The Best Spots to Visit on a Tour of Île d'Orléans
Soak up the beauty of the island countryside and fill your picnic basket with treats on a leisurely trip to Île d’Orléans. With its ancestral homes dating back to the 17th century, the island is a treasure trove of French heritage right here in North America.
The island is a boundless source of inspiration for local artists of every stripe who find all kinds of ways to share their creations, while local makers work with an abundance of terroir goods. The village shops and roadside stands are at their liveliest from mid-June to mid-October, while the scenery offers something new with each passing season.
To make the most of your visit, head out on Chemin Royal in a counterclockwise loop. It will take you through 6 charming villages, almost all of which are ranked as some of the prettiest in the province of Québec. Here are a few suggested stops, but the most important thing is to leave room for spontaneity. See something that sparks your curiosity? Go check it out!
- Vignoble Ste-Pétronille
- Saint-Pierre Le Vignoble
Start With Wine Tastings
Begin the tour of the island with tastings of two exceptional vineyards that allows you to enjoy a view of Montmorency Falls.
- Chocolaterie de l'Île d'Orléans
Chocolaterie de l’Île d’Orléans
Chocolaterie de l’Île d’Orléans has everything to recommend it, starting with the ice cream and chocolate. From there, you can take a stroll down Rue Horatio-Walker for a superb view of Québec City and admire the mansions on the tip of the island.
- Mathieu Bélanger
Pick Your Own Strawberries on Île d'Orléans
Parc maritime de Saint-Laurent
In the 1830s, the parish of Saint-Laurent was home to some twenty rowboat builders and a few family shipyards. A visit to the maritime park is a trip back in time to the era of wooden boatbuilding, with an authentic 19th-century chalouperie where rowboats were built.
We loved renting a scooter and exploring Ile d'Orleans, trying out freshly baked croissants and indulging in blackcurrant wines!
-Claudia Nieroda et Kaan Blofield, The Lost Two, Toronto
- Vincent Paris
Made exclusively with berries grown on Île d’Orléans, the jams at Confiturerie Tigidou are a taste sensation. Plus, the 1920s-inspired interior is highly Instagrammable.
- Manoir Mauvide-Genest
Built in 1734 in the time of New France, this gorgeous country manor is one of the last seigneurial homes still standing in Québec. Take the guided tour to learn about Jean Mauvide and Marie-Anne Genest and their sumptuous home, which is full of artefacts from life in the 18th century.
With its red-roofed church and rows of mid-19th century neoclassical homes, this charming village is a must-visit. Take a walk along the beach and pop in to try Du Capitaine’s craft vinegars and products.
- Seigneurie de l'Île d'Orléans
- La Seigneurie de l'Île d'Orléans
- La Seigneurie de l'Île d'Orléans
La Seigneurie de l'Île d'Orléans
The five gardens and sprawling lavender fields at Seigneurie de l’Île are one of the island’s best-kept secrets. The grounds are open to visitors from June to October, as is the shop, where you’ll find a vast selection of products made with lavender essential oil.
- Francis Fontaine
Saint-François encompasses the eastern tip of the island. From the top of the observation tower at the municipal rest stop, you can see the archipelago islands, Cap Tourmente, and the St. Lawrence River Estuary. Fun fact: the estuary is where the St. Lawrence’s fresh and salt waters mix, so there are all kinds of fish living in it.
A stop in Saint-François is not complete without having tasted the ice cream made with goat's milk from Fromagerie Ferme Audet as well as the potato-based products —including the delicious donuts— from Saveurs de l'Isle d'Orleans.
- Liana Paré
Les Fromages de l’isle d’Orléans
Travel back in time to the 17th century and taste the very first cheese made in America at Fromages de l’isle d’Orléans. The shopkeepers are dressed in period clothing and serve up their fabulous fromages. There’s a faisselle-style unripened cheese, a roasting cheese called the Paillasson de l’Isle, and plenty of other local goodies.
- Sébastien Girard
La Maison Drouin is one of the first homes built on Île d’Orléans in the 17th century and is the only authentic historic home that’s open to the public. It’s been converted into an interpretation centre where you can learn all about the history of Île d’Orléans and its rich heritage.
Not far from there, Maison de nos Aïeux houses genealogical records on the 300 founding families from France that landed on Île d’Orléans before spreading out across America. Both attractions are located in the oldest parish on the island, which boasts a superb view of Côte-de-Beaupré and Mont Sainte-Anne.
Microbrasserie de l'Île d'Orléans - Pub Le Mitan
The patio at the island’s only microbrewery is perfect for taking a break. Sample their fine craft beers named after some of the island’s historic figures.
- Le Relais des Pins, Restaurant - Cabane à sucre
Relais des Pins Sugar Shack
- Jeff Frenette Photography
- Pierre Fortin photographe
Pick Your Own Apples
After the abundance of berries in the summer, the island’s apples are ripe for the picking in September and October. Many orchards turn into family fun zones, with entertainment, inflatables, and tractor rides. Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau has cider tastings and apple products galore, including Madame Bilodeau’s famous apple pies!
- Benoit Camirand
Vignoble Isle de Bacchus
Seeing the abundance of wild grapes growing on Île d’Orléans, Jacques Cartier dubbed it the “Isle of Bacchus” when he landed here in 1535. Centuries later, Isle de Bacchus embodies that same pioneering spirit, blazing a trail for vineyards in the province. The main building is a converted 18th century home with a fabulous wine cellar and bistro. Pull up a chair on the patio for a taste of the terroir.
- Virginie Gosselin
- Francis Fontaine
- Virginie Gosselin
Cassis Monna & Filles
Visit this famous black currant grower and take a tour of their mini museum. There are tons of black currant products to try, including their award-winning black currant liqueur and their ice cream, sold only in the summer.
- Espace Félix-Leclerc
This interpretation centre dedicated to the life and work of Félix Leclerc is also a show venue for singer-songwriters from Québec and France. Take a quiet moment to walk along the path scattered with poems by Leclerc, a man who loved his island.
Guided Tours of Île d’Orléans
If you prefer to follow an experienced tour guide around the island, there are a number of options.
- In a sea kayak: See Île d’Orléans from the St. Lawrence River paddling in a sea kayak with Quatre Natures. There’s a shuttle that leaves from the city centre.
- On an electric bike or a scooter: Enjoy the freedom of visiting the island on a bike or scooter. With Québec Aventure Tours, you can strike out on your own or opt for a guided tour.
- With a private guide: Take a tour of Île d'Orléans as part of a personalized guided tour with Québec Discovery Tours.
- On a bus: Take a Québec Bus Tour from Old Québec to follow the Île d’Orléans flavour trail.
- In a zodiac: If you feel the call of adventure on the open river but aren’t that keen on paddling, Croisières Orléans offers excursions in a zodiac. It’s a great way to experience the St. Lawrence River and its coves, tides, and currents. It is also possible to explore the island with a departure from Québec with Excursions Maritimes Québec.