Three Days Along the Saguenay Fjord

This majestic Quebec waterway combines outdoor adventure, whales and funky forest sleeps

Photo Courtesy of Canopée Lit

Gouged by glaciers 175 million years ago, Quebec’s 103-kilometre-long Saguenay Fjord is among the longest and southernmost fjords in the world. Flanked by towering sea cliffs and forests of lush balsam fir and yellow birch, it is also one of the most accessible places on the planet to see beluga whales. The best part? How you explore the waterway and its surrounding area is up to you. Lace up your hiking boots, hop in a kayak or stroll the colourful townships that line the Saguenay’s shores. From Nordic spas and fresh seafood to fascinating cultural tours and an array of water excursions, there’s plenty to fill an idyllic three-day escape.

Day 1

Morning Get a bird’s-eye view of the fjord’s myriad communities, mountain lakes and rocky headlands on the “Cap-Trinite” helicopter tour with Peak Aviation, departing from La Baie, Saguenay. The tour will bring you to the Rivière-Éternité section of Saguenay Fjord National Park, where you can test your mettle on the Via Ferrata, scaling near-vertical granite cliffs with wrought-iron rungs and cables. Or, if you’d rather keep both feet firmly on the ground, opt for a guided hike in the park.

Afternoon Catch the Croisières du Fjord water shuttle for the half-hour ride to the township of L’Anse-Saint-Jean, considered one of the most beautiful villages in Quebec. Enjoy lunch at Café du Quai (the crepes are divine), then check into the waterfront Chalets sur le Fjord and grab your camera for a scenic stroll on Rue St-Jean-Baptiste.

Evening For a rejuvenating night out, head to the nearby Nordic spa at Édouard-les-Bains (at the base of the Mont-Édouard ski resort) for a few sessions in the eucalyptus-oil steam bath. Later, head 15 minutes north to Restaurant l’Islet for a leisurely dinner and killer views of the fjord.

Day 2 

Morning Start your day with more time on the fjord by taking a 2.5-hour-long ride on the water shuttle from L’Anse-Saint-Jean to the historic village of Tadoussac. This lovely spot is where the Saguenay meets the mighty St. Lawrence River. Stroll the town and its colourful shops, and pay a visit to the Chauvin Trading Post museum to learn how settlers survived here centuries ago. Enjoy an early lunch at La Galouïne Auberge et Restaurant, which features a wide selection of local ingredients in its dishes. 

Afternoon A variety of whale species can be found in the Saguenay Fjord, and you’ll see several of them on a two-hour zodiac whale-watching excursion with Croisières AML. Chances are good that you’ll also see groups of curious sea lions swim right up to your boat to check you out as they follow the tides in search of food.

Evening The charming, old-world Hôtel Tadoussac will be your base for the night as you sample some Quebec wines and local seafood from the St. Lawrence River. Try the seared scallops with herbs, mushroom ragout, rustic red beetroot and garlic confit. After dinner, take a short stroll along the Sentier de la Pointe-de-L’Islet trail between the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre and Tadoussac’s wharf. It’s an ideal spot to watch the sunset and, if you’re lucky, spot some more whales.  

Day 3

Morning Enjoy breakfast at Hôtel Tadoussac, then drive or take a taxi to Baie Sainte-Marguerite in Saguenay Fjord National Park. This protected cove is a nursing ground for belugas. Hike with a naturalist guide to viewpoints where you may spot white whales cruising near the shoreline.

Afternoon Head to the tiny municipality of Sacré-Coeur, where you can grab a lobster roll and poutine at La Friterie for lunch. You’ll need those calories for your next water-based adventure—sea-kayaking with Ferme 5 étoiles holiday resort. The protected coastline offers great spots for paddling. For something a little less active, Ferme 5 étoiles also offers year-round sugar shack visits.

Evening Check into Canopée Lit in Sacré-Coeur and try out some funky digs. You can choose between cozy self-contained tree houses, set in the boreal forest with views of the fjord, or bubble rooms with transparent walls that make you feel like you’re sleeping right in the trees. For dinner, try one of the daily seafood selections at La Casta Fjord, located on the wharf of Anse-de-Roche at Sacré-Coeur. Then buy a bottle of Vire-Capot blonde ale from Microbrasserie du Lac Saint-Jean, head back to Canopée Lit, and toast your holiday as the sun sets over the fjord. C’est formidable!

Getting there: WestJet flies to Quebec City twice a day from Toronto.