The train ride between Quebec City and Baie Saint-Paul really doesn’t have anything to envy fancy European trains so many tourists dream of. And while no superlative carries enough power to fully describe how spectacular the experience was, for me, the real deal was the destination. Alighting at La Ferme is a bit like walking into a dream and leaving all worries behind. A big, invigorating breath of fresh air mixed with the hospitality of the locals — that’s what I call a vacation.
But why is the place named La Ferme, if it’s home to exactly zero specimens of the animal reign?
It’s actually because of the massive fire that struck in 2007 and unfortunately ravaged the 100-year-old wooden farm that was standing there at the time. The owner and the architect of the project simply couldn’t imagine the hotel complex without it being a reflection of the land’s long, rich history — this is how La Ferme came to be. The contemporary farm concept is used throughout the entire place, from the tiniest details in the bedrooms to the names of the buildings (the sheepfold, the vineyard, the farmyard, etc.)
One of the things that I particularly loved about anti-resort La Ferme and that isn’t quite as obvious is its green attitude; in fact, building a hotel that fully respects its surroundings and the environment was the founding principle of the project. All of the buildings are heated with geothermal energy, and pretty much everything inside its walls are sourced from within a 100-kilometers radius, be it decorative items, toiletries, furniture, and even the contents of the kitchens’ refrigerators. Talk about an actual sensory exploration of Charlevoix.
My room was in the largest of the four pavillions, the Sheepfold (la Bergerie), which enabled me to not only have a superb view over the land and nature that surrounds the hotel, but also on the comings and goings of the train. I even indulged in al fresco post-dinner tea, nestled in my comfortable Adirondack chair, listening to the soothing song of the croaking frogs and windy trees. Getting out of bed in the morning required a tremendous amount of willpower, a feat I only achieved by picturing what my hearty breakfast in the sun would taste like. I still had many faces of Baie Saint-Paul left to discover.
Between the nature-inspired spa, the friendly people of Café du Marché, the gourmet meals at open-kitchen restaurant Les Labours, the many art galleries in the village and the calm beach nearby, my day in Baie Saint-Paul flew by without the slightest hint of boredom. It was with a heavy heart that I hopped on the train back to Quebec City, with every fibre of my body telling me to stay.
And honestly, that’s the issue with La Ferme. Such a dilemma; should I stay, or should I go? Should I admire the features of my room and the hotel, or should I go gallivanting in the area? Should I relax at the spa, or should I eat my weight in local delicacies? A fantastic problem to have (some would even hint at #firstworldproblems), I agree, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult to choose.
Staying only one night at La Ferme is more akin to torture than pleasure, simply because guests will, inevitably, feel like they’re missing out on some things. 24 hours is simply not enough in this neck of the wood. I’m already planning my next trip as I am writing this, which I hope will allow me to fully grasp what La Ferme and Charlevoix are all about.
Hôtel La Ferme – Know Before You Go
- The hotel features 145 different rooms.
- The rooms can host couples (one large bed), families (one large bed + bunks) and solo travellers (luxury dorms).
- No need for a car in Baie Saint-Paul – everything is doable by foot.
- The hotel offers free Wi-Fi throughout.
- There is a public market on the hotel’s grounds every Sunday in the summer, which is replaced by an ice rink in the winter.
- There are three different restaurants on site: Café du marché, Les Labours restaurant and Le Bercail lounge bar.
- The Spa du Verger offers an amazing thermal experience: outdoor hot/cold baths, Finnish sauna, eucalyptus steam bath, Nordic shower and snow fountain.