Travel


Charlevoix par la voie des rails parallèles

Par Denis Plamondon

.

.

.

Je n’allais pas décliner si belle invitation : Partir à la reconnaissance des abords du fleuve St-Laurent entre Québec et La Malbaie à bord du Train du Massif de Charlevoix. La société que gère le Groupe du Massif Inc. avait réservé  un wagon spécial pour des planificateurs d’événements  de Québec et Montréal afin de nous faire vivre une expérience exceptionnelle et nous faire découvrir des paysages époustouflants. La beauté légendaire de Charlevoix exhibe ainsi ses trésors fabuleux et ses spectaculaires décors inaccessibles autrement que par la voie ferrée. Le voyage s’anime dès notre arrivée au pied de la retentissante Chute Montmorency pour ensuite progresser le long de l’Île d’Orléans, le cap Tourmente, la Côte de Beaupré, Petite Rivière Saint-François et, entre fleuve et montagnes, la Baie St-Paul et Pointe au Pic. Cette balade inopinée entraîne les voyageurs dans une infinie kyrielle de tableaux multicolores qui se modulent au gré de la lumière, du mouvement et des perspectives insoupçonnées.

.

Centre d'Accueil du Parc de la Chute Montmorency

Le départ

.

Malgré la quiétude qui m’habite ce matin-là, j’ai hâte d’arriver sur les lieux de départ de cette excursion singulière et de stationner ma voiture tout près du bâtiment d’accueil au Parc de la Chute Montmorency.  La structure de verre et de métal donne une vue prenante sur la cascade haute de 83 mètres. Je cherche notre hôte qui me refile avec enthousiasme les billets aller-retour pour monter à bord du convoi migrateur. La salle est bondée. Pendant que les plus réveillés dissimulent mal un sourire espiègle et contagieux, les autres pèlerins refoulent en silence leur entrain derrière une mine ensommeillée ou obnubilée.  La présence d’une effigie plus grande que nature du Bonhomme Carnaval rappelle que l’endroit reste ouvert à l’année et que l’hiver offre aux visiteurs acclimatés ses féeries saisonnières.  Cette année, le train du Massif amènera les skieurs et les amoureux de sports d’hiver à la Petite Rivière Saint-François. Je rêve déjà d’y revenir.

Je profite de quelques moments de grâce avant l’embarquement pour sortir et prendre l’air. Une fine bruine effraie les plus frileux qui préfèrent s’entasser dans l’atrium, alors que la fraîcheur de l’automne me réchauffe le cœur à tout coup. J’ai toujours aimé regarder des chutes quelle que soit la grandeur et de m’inonder de cet univers sonore qui m’enivre, mais je dois vous l’avouer, l’actuelle avalanche hydraulique à grand débit qui déferle devant moi m’impressionne à plus d’un égard.

.

Train Massif de Charlevoix et Chute Montmorency

.

Préparation du service à bord du train

.

Bref, la magnifique chute Montmorency constitue un point de départ spectaculaire pour initier le voyageur aux beautés de la nature québécoise et l’accueillir à bord d’un train spécialement conçu, dessiné et aménagé pour lui faire vivre une aventure édifiante, gourmande et enrichissante. Le parcours s’accompagne de toutes les émotions sensorielles et le personnel à bord s’assure avec brio de rendre l’expérience agréable, ludique et mémorable. Le train du Massif cadre le panorama à la manière d’une caméra sur rail opérée à même la main d’un maître réalisateur. Les yeux se réinventent des manières de voir et de se perdre dans cette longue et incessante fenestration mobile qui roule lentement au son d’une musique spécialement inventée et composée pour cette croisière ferroviaire. Comme le disait si bien un steward à bord:

« J’adore travailler dans ce train, j’ai une fenêtre de 140 kilomètres pour me remplir l’existence»!

.

Une kyrielle de beautés maritimes

.

.

.

Baie St-Paul au fond des champs, des toits d'église et du presbytère

.

.

.

Les repas gastronomiques, commandés à l’avance par le client lors de la réservation, sont servis avec diligence et agissent en symbiose sur les papilles gustatives et ce, sous une lumière ambiante qui change de couleur au plafond du wagon, selon la région parcourue. Un voyage de délectation en train ne signifie pas une course contre la montre, mais suppose au contraire la provision d’un moment privilégié pour profiter de quelques heures de bon temps afin de relaxer, s’émerveiller et observer la nature à vitesse réduite. Je vous recommande la crème brûlée de foie gras de canard de La Ferme Basque de Charlevoix, à prendre avec le Sauvignon blanc disponible sur le train.

.

Crêpes roulées aux champignons et asperges, Fromage suisse

.

Le service à bord est remarquable

.

Bisque crémé à l’huile de homard, Raviolis de fromage de chèvre

.

Embarquement :

Le convoi passager n’est pas très long. En fait, le train se compose à peine de quelques wagons, mais nécessite deux locomotives! L’une tire à l’avant, l’autre ferme le cortège. L’astuce permet ainsi de faire faire le chemin inverse au train sans devoir le retourner une fois arrivé à la Malbaie. Les anciens wagons à double ponts ont été réaménagés et renforcés de poutrelles d’acier de manière à en faire qu’un seul. L’effet d’atrium ainsi produit dégage l’espace en hauteur et assure une meilleure visibilité grâce aux fenêtres supplémentaires installées au sommet des parois. Les compartiments se composent de deux banquettes doubles avec une table au milieu et donne sur une grande fenêtre. La nappe est mise;  les verres, la coutellerie et la vaisselle seront bientôt mis à partie.

.

.

À chacune des tables,  un Ipad en fonction indique le nom des passagers et leur place dans le compartiment et relaie l’information au fur et à mesure que l’on avance dans la croisière. Un menu interactif,  appelé à se développer dans le futur, contribue de façon dynamique à l’animation du périple. Des images reflètent l’histoire ou le lieu que l’on traverse. Par exemple, lorsqu’on arrive près de Sainte-Anne de Beaupré, l’appareil diffuse des icônes de la région, comme les vitraux mythiques de la célèbre cathédrale.  La musique originale, bien que discrète, agrémente ce voyage bien orchestré. La technologie, loin d’être envahissante,  améliore l’aventure. Les événements naturels comme les autres que l’on façonne s’impriment de plus en plus sur les caméras, les téléphones intelligents et, surtout … sur les neurones de la mémoire humaine.

.

.

.

.

Que l’on regarde les battures à Cap Tourmente – estomaqués par ces milliers d’oiseaux en migration – ou que l’on scrute du côté de la montagne – émerveillés par le feuillage d’automne propre à la nature québécoise – il faut se rendre à l’évidence : ce petit train aux péchés mignons renferme des surprises grandeur sublime. Des rivages, des vagues, des feuilles flamboyantes, des étendues d’eau houleuse, de beaux petits villages, des maisons et des domaines qui défient l’envie (péché véniel), des champs, des fleurs et des états d’âme qui provoquent des rêves ou des projets de réalité augmentée!

.

.

.

Lorsqu’on arrive à Petite Rivière Saint François, notre hôte attire l’attention sur les travaux de construction en cours à la gare de la municipalité. Les amateurs de sports d’hiver seront choyés dès leur arrivé sur place, car le télésiège part directement de la gare pour les amener sur les pistes de ski! On peut déjà imaginer les forfaits forts populaires au cours de l’hiver. On peut partir de Québec, venir y faire du ski, séjourner dans la station ou aux alentours pendant quelques jours et/ou reprendre le train à son retour de la Malbaie vers Québec! D’autres forfaits permettent aux touristes de dormir un soir au Château Frontenac, à Québec, avant de prendre le train du Massif pour aller passer la nuit au Manoir Richelieu à Pointe au Pic. La société du Massif va bientôt ouvrir ses installations hôtelières, dans la région de Baie Saint-Paul. En fait, la construction va bon train à La Ferme! Peu importe l’option que vous retiendrez, le voyage en train, le long du fleuve St-Laurent, constitue l’une des attractions les plus réussies que vous puissiez faire lors de vos vacances.

.

En construction: Gare de la Petite Rivière St-François avec Télésiège!

.

Le Manoir Richelieu à Pointe au Pic (La Malbaie)

.

le cormier et ses fruits rouges

.

La marée est basse. Le rivage mouillé reflète le soleil couchant

.

Pour de plus amples information: Le Massif de Charlevoix: 418-632–5876

http://www.lemassif.com/fr/train

Si vous avez aimé cet article, prière de revenir au début du texte pour vos commentaires.

.

Denis Plamondon

Advertisements
Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery Cavalier in action

Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery Cavalier in action

*

Yabusame Photo Interlude

Photos by Sandra D’Sylva and Denis Plamondon

Japanese traditional horseback martial arts are still very much alive and well organized. Check the following all year round schedule to see where and when you can watch these performances. Today, we propose a photo report of one of these events that occurred in the forest of  Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto. These photos were taken on May 3rd, 2008.

*

Cavaliers at the Yabusame Contest in Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto

Cavaliers at the Yabusame Contest in Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto

*

Musicians at the Shimogamo Shrine Yasubane Contest, in Kyoto

Musicians at the Shimogamo Shrine Yabusame Contest, in Kyoto

*

Yabusane Organizers dressed in traditionnal costume, Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto

Yabusame Organizers dressed in traditional costume, Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto

*

Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery practice

*

Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery under a Gate

*

Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery Arrows transfert

Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery Arrows transfer

*

Yabusame Shimgamo Shrine in kyoto Archery

Yabusame Shimgamo Shrine in Kyoto Archery

*

Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery fully extended horse legs

*

Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery

Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto Archery

*

Reflexion of spectators in a glass Yabusame Shimogamo Shrine

Reflexive glass of Yabusame spectators at Shimogamo Shrine

*

*

Field of flowers in Naka Furano in Hokkaido. Photo fused with clouds

Field of flowers in Naka Furano in Hokkaido. Photo fused with clouds

*

Colour Your World in Furano

By Denis Plamondon

Photo: By Sandra D’Sylva and Denis Plamondon

*

Furano is great multi-season destination. Located in a wide valley, some 140 kilometers east of Sapporo, this “lavender country” has something to offer everyone in each season. In winter, Furano promotes its cosy resorts and powdery snow ski slopes (international standards) to all skiers, snowboarders and cross-country skiers alike. In summer, activities range from canoeing, rafting, horseback riding and hiking to lifetime experiences like hot-air ballooning. There are also many farms, factories and a spectacular array of flowers to discover.

This region of Hokkaido most likely derives its name from the Ainu word Fu-Ra-Nui – referring to the sulfuric smell of the river. When making a hotel reservation, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that Furano has two districts: JR Station, accommodation and civic facilities are located in the downtown district, while many hotels, bars and restaurants are found in the Kitanomine district across the river, close to ski slopes.

No matter where you chose your base, most places are easily accessible with local transportation. The Kururu Shuttle Bus offers a day pass during the summer, which allows you to get on and off at the main attractions in a single day if you begin your journey early in the morning. Depending on where you’re staying, a good place to start is at the Highlands Furano with its radiant fields of lavender and refreshing hikes through the forest. Next en route is the Furano Winery where you can visit the cave and sample a variety of wines; you will probably end up buying a few bottles, the labels are particularly beautiful. Then, you can treat yourself to a fondue made from local cheese at the Wine House and benefit from a fantastic panorama of Furano. For fans of Japanese TV dramas, you can also enjoy a visit to the set of “From the Northern Country” which is filmed on location in Hokkaido.

If you’re going to Furano to admire the celebrated lavender fields and the beauty of their deep purple signature, you should plan a visit between mid-July and the beginning of August before harvest. In any case, a trip to Farm Tomita in Naka Furano will certainly be a highlight. This is where you’ll find the famous rainbow of colorful flowers advertised on the cover of most Hokkaido magazines. Lavender gives a pleasant experience with its unique aroma and color, but did you know that it has a fragrant taste as well? Find out more on your own and don’t miss the ice cream at Farm Tomita!

Pension Lavender is a lovely place to stay. For a delicious and inexpensive dinner, the Tirol Lamb BBQ next to Snow Flake Lodge is recommended, both owned by cheerful ski instructor Kojima Hisayuki. If you’re looking for a fun and friendly bar to hang out in the evening, Bar and Dining Ajito is your choice. Apparently, Aussie’s and Japanese warm up the place during the winter season. Lastly, don’t miss out on the abundance of sweet succulent melons and other fresh fruits, vegetables and local products.

*

Furano Valley: View from Farm Tomita in Naka Furano, Hokkaido

Furano Valley: View from Farm Tomita in Naka Furano, Hokkaido

*

Lavender field in Highland Furano, Hokkaido

Lavender field in Highland Furano, Hokkaido

*

Butterfly in Highland Furano

Butterfly in Highland Furano

*

Lotus flowers in a lovely pond in Highland Furano, Hokkaido

Lotus flowers in a lovely pond in Highland Furano, Hokkaido

*

Mushroom in Highland Furano, Hokkaido

Mushroom in Highland Furano, Hokkaido

*

Wineyards in Furano, Hokkaido

Wineyards in Furano, Hokkaido

*

Wine Barils in Furano Winery, Hokkaido

Wine Barrels in Furano Winery, Hokkaido

*

Cellar in Furano Winery in Hokkaido

Cellar in Furano Winery in Hokkaido

*

Wine labels with typical Furano colours in Hokkaido

Wine labels with typical Furano colors in Hokkaido

*

Rainbow of colourful flowers in Naka Furano, Hokkaido

Rainbow of colorful flowers in Naka Furano, Hokkaido

*

Sunflower field in Naka Furano, Hokkaido

Sunflower field in Naka Furano, Hokkaido

*

Shiraoi Hokkaido Ainu's Title NO2

*

Exploring Ainu’s Wisdom and Crafts in Shiraoi, Hokkaido

By Denis Plamondon

Photos by Sandra D’Sylva and Denis Plamondon

*

When one thinks of Hokkaido, many images surge from the conception of Japan’s northernmost island. Notions of nature, wilderness, mountains, volcanoes, large farms, snow, ice carvings, festivals and ski resorts easily come to mind. So are major events like the Winter Olympics of Sapporo in 1972 or last year’s G8 Hokkaido Summit. If one scratches the surface a little further, one might identify the name of the indigenous people of Japan. After all, the Ainu have been living here for several thousands of years.

On the other hand, we’re probably unaware of the long history of discrimination and the chronicled inferiority complex felt by the Ainu themselves which almost led to their extinction. As a matter of fact, many stories depict the Ainu-Wajin (Japanese) relation as a stream of repulsion for a culture of lesser importance, second rate and not worth keeping. The Ainu elders even stopped teaching their native language to their children to enable them to more easily integrate into mainstream Japanese culture. The embarrassment of being Ainu seems particularly ironic when we know its meaning: Ainu means “human” or a “respectable human”. The government only recognized the rights of this great nation in 1997 with the rather ineffective Ainu Cultural Promotion Law to describe their culture as “unique”. But it takes more than an exhibition of fabrics and other crafts to preserve a culture; teaching language and transmitting values are instrumental to keep the Ainu nation alive. (Please read an insightful interview with Hasegawa Osamu ). According to a 2006 census, the Ainu population in Hokkaido accounted for 23,782 inhabitants while between 2,500 and 10,000 individuals were estimated to be living in Tokyo. This number is probably higher since many are unaware of their origin or hide their true identity. At first glance, one may get discouraged with such an outcome, but the situation has started to change for the Ainu people, like many other things in Japan.

In addition to dedicated ‘backstage’ activists, proud and talented Ainu artists are trying to promote and revitalize their culture to a new level by transcending their folklore: Oki and his Ainu Dub Band are gaining world recognition; and Ainu Rebels led by Mina Sakai are known for fusing traditional music with dance, rock and hip-hop. The international solidarity between aboriginals from around the world, who hold regular meetings every year, is no stranger to the emancipation of Ainu culture. In September 2007, the UN General Assembly passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Japanese Government finally passed a bill which recognizes the Ainu as “the indigenous people of Japan”.

Keeping Ainu Culture Alive:

On 3 October 2009, Kaha:wi, a Mohawk dance company from Canada, is performing at the Red Brick Warehouse, in Yokohama. The theater company will share the stage with Ainu Rebels in a show called: Dance with the Earth. To mark the occasion, Professor Hiroshi Nakagawa of Chiba University will give a lecture on the teachings of Ainu language. In Tokyo, the Restaurant Rera Cise (House of Wind) in Nakano is also a good place for the diffusion of Ainu culture and cuisine.

The Ainu Museum in Shiraoi:

Shiraoi is a small town located some 20 kilometers west of Noboribetsu. There are a few hotels in the area, but Ryokan Okita, just a few minutes from the JR Station, is a good recommendation if you are looking for convenient budget accommodation. The Ainu Museum actually offers more than only a museum. An interesting display of houses (cise) was erected to represent a typical Ainu village. A series of music and dance performances are scheduled every day which allows visitors a great opportunity to learn about this rich and unique culture. Lively entertainers dance around a rectangular fire in the middle of the house with typical instruments, such as a tonkori (plucked string instrument). A woman plays a mukkuri (mouth harp) with rhythms that evoke the Inuits in northern Canada. They take great care to perform correctly as it is said that most Ainu songs are sacred and are often sung to keep evils spirits away.  Performers proudly wear traditional Ainu costumes and headbands embroidered with organic patterns, also designed with the rational of protecting the wearer from evil. If you would like to learn more about Ainu patterns, please visit the superb website by Deborah Davidson, Project U-E-Peker.

Watch an interesting interview with Mina Sakai of Ainu Rebels

*

Shiraoi Hokkaido Ainu's houses (Cise)

Shiraoi Hokkaido - Ainu Houses (Cise)

*

Ainu's costumes and culture presentation in Shiraoi, Hokkaido

Ainu traditional wear and cultural performance - Shiraoi, Hokkaido

*

Ainu's dance around a fire place in indigenous house, Shiraoi. Hokkaido

Ainu dance around a hearth in an indigenous house - Shiraoi, Hokkaido

*

Women Musician playing the tonkori (plucked string instrument) in Shiraoi, Hokkaido

Musician playing the tonkori (plucked string instrument) - Shiraoi, Hokkaido

*

Ainu's woman musician playing the "bombard" in Shiraoi, Hokkaido

Ainu musician playing the "mukkuri" - Shiraoi, Hokkaido

*

2 women wearing Ainu's costumes with baby bed in Shiraoi, Hokkaido

Women wearing Ainu dresses singing a baby to sleep - Shiraoi, Hokkaido

*

Inside an Ainu's house in Shiraoi, Hokkaido

Inside an Ainu house - Shiraoi, Hokkaido

*

Fishes are being smoked in the ceiling of an Ainu's house in Shiraoi, Hokkaido

Fishes are being smoked inside Ainu house - Shiraoi, Hokkaido

*

Wall patterns and tatoo on one hand in Shiraoi, Hokkaido

Wall patterns and tatoos (hand in photo) - Shiraoi, Hokkaido

*

Women executing Ainu mats'work in Shiraoi, Hokkaido

Women weaving an Ainu mat - Shiraoi, Hokkaido

*

*

Title Ainu Article

*

Ainu are the first inhabitants of Hokkaido, a major island located  in northern Japan. In a coming article, I will be writing  about the museum of Shiraoi and its enactment of Ainu’s great, but yet endangered culture.

*

*

Warm Welcome to Noboribetsu

*

Noboribetsu: Fostering Health from Hell

By Denis Plamondon

Photos: Sandra D’Sylva and Denis Plamondon

Noboribetsu Onsen (登別温泉) is definitively a place to visit if you’re planning a trip to Hokkaido, especially if geothermal activities are included on your agenda! This small town hosts some of the most renowned hot springs in the world. The resort area, entrenched in its mountainous landscape, is only 8 kilometers away from Noboribetsu JR train station and is easily reached by bus in 15 minutes.

When you arrive, you will soon discover the calming effects of this intense geothermal destination. Most of the hotels and inns are equipped with outstanding o-furo bathing facilities, and some even specialize in comprehensive health programs. You can choose from a wide variety of therapeutic and healing experiences, including spa massages and fitness activities. No matter the choice you make, one thing is certain – with water temperatures varying from 45 to 90 degrees Celsius, nature is supplying one of its primary substances in full force. In fact, in Noboribetsu (which means: a river with dark colors in the native Ainu language: nupur-pet, nature is venerated as much as it is feared; devils and demons are considered an evocation of the ominous spirits that rise from Jigokudani or Hell’s Valley, which is one of the main attractions in the region. At the end of August, Noboribetsu Onsen organizes its famous annual Jigoku Matsuri .

Hell’s Valley is proof of the incredible rawness, harshness and power of such an inhospitable environment. The extreme heat and corrosive minerals that rise from the ground prevent vegetation from growing. As visitors walk along a wooden path that cuts across steaming puddles, sulfuric streams and hot gases spewing from deep within the earth, they are left with a strange feeling of amazement and admiration for this barren landscape – one can almost imagine walking along the back of a dragon!

Several hiking trails are well indicated just beyond Hell’s Valley. You will find yourself suddenly trekking through lush vegetation and listening to the sounds of the forest as you climb towards an observatory that overlooks a scorching lake. Your stroll will then continue past blistering mud pools on the way to a “natural foot spa” in the forest which is made from a cascading hot spring. It’s a great place to relax and bathe your feet.

Back in Noboribetsu Onsen town, you can ascend higher into the mountains via a cable car to see spectacular Kuttara Lake, a perfectly round caldera that is now filled with deep blue water. A cable car ticket will also give you access to a bear park where more than a hundred brown bears live in protective captivity; although these wonderful creatures are impressive to see, one can but feel distressed to see so many crammed in a small arena begging for food from tourists. Atop, you will also find the world’s largest brown bear museum and an Ainu museum which demonstrates the close relationship between the two, as Ainus’ worshiped the bear as a God.

*

Engraved stone in Jigokudani, the Hell's Valley of Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

Engraved stone at Jigokudani, Hell's Valley of Noboribetsu in Hokkaido

*

White landscape in Hell's Valley, Jigokudani, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

White landscape of Hell's Valley Jigokudani in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

*

Story of a man who came to collect raw material for gun powders. His eyesight was healed by the contact with the water from the hot spring. An altar was builted as a grateful gesture.
Story of a man who came to collect raw material for gun powder. His eyesight was healed by contact with water from the hot spring. An altar was built as a gesture of gratitude.

*

Altars are always close to nature manifestation. Jigokudani Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

Altars are never very far from natural manifestations, at Jigokudani Noboribetsu in Hokkaido

*

This geyser gushes its boiling water out from Jigokudani in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

This geyser gushes out boiling water at Jigokudani in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

*

Boiling mud in the Oku no Yu pound. Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

Boiling mud, Oku No Yu Pond at Noboribetsu in Hokkaido

*

Oyunuma thermal lake, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

Oyunuma thermal lake and smoke rising out of Mount Hiyori near Noboribetsu Onsen, Hokkaido

*

Pathway along the Oyunuma river in Noboribetsu Hokkaido

Pathway along Oyunuma River in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

*

Thermal waterfall in Oyunuma river and natural pool for footbathing, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

Thermal waterfall at Oyunuma River and natural pool for footbathing, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

*

Unbearable conditions for noble animals in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido. Fog is due to low cloud, not to hot spring reaction.

Unbearable conditions for noble animals in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido. Fog is due to low clouds, not to hot spring reaction.

*

Your comments are most welcomed.

Here is a link to Tourism office of  Noboribetsu Onsen Web site.

*

Enormous blue demons welcome you in Oyako kisou, Noboribetsu Onsen, Hokkaido

Enormous blue demons welcome you in Oyako kisou, Noboribetsu Onsen, Hokkaido

*

Next Page »