including great swimming holes that the community, taking an approach different from other jurisdictions, has decided to formalize and develop into municipal parkland. One at Port-au-Persil, the other on the Rivière Noire [Black River], known since the 1970s as la quatrième chute [the fourth waterfall]. Hippies lit up joints there and went skinny dipping. Later, they brought their little ones for picnics on the rocks, revealing the location of the trail’s secret entrance on Route 170. In recent years, an official parking lot has been built, and a staircase provides access to the original trail; this has taken nothing away from this natural spot. The same colourful, local “wildlife” can still be seen here: the old-timers who keep coming back for a dip, young people with their fruit-flavoured alcoholic beverages, families with their dogs… Everyone’s welcome here. Everyone can pick their own rock and stretch out on a towel for the day, as long as they don't block the jumping rock! Regardless of the foaming waterfalls, the big basin is pretty calm: you can jump in the water, float around, swim to where you can climb out of the water. But be careful: Make sure you know how to swim well, to be able to swim against the current. Your feet won’t touch the bottom often, and it’s not an easy place for the little ones, who must be supervised on the slippery rocks that border the falls. Still, discovering this earthly paradise is quite the adventure; it’s a place where the party energy of the “peace and love” years still holds!



Not sure you’re going the right direction on this trail, which takes a good 10 minutes or so to walk? Listen carefully: If you hear the rumble of the waterfalls, you’re almost there!


Les Jardins Écho-Logiques

If you visit our public markets which, by the way, we highly recommend you do, you may see people flocking to and cheerfully lining up at a well-stocked farmer’s stand to fill their small baskets and, especially, to greet the farmer by his first name: Guillaume! True, Jardins Écho-Logiques  isn’t just Guillaume by himself: there’s Myriam, who’s been skillfully managing the farm for a few years now, there’s the son who’s been behind the counter since he was in elementary school, there are a great bunch of happy people everyone is glad to see again, and who provide us with the organic vegetables we’ve been eating for years. Still, we describe the meal we cooked last night to each other by saying, “I combined Guillaume’s tomatoes with some fresh garlic, and…” Because of his presence at the market, in family grocery baskets, on the menus of the best restaurants, and at his self-serve stand on the road leading to the Hautes-Gorges de la Rivière-Malbaie park, one could truly say that Guillaume Hamel-Dubois feeds Charlevoix! Free-range eggs, bok choy, melons, garlic scapes, cherry tomatoes, mini-cucumbers, zucchini flowers, rocket, you’ll find a veritable cornucopia if you follow the sound of the local crowd at the farmer’s market!



Bring along your reusable bags and, when you're ready to pay for your purchases, empty any containers or cartons of produce you've selected, so staff can refill them later. Écho-Logique goes green all the way, and reuse is king!



Coming down to Charlevoix, you notice that everyone has extraordinary sleeves, perfectly-executed tattoos, with deep blacks, bright colours, fine line work, and designs that stand out… Are you wondering who the amazing tattoo artist we've unearthed is, and suddenly have an urge to sit in their chair yourself? That’s because we have a well-guarded secret. And that secret’s name is Iza! A wildly talented woman with incredible drive, whose at-times-shy nature often leaves her overshadowed by her superb tattoo parlour in downtown La Malbaie; needle or pencil in hand, she is always at work on her art. This year, she was brave enough to register in the INKED CIRCUS TATTOO EXPO MARKHAM 2023, where she was incredibly surprised to outdo the competitors she most admired to eventually win first prize in the “Best Multi-Day Piece” contest against well-known tattoo artists. The little girl from Charlevoix has proven herself in the big leagues. As for us, we’ve known to entrust our skin to Isabelle Lavoie for a long time!




Isabelle’s schedule is pretty well booked up, but for small projects or a piercing, take a chance and give her a call. Even better, drop in when you’re passing through Charlevoix: maybe a time slot has opened up, just in time for you to bring back an indelible souvenir from Charlevoix.


La Marmite

When we recommend this great place to each other, go there for a meal ourselves, plan dinner for two, a girls’ nights out, or team dinners here, the reason is simple: the secret’s in the sauce…uh, we mean, in the pot! In a word, it’s good. You can’t go wrong. We always want to lick the plate clean, to finish every last vegetable… La Marmite [The Cauldron] (you’ll also maybe hear locals call it « La petite marmite » [The Little Cauldron] because that’s what this inn was called for decades) has had a facelift in recent years under co-owner (with her father) Amélie’s watchful eye. She’s a pro at warm welcomes and at descriptions of mouth-watering meals, but she’s especially knowledgeable about wines and other tasty things to drink… The atrium’s decor is relaxed and plant-filled, its benches are full of cushions, and it feels a little Mediterranean around the edges; it’s the perfect place to taste Félix’s (incidentally, Amélie’s partner and the venue’s chef) ever-so-flavourful specialties. By himself in the kitchen, he accomplishes true miracles. The pot of hot cream of onion soup is a specialty, but we also highly recommend the wild mushroom puffs or, even better, the carpaccio, if there’s one on the menu when you visit. As for mains, tenderloin and the accompanying house chimichurri is not to be missed, but the fish, shrimp, and scallops also on the menu are always stunning, especially with a saffron sauce and polenta. La Marmite is the kind of delicious restaurant without pretentions that, after you leave, you’re already impatiently looking forward to the next visit!



Whether you want pie or crème brûlée, leave some room for dessert. Whatever your choice, it’ll exceed all your expectations!


L’allée des soeurs

Park your car at the Maison Mère, a former convent, and confidently make your way to "l’Allée des soeurs" [Nuns’ Lane]; it and its large oak trees are accessible to all, whether you live here, or are a tourist-for-a-day. Not turning around after the first few metres is a distinct sign that one is a regular visitor. They know it’s the coolest way to get to the beach! So, once past the religious statue, continue across fields with a great view of Highland cows grazing, separated only by a small creek and fence, on the Germain Charlevoix's property. Upon reaching the end of the lane, turn left and walk past the Petites Franciscaines de Marie cemetery entrance. You’ll come across a big field; be alert as you walk, because gliders land there, which you’ll want to keep clear of. Just keep to the edge of the field and remember to look skyward once in a while. Within a few minutes, you’ll have arrived at the Boisé du Quai park, where trails snake through the woods near the river; there’s also the pier, showing a photo exhibit from Baie-Saint-Paul’s Musée d’art contemporain, a children’s playground, but especially… the beach! A small white fence, a boardwalk, and then… your toes are in the sand, and your eyes on the horizon, marsh grasses, the waves, and the Isle-aux-Coudres.



Once you’ve returned to the car, head into Maison-Mère, where you’ll find the best buttercream cupcakes at Mousse Café: a nice reward after a walk in the fresh air!


Café Charlevoix

Whether it’s the “Pssssssschhh” of the espresso machine, or the "Drip-drip-drip" of the filtered coffee machine, morning coffee, the noise and the smell of it, are a prerequisite for most of us… How do Charlevoix residents take their mugs of morning elixir - black, or with milk? If you want the answer, we’ll point you all towards microroaster Café Charlevoix located on rue Saint-Anne towards the pier in Baie-Saint-Paul. Bags of Café Charlevoix coffee, sold in-store and at various other local points of sale are adorned with names you’ll only find here: Le Massif [The Mountain], L’estuaire [The Estuary], Le sismique [Tremor], Les hautes-Gorges [The High Canyons], Météorites [Meteorites], or Bas de la baie [Bottom of the Bay]… The roasting is perfect, and the flavours of their products give us as much energy as they do pride, morning after morning, and day after day. Of course we invite you to stop in, and we’re even prepared to introduce our good friends Guylaine and Nicholas. They’ll take the time to say hi to you over a good cup of coffee sipped in their warm, orange-hued family business!




Ask about the best way to make your coffee, the best time to consume the roasted beans you’ve chosen according to the ideal resting time, the best way to store them, etc. You’ll get friendly expert advice from the owners-baristi here! (Yes, that’s plural…)


Camille Dufour Truchon, Mark Lindenberg (Translator)
Sylvain Foster, Camille Dufour Truchon, Patrice Gagnon, Christyna Mérette

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