We have been somewhat remiss in not exploring rather more of La Belle Province. Prior to last weekend, we had spent a night in Quebec City on a November weekend when the temperature suggested February. And we have managed to drive into the Laurentians and the edge of the Eastern Townships. But we made a much more exciting trip (the only aircraft service required the Giraffe to use a turboprop for the first time in his life) to Lac St. Jean. I had chosen a place that Lonely Planet couldn't understand the attraction of, but that was before agrotourism - the area is the capital of blueberries and it's also home to the cheesemaker of our favorite Quebec cheddar (4-year aged Perron). So, along with Tavia, Danny and 8-month old Jeremy we flew into Bagotville and rented... a minivan (my only excuse for this lapse was the fact we had 4 adults and 2 babies and it was the only way we could be safely in only one vehicle). So, the highlights were
1) seeing some beautiful rivers flowing into the lake on the north side, including the wonderfully named Peribonka river
2) a beautiful rainbow as we drove back from Saint Prime
3) finding Californian blueberries in an IGA store in Roberval - if we can get Lac St. Jean blueberries in Montreal, then we should be able to see them in Lac St. Jean (ok, this was a lowlight)
4) the feeling of being rock stars when you are pre-boarding a plane with a small child at an airport where you walk 100 feet across the ramp from the door of the airport to the door of the airplane
5) visiting the red covered bridge (pictured below) in St Jeanne d'Arc
6) the Giraffe's first visit to a fast food chain (though, we did go a little upmarket in this mass-market segment by choosing A&W) and his first taste of frites.
And most importantly, 7) pick-your-own (PYO - which is what u-pick is known as in the UK) organic wild blueberries and cultivated raspberries at a beautiful farm in Notre Dame de Lorette - L'Oree des Bois (in English it's The Edge of the Woods). Admittedly, we could have found some PYO places closer to Montreal, but this little farm has a beautiful setting and we arrived on the first weekend of the season for blueberries and we were the only people picking. The Giraffe enjoyed picking through the dirt and plants and being carried through the woods, and we came back with a lot of blueberries and a smaller number of raspberries. These raspberries were by far the best we have had this summer and they were all gone by the time we went to bed on Sunday night (having been picked at 1:00pm that day) - the blueberries were mainly same-day frozen to be enjoyed in approaching cooler months. L'Oree is a great place to visit if you are in the Lac St. Jean region. And yes, those are wild blueberry plants in the first picture.