A lovely region of peaks and valleys—some rugged and others gently rolling—Charlevoix is a pleasant and convenient excursion beginning 40 mi/65 km from Quebec City. Located along the northwestern shore of the St. Lawrence River, it's dotted with villages that are rich in history. There are also plenty of great scenic views and wildlife, including whales (the best viewing is April-October).

Highway 138 is the main route to follow as you make your way northeast from Quebec City. Stop first at Parc de la Chute-Montmorency (Montmorency Falls Park) right outside the city. The falls drop 27 stories and freeze into an enormous cone of ice in the winter.

Continuing on Highway 138, visitors should stop at the Canyon Ste. Anne near Beaupre. It contains bridges that sway high over deep chasms with good views of cliffs and waterfalls.

The town of Baie Ste. Catherine is a departure point for whale-watching cruises. It's also worthwhile to explore the nearby Saguenay River and Fjord. You might also want to cross the St. Lawrence River at St. Simeon or at Les Escoumins to tour the Gaspe Peninsula.

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