Île d'Orléans is located in the Saint Lawrence River about 20 km to the east of Quebec City's downtown, Quebec, Canada. It is 34 km long and 8 km wide. It was originally called Minigo by the Huron. The French explorer Jacques Cartier first set foot on the island in 1535 near what is now the village of Saint-François. He called it Île de Bacchus because of the abundance of wild grapes growing on the island. The name was later changed to Île d'Orléans in honour of the King of France. The island was one of the first parts of the province to be settled by the French, and a large percentage of French Canadians can trace their ancestry to the island.
The Île d'Orléans is 75 km in circumference. It was granted the status of National Historic District in 1970. Since 1940 access to the island has been by the Pont de l'Île bridge. The crossing connects to the Chemin Royal (Royal Road) which encircles the island. At the village of Sainte-Pétronille toward the western end of the island there is a viewpoint from which one can see the impressive Chute Montmorency (Montmorency Falls) as well as a panorama of the St. Lawrence River and Quebec City. The Manoir Mauvide-Genest was constructed in 1734 for Jean Mauvide, a surgeon for the King of France. The manoir was occupied by General Wolfe when the island was occupied by the British forces in 1759 shortly before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
Today the island is a mix of suburban communities and farms, and is a popular destination for daytrippers and bicyclists. The island is still a very rural place famous locally for its produce, especially its strawberries, apples, potatoes and wineries. There are also sugar maple stands producing maple syrup and other products. There is even a buffalo farm.
The island comprises the towns of Sainte-Famille, Saint-François-de-l'Île-d'Orléans, Saint-Jean-de-l'Île-d'Orléans, Saint-Laurent-de-l'Île-d'Orléans, Sainte-Pétronille, and Saint-Pierre-de-l'Île-d'Orléans
It may be reached from the mainland by ferry from St. Michel and Québec city or by bridge from Québec City.