A Food Guide to Charlevoix Through its Unique Geology


Dive into the Quebec region’s rich culinary scene by staying grounded in its past.

An astronomical observatory isn’t the typical place to start a food quest, but in Charlevoix, the area located in the 54–kilometre–wide impact site of a meteor that hit over 400 million years ago, geologic history and cuisine are inseparable. A guide at the observatory explains that it wasn’t until 1965 that French geologist Jehan Rondot discovered this region’s unique ground composition, filled with impactites: rocks modified by heat and pressure from the blast that had the strength of approximately 425 million atomic bombs. Along with sedimentary rock, hypothesized to have formed during millennia of water flowing into the impact zone’s earth, soil here is more mineral–rich and varied than in the rest of the surrounding Canadian Shield. This origins story is part of local agricultural lore among the many producers in this zone where you will want to dig in mouth first.

May 29, 2024
Appetizers served on a grey rock from Faux Bergers
Faux Bergers

Faux Bergers


Thick fog disperses outside the window, as a mise en bouche arrives — sturgeon and potato croquette next to lamb kofta topped with cornflowers, hemp seeds and a pinch of sumac. The bites illustrate the region’s signature surf–meets–turf abundance, served atop a rock that could come from either biome. Chef co–owner Émile Tremblay explains the dishes to the small room of patrons as part of the seven–course set menu experience. Dishes are made with 98% Charlevoix ingredients, some of which are hyper–local — think herbs and flowers plucked from their garden, and cheeses from Famille Migneron — but the atmosphere is more convivial dinner party than formal affair. Chef co–owner Sylvain Dervieux lets bounty from local producers guide his inspiration. Originally hailing from southern France, he quickly harnessed the region’s rich biodiversity, leaving imports like lemons behind in favour of local acid sources like rhubarb, white cranberry and that trusty sumac. Dervieux marvels at the region’s bounty given its rocky soils and long winters, and partially credits that ground–shaping impact, too. “There’s so much flavour variety between vegetables here, I can tell which tomatoes come from which producer. That’s terroir. Does it come from the meteorite? That’s the more esoteric part we like to say ‘yes’ to. It’s all of it working together.”

A man from Menaud serving tasters of seven drams
Menaud   Photo: Tourisme Charlevoix/Yasmeen Ghanavi



The team behind this hit brewery and distillery, whose sleek white cans are peppered throughout the province, is enmeshed with local lore. (They’re named after a 1937 novel about a log driver, written by priest Félix–Antoine Savard.) You will find their tap room at the eastern edge of the impact crater. Head over for tasters of seven drams, a mix of beers and spirits, like gin infused with juniper berries and balsam poplar.  The liqueur is made using grains from Isle–aux–Coudres, Charlevoix’s 21–kilometre island in the St. Lawrence River. On the brew side, you will sample the region’s wild plants the team keeps dried in a small room full of enough fragrant jars to make an apothecary blush. Co–founder Charles Boissonneau says he and his colleagues don’t want to know the truth behind the region’s soil either, preferring to side with myth. From salty sea asparagus–infused sour to bog myrtle white beer with floral, honey and tropical fruit notes, tastes of this land are what built Menaud’s own legendary status.

A guided tour through the woods with Forêt Gourmande in Le Massif
Forêt Gourmande   Photo: Maire-Frédérik Moisan

Forêt Gourmande

Le Massif de Charlevoix

At the foot of the 770–metre mountain, this red–roofed café sells the usual snacks, tea, coffee and hot chocolate, but if you look closer, you’ll see that every item has a wild twist. Instead of cinnamon, frothed foam is sprinkled with dune pepper (the nutmeg–reminiscent fruit of alder trees) and the beloved antioxidant mushroom–laced chagaccino is sweetened with Forêt Gourmande’s own maple syrup. The province’s signature sweet export is rare on this side of the St. Lawrence, but its local producers think the meteorite played a role in the matter. During warmer months, visitors from the adjacent Club Med, school groups or wandering nature lovers in search of foraged snacks can head out with a guide to learn about the edible flowers, fungus and fruit that dot Le Massif’s paths.


A geometric cabin from Repère Boréal that blends into the forest
Repère Boréal

Repère Boréal

Les Éboulements

The force of the meteorite’s impact made the ground undulate like waves, creating the mountains and valleys Charlevoix is known for. It also formed a peak in the centre of the region, like the splash back after dropping a stone into water. That’s where you will find this glamping spot opened in 2016 by the two Galarneau brothers, on forested land passed down from their father. Their 34 range from amenity–free and tucked in the woods to fully electric and built on stilts among the trees. Cabins are designed to blend into the landscape rather than dominate it, fitting many budgets (and height tolerances). At happy hour, stop by their lobby shop to pick up organic dried sausage made by Viandes Bio de Charlevoix, a slice of famous local Le Migneron de Charlevoix cheese and a few cans of Pet Nat honey wine with an acidic haskap berry twist, from Hydromel Charlevoix.