Almost overnight, a cool mass of air swept away the summer heat, announcing the quick approach of fall. And in just a few more weeks, the crisp fall breeze will become the icy breath of winter. Fall in Quebec ends almost as quickly as it begins, so it's important to seek out those fleeting foliage views before, suddenly, it's too late. The Train de Charlevoix might be one of the best ways to do that.
The train travels between La Malbaie and Baie-Saint-Paul from July to mid-October, transporting passengers along the shore of the Saint Lawrence past sweeping seascapes and swooping valleys that, in the autumn months, erupt in fiery yellows, oranges, and reds.
Why You Need To Go: This historical town already has a major French influence and when the snow hits, it feels even more like you've taken a trip to France. And when you get cold, step into the Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine — it feels a whole lot like the Notre-Dame de Paris.
Why You Need To Go: Ice hotels can be found all across Europe during the winter, in countries like Germany, Finland and Norway. But, if you can't make it all the way out there, you can also visit Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier's Hôtel de Glace for a similar experience.
Why You Need To Go: Just a short drive from Montreal, this borough in the town of Longueuil has that same oh-so-magical feeling that you get when walking through the streets of Belgium during the holiday season. So you don't even need to go far to see a little European charm.
Why You Need To Go: Baie-Saint-Paul has all kinds of local boutiques, cafés and churches to explore, just like in little European towns. So if you can't afford a flight to Austria this winter, this spot is the next best thing.
Why You Need To Go: Wanna feel like you're skiing in the Swiss Alps without having to buy a plane ticket? Sommet Saint-Sauveur can provide that exact feeling. When the night hits and the slopes start to light up, your eyes may just be fooled into thinking you've found yourself in the Swiss town of Zermatt.
Why You Need To Go: Located in the Charlevoix region, Saint-Siméon is right by the water, giving it a real Norwegian feel during the winter. Plus, there's a ton to see while you're there. Between the village of Saint-Siméon, Port-au-Persil and Baie-des-Rochers, it's definitely worth the road trip.
Why You Need To Go: Yes, we know — This one is a little obvious, and it's a city rather than a town... But seriously, Quebec City during the winter couldn't have more European charm to it. And it's only a short road trip from Montreal! The German Christmas Market is an absolute must-see during the holiday season.
Baie-Saint-Paul, which is found in the Charlevoix region, was the only Quebec town to make this ranking. This tiny town is known for being filled with artistic talent, from musicians to acrobats and was deemed "the epitome of French Canadian charm" by Travel + Leisure.
If you're curious to go check it out it for yourself, it's less than a four-hour drive from Montreal!
The other 11 towns to make it in this ranking were:
Golden, British Columbia
Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia
Tofino, British Columbia
Victoria-by-the-Sea, Prince Edward Island
St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick
It seems travelling within Canada was a common trend in 2021, so if you're hoping to hop on the bandwagon, consider checking out the cute spots in this list.
Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your trip.
In Quebec, a vaccine passport is required to access many businesses and activities deemed non-essential, including restaurants and bars.
Why You Need To Go: Just across the river from Ottawa, you'll find Gatineau. It's home to Gatineau Park which — with its beautiful trees, hiking trails and famous Pink Lake — cannot be missed, especially as the leaves change colour. If you've had enough nature, you'll find plenty of other things to do from visiting The Canadian Museum of Civilization to eating at amazing local restaurants.
Why You Need To Go: This city in the Eastern Townships is a favourite for visitors because it has a little bit of everything: Lake Memphremagog, a mountainous backdrop, and a lively downtown. Parc national du Mont-Orford is just an 11-minute drive from town and it offers stunning trails where you can appreciate the fall foliage.
Why You Need To Go: Hear Ontario, and most people think of Toronto or Ottawa. But Kingston is a quaint yet lively waterfront city that deserves your consideration. From the majestic architecture (check out City Hall) to the historic Fort Henry site and Queen's University, there's a lot to explore. Martello Alley, an art-themed alleyway representing numerous local artists, should also be on your to-do list.
Why You Need To Go: The Vignoble Riviere du Chene is one of the province's most popular wineries for a reason. Not only do they have incredible wine, but the vineyard itself looks like a work of art in itself. Nestled in the charming Quebec countryside, this place will take your breath away.
It's time to start thinking about your fall weekend plans. The Centre écologique de Port-au-Saumon (CEPAS), a nature reserve on the shore of the Saint Lawrence in the Charlevoix region, has announced that fall reservations are available for its 10 mini cabins for rent in Quebec.
Mini cabin rentals are only $50 per night per person — and that includes meals.
The CEPAS sets the scene: "you will have the chance to see the splendor of changing fall colors, and to enjoy the activities offered on sight such as roasting marshmallows around a campfire, watching the sun slowly set over the St. Lawrence River and tasting our delicious meals made with local products."
The tiny cabins themselves offer minimum amenities — two bunk beds and a bathroom — but the true selling point is the scenery.
Photos on the CEPAS website show sweeping views of the river and landscape with its rocky beaches and gently sloping hills.
Cabin renters also have access to the site's five trails, which range in length from one- to two-and-a-half hours and offer additional views.
There's no wifi, so you can focus your attention on nature.
Visitors are required to book a minimum of two nights.