Orleans Island is a calm and peaceful place filled with nature, maple trees, agriculture, and history. Jacques Cartier discovered it in 1535. The land and its microclimate make the island ultra-fertile and a great place to cultivate. Situated right next to Quebec City, it is a great weekend getaway. It is famous for apple and pumpkin picking in the fall, berries in the summer, and brunch at the maple shacks on weekends in the early spring. Here are the best places to visit on Île d’Orléans, Québec, Canada

Maisons ancestral de l'ile
St-Jean de L’Ile D’Orleans

The Seasons

Since it’s quite a seasonal place, the island wakes up slowly in the early spring with the ‘Cabanes à sucre‘ (sugar shacks) season. Join the earthy brunch of a sugar shack with its live music and maple syrup on everything! Finish always with a ‘tire sur neige,’ which is maple toffee made on snow.

In the summertime, it’s berry season. In August, it’s sweet corn season; in the fall, it’s apple and pumpkin season. The island has many “pick it up yourself” places, which is an excellent activity for the kids.

Le pont de l'ile d'O.jpg
The Bridge of île d’Orléans, the only entrance to the island

Cycling

It’s also great to experience by bike; it’s about 70km and relatively flat, although no cycling path is present, and the road can be a tad bumpy. I wouldn’t suggest it for young kids. If you have all day, you can add a couple of excellent stops along the way. Otherwise, it might be easier to bring back loads of amazing products from the island with the car.

In 1610, the island became the first place in North America to receive a shipment of cows from Europe, resulting in the oldest North American cheese, a quite special one. Talking about cheese, let’s start this top 10 with the cheese factory from the island.


#1 Les Fromages de l’Ile d’Orléans (The Island Cheese Factory)

The oldest cheeses produced in North America originate from here, although not precisely the Fromagerie. Back in the day, 38 families from the Island would make their cheeses at home. They all used the same French recipe of 3 different ages; a young cheese (ricotta style), a six days young cheese and an older (28 days) refined cheese. This conventional method results in unique cheeses, which only can be made on this island because of its exceptional bacterial flora. Many tried to reproduce the cheeses outside of the island, in laboratories, and couldn’t remake them.

La Fromagerie de l'isle d'Orleans
Paillason

The island’s residents have made cheese since 1635, although the fromagerie store only started in 2004. In the ’60s, the cheeses from the island couldn’t be sold in stores or markets because it wasn’t refined long enough for Canadian regulations, which asked back then for a minimum of 60 days to refine cheeses to be able to sell them. So there was a dark period for this particular cheese. Although, the families kept making some at home and giving/selling only to family and safe individuals.

Le Paillasson
Le Paillason

This cheese is not only delicious… the Paillasson (the six days dried one) is quite particular because it needs to be grilled before consumption and, yes, grilled! First, you cut it into small triangles and grill it in a nonstick pan for about 2 minutes on each side. Strangely, it doesn’t melt or lose its form and gives the crust this irresistible caramelized flavour. A bit like an Halloumi cheese, this grilled Paillasson cheese goes perfectly on a green salad. Sadly this cheese is made in such a small quantities you’ll only be able to find it around the island and Quebec city.

La Fromagerie de l'isle d'Orleans
Cheese Curds, Fromage en crotte or Squish Squish

The Fromagerie, nowadays, has a couple of different types of cheeses. It was going from soft, fresh cheese too strong cured ones, without forgetting the famous “Squish Squish” cheese. The renowned cheese to make poutine or, in other words, cheddar cheese curds fresh from the day. We call it by the sound it makes when you chew on it: Squish Squish. The fresher it is, the stronger the “squish” sound—my favourite snack!

fromage-glace-bleuet

If you ever pass by Les Fromages de l’Isle d’Orléans, stop by! They usually offer a bunch of freshly grilled Paillasson cheese to try. In the summer, they also offer frozen fresh cheese mixed with fresh island berries, a pure delight!

Les Fromages de l’isle d’Orléans, 2950, chemin Royal, Sainte-Famille

www.fromagesdeliledorleans.com

#2 La Nougaterie


A couple from Europe owns this delicious nougat shop/factory with always a touch of the island products. You can see the factory in the back of the shop. Their bestsellers include maple sugar nougat, blueberry, and fleur de sel nougat. My personal favourite stays the normal “pistachio” one. They also sell some handmade marshmallows, meringues and other sweets. This is a winning stop for kids.

La Nougaterie 1367 Chemin Royal, Saint-Pierre

www.nougateriequebec.com

#3 Cidrerie/Orchard Bilodeau

This cidery was the first to cultivate apples on Orleans island since 1970. The apple orchard is one of the best things to do with the kids in the fall. They have 6 acres of small apple trees to pick up. A fun activity for the family to do from end of August to mid-October. The Bilodeau Ciderie won many prizes, especially for their ciders. Some are maple syrup flavoured, strawberries flavoured, etc. They also make other beverages, from sparkling ciders to digestives. Another strong point is that they offer a free degustation of most products.

Le chausson au pommade la cidrerie Bilodeau

If you go on the weekend during the apple season, you’ll have to try the “Chausson aux Pommes,” a one-of-a-kind apple turnover served with maple butter. Simply divine! They also offer pies and other apple sweets. The place is open from May to December.

Cidrerie Bilodeau, 2200 Chemin Royal, St-Pierre

www.cidreriebilodeau.qc.ca

#4 Cassis Monna & Filles

Cassis Monna & FillesThis is a well-known place, a blackcurrant specialists and awards winner cellar selling all kinds of products based on blackcurrant, from mustard, marmelade to fortified wines and digestives. To taste their products you have to go downstairs; they have a restaurant and cafe/ice cream shop upstairs. In the summertime, they serve delicious blackcurrant ice cream in many forms (soft ice cream, gelato, double), and it’s simply divine!

Creme glacé molle Monna & Filles

I use their blackcurrant syrup and add it to some sparkling water or Kir Royal; it’s pretty addictive, you’ll see. The cellar is open from May to October, and the restaurant from June to September and the view is spectacular. There is a big terrace in the back with some picnic tables. All the items from the restaurant highlights their products. At the back, you can tour their museum in the barn or sit at one of the picnic tables to sip on some blackcurrant iced tea.

Cassis Monna & Filles, 721 Chemin Royal, Saint-Pierre

www.cassismonna.com

#5 The Confiturerie Tigidou

Confiture Tigidou

Once you enter this beautiful Confiturerie (marmalade factory), you’ll never want to leave. The charming lady made me taste almost all their concoctions, they call… it’s marmalade with less sugar. Their products are all made with products from the island, organic cane sugar and no conservatives. They make exciting mixes like strawberry-mint, blueberry-rosemary, and even whiskey-apple butter. There is a secret behind the recipes of those little pots; I saw it; lots of love.

7007 Chem. Royal, Saint-Laurent-de-l’Île-d’Orléans, QC G0A 3Z0, Canada

www.tigidou.ca

#6 The Vignoble de Ste-Pétronille and its Pizza Restaurant

This one is a 2-for-1 place, the first being a degustation place with all kinds of island wines and ice wine. You can visit the cellar and walk around the vineyard with a splendid view of Montmorency falls. One of their best sellers is a white wine called “Le voile de la mariée“. The second part, situated in the back of the degustation room, is a pizza restaurant serving great pizzas with a picture of the vineyards. Another seasonal place opens from spring to fall. Their pizza is made in a proper pizza oven, with whole grain sour dough and topped with products from the island. Fantastic!

8705 Chemin Royal, Ste-Pétronille

http://vs-p.ca/

#7 Chez Mag – Fine Cantine

Get in line, because it’s a long one, if you want to eat something special: lobster poutine or rolls, smoked meat poutines or an innovative burger! It’s the new popular place on the island with lovely, copious deluxe lunches. Also, try the onion rings with a caramelized beer and smoked sour cream dip! All here will power you up to finish exploring the other half of the island. They also have a new Ice cream shack in the back if you still have space after your meal.

2460 Chem. Royal, Sainte-Famille

Chez Mag – Fine Cantine

#8 The Chocolaterie

This says it all, it’s a Belgium-style chocolate heaven. They have two shops on opposite side of the island. One is situated not too far from the island’s entrance in Ste-Petronille, and the other is in Saint-Laurent. They are also seasonal, opening only from April to October (Ste-Petronille) and June to October (St-Francois). They sell exquisite fine chocolates, including blueberry to maple sugar. They also offer ice cream covered with chocolate and sorbets— great relaxing spot to enjoy the St-Lawrence river scenery.

The chocolaterie, 8330 Chemin Royal, Sainte-Pétronille / 7014 Chem. Royal, L’Île-d’Orléans

www.chocolaterieorleans.com

#9 La Midinette

This is a delicious coffee place/bakery in an ancestral Canadian house with cracking floors and a beautiful terrace. They make some of the best Danoise and brioches I’ve ever tasted. They offer a great variety of breads, croissants, and much more. If you go to the island by bike and have a sweet tooth, I recommend this place for a lunch stop; it’s midway.

La Midinette 2001 Chemin Royal, Saint-Jean

The Facebook Page

#10 Polyculture Plante

You’ll find every fruit and vegetable the island offers, along with various other products like maple syrup, fresh bread, juices, marmalade, dressings, and much more. This family-run business has been going strong for three generations. Each season brings a bounty of new and delicious items, like a variety of apples during apple season, big containers of different corn styles in the end of summer and mountains of pumpkins to choose from for Halloween. They have picnic tables to make a picnic in the field on the side of the shop.

Like most places on the island, the store closes its doors in winter when the snow comes. They usually sell Christmas trees and close right before the holidays. It’s a great place to fill up the car with goodies!

8683 Chemin Royal, Ste-Pétronille

www.polycultureplante.com

Other New Spots to Explore

  • Ferme Audet, in St-Francois, makes their goat cheese, fresh ice cream, and soaps, and you can sample them, then enjoy your ice cream in the backyard with the goats and chicken!
  • La Grange de l’Île is a lovely restaurant in a barn with a stunning terrace and garden. It offers a charcuterie and cheese board, salads, and tartare plates.
  • Ferme Francois Gosselin sells all kinds of products, from bio-berries to maple syrup. It’s a lovely store!
  • La Cuisine d’été, if you fancy a quick bite on the island with loads of green space in the back for the kids to run around, it’s the place! Their poutine is not shy on cheese, and one of my personal favourites!
  • Les Saveurs de l’Isle d’Orléans have lovely marmelades, butters and sandwiches but the highlight is by far their potato donuts! Grab them fresh; they are exquisite!
  • Oh! Bio is all bioproducts from the Island from the Ferme Jean-Pierre Plante. This place is filled with bio fruits, veggies, maple products and even sea ​​buckthorn juice (jus d’Argousier), which is lovely!

On a final note, Orleans Island is filled with flavours and beauties that will make pleasant memories for the whole family.

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3 Comments

  1. diversivore Reply

    I lived in Montreal for two years, and while I loved the city and tried to get out as much as possible, I wish I’d had more time to explore places like this! I remember seeing signs (and specialty foods in stores) for Île d’Orléans and thinking it sounded like a cool place, but I had no idea there was so much going on there! One of these days (when I can fathom flying my little ones across the country) I’m going to have to get back to Quebec and start hitting up some of the amazing places I missed out on!

    • It s a great and calm place, filled with treasures here and there. In winter though…it s pretty pretty dead. Summer and fall is the best time to visit. I hope you ll find some time to go visit someday.

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