Road Tripping Adventures in Maritime Quebec
Updated: Nov 7, 2019
Why travel abroad during the summer when there are so many places to see locally? Initially planning a trip to Newfoundland, I looked for more affordable options with similar experiences and I found Gaspesie! The more research I did the more impressed I became with all the amazing things to do and see! I wanted a trip with exploration of incredibly different landscapes, a kayaking with whales experience and beautiful scenic drives. This trip delivered!
Day 1 Quebec City to Tadoussac
Driving 2.5hrs north of Quebec City took us to the Seguenay River and Fjords. We took the 45min car ferry across to cute Tadoussac tourist village where many whale tours depart from and restaurants and shops accommodate. We visited the Interpretation and Observation of Whales Centre* where we learned about the whales of the St Lawrence through a small but detailed and well constructed interactive display. We finished up the day with an introduction to the beautiful views of the area and the excellent food and micro-brews common in Quebec at Microbrasserie Tadoussac. Having booked late and looking for more affordable options we stayed a winding 25min drive away in Escoumins.
Day 2 Baie St Marguerite and Kayaking tour
Hoping to see Beluga whales in their calving grounds, we set off to Baie St Marguerite about 20min from Tadoussac and hiked out 3km to Pointe de Beluga. The hike was very scenic and views of the fjord spectacular at the Pointe. Unfortunately the Begulas weren’t home that day so we headed back to Tadoussac for a quick bite and then 20min up to Bergeronnes for our kayaking tour with Mer et Monde*.
After a lengthy but well-organized training and preparation session including a fitting of at least 5 pieces of clothing to keep us warm and safe, we headed out in small groups of 3-4 tandem kayaks with a guide. Once away from shore, we spotted three whales in the distance within the first 10min of paddling out! Unfortunately after hearing rumbling in the distance we were forced to head back to shore. Having had several more hours of daylight left as the disappointment set in further, we drove to the Cap de Desir Observation Centre* to try our luck there. A pretty but short hike to the great amenities located on a beautiful rocky outlook led us to a great spot where we spotted many whales in the distance and even a couple who swam close by. As the sun went down we headed back stopping for a fantastic supper on the porch of Le Krill Cuisine Terre et Mer* in Escoumins.
Day 3 Whale-watching Cruise and Ferry Crossing
Fulfilling more of our expectations of whale-sightings and seeing the magnificent fjord, we hopped on an 8am AML Whale Watching and Fjord Cruise* from Tadoussac which took us around the bay, further into the Fjord and to the middle of the river to try our luck with the giants. The boat was large, comfortable and well-led by a great guide filling us in the whole way with details about Belugas, seals, the marine habitat, the Fjord and the larger whales. While touring closer to the junction of the two rivers into the Fjord, we saw many belugas swimming about in the distance and some relatively close. Even a little grey baby and white mama swimming in perfect unison!
We got a chance to view some of the beautiful cliffs of the Fjord and peer further into the distance where layers of staggered cliffs lined the river. Heading out to the middle of the river in search of the giants, the river slowly turned to mist as we sailed towards tiny fluffy white clouds in the far horizon passing lines of blue and a solitary lighthouse. Although forever memorable and worthwhile, the serine, mystical experience of floating patiently in a cloud listening to echoes of boat motors, anticipation, distant blows of whales and the odd curious seal swimming by resulted in no actual whale sightings.
Note: I was extremely disappointed missing out on a hike into the Seguenay Fjord National Park which would have been about a 2hr drive from Tadoussac. If I were to do it again, I would book a hotel on the Fjord for the first night and then drive the Fjord route to the other side of the river and spend the second night near Tadoussac.
Completely relaxed and satisfied, we drove out to wait for our 90min Saint Simeon ferry crossing to take us across to Gaspesie peninsula. Having not booked a ferry in advance, we were forced to backtrack and take the first-come-first-served ferry from Saint Simeon which after having been 2hrs early for, we were very lucky to make it on. A 1hr drive after our crossing just past the beautiful rocky Le Bic National Park, we arrived at the cutest little BnB called Auberge Mange Grenouille*.
Day 4 Sainte Anne des Monts
After a lovely crepe breakfast in an elaborately decorated, whimsical French Country garden room, we toured the adorable Chateau which included a cute gift shop, outdoor patio, fountains and outdoor hot tub. We hit the road after discovering there wasn’t much to the town to see and started our coastal drive to Sainte Anne des Monts. Upon arriving, we stopped off for Lobster Rolls at Delices De La Mer, a specialty food store selling fresh and preserved seafood, the region’s specialties. We wandered the small town visiting an aquatic discovery centre, chocolate shop and the odd small bookstore and vintage shop along the way. Although very cute, the town was limited in options to see and do, so we decided to strap on our hikers and drive 30min to the highly recommended hiking trails of the National Park de Gaspesie. Having only 2hrs, we chose a 5km uphill hike to a viewpoint of a horizon of countless green tree tips. The visitors centre gave us all the information we needed for a wide range of hiking options.
Note: online reviews indicated that there was little information provided online but once you get to the visitors centre the bilingual staff are fantastic at providing you all the information you need to know.
Heading back into town, we found a lovely microbrewery called Microbrasserie Le Malbord*. We tried some excellent items including a strawberry wine, well-balanced blonde, smoked salmon pizza and a tuna, barley poke bowl.
Day 5 Gaspesie National Park
Attempting to climb the highest peak of Gaspesie National Park*, we woke up bright and early to hit the trails in hopes to see the famous Gaspesie Caribou found near the peak of Mont Jacques-Cartier. After driving 30min to the Visitor Centre we discovered we had another 45min drive on a gravel road to the campsite where the short bus ride to the trailhead began. Once we finally hit the trail, the beautiful rocky uphill climb gave us the challenge we were looking for in the peace of the remote park. The later half took us to a lonely lake in the middle of the mountain and further up to bare tundra absent from the Caribou but instead graced by a sweeping cool cloud of white. The views from the top uncovered many more lonely lakes and accompanying peaks all around.
Descending this 8.7km rocky hike was a tad lengthy but we made it down, into the bus and back on the road with a couple hours of daylight left. Our 2hr coastal drive to Forillon National Park was the picturesque journey we were craving for despite our luck with the pouring rain. Navigating around rocky cliffs with the water opening up around each turn, we were in suspense while being entertained by gorgeous rock formations and the dramatic display of trees.
Stopping off in a small town for dinner, we finally got a chance to try the local delicacies. More locally crafted beer and fish! Smoked, cured, picked, dried, each interesting and delicious!
Day 6 Forillon National Park
We awoke the next day amongst the sounds of waves crashing onto the shore 50m away from our Tipi! When in Rome!
That day we had booked another kayaking tour in hopes to see more whales. The peaceful tour took us along the bay amongst many seals but unfortunately not far enough out to the giants. After a fantastic lunch on the patio of waterfront restaurant Cafe de L'anse*, we cruised around the Forillon peninsula, grabbed a simple green dinner at a closeby grocery store and headed back for a chill afternoon on the beach followed by our first attempt at a campfire!
Day 7 Forillon National Park
Having not been completely satisfied with my time with the whales, we booked a zodiac tour with Croisieres Baie de Gaspe* for our last chance! The wild ride took us airborne at every angle getting acquainted with every wave we passed! We enjoyed the spectacular views of the Forillon cliffs from the water as we bounced away towards the tumultuous open water where the giants were awaiting. We were lucky to witness 4-5 Humpback whale sightings before speeding back through constant crashing waves on an even rockier trip. (Note: Do NOT do if you get motion sickness!)
Fully soaked, we returned our full-length yellow raincoats and headed to the car to change before our stunning hike up to Cap-Gaspe* the ‘Land’s end’. This popular and tame hike is a must-do with gorgeous views throughout of the cliffs and water. It took about 2.5hrs and was a lovely way to end the day and part with both the sun and beautiful Forillon Peninsula.
Day 8 Gaspe
Our morning spent in tiny quaint Gaspe town was just enough to experience the history and feel of this town at the junction of visiting waterways to the very beginning of Canada. The ‘downtown’ was like many small towns, one small bustling street with the town’s eclectic cafe Cafe des Artistes*, restaurant, bookstore and epicerie shop. We then took off for our 3hr scenic drive back stopping off at the home studio of the local famous pottery artist Nathalie Dumouchel* who’s adorable workshop and whimsical personality charmed us.
Arriving for the evening in the town of St Luce, we checked into an adorable waterfront BnB Auberge Du Grande Fleuve*. The beautiful open inn featured homey spaces to lounge decorated with earthy items and stocked with interesting books. Lucking out, we landed a table late at night at the popular seafood restaurant Le Matelot* not to be missed for a classic seafood feast! Make sure you reserve ahead of time!
Day 9 Return to Quebec City
Breakfast in the cosy waterfront breakfast room of Auberge Du Grande Fleuve was fantastic! Excellent homemade jams with different types of breads, cheese, cured meat and fruit accompanied a freshly prepared plate of savoury breakfast crepes. We had another 3hrs of driving back to Quebec City where we spent our last few hours strolling from the grand Terrasse Dufferin surrounding the iconic Fairmont Chateau Frontenac to the charming shops and restaurants in the Quartier Petit Champlain.
All-in-all this trip was incredible! Easy on the wallet too. Just the perfect amount of action, relaxation, activity, nature, excellent food, unforgettable experiences and quality time with the person you like to travel with! Feed your soul and get in tune with the world around you! Love life! And Adventure!