A must-see in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area. This village is a great opportunity to learn about the history of the region. The village was created in 1901 with a purpose for one industry only, pulp and paper mill. The location was ideal for this industry as the energy required to operate the machinery was produced by two waterfalls on the Ouiatchouan river. However, the village has been deserted in 1929 due to low demand for non-transformed mechanical pulp and is considered since a ‘ghost town’. With more than 70 original abandoned buildings still standing, the convent-school, general store and the post office, you can feel the sense of community this place once held.
The main attractions: a cable car ride, waterfall viewpoints, exhibitions, special interactive shows, hiking trails, kids’ playgrounds and visiting some of the abandoned houses & the mini power plant.
You can spend a full day at Val-Jalbert. We found the venue super organized for visitors. From the main building, you will leave directly by bus, where the driver will give you a quick background and a tour of the village, indicating different points along the way.
The bus will leave you at the waterfall where you will decide how to proceed. The idea is to complete the walk back to the entrance by visiting all the points mentioned on the tour (now that you have a sense of the navigation in the village).
Address: 95, rue Saint-Georges, Chambord, G0W 1G0, QC. Located on the south shore of Lac-Saint-Jean.
Drive: about 4h40 north-east from Montreal. From Saguenay city drive west for about 1h10.
Opening hours: end of May to mid-October (check exact dates and hours online).
Entry fee: Adult $28.17, kids 6-16 years old $14.35, kids under 5 free of charge, a family option (2 adults + child of 16 and under) $66.54.
Cable car ride is included with the entry fee
Restaurant: a canteen is available with a big sitting area.
Less suitable for a baby stroller *
Once the bus drops you at the mill building with the splendid waterfall just behind it, you can choose the way to view it from above:
Option 1: climb a staircase of 764 steps. If you face the mill, turn left to Rue Labrecque and follow the signs. My 6 years old completed the climb without any help. I chose the easy way, option 2: a cable car ride with my younger kid.
In order to reach the cable car, enter the main entrance – right side of the building, continue through the ‘Room of Man’ and the Interactive room to reach the line for the cable car (number 18 on the map). The small cable car (only about 6 people can fit in) will take you to The Maligne Falls (49 meters high). Going up, Lac-Saint-Jean will be in view. Once you leave the cable car, walk on a wooden deck for 285 meters (*less suitable for baby strollers) until you reach the lookout to the waterfalls. Visitors who decided to climb up will reach the same point of the cable car.
Once you go down, on the right of the cable car queue, there are 64 steps to reach a glass platform belvedere for another closer viewpoint.
The interactive show inside the mill building was totally worth it (I believe it is possible to experience it only in French). Frequent shows are available during the day.
The Room of Men Once you exit the building, walk on the wooden walkway to reach the mini hydroelectric power plant with more lookouts of the waterfall. This special wooden shape again it totally worth seeing. *Less suitable for a baby stroller.
There is a small playground facing the mill building.
You can choose the way to walk back towards the main entrance, a detour through rue Labrecque & Avenue Dubuc where some of the houses were not maintained and therefore destroyed, some still standing. We choose to head towards the general store, stopping first at the museum house (number 7 on the map).
The general store is selling souvenirs and also serving coffee and snacks. There is another kids’ playground nearby the store. The convent-school offers explanations about the kids who lived in the village and their strong religious education. We truly enjoyed the place, we learned a lot about the region and it was very inspiring. Go-see-it!