In winter, icy fog pours over snowcapped mountains into the rural valleys of Charlevoix, while in summer, the brilliant blue sky is matched by the deep azure of the St Lawrence. At all times of year, this is a stunning outdoors playground. For 200 years, this pastoral skein of streams and hills has been a summer retreat for the wealthy and privileged. Of late, it has become Québec City's preferred retreat from the stresses of city life.
Unesco has classified the entire area a World Biosphere Reserve, which has resulted in worthwhile restrictions on the types of permitted developments, and a palpable sense of pride among residents. There's also a lot to be proud of in the lovely local towns such as Baie St Paul, with ateliers (artists' studios), galleries and boutiques lining its few streets.
While Charlevoix totals 6000 sq km, it is home to just 30,000 people.