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B&B Hébergement en gîte - Ile d'Orléans Québec
Île d'Orleans village pittoresques

Orleans Island is only 15 minutes away from Old Quebec City !

The Island, 34 km long by 8 km wide, is linked to the main land (Quebec City) by its single bridge. The Chemin Royal, main road circling the Island, runs through 6 villages.


Jacques Cartier was the first to discover this forest covered island, which he immediately named
"Isle de Bacchus" (Bacchus Island) after the wild vines that were growing everywhere. But well before the arrival of the Europeans, the natives were already calling the island "Ouindigo", an Algonquin word meaning "bewitched place". Still today, the islanders are sometimes referred to as the "Sorcerers of the Island".

As the years went by, the island was given a succession of different names. But it eventually came down to one of its original names, Ile D'Orléans, again supplied by Jacques Cartier, who, on May 6th 1536, gave it this name after François I, son of the King of France, Duke of Orleans.

Orleans Island is one of the first settlements in Nouvelle France!
From the beginning of the colonization, the island was part of the vast domain of Beaupre. Most of the settlers called for to populate the island came from the Normandie and Poitou regions, in France. A census carried in 1685 counted 1205 inhabitants (and 917 livestock).

For a short period, in 1759, the island was occupied by the Englishmen, but few traces of that presence remain.

Witnesses to the past, more than 600 buildings are recognized by the Government of Quebec as being part of our cultural and historical heritage, including the oldest church in "Nouvelle France". Some bakeries dating back to the 18th and 19th century are still active today. Unfortunately, the dozen or so flour mills, tanneries, shoe-repair shops and saddle factories that made the islanders self-sufficient have all but disappeared today.

maisons ancestrales

The Pont de l'Ile (The Bridge)

From the beginning of the colony, the islanders used boats and canoes to cross the river in the summertime. When winter came, ice bridges were naturally created between the island and the shore. Still today, snowmobile enthusiasts use the ice bridge to cross the river.

pont de l'île

The bridge was built as part of a campaign to fight unemployment, during the Great Depression. It was inaugurated on July 6th 1935, and was originally named Pont Taschereau, after Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, member of parliament representing Montmorency and then Prime Minister of Quebec. Today, its official name is "Pont de l'Île d'Orléans" (Orleans Island Bridge), but it is commonly called Pont de l'Île (the Island Bridge).

The Chemin Royal (Royal road)

In the 18th century, roads on the island were just dirt trails going from house to house and leading towards the mill or the parish chapel. By 1744, the Chemin Royal was completely circling the island. It is 67 km long (42 mi) and follows the rugged and jagged shore of the island.

All along, the Chemin Royal offers a breathtaking view on the river. In the background, Cap-Tourmente, Sainte-Anne de Beaupré, the Laurentians, (a precambrian mountain chain), and the Montmorency Falls are part of the scenery of the North shore of the river.
fleuve saint-laurent
The South shore is not outdone with the Appalachians (another imposing mountain chain), the City of Levis and "Ile aux Grues" (crane island). Orleans Island is also the place where the river widens considerably, opening the way for majestic ships.

Maritime History

The very first wharf on the island was built in 1855, at Sainte-Petronille. With this new link to Quebec, the island experiences an important economic expansion. The wharf is used as a pier for trade exchange as well as a landing dock for visitors now coming in growing numbers. By the turn of the century, the Saint-Laurent Shipyard (now a maritime information park with activities) became one of the most important industries in the region. In the summertime, they built wooden ships, and in the winter, the space was used to store schooners. And all over the place, between 300 and 400 "chaloupes" (rowboats) are built yearly by some twenty "chalouperies" (rowboat factories).


The Legacy of the Elders

The inhabitants of Orleans Island have always worked jealously at preserving the charm of their cherished island. Félix Leclerc, a renowned signer and poet (deceased in 1988), says it very well in his songs, where he talks about the land and the spirit of its inhabitants. And those who like genealogy will probably be surprised to learn that the island is the ancestral land of 317 root families who have, in time, established all over the eastern regions of Canada and the United States. There are 35 commemorative monuments or plaques scattered all over the island.



Founded in 1870. Commonly known in the beginning as "le bout de l'île" (the tip of the island), Sainte-Pétronille de Beaulieu was seen as a very popular resort in the middle of the 19th century. Before the arrival of the colonizers, the sector was a rest area and a refuge for the Huron Indians. Later, the wealthy families from Quebec City and Montreal built many luxurious residences that can still be seen along "Chemin du Bout de l'Île" ("Tip of the Island" road). The village was originally an extension of the neighbouring village, Saint-Pierre. Over the years, a rumour developed itself, giving birth to the belief that Sainte-Pétronille was the daughter of Saint-Pierre.

For over 20 years now, every summer, the village church is a gathering point for music lovers. The Sainte-Pétronille Chamber Music Festival presents some of the best international class musicians.



Founded in 1679 : Called Saint-Paul till 1698, then changed to Saint-Laurent, this village has always been known for it's maritime vocation. Many remains of this flourishing period can still be found, from shipyards to "chalouperies" where, until the middle of the 19th century, more than 400 rowboats, longboats and canoes were produced yearly. Since 1984, the marina is host to many sailboats. In 1985, Saint-Laurent was twinned with Tourouvre, Perche, in France.



Founded in 1679 : The church of Saint-Jean goes back to 1732. The cemetery, with it's unique view and the illusion of infinity brought about by the widening river, leaves a lasting impression on visitors. From the beginning, this village has been the home to many sailors, mostly river pilots. The importance of these sea people, the presence of prosperous farmers (milk production, as well as potato and strawberry) and the great number of vacationers, have earned Saint-Jean the title of
Capital of the Island until the construction of the bridge, in 1935.



Founded in 1679 : Saint-François distinguishes itself form the other villages on the island by the large area it covers, from North to South, on the Eastern tip of the island. The population, made up mainly of farmers, is scattered all over the territory. These wide open spaces are ideal for the culture of leaks and potatoes, among others. The view on Mont-Sainte-Anne and the Cap Tourmente is breathtaking. At that point, the river is 10 times wider than in front of Quebec City, and that is also where, due to the action of a 14 feet tide, fresh water begins mixing with salt water.



Founded in 1661 : Sainte-Famille is the oldest village of Ile D'Orléans. This is where one can find the greatest concentration of stone houses, going back mostly to the French régime period. Right in the heart of the village, in front of the church (1743), is the "Couvent de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame", established by Marguerite Bourgeois (1685). The farming industry is most important in Sainte-Famille; milk production and breeding occupy an important place, and, comes autumn, many orchards open up for the people to pick up their own apples.



Founded in 1679 : Saint-Pierre, where one can find the oldest country church in Quebec (circa 1720) used to be a centre of traditional crafts: butter factory, forge, tin trade and cheese factory among others. The village also keeps a farming tradition alive by producing potatoes and strawberries. Its population never stopped growing since the building of the bridge, in 1935. During spring and during autumn, on each side of the bridge, one can see hundreds of thousands of geese and ducks feeding and resting before continuing their long migratory journey.


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