After arriving on the island, follow the "?" signs and turn right on Route 368 east toward Ste-Pétronille. The Bureau d'Accueil Touristique, or Tourist Information Center (tel. 866/941-9411 or 418/828-9411; www.iledorleans.com), is in the house on the right corner. Pick up the useful map that has most of the restaurants, farms, and accommodations marked. The bureau is open daily from about 9am to 5pm, with longer hours in the peak summer months and somewhat shorter hours in winter. Note that there are a limited number of restrooms on the island.
The tourist office offers a 2-hour English- or French-language audio tour on CD for sale (C$20), and has English-language brochures that detail a "Gourmet Route" driving tour, "Artists and Artisans" tour, and "Historic and Cultural Sites" tour. PDFs of the tours are available at the tourism website. A coast-hugging road -- Route 368, also called chemin Royal and, in a few stretches, chemin de Bout-de-l'Île -- circles the island, which is 34km (21 miles) long and 8km (5 miles) wide. Another couple of roads bisect the island. Farms and picturesque houses dot its east side, and abundant apple orchards enliven the west side.
The island has six tiny villages, originally established as parishes, and each has a church as its focal point. Some are stone churches that date from the days of the French regime, and with fewer than a dozen such churches left in all of the province of Québec, this is a particular point of pride for the islanders. It's possible to make a circuit of Île d'Orléans in a half-day, but you can justify a full day if you eat a good meal, visit a sugar shack, do a little gallery hopping, or just skip stones at the edge of the river. If you're strapped for time, loop around as far as St-Jean, and then drive across the island on route du Mitan ("Middle Road"). You'll get back to the bridge by turning left onto Route 368. Many of the attractions on the island are closed or have limited hours from October through May. This includes the historical venues, as well as the agricultural ones. Check before making a special trip for any one place. There are about 18 restaurants on the island, and as with the attractions, many have limited off-season hours.
Lodgings include auberges, with full-service restaurants open to nonguests, as well as B&Bs, also known as gîtes (homes with a few rooms available to travelers). You can see brief details about many of these offerings on the tourist office's website, www.iledorleans.com. Many lodgings also provide leaflets to the tourist office.
For much of the year, you can meander the roads of the island at 40kmph (25mph), pulling over only occasionally to let a car pass. There is no bike path, which means that bikers share the narrow rural roads. Both drivers and cyclists need to move with care in the busy summer months.
An Important Navigational Note
Street numbers on the ring road called chemin Royal start anew in each village. That means you could pass a no. 1000 chemin Royal in one stretch and then another no. 1000 chemin Royal a few minutes later. Be sure that you know not just the number of your destination, but also which village it's in.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.