Monday 13 October 2014


What a lovely day today! To begin with, it was a calm, brilliantly sunny morning, and we woke to cliffs and hills of gold and green both sides as we sailed up the Saguenay River. There was some mild excitement when we reached a 10m statue of Notre Dame de Saguenay on a 100m cliff above the water, erected in gratitude for someone’s miraculous survival in the river; but the real thrill was to come in the town of Saguenay at the head of the fjord.
It was a slow approach with plenty of time for lazing in the sun on a lounger by the pool under a pretty unnecessary rug; and the docking was such a masterly and low-key affair that even hanging over the bridge watching the captain ease the Silver Whisper alongside the pier was almost dull, once we’d got over how miniscule his joystick was. Ahem.

So it was just as well that, despite its being Thanksgiving today, the town was there to watch and welcome our arrival (even though we’d been pipped into the harbour by Celebrity’s Summit) and the pier was busy with unicyclists, jugglers and costumed stilt artists. Saguenay is, unsurprisingly, famous for its welcome.

More than that though, and despite its being a particularly pretty town of cute little mansard-roofed houses, neat gardens and sandy beach, it’s famous for the show it puts on telling the history of the town and of Quebec province. It’s called ‘La Fabuleuse’, it runs for 90 minutes, stars upwards of 100 of the townspeople on stage in 1000 roles from little children to old people, and is quite the most extraordinary stage performance I’ve ever seen.
Here are some of its elements, on the indoor stage of what must surely be a purpose-built arena: Indians, French aristocrats, colonists, cantering horses, a pig, a flock of geese, a cow and a goat, cannon fire, bombs, abseiling soldiers, two cars and a jeep, a tank, a boat, flames and a man on fire, fighting, dancing, tumbling and singing. Oh, and a flood. I’ve never seen anything like it. Hugely entertaining and impressive, particularly since it’s performed by volunteers, and has been going for 27 years.

All this, plus scenery and poutine! Completely worth the day’s detour along the river.

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