When I applied to J’Explore (the government program that organizes French language immersions), I think I listed Montreal or Quebec City as my top choices. Understandably so, they’re bustling cities (well, for Canada at least), beautiful and culturally vibrant. I, however, was placed in Chicoutimi, which initially appeared to be a small suburban city in the middle of nowhere; and thank goodness I was because I was proven so wrong.
Here are a few examples of neat places I found while living in Chicoutimi.
Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay
I didn’t even know there was a national park a bus ride away from the city. We did the hike as a weekend excursion, so there were a lot students from the program who did it together.
All around great hike. Beautiful views (even if it was cloudy), you’ll work up a sweat but it isn’t a vigorous hike, and you can get down to the water too.
La Pulperie, Chicoutimi
A short walk from the city centre is La Pulperie. It was a pretty area to explore – behind the main building are the remnants of old buildings and structures. I can’t find any photos of the actual pulperie on my laptop, so please enjoy this photo taken by Normand Gaudreault.
I was able, however, to find these photos of me and my two hooligan friends exploring parts of the ruins that we definitely weren’t supposed to be in. This need to explore and disregard safety became a common theme throughout the trip, and nearly to our peril (oh la la building suspense for my next post – stay tuned).
La Baie, Saguenay
At some point, I (the person with remedial French skills) was tasked with organizing a field trip for my friend group (all of whom are nearly fluent French speakers). This was a challenge to say the least, but looking back I’m glad I took it on. I wanted to go see La Baie and I fear that if I hadn’t pushed it so hard to the point of organizing everything, we might not have gone. The significance of the tide is prevalent here, there’s a great gelato shop (O’Gelato et Cacao) and it’s a pleasant town to walk through.
Following are just some photos taken within the city of Chicoutimi. The city is a little out of the way by some measures, but if you ever happen to find yourself in the area, know that there are plenty of things to see and experience.
Sometimes the best adventures, the greatest hikes or paddles or climbs, are not where we’d expect them to be. Sometimes it pays off to take a risk and visit somewhere without knowing much about it, but hoping with enough ingenuity and curiosity you’ll find something great (my experience entailed a little forced ingenuity and curiosity I’ll admit, as I was placed at this school by chance and then had to find opportunities).
I hope this inspires you to look for adventures near your own town. You may be surprised at what you find!