When we walked up the hill from the village of La Grave to Auberge Chez Denis à François, we had already had a full day of local culture and food experiences.
We were staying on the Iles de la Madeleine, a remote group of Canadian islands in the Quebec Maritime region, located where the Gulf of the St. Lawrence meets the Atlantic Ocean. We’d started our morning with a lesson on whales, taught by a man dressed in a dapper kilt. We had lunched on poutine topped with braised seal and explored a gallery of sand art — showcasing sculptures, clocks, even a chess set made of packed powdery sand. Our guide, a professional musician, had serenaded us with traditional Acadian melodies and accompanied himself on two sets of clattering spoons.
After this day of exploration on this Quebec island group, known in English as the Magdalen Islands, our base for the night would be this rambling three-story clapboard inn, its yellow exterior bright against the cloudy late-spring sky.
Auberge Chez Denis à François is a homey family-run inn and restaurant. The 14 comfortable guest rooms are decorated with light wood furnishings, wicker chairs or upholstered sofas, and fluffy duvets or colorful quilts, with vibrant artwork contrasting with the more neutral linens and walls. Amenities include mini-fridges, coffeemakers, and Wi-Fi, and all rooms have private baths.
The dining room, which specializes in Quebecois dishes and local seafood, has a similarly homey vibe. Breakfast is served to inn guests; the dining room is open to the public for dinner.
The evening menu includes fresh scallops served on a blini with a balsamic vinegar reduction; bouillabaisse swimming with lobster, shrimp, halibut, scallops, and mussels; and a rich and flaky seafood pot pie.
Auberge Chez Denis à François opens for the season in May and closes at the end of October. It’s not too soon to make your plans for next year. Nightly room rates range from CAD$65 (single) to $155 (double).
The comfortable rooms and the first-rate food are definite draws at Auberge Chez Denis à François, but one of the best reasons to stay here? It’s just a short walk to a village full of adventures.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. My stay at Auberge Chez Denis à François was part of a tour of the Magdalen Islands organized by Québec Maritime and Tourisme Québec.