An extravagant castle on the cliff of the Saint Lawrence River calls all adventurous golfers to the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, in the Charlevoix Region of Quebec where they say the 2016 golf season may start as early as Saturday, May 7th and no later than Saturday, May 14th. If you have an inclination to play, their “Club de Golf” has some serious inclines for fun traversing. It’s up and down on every fairway, but the scenery is steady with a water view from each of the 27 holes. Start with the signature number one on the St. Lawrence course for a steep downhill drive looking out to the open water. Better to miss left than right or the ball will be on the beluga run.
Converging currents in the St. Lawrence Seaway, from the great lakes, the Atlantic Ocean and Lake St. John trap tiny creel, on which five types of whales come to feed in a summer and fall frenzy. It was the first fjord we ever forged by sea, but not our first whale rodeo. Who could tire of the majestic breaches and sonic blows of the kings of the sea? Finbacks, belugas and minkies, not at all dinky played hide and seek with the tour boats, gracefully emerging for air.
Le Manoir Richelieu is an astronomical and gastronomical experience with an observatory on the deck of the Restaurant Terrasse. Inside or out on the tiered terraces, watch the massive ships navigating the river. Be lulled by the tranquil water, the clanging of the red buoy, and the lilt of French. It is a sweet place with maple as a key ingredient. The Flavour Trail highlights a French bakery unsurpassed in pastries and accompaniments, then a duck farm where not so lucky ducks are raised the Basques way. Three months pass and they become fois du gras. At the cheese maker stop, Maison d’Affinage, you won’t get milked by the price of the cheeses, but you can observe as the sheep get milked in the parlor. Herded in and out by a little dog, they settle into their miniature milking stanchions for their two-minute unloading. This sounds silly, but is amusing to watch.
Hop along to the Microbrasserie Charlevoix, where hops are brewed and distributed in the U.S as well as Canada. A new beer with champagne yeast appeals to the connoisseur or someone who likes to savor a couple brews. Beer crafters drink it; beer bigots won’t, according to owner Frederick, who learned his English by watching Seinfeld episodes.
Art galleries are open for viewing in homes along the town and country roads. There is no better place to complete the trail than back at the Fairmont, which is in and of itself an art gallery. President Taft’s red phone spent summers in Charlevoix where you can hike the mountain or enjoy exceptional casino gaming and vibrant nightlife in the Fairmont. The entire region feels like a different country. Oh, that’s right, it is but fluency in French is not required when you journey to the wonderland of Charlevoix, Quebec.
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At opening, early-season golf rates start at $45 CDN per player until June 3. Peak season rate is $100 CDN per player and we all know how favorable our American dollar finally is in comparison. To learn more about the destination, as well as the latest golf vacation packages, visit http://www.fairmont.com/richelieu-charlevoix/