Surrounded by grassy hills dotted with some of the most incredible farms in the country, the small town of La Malbaie in Québec's Charlevoix region is famous for its farm-to-table restaurants and scenic river landscapes. This is a destination that should be on every list for that alone.
Add in the stunning sunrises over the St. Lawrence River and you've got an irresistible destination.
La Malbaie is the last stop on the scenic sightseeing train route that skirts along the edge of the St. Lawrence, linking the picturesque coastal communities of the north shore. It is a journey that can be done in a day or it can be part of a longer excursion.
Either way, be ready to fall in love with the bucolic landscapes, salty sea air, and friendly faces of Charlevoix.
The Train de Charlevoix has a long and storied history in the region.
The tracks were laid more than 100 years ago and heralded a change to the isolation many of these coastal communities experienced at the end of the 19th century, in the years before roads were built.
Today, there are faster ways to get around. From Quebec City to La Malbaie is a quick two-hour drive along a scenic road. But the train remains a popular attraction because it offers incredible sights that cannot be seen when travelling by car. The train route veers away from the main road, hugging the Charlevoix mountains on one side and the open water on the other.
The 125 km route has three main stations: Quebec City at the base of Montmorency Falls, Baie-St-Paul, and La Malbaie.
In between, it passes through a series of quaint coastal communities:
- Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, home to the grand Basilica of the same name.
- Le Massif de Charlevoix - Club Med
- Éboulements (Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive)
For the 2023 season, the company has allowed French-based Alstom to test out a hydrogen train along part of the Charlevoix route. Passengers are able to board the hydrogen train in Quebec City (at Montmorency Falls) and ride it all the way to Baie-St-Paul.
This is the first hydrogen train in North America. It produces zero emissions and is powered by green hydrogen. While this is just a pilot project, it can only mean more good things to come in this industry. Read more about the efforts here.