Along St. Lawrence in Que­bec, where the river is a sea of tran­quil­ity

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - TRAVEL - By Calvin Wood­ward

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

CAL WOOD­WARD / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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