Last Updated on November 9, 2021 by Pamela
I think a part of me will always reside in a chalet at Vieux Loup de Mer. Specifically, inside l’Hermite. Possibly on the cream-coloured English roll arm sofa, in front of the wrought iron wood stove. Maybe in the kitchen, with its vintage stove, and green open shelves filled with white enamelware, and an eclectic mix of thermoses and ceramic bowls. Then again, the small patio in the back with its view of Rose Bay and the Saint-Lawrence River is a very good possibility as well.
When I was invited to stay in a chalet at Vieux Loup de Mer, I didn’t expect to fall in love with #chaletlife, and now that I’m back home, I am feverishly trying to think of ways to convince them to let me live in a chalet all winter.
How did it take me this long to discover the exquisiteness of Le Bic, Rimouski, and its surrounding area? I mean, it is almost criminal that I have driven through the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, but never made time to stay overnight (or longer).
The Genius of Vieux Loup de Mer
Vieux Loup de Mer started in 1999 when owners Martin and Jean-Luc purchased land, as well as a 1970s a-frame style chalet in need of repair. Perched on a cliff overlooking Rose Bay and the Saint-Lawrence River, they decided to take the chalet apart and rebuild it. A year later, they rented Le Pic Bois (The Wood Peak) for short-term stays, and an idea was born.
Their neighbours thought they were crazy. Who was going to come to Le Bic to rent a chalet for a couple of nights? The bank agreed and declined to give them a loan.
Thankfully, they decided to keep their dream alive and decided to add more chalets without help from the bank. They would buy old cabins and chalets, take them apart, move the pieces to their land near Le Bic, and rebuild.
Martin thought the idea was crazy but Jean-Luc was confident – coming up with a plan to number, colour-code, and add directional points (north, east, south, west) to each piece. Once everything was moved over, they hired students to help carry each piece to where the chalet would be located, and Jean-Luc would rebuild the chalet.
Jean-Luc is basically a Jedi master as far as I’m concerned.
For the next 19 years, Martin and Jean-Luc added 13 more chalets to Vieux Loup de Mer, and business was going well. Then, the pandemic hit and the government forced them (and every other non-essential business in Québec) to shut down. Some guests changed their booking dates. Many cancelled.
Martin and Jean-Luc used their time making their business stronger, adding a Garde-Manager, tweaking their brand, and for Jean-Luc (who is a man that needs to keep his hands busy), buying one more chalet to complete the Vieux Loup de Mer family, l’Hermite.
Tell me you’re a pandemic baby without telling me you’re a pandemic baby. I’ll go first…
The winding walk up the wooden staircase to l’Hermite chalet did not prepare me for the comeliness that awaited within. Admittedly, I was pretty excited about the “boite a pain” box outside the door. Hello, baguette delivery! Once inside, however, I was struck by a design-gasm that left me a little breathless (although, the stairs help with that part too, haha).
From the pops of yellow and original wooden floors, walls and beams, to the wood stove, vintage oven range and antique knick-knacks, l’Hermite is an eclectic indulgent feast for the eyes.
Jean-Luc, Jedi Master and antique collector (is there anything this man cannot do? Can I be his BFF??) has poured his heart and soul into this chalet. The walls are decorated with wintertime prints, furs, a mounted buck’s head, fishing gear, and decorative plates. In the living space, the windows are framed with brightly-coloured large check curtains, which I immediately covet.
The sofa and chair are comfortable, and a small TV mounted on the wall allows me to log into Netflix so I can chill later.
The kitchen, however, maybe my favourite space, with its vintage stove and white and green backsplash tiles. The open green wooden shelves are home to a collection of white enamelware, colourful ceramic bowls, and vintage thermoses. The tall antique white wooden hutched is pretty spectacular, too.
The dining area has a country-style table and chairs, with a view of the river outside, and towards the centre of the chalet is a wrought iron wood stove, which faces the living space.
Upstairs are two bedrooms (one with a king-sized bed, the other with a twin) and a bathroom. Naturally, I slept in the larger room, and signed with relief when I discovered that the bed was quite comfortable. The blackout curtains were a welcome surprise, and I almost missed the sunrise.
Although the sun does not rise on the patio side of the chalet, there is something serene and wonderful about watching the sun slowly stretch across the water and trees, the snow geese squawking off in the distance. Apart from my baguette and croissant delivery (sourced from Le Farinographe in Rimouski), this was my favourite way to begin the day – despite the crisp morning air!
Why Should You Book a Winter Chalet at Vieux Loup de Mer?
There are a lot of winter chalets in Québec, many of them are new builds and pretty in that modern contemporary hotel kind of way, but the chalets at Vieux Loup de Mer are different. Here, each chalet has its own history and character. They are part of the region’s cultural landscape, lovingly preserved.
Jean-Luc, as I have mentioned, is a Jedi Master, and Martin is pure joy. As an anglophone, I was delighted to discover that he spoke English and we talked so long that I started dreaming about being at a dinner party with him, but like, no other guests. He is effervescent.
Vieux Loup de Mer provides an intimate experience, from the fully equipped chalets to a garde-manger stocked with locally produced Québec terroir – including dishes prepared by Chez Saint-Pierre (one of the best restaurants in Québec). In summer, guests can collect eggs from the chicken coop for their breakfast, as well as pick herbs from the garden.
Martin and Jean-Luc love their little corner of Québec, and it shows. If you’re looking for a winter chalet in Québec, visit their website and book early. Now that pandemic restrictions are being lifted, the chalets at Vieux Loup de Mer are sure to book up quickly.
Vieux Loup de Mer is a 3-4 hour drive from Québec City, along Route 132. It’s time to explore Québec this winter!
Disclaimer: I was invited to stay at Vieux Loup de Mer for two nights. I quickly fell in love and asked to pay for an extra night. Thoughts and opinions in the above article are my own.