Exploring Route 362
When in the Charlevoix region, be sure to plan a leisurely day trip down Route 362 that runs along the St. Lawrence through the hills between Baie St-Paul and La Malbaie. In fact, take Route 362 both east and west, as it is one of the Top 10 most scenic drives in North America. This breathtaking 56 kilometre (35 mile) winding road reveals the beauty of this historic region, which was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1989.
Suggested Detour : Isle aux Coudres, Quebec, Canada
L’Isle-aux-Coudres – Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive Ferry
All year long, the MV Joseph-Savard connects the village of Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive, near the municipality of Les Éboulements, to L’Isle-aux-Coudres. In summer, a second vessel is brought into service to offer departures every 30 minutes during the daytime. This ferry service is free of charge and the trip duration is approximately 15 minutes to travel the 3.7 kilometres (2.3 miles).
L’Isle-aux-Coudres is located in the St. Lawrence River, about 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) south from the mainland. The island is about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) long and averages 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) in width. It is thought to have been formed from material lifted up by the impact of the meteor, which shaped the geography of the Charlevoix region.
The modern French spelling for “island” is île, but the municipality uses the old French spelling of Isle. The island was named by famous French explorer Jacques Cartier during his second expedition in 1535, for the many nut-bearing trees on the island. “Coudriers” is the archaic French word for Hazelnut tree, and there are still some trees growing on the island to this day.
Jacques Cartier planted a cross to take possession of the land in the name of king Louis de France and a mass was celebrated in honour of the occasion. This may have been the first mass held in the land what was to become Canada.
On October 29, 1687, Governor Denonville and Intendant Champigny and granted the island as a seignory to the Seminary of Quebec, an act that was ratified on March 1, 1688.
In 1728, the first concessions of land were granted to early settlers, and by 1741, the Parish of Saint-Louis-de-France was formed, and soon after was renamed to Saint-Louis-de-l’Isle-aux-Coudres. Named after Louis IX of France, it probably was also a tribute to Louis Chaumont (or Chaumonot) de La Jaunière (ca. 1700-1776), who was the priest of Baie-Saint-Paul from 1736 to 1767.
In the past, porpoise fishing was practiced on a broad basis by inhabitants of the island, and was supplemented by some boat construction. The arrival of the ferry service to the island in 1930 ushered in a new era of prosperity. Today tourism is the main industry, and the place is known for its historical sites, tourist accommodations, and craftspeople. On the beach near the ferry dock, there is a shipyard that is home to craftsmen who work according to ancestral techniques.
Isle-aux-Coudres is a very popular tourist destination of the Charlevoix region. It is known for its visual beauty, its healthy marine air and warm welcome “Bienvenue” extended by its residents to tourists. The island is a popular destination for cyclists who can enjoy the tourist sites at their own leisure.