Québec – Around the Gaspé Peninsula
Our journey through the province of Québec and thus through the French part of Canada begins at the international airport of Montréal. A first side trip leads us to Mont-Tremblant, the most famous ski resort in eastern Canada. The Village, a colorful, car-free and Disneyland-like settlement, even has a small cable car to overcome the height difference in town.
We continue through the Laurentian mountains to Shawinigan, the central town in the Mauricie region. Next destination is Trois-Rivières, the oldest industrial city in Canada. Besides the approximately 760 m2 of frescoes depicting the city’s history, a visit to Boréalis, a modern museum about the history of the city’s paper industry, can be recommended. The first highlight of the trip is Québec City, the capital of the province. We take a whole day to explore the old town around the impressive Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.
We follow the St. Lawrence River along the northern bank, past the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency and the huge pilgrimage church of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. We add a detour to the bird paradise Cap Tourmente and the small artists’ village Baie-Saint-Paul, cross the Saguenay Fjord and finally reach Tadoussac, the center of whale watching. In Les Escoumins we take the car ferry to Trois-Pistoles on the south bank and, after a stopover in Rimouski, the only larger city on this side of the river, we reach Mont-Joli, gateway to the Gaspésie.
The route around the Gaspé Peninsula, in total about 900 kilometers, follows the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River. As the distance between the opposite shores is almost 100 kilometers the locals refer to the river just as “The Sea”. Don’t miss to check out the Centre d’Art by artist Marcel Gagnon in Sainte-Flavie; its wooden figures stick out of the water at low tide. After Matane, a local supply center, a series of nice lighthouses will follow: La Martre, Cap Madeleine, Pointe à la Renommée and finally Cap-des-Rosiers in the middle of Parc National Forillon, another highlight of this trip.
The two towns that follow are the main tourist attractions of the region. Gaspé, which gave the peninsula its name, features the only wooden cathedral in North America and – most importantly – the “Birthplace of Canada”. In a beautifully designed park, a stone cross and a few historic houses commemorate the French explorer Jacques Cartier, but also the Mi’kmaqs who used to live here.
Just an hour’s drive later, Percé turns out to be the first real touristic destination on this journey. This is mainly due to the huge Percé Rock and, of course, to Île-Bonaventure, where around 60.000 gannets breede among many other bird species. The rock can be surrounded by excursion boat; the island, designated as a national park, has three nice hiking trails.
The second half of the route runs for quite a while along the densely populated Gulf of St. Lawrence. The following towns are called L’Anse-à-Beaufils (with a small historic general store), Chandler, Bonaventure (with a red and white lighthouse) and New Richmond, a “Gallic village” where people speak English, which is completely untypical for the region. Crossing the Van Horne Bridge in Pointe-à-la-Croix leads to Campbellton already located in the province of New Brunswick.
We turn inland again. In Matapédia, the modern Deux-Rivières Lookout offers a great view of the confluence of the Matapédia and Restigouche Rivers. Via Routhierville with its red, covered wooden bridge and the centrally located small town of Amqui, we finally get back to the St. Lawrence River again in Mont-Joli.
Once again we pass Québec City on Autoroute 20 and are soon back in Montréal, Canada’s second largest city. We climb Mont Royal and enjoy the fantastic view of the large city; then we follow the footsteps of the late singer Leonard Cohen, whose home was Montréal for a long time. Our tour of Québec and the Gaspésie ends with a stroll through the busy streets of this interesting city.
|01||Montréal Airport (YUL)||Mont-Tremblant||130 km|
|03||Shawinigan||Québec City||290 km|
|04||Québec City||Québec City||000 km|
|05||Québec City||Malbaie||150 km|
|13||Amqui||St. Apollinaire||430 km|
|14||St. Apollinaire||Montréal||230 km|
|15||Montréal||Montréal Airport (YUL)||000 km|