top of page
  • Writer's pictureKate Woodman

“Road trip” avec Michael: la "côte-nord" en Minnesota (visiting the north shore with Michael)

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

Depuis 2015, mon plus jeune fils Michael vit à St. Paul, Minnesota et chaque fois que je lui a visité c’est l’hiver. Et St. Paul en hiver est très froid avec beaucoup de la glace et la neige. Récemment, Michael m’a dit que je doit lui visiter en été quand il fait beau. Donc, il y a deux semaines je lui ai rendu visite. Il a pris cinq jours des vacances et on a fait un « road trip » au littoral nord sur le Lac Supérieur. La « côte-nord » est où tous en Minnesota fait les vacances et je n’y suis jamais allée.

Since 2015, my younger son Michael has been living in St. Paul Minnesota. Every time I’ve visited him it’s been winter. And winter in St. Paul is VERY cold with copious amounts of snow and ice. In a recent conversation with Mike, he suggested that I visit him in the summer when the weather is nice. So, two weeks ago, I went to see him, and though it was the middle of September, it felt like summer. He took five days off from his job as a line chef (more about that later) and we made a road trip to the “north shore” of Lake Superior. The north shore is where most Minnesotans vacation. I’ve never been and decided it was high time I did.

North shore of Lake Superior

On a loué une maison dans Grand Marais, une petite village sur la côte qui est à quatre heures de route de St. Paul. On conduit à Deluth et après Deluth on conduit sur route 61, une rue à côté du lac, à Grand Marais, environ deux heures. Le littoral est très beau, avec beaucoup de conifères, des pierres et les rivières avec cascades spectaculaires. On a observé que les activités préférées sont la pêche, la randonner, la chasse et le canotage.

We rented a lovely house in Grand Marais (ironic since the neighborhood I live in in Paris is the Marais!). Though just a small town right on the lake, Grand Marais is considered a major north shore destination. It’s about a 4-hour drive from St. Paul. We drove to Deluth, stopped for lunch at Northern Waters Smokehaus, where all agree the sandwiches are superb and indeed they were. Then a stop at Deluth Pack Company, an enterprise started by a French-Canadian over 130 years ago and best known for it’s patented “pack.” A specialized type of backpack, Duluth packs are made of heavy canvas and leather, and are nearly square in order to fit easily in the bottom of a canoe. The typical Duluth pack consists of a single large envelope that is closed by leather straps and roller buckles rather than a zipper. I bought one for hiking in Brittany.

Traveling north of Deluth, one takes route 61 which runs along the coast of the lake for 150 miles terminating at the Canadian border. The first white explorers to the north shore were French and indeed the name Lake Superior is from the French “lac supérieur” meaning “upper lake.” Although the nomenclature in the area may be French, there is nothing French about the north shore today! Conifers predominate along it’s rugged, rocky shoreline, the Ford pick-up truck is the vehicle of choice, camping the preferred accommodation, and plaid flannel shirts the ultimate fashion statement. Hiking, fishing, canoeing and hunting are the preferred activities of those who live and visit there.


My Deluth pack

Fly-fishing in the Cascade River

Hikers on the coast of Grand Marais

Le long de la côte il y a sept parcs nationaux et on a visité trois d’entre eux. Chaque a un rivière avec plusieurs cascades qui se jette dans le lac Supérieur. J’avais aucun idée que le terrain de cette région est si sauvage et qu’il y a des nombreuses cascades.

Along the north shore, there are seven national parks with camping facilities and miles of hiking trails. We visited three of them, each featuring a river with dramatic waterfalls that emptied into the lake. I had no idea that the terrain was so wildly beautiful or that there were so many waterfalls. When there I felt a long way from Paris and France…the natural beauty seemed particularly and appropriately American.

Gooseberry Falls

Mennonite family visiting Gooseberry Falls

Interesting root formation by falls

Michael by Gooseberry River

Kate by Gooseberry River

Cascade River Falls

Devil's Kettle where the Brule River splits: half continues down to the lake and the other half (see arrow on left) disappears into a hole to where no one knows.....

La ville de Grand Marais a un phare très connu, des galeries d'art, des magasins, plusieurs restaurants, un parc de caravanes au bord du lac, et une école pour les métiers traditionnels. Et comme tout le long de la côte nord, beaucoup de brouillard.

The town of Grand Marais has a well-known lighthouse, art galleries, shops (including a Ben Franklin "dime" store), several restaurants, a trailer park right on the lake and a unique "school" for traditional crafts, North House Folk School. And of course, every day we watched the fog roll in and out from the lake. Adds an element of intrigue to an otherwise pretty straightforward place....

Breakwater along which we walked to the lighthouse

Lighthouse from below

Lighthouse and Coastguard station (red roof building in middle) seen from across the harbor and in the fog

Harbor at sunset

Didn't win the canoe!

Lighthouse impression.....known as Artist's Point because of its popularity with artists

Popular deli, restaurant and market

Blacksmith at North House Folk School

Log house with grass roof @ folk school

Hand-built schooner Hjørdis, floating classroom of the folk school and flagship of Grand Marais Harbor

Replica of historic north shore fish house

Today's fish house where fresh catch was being cleaned just before I took this shot

Fire pit @ folk school

Stairway from lakeside trailer park to shore

View of Grand Marais through the fog

A "must-see/do" when visiting the north shore is a stop at Betty's Pies. Serving hungry fishermen, locals and tourists since 1956, Betty's as the name indicates, is especially known for her pies. We stopped for lunch on our way back to St. Paul and even in the off-season had to wait a bit for a table. It's reputation is well-deserved as our lunch was excellent, including the huge piece of banana chocolate cream pie that Michael ordered and I sampled!

It's right on the highway just outside Two Harbors

But the best meal of the trip was to come! For the past year Michael has been working as a line chef at Hyacinth, a lovely Italian restaurant on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. He's now training to be sous-chef....yea Michael! My last night in Minnesota, we were treated to a feast there. My friend and former Greenwich Choral Society colleague, Nancy Wasserman, joined us for a meal none of us will soon forget!

My favorite....fried sweet corn dripping in chili oil

Chicken liver crostini with "blistered grapes" and crumbled cookie

Endive caesar salad and linguine with swordfish and tomato-almond pesto trapanese

Bone-in pork chop cooked to perfection!


Thank you Michael!!!

#StPaul #MN #HyacinthRestaurant #NorthShore #GrandMarais

43 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page