Parc des Grands Jardins, Canada

Agritourism is certainly alive outside of Quebec in the Charlevoix area, but I couldn’t help but wonder ‘Why here?” What is it that makes this region so bountiful? I discovered the answer on a hike in the Parc des Grands Jardins, a splendid natural park spanning more than 120 square miles. My climb through forests of conifer and yellow birch led me to Lac Georges and stunning views of the surrounding cliffs, Canadian Shield (the exposed portion of the continental crush underlying the majority of North America) and evidence of the meteorite that stuck this region 350 million years ago. That’s right, this region literally sits at the bottom of a crater! At 15 billion tons, the meteorite shaped part of the Laurentian Mountain Range and created a series of micro climates that serve to enrich the soil and extend the growing season. At an elevation of 3,000 feet, the Summit of Mont du Lac des Cygnes offers views of the pastoral Charlevoisien heartland – it’s a spectacular site. 

A hike like this can be challenging, especially at the end of July when the heat is on. So, after my hike I visited the Spa Nordique at Le Germain Charlevoix for some tips on how to stay hydrated and to experience the benefits of their thermal spa experience. 

A view worth hiking for.

Spa Nordique located on a farm, uses fresh herbs from the garden to create flavored water – a great alternative to juice and sugary drinks for staying hydrated in the summer heat.  Simply, blend some cucumbers, basil, lemon balm and fennel with citrus or perhaps strawberry and mine, blackberries with sage or watermelon with rosemary.  Heat waves and spa aside, proper hydration is essential for the body to function properly. In addition to being a vehicle for vitamins and minerals, water is a major component for the blood and the lymph which contains the white blood cells that make up our immune system. Given that thirst is the first sign of hydration, followed by fatigue and headache, it is always a good idea to have a source of water on hand. 

Before taking the plunge in the hot and cold outdoor pools, I decided to find out more about this Scandinavian tradition. Thermo therapy consists of a cycle of alternating hot-cold-rest periods. The circuit begins with 15 minutes in a heated pool which warms the body and begins to open pores. This is followed by a  10 to 15 minutes soak in the hot tub which increases sweat and and draws out the toxins. The cold water plunge stimulates your metabolic rate stimulating your immune system and the production of white blood cells. Even if it’s just 2 to 10 seconds, the cold plunge helps to close pores and rinse off negative toxins. The shocking sensation of of a hot and cold treatment increases the rate of blood flow. It creates internal heat – which is endorphins – that’s energy. At the final rest allows your body to return to its regular state.

Cap Tourmente Route