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“Unique” and “boutique”. These are two words that Henk and I like to use to describe what we look for when we travel. Sometimes this can mean a singular attraction that sets a destination apart from the others; sometimes it can be unusual or unique places to stay. We found both on a road trip to the Québec Maritime region, where we had the chance to stay in an inflated ‘Bubble’ in the trees, and an historic lighthouse that dates from the mid-19th century.

Unique Places to Stay #1: A ‘Bubble’ in the Treetops at Canopée Lit

Canopee Lit Bubble Quebec

When Henk and I first heard about the idea of staying in a sphere with a clear plastic dome suspended in a forest canopy, I was sold. Intrigued by the prospect, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after spending 2 nights in the inflatable ‘Boules’ (‘bubbles’) at Canopée Lit near Tadoussac, I can honestly say that we had one of the most memorable experiences ever when it comes to discovering unique places to stay.

Where are the Bubbles?

Canopée Lit sign

Located in a rural area just outside of the small town of Sacré Coeur, Canopée Lit’s bubbles are nestled in a private forest along trails that require about a 10-minute walk from the parking area. This makes the bubbles secluded enough that guests have a real sense of privacy plus there is a very low impact on the natural environment since the structures are few and far between.

This sustainability is a priority for the Canopée Lit founders who fell in love with the forest when they first visited here from France. (Their commitment to sustainability is evident even in the eco-friendly soap they provide). It’s obviously working, because Henk and I saw an entire family of partridges snacking on raspberries who didn’t seem disturbed by us at all as we walked along the path toward our bubble.

Ruffed Grouse eating raspberry Canopée Lit Quebec
This Ruffed Grouse aka Partridge was eating raspberries on the path

TIP: Take just what you need and leave any heavier luggage in your car, as there is a bit of a walk to get to the bubbles. And don’t plan on spending much time in them during the warm summer days as the bubbles can get pretty warm.

What Exactly is a ‘Bubble”

Canopée Lit has sourced their inflatable structures from a company in Europe called Sphair and playfully called them ‘boules’ (‘bubbles’ in French) and given each one their own name. “La Boréale” was the name of our bubble, which can best be described as an inflated circular tent with a clear plastic dome ‘roof’ which extends almost to the floor. Check out the video below to get a sense of the space:

How cool is our La Boréale ‘Bubble’!

The bubble is installed on a platform about 10 feet above the ground, with an ‘airlock’ that allows you to enter and exit the bubble without losing air pressure inside. At the base of the platform’s stairs there is a surprisingly well-equipped bathroom including a shower with hot water, a small cold-water wash basin, odourless composting/wood chip toilet (that is emptied daily), and even fuzzy towels.

Bathroom at La Boreale Bubble Canopée Lit
The bathroom shower even has hot water

Our Canopée Lit (‘Canopy Bed’) Lived Up to Its Name

La Boréale Bubble Canopée Lit
Our La Boréale Bubble at Canopée Lit

Our La Boréale bubble was a pretty good size, with a comfortable queen-sized bed, small table and at night there were even lights attached to the headboard and a small electric heater (yes, our bubble had electricity.)

Bed inside Boréale Bubble Canopée Lit
A ‘canopy bed’ just like the name says

But it’s when Henk and I turned off those lights that the real transformation took place: the transparent dome appeared to disappear entirely, leaving us with the sensation that there was absolutely nothing between us and the starlit sky above except the treetops all around us.  

View of milky way from our bed at Canopée Lit
View from our bed: you can just make out the seams of our clear dome

With the stars above and the trees swaying in the wind, this feeling of floating in a forest canopy was pure magic. So inspiring, in fact, that I didn’t want to close my eyes at all so I could keep gazing at the changing sky all night long. We fell asleep under that starry canopy, but Henk did manage to capture the view of the Milky Way in this time lapse taken from our bed, which only begins to approximate the feeling of being there.

Most Unique Bed-and-Breakfast Ever!

Breakfast at Canopée Lit
Breakfast at Canopée Lit is included for Bubble guests

Obviously, in an inflated structure, there is no cooking allowed, but guests in the bubbles have free use of the main kitchen in the reception building, and a generous continental breakfast is included with the stay. Or you can order a complete brunch-style menu for a charge, which will be prepared for you and served in the main building. There is also a full bathroom with a shower and a flush toilet in an adjacent building as well.

Canopée Lit outdoor patio reception
Canopée Lit’s main reception building has an outdoor patio, kitchen and lounge and washroom facilities

TIP: For lunch or dinner, check out La Casta Fjord, a great restaurant nearby on the L’Anse-de-Roche wharf that offers delicious food and a good selection of wines and craft brews. Plus it has incredible sunset views looking out onto the Saguenay Fjord where you might even see a minke whale like Henk and I did! Reserve in advance, though, as this is a very popular place.

La Casta Fjord restaurant salmon pasta
Smoked salmon linguine at La Casta Fjord restaurant was delicious
L'Anse-de-Roches wharf Saguenary Fjord
Sunset at nearby L’Anse-de-Roches wharf on Saguenary Fjord

Besides just our Bubble, one of the things we loved about Canopée Lit was the low-tech boho vibe of the place: the owners screen outdoor movies on their patio, the shared lounge has a cottage-y feel and is filled with cards and board games for guests and there’s a library of books left by previous visitors. There’s even a guitar if guests want to play music inside or outside beside the fire pit. (Can you tell we loved it here!)

Canopée Lit bookshelf in lounge
There’s a relaxed cottage vibe at Canopée Lit

Unique Places to Stay #2: the Historic Lighthouse on Brandy Pot Island

Restored lighthouse Brandy Pot Island_ Île de Pot de l'Eau de Vie

Did I have you at the word ‘lighthouse’ or ‘brandy’? In either case, a stay in the lighthouse on Île du Pot de l’Eau de Vie (French for Brandy Pot Island) is definitely one that gets you close to nature: a forested island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, that happens to be a bird sanctuary for eider ducks, razorbills and other birds who nest here.

A Brief History of Île du Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie

Île de Pot de l'Eau de Vie morning mist
Morning fog shrouds Île de Pot de l’Eau de Vie (Brandy Pot Island)

Île du Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie has been known to sailors for centuries as a safe haven in the middle of the St. Lawrence. When the river got angry or when the fog rolled in and made navigation treacherous, boats used this mini archipelago of 3 islands as a refuge where they could avoid the weather and take shelter. Because of its location right in the middle of the river, there has been a lighthouse perched on the rocks here since the mid-1800s, which was occupied by successive generations of lighthouse keepers for more than a century until an automatic beacon was installed in 1964.

Louis Dubé and sons photo in lighthouse
Lighthouse Keeper Louis Dubé (centre) and his sons. Roger on the right was the last lighthouse keeper on Brandy Pot Island

After the beacon was installed the lighthouse was abandoned, falling into disrepair until 1989. It was then that Société Duvetnor stepped in and decided to restore the lighthouse keepers’ cottage and outbuildings and repurpose them for tourism as a boutique 3-room inn.

Sitting Room Lighthouse Île de Pot de l'Eau de Vie
Société Duvetnor completely restored the lighthouse inside and out

Duvetnor’s tourism activities is actually a sideline for them: the company was founded by a group of biologists in 1979 to help preserve these islands and their ecological richness. They did that by purchasing the islands to ensure that its bird colonies and other marine life would be protected, and came up with a creative way to fund the effort: they would collect down from the eider ducks who nested there, and sell the down (‘duve’ in French, hence their name) to fund their conservation efforts. Today income generated from the lighthouse inn helps with that as well, and also serves as their symbolic flagship for the cause.

Île de Pot de l'Eau de Vie Seagull
Île de Pot de l’Eau de Vie is a sanctuary for seagulls, eider ducks, razorbills, great blue herons and other birds

A Sanctuary for Wildlife and Guests, Alike

Guests at Île du Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie not only have the chance to stay in a lighthouse, but also get to see the island and its wildlife by boat. Our visit started at the marina at Riviére-du-Loup where a boat shuttle was to take Henk and I to the island along with 2 other couples who would be sharing the lighthouse with us. But on the day that we arrived, the fog had rolled in, blanketing the St. Lawrence in a thick white mist. It seemed fitting, given the purpose of the lighthouse in the first place. But it meant we only got glimpses of the shoreline when we arrived and would have to put off our boat tour of the island until the next day.

Bedroom Window Brandy Pot Island lighthouse
A foggy view out of our bedroom in the lighthouse

However, after arriving on the island, the fog didn’t stop us from going on a hike with one of the two staff who live on the island: modern-day ‘keepers’ whose job is not to take care of the light, but to take care of the guests, instead. Not only do they educate visitors about the history of the island and its flora and fauna, but they also prepare a delicious 3-course dinner (ours was a choice of salmon or cornish hen) and a full breakfast the next morning.

Breakfast at the lighthouse Île de Pot de l'Eau de Vie
Our dinner of salmon and cornish hen was followed the next day with a delicious breakfast.

On our visit, Henk and I were sharing the lighthouse with 2 couples from Germany who were travelling together, and we enjoyed the opportunity to get to know them over dinner – and a few bottles of wine, of course (which you are allowed to bring to the island). Nothing breaks through a language barrier than a glass or two of wine!

Dining Room in LIghthouse
The dining room in the lighthouse was furnished with antiques – like this amazing stove

The lighthouse itself has 3 small but comfortable bedrooms, 2 with private sitting areas, and is furnished with antiques and memorabilia. Guests are not just permitted but encouraged to climb up the lighthouse’s tower for great views of the island and the St. Lawrence. Fortunately for us, the weather had improved by the next morning, giving Henk and I the chance to capture some photos from the top, plus some misty, peaceful views of the island as the fog lifted.

Île de Pot de l'Eau de Vie Morning LIght _Brandy Pot Island
Île de Pot de l'Eau de Vie_Brandy Pot Island shoreline
These brownish pools of water in the rocks inspired the ‘brandy pot’ name

If you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for constant stimulation, Île du Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie is not for you. But if you want to decompress and completely relax at a place that takes you far from today’s hustle and bustle you’ll love this island sanctuary almost as much as the birds do.

Deck on Gazebo at Île de Pot de l'Eau de Vie

Stay in a Story, Not Just a Hotel

Henk and I always say that when we find unique places to stay, we always leave with a story and a memory we wouldn’t get at a cookie-cutter hotel room, and that’s exactly what happened after staying at these unusual places in Québec’s Maritime Region.

After all, how many people can say they’ve stayed in a Bubble and a Lighthouse?

If you are looking for other accommodations in Québec (of a more traditional sort as well) check out our recommended places here.

Pinterest_UniquePlacesQuebecMaritime

Special thanks to Québec Maritime Tourism who hosted Henk and I at these unique places to stay in Québec.

 

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