Now is the perfect time to spend a day on Ile d'Orleans

[2021] An Exciting Day Trip to Île d’Orléans,Québec

Last Updated on August 1, 2021 by Pamela

Île d’Orléans is an island overflowing with charm, one of the best places in Québec for fresh strawberries, blackcurrant liquor, award-winning cheeses, wine, cider, and unforgettable meals. You can navigate around the island (it’s 75 kms in circumference) easily. Cycling Île d’Orléans is a popular activity in summer and autumn, but you can also explore by car or take an Île d’Orléans bus tour of a selection of wineries or local foodie destinations.

Spending a morning or afternoon on an Île d’Orléans bike tour will take you a little off-the-beaten-path, but honestly, however you choose to explore, I’m confident you will find things to do in Île d’Orléans that will have you dreaming of a return trip.

It sounds too good to be true, but in my opinion, Île d’Orléans is one of the best day trips from Québec City.

I fell in love with the island during my first visit in 2013. I still remember the chocolate-dipped ice cream cone I ate, and how my tour guide let me sit there with chocolate on my chin for a solid 10 minutes before telling me it was there. I remember stopping at La Boulange and swooning over the croissants and chocolatines.

The sweetness of the Île d’Orléans strawberries was divine, and my fingertips started to turn red from eating too many. I remember being mesmerized by the architecture, the way the tin roofs curved and swooped, and the intricate details on wrought iron railings.

In autumn, when the leaves change colour, Île d’Orléans is vibrant and almost orgasmic in its brilliance. I am gobsmacked every time I visit during this magical time of year.

While most of the businesses are closed in winter and spring, I still venture over to the island to drive around. I especially love it after a fresh layer of slightly sticky snow, the kind that clings to trees and roofs, creating a peaceful shimmering winter wonderland. It’s on these days that I wish I had a little house with a pretty view and a wood-fire stove.

Villages of Île d’Orléans

Driving through Saint-Jean on Île d'Orléans
Driving through Saint-Jean on Île d’Orléans

Île d’Orléans, Québec is comprised of 6 villages: Saint-Pétronille, Saint-Laurent, Saint-Jean, Saint-François, Saint-Famille, and Saint-Pierre. Chemin Royal, a 67 km road that circles the island was completed in 1774 and connects all the villages.

Saint-Pierre was one of the first parishes established on the island, with a wooden chapel being erected around 1673. Église de Saint-Pierre, a stone church, was built around 1717-1719. Today, Saint-Pierre is the first township you enter once you cross the bridge onto Île d’Orléans. It’s home to several wineries, cideries, and delicious restaurants.

Saint-Pétronille was the last village to be established on the island. This area of the island, however, played a key role during the war in 1759 when it was known as l’Anse du Fort. It was here that the British were able to keep an eye on Québec and launch their attacks. It was also home to a naval yard in the early 19th-century. Today, Saint-Pétronille is home to a winery, restaurants, a café, chocolaterie (complete with rich chocolate-dipped ice cream cones!), and lovely views of Québec City, Montmorency Falls, and Côte de Beaupré.

Saint-Laurent is the next village as you circumnavigate the island. Originally known as Saint-Paul, this area of Île d’Orléans has been home to mostly farmers since the arrival of the Europeans. It was also home to a small naval yard that built wooden rowboats. Today, Saint-Laurent is home to several farms, many of which grow produce for restaurants in Québec City. It’s also home to a maritime museum, boutiques, a gourmet jam factory, and restaurants.

Saint-Jean sits along the south shore of the island. Established around 1679, the construction of the first church in the village started in 1675. It was never really finished though. The current church was built around 1735. Residents of the village were mostly farmers, but there were many navigators, sailors, and artisans as well. Today, Saint-Jean is best known for its beautiful architecture, boutiques, and bakery.

Saint-François is located on the northeastern tip of the island. Comprised mostly of farms, this area of the island was used for hunting. A beautiful fieldstone church rests in the heart of this village. Today, there is a small local beach, chocolatierie, campgrounds, a shop or two, and the observation tower which offers spectacular views of the island, as well as the Laurentian Mountains across the Saint-Lawrence River.

Saint-Famille is said to be the first parish established on Île d’Orléans. The first baptism taking place in 1666, however, the first mention of the name Saint-Famille did not take place until around 1671. Known for growing hay and raising cattle, Saint-Famille is best known as being home to Maison Drouin (one of the few houses to survive the British invasion in 1759), a fromagerie, pub, casse-crôute, and wineries.

Things to Do in Île d’Orléans

Vignobles Saint-Pétronille winery on Île d'Orléans, Québec
Vignobles Saint-Pétronille

Parc Maritime de Saint-Laurent

Museum • Saint-Laurent • 1200 chemin de la Chalouperie • 418-828-9673 • parcmaritime.ca/en • Open: Jun 10th – Oct 15th, daily 10:00 – 17:00 • Admission: $5 Adults, $3 Youth 13-17, Free under 12 years

This museum is located along the shores of the Saint-Lawrence River and guides visitors through the shipyard, which was at its peak in the 1960s. At one point, this shipyard built 400 rowboats each year. Utilize their digital guide and take a self-guided tour of this interesting part of Île d’Orléans history. Fun for the whole family!

Manoir Mauvide-Genest

Museum & Historic House • Saint-Jean • 4818 chemin Royal • 418-829-2630 • manoirmauvidegenest.com • Open: mid-Jun – mid-Oct, Wed-Sun 9:30 – 17:00 • Admission: $10

Manoir Mauvide-Genest was built in 1734 by Jean Mauvide, a surgeon in the King’s army. Mauvide had fallen for the island in 1720, and eventually married the daughter of a blacksmith in Saint-Jean. Over time he transitioned from a simple surgeon (oh, how times have changed!) to a wealthy merchant, and he expanded the house twice (1742, and 1752). This is one of the few houses that survived the British in 1759. A very interesting part of the island’s history and worth a visit!

Seigneurie de l’Île d’Orléans

Lavender Field, Gardens & Boutique • Saint-François • 3658 chemin Royal • 418-829-0476 • seigneurieiledorleans.com • Open: mid-Jun – mid-Oct, daily 9:00 – 18:00 • Admission for Gardens: $22 Adults, $10 Youth 12-17, $5 Children 5-11, Free under 5 years old

In mid-July when the lavender is in bloom, Seigeurie de l’Île d’Orléans is at the top of most Instagram photo destinations, but that’s not the only reason to visit! Take time to explore the themed gardens: garden of the 5 senses, zen garden, orchard, shadow garden, forest zen, and Amerindian sector. If you enjoy lavender beauty products, peek inside the boutique – you’ll need to go inside to buy a ticket to see the gardens.

Érablière Richard Boily

Sugar Shack • Saint-Famille • 2977 chemin Royal • 418-829-2874 • erabliereiledorleans.qc.ca • Open: Mar-Oct, daily 9:30–17:30 • Reservations required

This sugar shack does not serve meals, but it’s a great place to visit and learn about maple syrup from Île d’Orléans – and enjoy some maple taffy. Free 30-min guided tours are offered in both English and French. Fun and educational. You can also purchase some maple syrup to take home as a souvenir. Miam! (French for Yum)

Wine Tour of Île d’Orléans

Guided Wine Tour • Duration: 4 hrs • Cost: start at $97.53 (prices subject to change) • Book a tour

The island is home to several wonderful wineries, and one of the best ways to experience them responsibly is to go on a guided wine tour. The small tour bus picks up in Old Québec and includes 4 wineries. A fine way to spend an afternoon, and perhaps find some Québec wines to take home with you.

Food & Drink Tour of Île d’Orléans

Guided Food Tour • Duration: 3 hrs 30 mins • Cost: start at $48.72 (prices subject to change) • Book a tour

This guided food and drink tour of Île d’Orléans is a nice way to spend a few hours on the island sampling some of the local foods and wines. There are 4-5 stops on this tour, each one a delectable treat. Like the wine tour, this tour departs from Old Québec, near Château Frontenac. A good choice if you want to explore a little bit of the island, but do not have access to a car.

Food + Drink

Chocolate-dipped cone

Blessed with rich soil, the residents on the island were able to grow several crops: wheat, oats, rye, potatoes, peas, and tobacco, as well as a variety of fruit.

During this time, the Saint-Lawrence River had an abundance of eels, salmon, sturgeon, muskellunge, sea bass, and walleye fish. They hunted pigeons, geese, and ducks. They produced wine, and high-quality cheeses such as Le Paillasson (a cheese that must be roasted in a pan), La Faisselle (a fresh cheese), and Le Raffiné (a 30-day ripened cheese).

By the 18th-century, they were selling fruits and grains at the market in Québec.

Today, île d’Orléans is home to farms (many of which provide produce to restaurants in Québec City), strawberry fields, an award-winning fromagerie, chocolate, cafés, casse-croûtes, restaurants, wineries, and cideries. In a nutshell, it is a foodie’s paradise, so wear your stretchy pants and come hungry!

Cafés & Bakeries

La Boulange bakery in Saint-Jean on Île d'Orléans
La Boulange in Saint-Jean, Île d’Orléans

Smith Café

Café • Saint-Pierre • 8700 chemin Royal • 418-828-0598 • lamaisonsmith.com • Open: daily 8:30 – 18:00

A café and boutique, Smith Café is known for its coffees, decadent chocolat chaud, and selection of pastries, salads, and sandwiches. The boutique is charming and filled with things made by artisans on Île d’Orléans, as well as throughout Québec. On a warm day, I highly recommend enjoying your coffee on the patio in the garden. Croissants and pasties are made at Paillard in Québec City.

La Boulange

Bakery and restaurant • Saint-Jean • 4624 chemin Royal • 418-829-3162 • laboulange.ca • Open: mid-Jun to mid-Oct, daily 8:00 – 17:00

Located on the edge of Saint-Jean township, La Boulange has one of the best croissants in Québec, followed closely by their chocolatines, and danishes (strawberry is my favourite). They offer a menu of European-style pizza, croissant sandwiches, and soups. While you can dine inside, I highly recommend dining on the porch, or at one of the picnic tables on the lawn.

Casse-croûte

Lobster Roll from Casse-Croûte Chez Mag on Île d'Orléans
Lobster Roll from Casse-Croûte Chez Mag

Chez Mag

Snack shack • Saint-Famille • 2600 chemin Royal • 418-203-0888 • facebook page • Open: visit their facebook page for up-to-date information

The best lobster roll on the island, in our humble opinion, can be found in Casse-Croûte Chez Mag. It’s a small white food shack and easy to miss, but if you do you may regret it as the roll has lovely chunks of buttery lobster. OMG, so good! While I am a huge fan of all things lobster, this Chez Mag is also known for its fried chicken, poutine, and burgers.

La Roulotte du Coin

Snack shack • Saint-Famille • 2875 chemin Royal • 418-931-5417 • facebook page • Open: visit their facebook page for up-to-date information

[Closed for the 2021 season due to staff shortage] This casse-croûte is among my favourites on the island, right after Chez Mag. Their specialties are duck fat fries, and gourmet duck burgers. If you really want to treat yourself, order the duck burger with foie gras, and some duck fat fries with black garlic aioli. It’s truly an orgasmic culinary experience. There is a small boutique on-site where you can purchase black garlic and take it home with you.

Restaurants

Patio at Cassis Monna et filles
Patio at Cassis Monna et filles on Île d’Orléans, Québec

Cassis Monna et Filles

Restaurant & Blackcurrant Liquor • Saint-Pierre • 1225 chemin Royal • 418-828-2525 • cassismonna.com • Open: mid-Jun to mid-Oct, daily 10:00 – 20:00

Cassis Monna has grown considerably since my first visit in 2013. Best known for their blackcurrant (cassis) liquors and preserves, the Monna family has been making liquors since 1872 (it all started in France, but in the 1970s Bernard Monna came to Île d’Orléans and began making blackcurrant liquors). Cassis Monna et Filles is a beautiful place to stop for a liquor tasting, ice cream, or a gourmet meal. Their patios and outdoor seating areas are perfect for relaxing.

Le Moulin de St-Laurent

Restaurant • Saint-Laurent • 6436 chemin Royal • 888-629-3888 • moulinstlaurent.qc.ca • Open: mid-Jun to mid-Oct, daily 12:00 – 19:00

Le Moulin de Saint-Laurent is a lovely fine dining restaurant located near a small waterfall in Saint-Laurent (it’s closer to Saint-Jean). It offers terrace seating with a picturesque view, and its dining room boasts exposed fieldstone walls and original wooden beams and posts. It oozes with chic French country charm. The menu features French cuisine, with options that are vegetarian or gluten-free.

Wineries, Cideries & Pubs

Vines at Vignobles du Mitan, one of many wineries on Île d'Orléans.
Vignobles du Mitan

Vignobles Ste-Pétronille

Winery • Saint-Pétronille • 8705 chemin Royal • 418-828-9554 • vs-p.ca • Open: end-Jun to mid-Sep, Mon-Tues 10:00 – 18:00, Wed-Sun 10:00 – 19:00

Owned and operated Nathalie Lane and Louis Denault for the last 21 years, Vignobles Ste-Pétronille wines are crisp and delicious. The porch of the winery’s boutique offers an amazing view of the Saint-Lawrence River, as well as Montmorency Falls. The winery is also home to Panache Mobile, a gourmet eatery partner (the same people behind Auberge Saint-Antoine, Chez Muffy, and Le Chic Shack in Québec City).

Vignobles du Mitan

Winery • Saint-Famille • 2608 chemin Royal • 418-829-0901 • vignobledumitan.com • Open: mid-Jun to mid-Oct, daily 10:00 – 18:00

Tucked away just off chemin Royal, Vignoble du Mitan is a lovely family-run winery with a large terrace overlooking the Saint-Lawrence River, and Laurentian Mountains in the distance. Stop by for a wine tasting and take time to enjoy a bottle on their terrace or take a little walk among vines. The view is especially gorgeous in autumn.

Microbrasserie de l’Île d’Orléans – Pub le Mitan

Microbrewery & Pub • Saint-Famille • 2471 chemin Royal • 418-829-0408 • microorleans.com • Open: daily 11:30 – 22:00, until Midnight on Fridays

The only microbrewery and pub on Île d’Orléans, this local waterhole recently reopened after extensive renovations. The new features tall glass windows overlooking the island and Saint-Lawrence River, fieldstone, and wood. It’s bright and warm and an ideal place for a drink! They brew six beers in-house: La Blanche, La Blonde, La Rousse, L’Ambrée, La Scotch Ale, and La Noire. Their menu has everything from crab cakes and beer onion soup to burgers, nachos, and pizza. A small kid’s menu is also available.

Domaine Steinbach

Ciderie • Saint-Pierre • 1865 chemin Royal • 418-828-0000 • domainesteinbach.com • Open: May-Jun 23rd daily 10:00 – 17:00; June 24th – Oct 15th, daily 10:00 – 19:00

Domaine Steinbach began when Claire and Philippe Steinbach travelled to Québec City from Belgium and decided to make a home on Île d’Orléans. Today, the ciderie has new owners who are keeping this 5-hectare orchard and ciderie alive. Spartan, Empire, Vista Bella, and Cortland apples are among the varieties grown here. Stop by their boutique for locally produced terroir, do a tasting at the cider bar, enjoy a picnic lunch, or buy some iced cider to take home. Domaine Steinbach also has a 4-bedroom B&B in an 18th-century heritage house.

Sweet & Savoury Snacks

Fresh scones at La Confiturerie Tigidou on Ile d'Orleans

Chocolaterie de Île d’Orléans

Chocolaterie & Ice Cream • Saint-Pétronille • 8330 chemin Royal • 418-828-2252 • chocolaterieorleans.com • Open: end-Jun to mid-Sep, daily 9:00 – 22:00

Park your car and get ready for quite possibly the best chocolate-dipped cone you will ever eat – Dairy Queen will feel like you’re slumming. The dark chocolate is a party in your mouth. Really. Although they do have milk chocolate and maple as well. The chocolaterie boutique on the lower level is filled with decadent chocolates. Honestly, it is very hard to leave without buying chocolate treats for yourself, your friends, and a decadent chocolate-dipped ice cream.

La Confiturerie Tigidou

Jam Factory & Café • Saint-Laurent • 7007 chemin Royal • 418-203-1300 • tigidou.ca • Open: mid-Jun to mid-Oct, daily 10:00 – 17:00

La Confiturerie Tigidou is one of my favourite places to visit on Île d’Orléans. At one time, this heavenly jam factory was in an eclectic barn, now, however, Tigidou is in the heart of Saint-Laurent. This jam factory and café is still home to an eclectic mix of antiques. The shelves are filled with organic jams and syrups, both sweet and spicy. Strawberry Basil, and strawberry jalapeño are among my favourites. Enjoy a jam tasting at the jam bar, as well as their scone or Belgium waffle. The coffee, and in-house lemonade are quite good too. On a nice day, be sure to enjoy their riverside patio.

Cabanes à Sucre (Sugar Shacks)

Quebec produces over 80% of the world’s maple syrup and is possibly one of the best souvenirs to take home from your trip. If you’re visiting Île d’Orléans between March and October, consider visiting a sugar shack for a truly unique Québécois experience. Eat traditional food, drizzling maple syrup on everything (!), and listen to traditional folk music. Fun and delicious!

Tip: March and April are the best times to visit a sugar shack as this is “sugaring off” season.

Cabane à Sucre L’En-Talleur

Sugar Shack • Saint-Pierre • 1538 chemin Royal • 418-829-1269 • entailleur.com • Open: Mar-Oct, visit their website for updated information • Reservations required.

This Île d’Orléans sugar shack has been run by the Tailleur family for 8 generations. Québécois heritage and traditions are a key part of your experience. Gobble up traditional foods drizzled (or soaked if you wish!) with maple syrup, visit their little museum, and pick up some maple syrup to take home.

La Sucrerie Blouin

Sugar Shack • Saint-Jean • 4315 chemin Royal • 418-928-0473 • erabliereiledorleans.qc.ca • Open: daily 9:30–17:30, visit website for details, including menu prices • Reservations required

The best time to visit this sugar shack is in early spring when there is still snow on the ground. The sugar shack is tucked into a maple grove near the shores of the Saint-Lawrence River, a beautiful scene for a Québécois spring experience. While one of the main reasons to visit a sugar shack is to devour traditional foods and listen to folk music, there is more to do here. Walk the footpaths in the sugar bush, go on an old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh ride, and take a tour of their maple production.

Le Relais des Pins

Sugar Shack • Saint-Famille • 2013 chemin Royal • 418-829-3455 • lerelaisdespins.com • Open: call or visit their website for details, including menu prices • Reservations required

Located right beside chemin Royal, it’s hard to miss this cabane à sucre. As with all sugar shacks, the best time to visit is March and April. During this time, you can enjoy traditional foods on red and white gingham-laid tables, often to the sounds of live folk music. On weekends, there are plenty of games, including face painting, to keep kids (and everyone else) entertained. Saturday nights feature a DJ, which gives this place a very different vibe.

Shopping

3 Poules à l'Îles in Saint-Laurent
3 Poules à l’Îes

3 Poules à l’Île

Boutique • Saint-Laurent • 6914 chemin Royal • 3poulesenligne.com • Open: Jun 10th – Sep 12th, daily 10:00 – 17:00; Sep 16th – Oct 11th, Sat-Sun 10:00 – 17:00

Housed in an old 1950s henhouse, 3 Poules is one of my favourite places to shop on the island. It’s a combination of the antiques and more modern items they sell. Here you’ll find everything from antique arches and dishes to jewellery and scarves to accessories for your home. I love their enamel pieces, arches, and dishes. This is also a favourite place to shop at Christmastime. 3 Poules also has a location in Old Québec City (10, côte de la Fabrique • open daily 10:00 – 17:00).

La Maisonnette de l’Île

Gift Shop & Café • Saint-Jean • 5403 chemin Royal • 418-572-2025 • Open: Jun 1st – Oct 15th, daily 9:30 – 17:30

This tiny house with scalloped orange trim rests on the side of the road, making it easy to spot as your drive around the island. It’s charming and filled with handicrafts made by local artists. A tiny kitchen is tucked into the corner just inside the door. On the menu is coffee, yummy ham and cheese panini sandwiches, and locally baked pies.

Les Fromages de l’Île d’Orléans

Fromagerie • Saint-Famille • 2950 chemin Royal • 418-829-0177 • fromagesdeliledorleans.com • Open: Tues-Sun 10:00 – 17:00

Les Fromages de Ile d’Orleans is an award-winning fromagerie (cheese shop). Located next to Maison Drouin, this fromagerie specializes in heritage cheeses, including those first made on the island in the 17th-century. Try the Paillasson, the first cheese produced in North America. It’s best enjoyed when grilled, similar to halloumi cheese. They also sell patês, jellies, and charcuterie. A perfect spot for grabbing Québec terroir for a picnic, or to enjoy on their large patio.

Accommodations on Île d’Orléans

If you have the time, consider changing your day trip into a mini getaway and spend a night or two on Île d’Orléans! There are a few excellent hotels on the island.

Les Ancêtres Auberge & Restaurant

3-Star Hotel • $$ – $$$ • Saint-Pierre • 1101 chemin Royal • 418-828-2718 • lesancetres.caBook a room

A 3-star hotel in a 17th-century heritage home, Les Ancêtres Auberge & Restaurant is rustic luxury at its best. The restaurant was a favourite of Félix Leclerc. The rooms offer stunning views of the Île d’Orléans and are named for the owner’s ancestors who have lived in the house over its 300+ year history. Perfect for a romantic getaway or digital escape.

Auberge au Poste de Traite

3-Star Hotel • $$ • Saint-Famille • 2287 chemin Royal • 418-829-9898 • aupostedetraite.comBook a room

This small hotel has 10 rooms, a restaurant, and beautiful views of the Saint-Lawrence River and Laurentian mountains. Rooms have a comfy country vibe to them, and the owners are very welcoming. The restaurant serves comfort foods such as poutine, burgers, pasta, and salads. Rooms come with a complimentary breakfast.


Auberge La Goéliche

3-Star Hotel • $$$ • Saint-Pétronille • 22 rue du Quai • 418-828-2248 • goeliche.caBook a room

Tucked away from chemin Royal, Auberge La Goéliche is a hotel and restaurant right on the shoreline of the Saint-Lawrence River. Rooms are beautifully decorated, with wonderful views. Deluxe rooms come with a balcony. The hotel has an outdoor pool, which is welcome during hot summer days. Their restaurant is quite popular, offering succulent gourmet dishes.

La Maison Ancestrale Guérard

Vacation Home • $$ – $$$ • Saint-François • 3024 chemin Royal • 581-308-6111 • Book cottage

One of several vacation rentals on the island, this ancestral house is one of the more popular choices. The house features 3 bedrooms with 5 beds in total, comfortably accommodating up to 8 people. The rental comes with Wi-Fi and parking, and pets are allowed.

Auberge Les Blancs Moutons

B&B • $$ • Saint-Laurent • 6827 chemin Royal • 418-828-1859 • lesblancsmoutons.comBook a room

This is a cute little B&B is in an ancestral house by the river. Spend your days exploring the island or relaxing on the grounds with a book and some Québec terroir. You’ll also find a boutique of antiques and a little gallery on site.

Motel Île d’Orléans

2-Star Motel • $ – $$ • Saint-Laurent • 507 Route Prévost • 418-828-2048 • moteliledorleans.comBook a room

If you’re looking for budget-friendly accommodations, this motel near the bridge is a good choice. The rooms have a retro vibe to them, and each one has a little patio space beside the door. A cozy little retreat. The staff is quite friendly, and you can rent scooters and bicycles from here, and enjoy a self-guided tour of the island. Read my review here.

Are you ready to explore Île d’Orléans?