Parc national du Bic, photo credit Sépaq
Distance : 1422 km (884 mi.)
Begin your Gaspésie tour from Québec City then head for the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, which boasts the most remarkable sunsets on the planet. From La Pocatière, the scenic Route 132 winds along the St. Lawrence River through the gentle landscapes of Bas-Saint-Laurent, and the pretty villages that English and French gentry turned into resorts in the early 1900s, to the rugged but breathtaking scenery of the Gaspé Peninsula and the famous Percé Rock.
A. Québec City. Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, this fortified city is all about enchantment. Old-stone houses, museums, quaint ships, street musicians and over 250 restaurants.
B. Discover Kamouraska, where you’ll see the old-world charm of narrow streets lined with sturdy 18th-century houses and fishing nets strung along the shore. You won’t want to leave before trying the village specialties of smoked eel, marinated fish and fresh seafood prepared on site.
Notre-Dame-du-Portage, whose opulent period verandas overlook the Les Pèlerins Archipelago, is a popular holiday resort. It is famous today for its inns and health spa.
C. Rivière-du-Loup. By the end of the 17th century, this location was a major fur trading post. To appreciate its charms, wander the streets of Old Rivière-du-Loup, where local architectural traditions live on. Visit the park located at the Pointe, which offers access to the river via walking paths and a bike path. Or hop on a whale-watching cruise.
D. Regional Flora and Fauna. You definitely must stop at Parc national du Bic. Observe seabirds, rare plants and seals sunning themselves on the rocks. Explore the park by foot, on a bike, or with a kayak to discover breathtaking views. Visit the exhibition, participate in discovery activities and spend a night in one of their yurts!
Rimouski, photo credit Michel Julien
E. Rimouski. Here the St. Lawrence River is no longer a river; it has become the sea. Visit the Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père (maritime historic site). You will learn about Canada’s worst maritime disaster, the sinking of the Empress of Ireland luxury liner in 1914, just off Pointe-au Père. Climb the 128 stairs of the lighthouse for a fantastic view.
Stop in at Grand-Métis to admire the 3,000 native and exotic plants of the internationally renowned Reford Gardens. Every summer, from June to October, you can enjoy the International Garden Festival.
F. Your next stop is Matane, which means “beaver breeding ground” in the language of the Mi’kmaq. Known for its shrimp factory, Matane also offers a lookout from which to watch the Atlantic salmon battle their way upstream.
Pursue your journey to the small village of Cap-Chat, home to Canada’s largest windmill park, with 133 windmills.
Rivière-du-Loup, photo credit Marc Loiselle
G. Sainte-Anne-des-Monts is the gateway to Gaspésie National Park and its breathtaking views. Stop in at Exploramer (interpretation centre) to see unusual marine phenomena, touch live organisms and sail off to discover the sea.