When I attended WITS last month, I had the chance to join some local excursions. The Quebec City island food tour was incredibly informative and fun. I did not pay for my tour, but I did tip my amazing tour guide, and all opinions remain my own. Some links in this post are affiliate links that earn me a commission.
A word of advice – sign up for this tour in the afternoon. There is a not insignificant focus on sugar and alcohol throughout. At 10am, it was a little much for me. At 2pm, my stomach is far more ready for this food tour of Ile D’Orleans.
Fortunately, Quebec City Bus Tour offers the tour twice a day, every day, at both 10am and 2pm. Each tour can reach capacity, so I recommend signing up in advance. The tour makes five stops and lasts approximately 3 1/2 hours.
Our tour went over the allotted time, and our last stop was rushed because previous stops took longer than expected, but we still got all our tastes in and enjoyed the day. That said, don’t plan anything for immediately after your tour in case you run over, as well.
Quebec City has so much to do, from the food to tours and history and more. I already shared a food tour that explores the St-Roch area of Quebec City that’s a totally different style tour from this one, and there’s more to come!
Reasons to Book the Quebec City Island Food Tour
This tour is family friendly
There is no age limit to the tour, and children are welcome. While two stops have an alcohol focus, one has plenty of other tastes outside alcohol for kids to enjoy.
The tour is great for those who can’t walk long distances
While you have to get on and off the bus (via steps) at each stop, this tour uses a bus to get around. Many food tours tend to be walking tours, which limits those who can’t walk long distances. This works out great for families, too, as it makes it easier to wrangle kids.
Ile D’Orleans is gorgeous
The island off the St. Lawrence Seaway has a completely different atmosphere from the mainland. You can feel the history, and it’s amazing to see all the farming happen. The island feeds so much of the rest of Quebec – and beyond.
Because it’s a bus tour with just four stops, you get to see a large portion of the island and see the different facets of it. The tour guides have a ton of information they share throughout, as well, which makes for a great history lesson.
The Quebec City island food tour is inexpensive
Food tours can easily get pricey, especially when you bring the whole family. The Taste Trail costs just $44.95CAD (just under $35USD, depending on the exchange rate) per adult.
They also offer a children’s rate of $30CAD (just under $23USD) for those ages 6-12, and those 5 and under are free – but still need to register. The Quebec City island food tour also offers a family rate for 2 adults and 2 kids ages 6-12 of $147.37CAD (about $110USD), which saves a couple dollars.
What to Expect on the Quebec City Island Food Tour
Make sure to show up for the food tour a little early, so it gets underway on time. When you sign up, you have your choice of locations for pickup, and note the time differences based on your pickup location. Look for the bus, regardless!
Once the tour gets underway, you head to the island across the only bridge on or off the island. The majority of the tour focuses on the north side of the island, so the trip is close to a half hour to get to the first stop.
Stop 1: La Maison Smith – Maple Producers
The first stop is a Quebec City mainstay, La Maison Smith, known for their coffee. In fact, you can find offshoots of the original elsewhere in Quebec City.
Inside the original, you step into a handcrafted gift shop. This is the only stop on the tour that sells anything outside food. While you await the preparation of your espresso, take time to browse. Many on our tour found things that had to come home with them.
The tasting here is an espresso maple latte. For kids and those who can’t do caffeine, there is a maple hot chocolate alternative. I’d never had a maple latte, but I loved it. And no, it wasn’t overly sweet.
Take the opportunity while you enjoy your latte to head out the back of the store. They have a sugar maple stand that they use to tap sap to make their own syrup. You can even see a production area by the seating in the back of the store.
Stop 2: Chocolaterie de l’Ile d’Orleans – Chocolate Factory
The chocolate sold in the store gets made on the third floor – which unfortunately, you don’t get to see. All chocolate is made on site, however, which is pretty cool when you see the huge variety available.
Your sample includes a dark chocolate square filled with maple and raspberry – Orleans chocolate. It’s a surprisingly perfect combination.
Quick cool fact? This factory used to be the village general store, and it was built in 1760.
Once you have your sample, there isn’t much more information to share for this 15-20 minute stop. Instead, head to the back of the shop to the ice cream parlor behind.
This isn’t officially part of the tour, but it’s worth the stop. And yes, you can bring your ice cream cone onto the bus as it goes to the third stop. Purchase an ice cream cone.
They offer both gelato as well as the dipped soft serve they’re better known for. If you get ice cream, only choose a small or a baby. The cones are huge!
The soft serve vanilla gets dipped into caramel or chocolate, both milk and dark. They also have an option on the menu for dipping chocolate ice cream.
Go with their recommendation and get a baby vanilla milk chocolate dipped for $4.62CAD. Totally worth it!
Stop 3: Vignoble du Mitan Vineyards
The third stop is all wine, and this is the only stop with no alternative for kids. They’re open late spring to late fall, so you may have an alternate in cold weather.
Here you taste four different wines with the option to taste an ice wine for another $2. The $2 pour is fairly small and not really worth it, in my opinion.
Save your glass for each different taste, as you get just one glass for all four wines.
You start with L’Heritage, a crisp white wine, then move to a second white, La Barrique, a woody dry white wine aged in oak barrels. You taste only the rose, not the sparkling rose, as it’s the same wine but bubbly. The last taste is the red, Le Rigolet, a woody red wine.
You have a booklet outlining the different wines you taste so you know what you enjoyed, and if you wish to purchase any bottles, they have them available for sale there. And yes, they can ship bottles for you (depending on your state’s laws), for an additional fee.
Stop 4: Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau – Cider house
This fourth stop may have been my favorite. I don’t like beer, but cider is my jam, and that’s their specialty. That said, they have plenty of nonalcoholic products, as well, so kids have something to enjoy, too.
Unlike other food tour stops on this Quebec City island food tour and others, the purveyors encouraged people to sample anything that caught their eyes from mustards to maple syrup to apple butter and more. I had to buy some to bring home because it’s so different from what I’ve had in the past.
They have several thousand apple and maple trees on site. Their 3,500 apple trees produce 15 kinds of apples. Iced cider is their specialty and something different.
They press frozen apples, which are naturally sweet and then ferment it with yeast. It’s 9% alcohol and perfect with cheese, dessert, and more.
If you find something that has to come home with you, they offer bubble wrap to keep it safe, and you have the option to ship it, as well. I packed both my maple syrup “keg” and apple butter jar in my checked luggage, and both survived safely.
Stop 5: Cassis Monna & filles – spirits
The last stop is Cassis Monna & filles that focuses on black currant wines and liquors. They also have other black current products in the back of the shop away from the alcohol tasting area that can be easy to miss.
Don’t miss out on the black currant jellies and olive and mustard, etc. Just make sure you use a new spoon each time! The official tasting consists of three black currant wines and another liqueur.
La Fruitee is 15% alcohol and makes a fantastic sangria base. The friendly proprietor’s recommendation? Drink this when it’s hot out!
The second wine is a Madeira style, also 15% alcohol and has almost a port flavor. This goes great with chocolate and roasted nuts, or cook with it.
The port style wine tips the scales at 19% alcohol. Given the portion sizes poured here, be wary! It has a fabulous flavor – chocolate and coffee, with a vanilla aftertaste. Sip this one! Serve it with cheesecake, stinky cheese plate, or a molten cake – my favorite.
The last tasting is a black currant liqueur. This is fantastic to pour into champagne or white wine for kir royale or kir. I can attest to that, having enjoyed a great kir royale at Aux Aciens Canadiens the night before. This is also great as syrup to pour over ice cream, etc.
I regret not having purchased anything here, but we were rushed and running late by the time we arrived. This store can also ship products, but not the the States, so plan ahead if you want to purchase anything.
After the Quebec City Island Food Tour
After the last stop, you return to your starting point in front of Chateau Frontenac. The way back includes more tips and history of the region, which keeps things interesting.
As you depart, don’t forget to tip your guide – they work hard for you!
A couple quick notes:
- The bus is safe and locked while you’re at each of the Quebec City island food tour stops, so you can leave your items aboard the bus if you choose.
- The food samples here are small and sparse, and they tend to be sweet. Before you go, eat something savory or bring a little snack to keep you from getting sweet-ed out!
- This tour takes you on just a small taste of the island. It’s worth the tour, but if you have time, make your way to Ile d’Orleans and spend more time exploring the island. There are plenty of things to do there!