Last Updated on May 7, 2021 by Pamela
COVID 🦠 UPDATE: As of May 28, 2021, the curfew in Quebec will be lifted. This is a preliminary step towards fewer restrictions for this summer. At this time, there is a plan to have restaurants and bars 🍻 open by mid-June. Keep up-to-date with regional restrictions here. You can read more about the recent changes in this article.
A foodie’s paradise, Ile d’Orleans is the ideal location for a taste trail food and wine tour. Filled with vineyards and orchards, farms, talented artisans and producers, Ile d’Orleans is an integral part of Quebec City’s food scene.
Ile d’Orleans is known for its strawberries in summer and sugar shacks in spring, fresh vegetables and herbs, high-quality foie gras, wine and iced ciders.
While you can definitely wander around the island on your own, stuffing your face and basking in the pretty landscapes, a guided tour can provide history and context which can elevate your experience.
Starting The Taste Trail with Chocolate
Walking into this 18th-century ancestral home, our group was greeted by the decadent smell of chocolate (Belgian cacao arrives raw and turned into mouth-watering chocolate).
Sampling a maple butter and raspberry (OMG!) chocolate, we are soon set loose to explore and enjoy the summer sun for around twenty minutes. While many of the group take the time to relax outside or buy chocolates, I head upstairs to buy a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone.
This is the first thing I ate on the island when I visited for the first time in 2013, and it remains one of my favourite treats.
Honestly, there are few things better than a soft serve ice cream dipped in thick dark chocolate and enjoyed on a warm sunny day. Best. Breakfast. Ever.
Charming Towns and Pretty Landscapes
Travelling along chemin Royal, we journey from Chocolaterie de l’Ile d’Orleans through the small communities of Saint-Pétronille, Saint-Laurent and Saint-Jean.
Jacques pointing out the difference between the British and French style houses – something an architectural nerd, such as myself, loves.
Our journey passes by strawberry fields and my mouth begins to water.
Jacques talks of the small boatyards of the island, with the last one shutting down in 1971, and I gained a new appreciation for Parc Maritime, a boatyard museum that I clearly did not pay enough attention to on previous visits.
Past churches and houses with colourful roofs, we take Route du Mitan, which cuts across Ile d’Orleans, passing potato fields and maple forests with blue plastic tubing running from tree to tree collecting maple water.
As Jacques states earlier in our tour, Ile d’Orleans is truly the garden of Quebec.
A Little Wine, and Some Cider, too
Vignoble du Mitan is our next stop. A family-run winery with beautiful views of the Saint-Lawrence River and the Beaupré Coast, Vignoble du Mitan is run by Marcellin Turcotte.
From the 18th-century ancestral fieldstone house and lush green rows of grape vines to the beautiful terrace and friendly staff, Vignoble du Mitan is quickly becoming one of my favourite wineries on Ile d’Orleans.
Guided through several wines, in both French and English, I cannot think of a better introduction to Ile d’Orleans’ wine history and culture (of course, a wine tour provides some added context).
From wine to cider, we travel to a family-run cidrerie where even the children on the Taste Trail tour are treated to a sample, non-alcoholic of course!
Cidreries can be found throughout the communities of Saint-Pierre and Saint-Famille, growing several varieties and creating everything from cider aperitif to mistelle, sparkling cider and iced ciders.
Along with insanely yummy treats such as apple butter and cider jelly preserves.
Sweet Treats & Cassis
A visit to La Nougaterie de Quebec is a sweet little stop where it feels as though the supply of little treats will never end.
This brightly coloured shop, with its orange and lime green walls, creates 14 different nougat flavours, as well as homemade marshmallows. Patrick and Caroline have been creating delicious confections for over 35 years, thirteen of which have been in Quebec.
We sample several varieties of nougat, and the salted caramel is the obvious winner in my opinion.
Our stop takes us to one of the most popular producers on Ile d’Orleans, Cassis Monna et Filles (Cassis Monna). Known for their restaurant and black currant wines, Cassis Monna et Filles has won several awards.
Cassis Monna has changed quite a bit since my first visit in 2013. Today, the restaurant terrace looks out over the sprawling property with views of the Saint-Lawrence River and Beaupré Coast.
The lower level hosts a boutique and tasting bar, where you’ll find their wines, syrups and preserves.
We sample the Fruité wine, as well as the Crème de Cassis which is used with white wine to create Kir. Personally, I use it as a topping for ice cream. Yum!
The tasting bar gets quite busy at times, and our barista is quite impatient, eager to get rid of us. Not a great impression to those who have never been to Cassis Monna et Filles, but as someone who has visited on several occasions, I can say that most of the staff are quite friendly and helpful.
Tour Note: Tasting options and locations are subject to change.
Take the Taste Trail Tour
The Taste Trail tour, leaves from Place d’Armes, just outside Château Frontenac. The tour itself takes about 3.5 hours and usually takes about four stops.
You can book directly through Quebec Bus Tours here: https://quebecbustour.com/en/the-taste-trail/
Disclaimer: While this tour was complimentary, the opinions expressed in the article are my own.