Saguenay is a fabulous region to spend the summer thanks to all of its free summer festivals! Every year, musicians, artisans, chefs and sporting teams get together to work hard and play hard for a few days and you can join them! These are the best foodie festivals I visited while in Saguenay, and I recommend you look out for them the next time you are visiting the region!
1) Le festival des bières du monde (World Beer Festival)
This free event held in mid July allows you to sample local and international beers as well as other food products in the Vieux-Port of Chicoutimi. There are over 70,000 visitors every year who come out to see over 50 exhibitors showing off more than 350 different beers. Even if beer isn’t quite your “cup of tea”, the festival hosts other events such as chefs demonstrating grilling techniques and recipes from all over the world.
Jet Set Brunette Tip: Still haven’t had enough of a beer fix? Check out the microbrewery (une micro-brasserie in French) called La Voie Maltée, located in Chicoutimi and also in neighbouring Jonquière. They brew many beers, including novelties such as their chocolate beer and mixed drinks such as their Malt’garita.
2) Le festival des vins de Saguenay (Saguenay Wine Festival)
If you are feeling a bit more sophisticated than beer, try your taste buds at Saguenay’s wine festival. Taking place in the beginning of July, this festival is located along Rue Racine, the main street in Chicoutimi. Tastings of each wine is offered for free from any of the dozens of exhibitors, some of which are local while others are international! There are also nearly as many invited guests who give free lectures covering every topic involving wine to listen in on (provided that you can understand French). Many restaurants along Rue Racine also open their doors for visitors to discover their table d’hôte (preset fixed-price menu) created just for the festival featuring local and regional food products.
Jet Set Brunette Tip: After all of that wine tasting, take a seat at Café Cambio. They are one of the restaurants that offer a table d’hôte during the festival, and also a great place for some local home-baked goodies. Café Cambio specializes in world free-trade coffee and the café is littered with big sacks of coffee beans that give off a delicious aroma. There’s a grand piano on a small stage in the back where local musicians often play in the evening, and many board games to pass the time.
3) Le festival des bleuets (Blueberry Festival)
Saguenay is well known for its blueberries – the slang word for a Saguenéen is indeed “un bleuet” (though be careful about using the word in this way, as some locals don’t like it). Therefore, it only makes sense that during the harvest months of July and August, there would be a blueberry festival! The town of Dolbeau-Mistassini hosts many blueberry-themed contests, parades, baking, exhibitions and performances during the festival it hosts every year.
Jet Set Brunette Tip: If you love blueberries, don’t miss the chance while in Dolbeau-Mistassini to visit the Chocolaterie des Pères Trappistes! This tranquil monastery has been making many different chocolates over the past 60 years in order to help raise funds. Their blueberry versions, made with the regions numerous blueberries, are the most popular and the most delicious!