In the middle of the mighty St. Lawrence River, but within sight of Quebec City, sits Île d’Orléans, an entire island that is a designated historical district. The traditional Quebec countryside is preserved here in this, the cradle of New France. Visitors can delight in the island’s plentiful (and flavourful) agricultural heritage nestled amid gorgeous scenery.
Inhabited for thousands of years, Île d’Orléans has a diverse tourist offer that is second to none. During your visit, you will meet agrifood producers rightfully proud of their wares, sample farm-fresh products, admire the gorgeous scenery and explore the island’s historical and cultural heritage. Many pleasant surprises await on Île d’Orléans—it’s up to you to find out what they are!
History buffs and culture aficionados will appreciate the multitude of heritage sites and centuries-old treasures awaiting discovery. In 1970, Île d’Orléans became the largest historical district in the province. A page from the island’s remarkable past is preserved in each the more than 600 buildings and monuments that are considered to have significant heritage value by the Government of Quebec. These include several farms, a number of stone houses dating back to the French Regime and the oldest rural church in New France (located in Saint-Pierre-de-Île-d’Orléans). Lauded by eminent poets, Île d’Orléans has hundreds of years of history for you to explore!
Our knowledge of the past is used to enhance the present with a view to ensure it is not forgotten in the future. Restored, maintained and protected, the various elements of the island’s heritage reflect and express the values, beliefs, knowledge, traditions (of today and yesteryear), collective memory, history and traditional lifestyle of the island’s inhabitants.
A cultural hearth
To many Québécois, Île d’Orléans has come to represent a cultural hearth, the ancestral home to which they can trace their origins. The entire island stirs powerful emotions for the members of the more than 300 families descending from the original French colonists. Today, many of them come here to recall or discover a part of their personal or collective history.
The first time you visit Île d’Orléans—an island described as mythical, for obvious reasons—you will be mesmerized by the stunning scenery, affable residents and traditional way of life so lovingly preserved. On every return trip you make, the feeling that you have come back home will grow stronger and stronger.
A bountiful island that will capture your heart, Île d’Orléans is transforming into the keeper of a society’s collective memory.
Île d’Orléans is recognized for its vibrant cultural and historical heritage that is treasured and safeguarded by those who maintain it: the island’s permanent residents. Conscious of the island’s value as a symbol, as much for them as for all Quebeckers, these residents have chosen to highlight the elements that make Île d’Orléans the embodiment of French civilization in North America. Maritime, natural, political, territorial, social, familial, artistic and cultural heritage—the entire chain of history and human activity, in fact—are preserved and proudly displayed.
A celebration of beauty
Île d’Orléans is home to over 80 artists and craftspeople who express their creativity through different styles and techniques.
The complete range of art forms—popular to speculative, figurative to abstract, classical to modern—is expressed through the visual arts, sculpture or technological media. The explosion of colour and chaos inherent in the release of creative energy is balanced by the careful arrangement of shapes and hues needed to reproduce physical reality.
Time-honoured trades are also practised. The fruit of such labour, be it of fabric, metal or wood, are considered an expression of traditional know-how and works of art in their own right.
Whether it serves as an artist’s model or retreat, Île d’Orléans is a source of creativity for those seeking an inspirational haven.