Along St. Lawrence in Quebec, where the river is a sea of tranquility
SAINTE-FLAVIE, Que. — The St. Lawrence River in Quebec is like a pastoral painting along most of its length, wild in so many places, gently settled in others — a sea of tranquility for the spirit no matter how rough the waters or dark the sky.
You can pick your peace here. The choices are endless, from the outskirts of Montreal to Land’s End in the Gaspe Peninsula some 960 kilometres away. Which side of the river is better? Which, on official lists of Quebec’s most beautiful villages, is fairest of them all? There are no right answers.
But on this grand canvas, here’s one vibrant brush stroke, about 80 kilometres long, where you can find solitude by the wide water, natural beauty all around, art that melds into the landscape, memorable sunsets and some pretty great bagels if the man who makes them happens to be around when you roll into his driveway.
This stretch runs, as the river flows, from Saint-Simon nearly three hours east of Quebec City to Grand-Metis at the edge of the Gaspe.
Some highlights: THE GARDENS
In Quebec’s too-short summer, nature goes bonkers: brilliant flowers everywhere, exploding in the wild, dressing up every street in every village.
Les Jardins de Metis, also known as Reford Gardens, is a half-day’s diversion or more, combining traditional manicured gardens with an edgy, whimsical series of sculptures and art installations.
One of the most popular is among the simplest: Making Circles in the Water, by New York City urban landscape artist Diana Balmori.
A series of walk-through circles looking out on the river, like an oversized telescope, the installation invites serenity-seekers to stroll through — but not really to dig for deeper meaning.
“There is nothing that you need to remember about this,” Balmori says in a video about it, “just to look, and see how a landscape looks, from different angles.” THE INN
In Sainte-Flavie, 15 minutes away, the Gagnon family of artists runs an inn and art centre (Centre d’Art Marcel Gagnon) with cozy, well-appointed
Marcel Gagnon’s ghostly statues stretch out into the St. Lawrence River, in Sainte-Flavie, Que.The Gagnon family of artists runs an inn and gallery of their work in the village at the edge of Quebec’s Gaspesie region.