I knew it was a right decision to visit Baie-St-Paul before even arriving there. Every single person in Quebec Province I talked to about my itinerary reacted in the same way when hearing the name of this little town. They all suddenly got mega-excited and assured me with a huge grin how wonderful and beautiful place it is. After that I got my hopes really high!
The bus from Quebec City passed small towns allong St. Lawrence River to finally reach the Laurentians, the oldest mountains in the world. The road got as high as 800 meters above the sea level, with enormous forests on both sides. The signs warned that mooses are a frequent guests on the road, mountains still with snow on top were nearby. And then, a little bit over one hour after leaving Quebec City, one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen appeared after yet another turn. It immediately reminded me of Norwegian fjords! We were pretty high up and it felt like the whole world is just over there, at my fingertips. Silly, I know, but that’s how I felt when I saw the very first view of Baie St Paul. Down there I could see the small town with high churches’ spires, rolling hills and backwater where Riviere du Gouffre meet majestic St. Lawrence River.
I’ve booked myself an auberge that turned out to be a perfect place to relax. Located at the very end of Baie St Paul, few steps away from the meeting point of two rivers was just adorable. On the day I arrived (well, late-ish in the afternoon) I didn’t want to do anything too tiring so I just went for the walk in the neighbourhood. The sun was slowly setting down behind the hills, playing with its rays on the water, the wind was strong yet it didn’t stop me to enjoying the place very much. There was a small beach with beautiful dunes, there was no one there except of me and loud birds flying above and I knew I could have spent much more time there, just staring peacefully at the beautiful scenery around.
I started the next day with more walks along the beach. Again there was not a single person to be seen, there was just me and the nature. The beach was full of boughs and branches that looked really pretty yet kind of creepy. Suddenly I saw something I hadn’t expected at all! A ship wreck! And not just some tiny ship but a really huge and impressive one! It was the first time I’ve seen such an abandoned, huge wreck and I almost run to it to get the closer look!
Even if it was a transporter ship (or at least it looked like that) my imagination started playing tricks with “Pirrates of the Caribbean” in the background. Add to that the empty, messy beach, lots of birds flying above my head or walking on the nearby field (and screaming really loudly) and the fact that I was all by myself there – no wonder I slightly freaked out. But the curiosity was too big and I spent quite some time wandering around the beach, looking into every possible hole of the ship or admiring birds. There was even a watchtower on the field as it turned out Baie St Paul is the perfect place for birdwatching!
After the calm morning in the nature I forced myself to go and see a little bit of the town (but I have to admit I’d gladly just have stayed on the beach and dunes, it was so lovely). Baie St Paul has been an artists’ inspiration for years, the town is full of galleries (there’s literally a small gallery in every second house), it was the Cultural Capital of Canada in 2007 and that’s the place where the famous Cirque du Soleil was founded. That’s all pretty impressive for such a small, calm town.
Since I visited Baie St Paul off season the big part of the town was going through various renovations (including the main street – Rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste). But it didn’t stop me from enjoying the place. I just wanted to take things easy and that’s the way to go in a artsty town like that one. I visited couple of really interesting galleries and fascinating craft boutiques. The life was going very slowly, no one was in hurry, everyone was extremely friendly…
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If I has visited Baie St Paul in the middle of the summer I probably wouldn’t have liked it that much. But at the beginning of May it turned out to be a perfect destination for catching a breath after busy cities, relaxing in the nature and just enjoying beautiful nature and the bohemian atmosphere. I immediately understood why everyone got so over excited at the mention of Baie St Paul, it really was an adorable town with the stunning location! I just regreted I didn’t have all that much time there (and that I don’t drive plus public transport options were very limited) as Baie St Paul’s attractions aren’t only within the town. The whole area around is very rich in the wonders of nature, the oldest mountains in the world – the Laurentians – are just behind the town’s borders.
Do you like visiting small towns on your trips? Would you like to visit Baie St Paul?
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If you think of visiting Canada or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it!
Note: I was a guest of Quebec Original however all opinions are mine, as always.
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