11km (6 3/4 miles) NE of Québec City
Back on the mainland, the impressive Montmorency Falls are visible from Autoroute 440 and act as a hub for outdoor activity in all seasons. You can view the waterfalls from the bottom, from the top, from paths along the side, and even from above, on a bridge that crosses them a top. At 83m (272 ft.) tall, they’re 30m (98 ft.) higher than Niagara Falls—a boast no visitor is spared. These falls, however, are far narrower. They were named by Samuel de Champlain for his patron, the duke of Montmorency, to whom he dedicated his voyage of 1603. The yellow cast of the falls comes from the high iron content of the riverbed. On summer nights, the plunging water and its surrounding cove is illuminated.
In winter, there’s a particularly impressive sight: The freezing spray sent up by crashing water builds a mountain of white ice at the base, nicknamed pain de sucre (sugarloaf). It grows as high as 30m (98 ft.) and attracts ice climbers. Of course, you can simply come to observe.
BY CAR -- Take Autoroute 440 east out of Québec City. After 10 minutes, watch for exit 325 for the falls and the parking lot. If you miss the exit, you’ll see the falls on your left and will be able to make a legal U-turn.
BY BUS -- Dupont, which also goes by the name Old Québec Tours (www.tourdupont.com; tel 800/267-8687 or 418/664-0460), offers tours to the falls.
BY TRAIN -- Montmorency Falls is the Québec City departure point (or arrival point) for the Train of Le Massif de Charlevoix (www.lemassif.com/en/train; tel 877/536-2774), which transports passengers along the corridor between the falls, Baie-Saint-Paul and La Malbaie. The ski resort Le Massif is located just south of Baie-Saint-Paul, directly on the river’s edge.
The address for the falls is 5300 boul. Ste-Anne in Québec City. Visitors can access the falls for free year-round. The cable car operates daily from May to October, from late December to early January, and again in February; from March to April it runs on weekends. Visit www.sepaq.com/ct/pcm or call tel 418/663-3330 for rates, hours, and other park activities.
There are three parking areas—at the base of the cable car at the bottom of the falls, at Manoir Montmorency at the top of the falls, and at Boischatel, northeast of the falls—and fees depend on season, size of vehicle, and in some cases, number of passengers.
Viewing the Falls
There are several ways to see the 83m (272-ft.) falls. A path from the lower parking area leads to the base of the falls, where the water comes crashing down. The view is spectacular from here in all seasons. Stairs ascend from here to the top, 487 in sum, with viewing platforms along the way. At the top, a footbridge spans the water where it flows over the cliff. If you don’t want to walk to the top, a cable car runs from the parking lot to a terminal alongside the falls, with a pathway that leads close the water’s edge. (Round-trip tickets are around C$13 for adults, C$7 for kids 6–17.) At that top terminal is Manoir Montmorency, a villa that contains an interpretation center, gift shop, dairy bar, cafe, and a restaurant—open hours vary seasonally, and meals are typically offered from 11am to 4pm. Be sure to confirm hours in advance. The dining room and porch have a side view of the falls; reservations are suggested. In winter, snowshoes can be rented from Manoir Montmorency.
In 2013 the park added three via ferrata circuits in the Boischatel fault, for visitors who want to combine a little rock climbing with a little hiking. Anchored by a safety tether, visitors are led on group hikes by a professional guide along the cliffs with aerial views of the cove that surrounds the falls. The beginner route, for ages 8 and up, is 200m long and takes just over an hour to complete; the intermediate option, for ages 12 and up, is 60m longer and takes 2 1/2 hours. The third option combines via ferrata with a zip line tour, takes just over 2 hours and is appropriate for ages 14 and up. Fees range from C$18-C$48.
Where to Eat
In addition to the restaurant at Manoir Montmorency (above), picnicking is a good option. The falls are surrounded by the provincial Parc de la Chute-Montmorency (www.sepaq.com/Montmorency; tel 800/665-6527 or 418/663-3330), where visitors can take in the view. The grounds are accessible year-round and include hiking trails, playgrounds, and historic guided tours.
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.