The Gaspésie & Charlevoix Best for: Colonial and maritime history, coastline, local culture, birdwatching and food
ROUTE: Québec City • Rivière-du-loup • Rimouski • Bonaventure • Percé • Gaspé • Forestville • Saint Simeon • Baie-saint-paul
WHY GO? This figure-eight drive along the picturesque Route 132 returns via the Rimouski– Forestville ferry (May–sep). Most of the journey is within sight of the Saint Lawrence River and its gulf, with the Pointe-au-père Maritime Historic Site, near Rimouski, providing context and a graphic portrayal of ‘Canada’s Titanic’ – the Empress of Ireland – lost in 1914.
Gardeners should not miss Reford Gardens, near Grand-métis. It was begun in 1926 and now has over 3,000 species among its saintly grounds.
Along the coast, Scottish and French place names were given to the string of charming fishing villages beside Chaleur Bay. Then, at the peninsula’s largest fishing port, Gaspé, on the easternmost tip, most visitors take to the water to see the holed Percé Rock and the bird sanctuary on Bonaventure Island.
Crossing to the north shore of the Saint Lawrence, Tadoussac offers plenty of whalewatching trips. And west of Saint-siméon, foodies should leave the coastal road and take the Flavor Trail of Charlevoix, visiting its artisanal food producers and eateries. Before heading back to Québec City, make a final stop at the artistic centre of L’isle-auxCoudres, near Baie-saint-paul, home to Canada’s only fully functioning
water- and windmill.
Pointe break Climb the lighthouse at Pointe-au-père for fine views of St Lawrence river; ( top) the cliffs of Bonaventure Island are a vital bird sanctuary