My 10 Favorite Quebec Moments

I, dear reader, am a lover of lists. And a friend of Québec. And that is where today’s posts comes in. Whether you’re thinking of moving to, visiting, or simply learning a bit more about the Belle Province, I hope this post helps you see a bit about what makes this place worth doing so.

Since leaving, I still get a bit nostalgic for the pastries drizzled in maple syrup, the [in my opinion] endearing accent,  and ubiquitous cup of perfect coffee. I didn’t do everything I’d have liked while there, but even still, it was hard to narrow my list down to “my ten favorites.” There were, of course, countless dinners and meet-ups with friends that made our time in Québec great, but if we could move those people with us, those same nights would be great anywhere. But I wanted this to be a list of things that are specific to Québec and our time in Montreal. Without further ado…my favorite Québec moments.

10. Sunday Stroll/Jog in Parc du Mont-Royal

Sunday strolls in Montreal’s most well-known park are best between May and October, when temperatures aren’t frigid. It seems like everyone’s joining the party, picnic, drum circle, or joust on Sundays. I can’t tell which specific Sunday I enjoyed the most, just that it was a favorite activity while we lived there. And a must if you spend any extended period of time in the city.

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

9. A Girls’ Night

I know, I know, I told you friends’ nights weren’t going to make the list. But this is different. I got invited to a girls’ night with several Québecoises, while my knowledge of French was just budding. I learned so many words in one single night that my brain was ready to explode. Even more than this, I learned so much more about Québecois culture. More precisely, this evening cemented how much I didn’t know and how what I did was only scratching the surface.

vinaquarelle

8. Visiting a Cabane à Sucre

Visiting a sugar shack is a must on anyone’s Québec list, even though it can be really bad, extremely commercial, and a real gimmick. We were patient and waited a year before finally acting upon the suggestion of friends. We found ourselves (with a couple friends) at an organic sugar shack. The food really was great, the farm tour worth sticking around for, and the host was full of personality. Still, the best part was the car ride home when we were finally able to let out all of our laughs about the hipsters who morphed our experience into Cabane à Sucre a la Portlandia.

red roofed farm building

7. Winter Retreat

I like seasons. All of them at some point. But by the time March rolls around, I’ve generally had it with snow and slush. I was starting to get seriously antsy in March, and this winter retreat was exactly what I needed. Snowshoeing, woods, an iced-over lake, good food, and a bottle of scotch. 

winter.retreat.quebec

6. Whale Watching in Tadoussac

Whale watching tours can be expensive. They can also turn into crazy puke fests where everyone on board is saying goodbye to their lobster lunches (Oh, beautiful Boston). So when we learned that you can spot whales along the beach and the rocks in Tadoussac, we were in. We picnicked on the rocks and passed the binoculars back and forth for a few lovely hours before even thinking to look at our watches.

tadoussac rocks

5. Crêpes de Bretagne with a Frenchie

Quebec is not a little France; Montreal not a Paris wannabe. I get that. Still, there are a lot of French immigrants in the metropolitan area. Thus, crêpes, breads, and pastries abound. It’d be a shame not to take advantage of it. While the husband was out of town for our anniversary one May, my adorable conversation-partner-turned-friend took me out to drink cider from bowls and eat crêpes while sitting on the patio. With French food, a French friend, a French waiter, and an evening filled with my broken French, it almost felt like an evening in—you guessed it—France.

dessert crepe sainte felicite qc

4. Hanging out with Mama Moose and Spotting Caribou in Parc National de la Gaspésie

I saw caribou in a natural habitat. Oh, j’aime ça. I was thrilled. Despite that, the next day, I found myself under a rain shelter, unable to cook over the campfire that could not be started. As I dipped my chunk of stale bread turned soggy into tomato sauce, I couldn’t help but think how great our kitchen or bed (okay, the floor at that point) sounded. I was ready for our road trip to be over. Then Mama Moose and her baby appeared from the forest and pranced over to us. We literally could have reached out to touch them at one point. (Mind you, we didn’t. We aren’t stupid. At least not usually. I digress. This time, we backed away toward the other side of the rain shelter). Watching mother and baby tear their supper from the nearby trees was quite the experience. I guess that one meal of stale, soggy bread was worth hanging around.

parc national de la gaspesie

3. Percé Day Trip Bonaventure Island Boat Ride and Hike

This was just one of those days where I felt like life was spoiling me. I guess we call that blessed. 🙂 The birds, seals, and scenery of Bonaventure Island and Percé’s small town atmosphere made for a low-key, yet exceptional day.

bonaventure island quebec

2.Camping in Charlevoix (Meeting the Neighbors)

Sure, our hiking and sightseeing in the Charlevoix region were great. But the highlight came one quiet, camping evening. We offered a some of our skilletful of blackberry grunt to our neighbors, two brothers, both of whom are Harley Davidson-riding plumbers. They accepted, but only on the condition that we accept their offer of whiskey. I managed to swallow a gulp down and then spent the night translating for them and Jordan between my bouts of hearty laughter. There in the woods, over Crown Royal and Martha Stewart’s recipe, we became friends. A motley crew that’d have never existed if I hadn’t made that effort to really learn French.

camping charlevoix

1. Coffee Date on the Plateau

There were of course many coffee dates (with friends and the husband alike) on the Plateau, and like, #1, maybe it’s not a particular day that made the experience, but having an electronics-free conversation over a caffeinated beverage of my choosing became my favorite thing to do. The Plateau’s architecture made for a lovely backdrop. And almost anywhere you’re walking on the Plateau, you can find a really quality cup of joe nearby.  These experiences pretty much defined my Montreal experience.

montreal plateau therestoflhistoire.com

If you’ve visited or lived in Quebec, what were your favorite experiences? What else should have been on my list?

 

Sunsets, Pogos, and Pastries | Overnight in Kamouraska

This stop was part of our Gaspésie Road Trip. You can read the full travel itinerary here.

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When we started telling our friends that we were going to take a Gaspésie trip, they all told us to stop in Kamouraska. Kamouraska is tiny, with only 589 residents to call it home, but it has a lot going for it. They have a great location in the Lower Saint Lawrence region, two microbreweries, one of the best bakeries I’ve ever eaten at, a great cafe, and beautiful campground. It also comes with a bit of history. The Canadian national anthem, first written in French, was written by a man from the town. Someday we’ll learn those words…

We stayed at the SEBKA campground there. We hadn’t made a reservation, but had not probably getting a small tent site with a sunset view. They also lead many outdoor activities, but since we were winding down our trip and came in late, we decided just to focus on the sunset and the find some snack food and drink.

The view from our tent site.

kamouraska sebka

kamouraska sunset

kamouraska sunset

kamouraska sunset

kamouraska sunset

We stayed for a while just looking, but decided to use a little bit of the light to guide our path to La Tête d’Allumette (the match head) Microbrewery. From the campground, you can walk; a local farm allows campers to cross its land so that you don’t even have to walk to the street. I recommend taking a headlamp for the return walk if you go later. We loved the microbrewery. The location was great so you could watch the rest of the sunset, the snacks offered were all locally sourced, the beer was good, and our server was super nice and helpful. The place itself was beautiful, too. I very much like the rustic look.

tete d'allumette microbrewery

tete d'allumette microbrewery

tete d'allumette

Sorry for the blurry pic there. I was trying to get a photo of the view for you.

As for the beers we sampled, we tried their own brews: a blonde (I believe) called Tête Carrée (squarehead) and a red called Le Premier Combat (the first fight). I really liked the red, in particular. We also tried a good beer from Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine called Corp Mort. The snacks were delightful. We had cheese curds from the local cheese producer, smoked mackerel from La Poissonnerie Lauzier, and the best pogo ever. What’s a pogo, you ask? That’s the Canadian name for a corn dog. But this wasn’t just any corn dog. The meat inside was a local venison sausage and it came with a beer batter. I’m not really one for corn dogs, but it was pretty tasty.

tete d'allumette microbreww and snacks

The next morning we headed to Neimand’s bakery. Our German friends have vouched for its authenticity, but even if it wasn’t authentic, we wouldn’t have minded. We stocked up on pastries and bought other carbs for the road from the bakery, and then wandered over to the Côté Est cafe  (just the next building over) for lattes. Super cute place and staff seemed to be in delightful moods both times we stopped.

kamouraska bakery

One on left: apple and cinnamon. One on right: pear and dark chocolate.

kamouraska bakery

kamouraska bakery

Filled with rhubarb and almond paste. This was the single best thing I ate on our trip.

kamouraska bakery

kamouraska bakery

kamouraska cafe

kamouraska cafe

kamouraska cafe

kamouraska cafe

We’re not really sure how Kamouraska lucked out by having so many great places tucked into this small town, but I’m definitely a bit jealous of the residents.We both decided that we couldn’t live in Kamouraska because we’d eat at that bakery every morning if we did. But this would make it a perfect stop for about a week or so. Other than the campground, there are several inns and B&Bs nearby.

A wonderful stop.

 

 

Caribou, Moose, and Mosquitoes | 2 days in Parc National de la Gaspésie

This stop was part of our Gaspésie Road Trip. Click here to view the full itinerary.

mont jacques cartier gaspesie

After a day and a half in Park Forillon and Percé, it was time to continue on to Parc National de la Gaspesie. It’s known for its caribou herd (the only one south of the Saint Lawrence), moose, and mountain views. This park is operated by SEPAQ, the Québec park system and split into two sections: the Mont Albert Section and the Jacques-Cartier section. There’s a huge difference between these two sections, that I wasn’t really aware of at the time we booked and planned.

In the Jacques Cartier section of the park, there’s a small visitors and interpretation center with an exhibit on the park’s caribou herd. There is one main hiking trail (about 8.5 kilometers long) in this section: Mont Jacques-Cartier. Logically named section, then, huh? This trail offers the highest number of caribou sightings. It can only be hiked during certain times of the year (starting June 24 this year) and between 10am and 4pm. Besides this, your hiking options are a bit limited. The campground opens the day before the trail. It has nice facilities, free showers, a very friendly employee who was very helpful to us, but no potable water. You can buy water at the store, however. We stayed here the first night and then moved to the Mont Albert section at the recommendation of the park employee. If you have two nights in the park, one night at this campground is generally sufficient.

On the other hand, the Mont Albert section of the park has a lot going on. There are several more trails, notably Mont Ernest Laforce, Mont Albert (which we skipped), and Lac aux Américains. There are more campsites, a huge visitor center and store, free wi-fi, potable water everywhere, nice showers, rain shelters, a restaurant, and even a fancy inn. But…a lot more people.

Our first day, we hung around the Jacques-Cartier campground, which was hosting only one other group of campers, way on the other side. We took our time, cooking and reading. On the menu: campfire ratatouille and rhubarb grunt for dessert.

parc national de la gaspesie campsite

parc national de la gaspesie campsite

parc national de la gaspesie campsite

Mont Jacques-Cartier Hike

The next morning we caught the shuttle from the visitors  center (I believe it was 7.50 per person). Though the night before the campground had been empty, there were plenty of hikers to join us.

We hiked on the very first day of the season. And we took the first shuttle. And then we were determined to the first hikers to summit. In case the caribou were there, we didn’t want anyone to beat us and scare them away. 🙂

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier caribou

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier caribou

It doesn’t seem close in the photo, but it felt pretty close at the time. Would love a bigger zoom/lens on the camera for moments like these, but just don’t want to add the extra weight to the pack during hikes.

We waited around at the summit for a while in case more came. Sadly, no. Five was our final count. But the view was still nice.

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier

For our lunch break, we headed back down toward the lake that you’ll find halfway up the trail.parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier

parc national de la gaspesie

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier

Mont Ernest Laforce Hike

After hiking in the morning and early afternoon, we transfered campgrounds. We set up the tent, put up the tarp (threat of rain), and then headed for an evening stroll on Mont Ernest Laforce. This trail is pretty short, maybe an hour long, and known as a haven for moose. Seriously, it’s almost a given that you’ll see them. There’s also great views and a lot of neat regeneration areas.

parc national de la gaspesie mont ernest laforce

parc national de la gaspesie mont ernest laforce

parc national de la gaspesie mont ernest laforce

parc national de la gaspesie mont ernest laforce

parc national de la gaspesie mont ernest laforce

parc national de la gaspesie mont ernest laforce

parc national de la gaspesie mont ernest laforce

Moose were spotted on the way down. Well, our moose count reached three on the hike, actually. But the mother and calf were closer and more interesting to watch than the immobile moose earlier on.

parc national de la gaspesie mont ernest laforce

parc national de la gaspesie mont ernest laforce

It rained on us quite a bit at the end of the hike. And then it poured on us at the campground.

We grabbed a loaf of bread from the store and sat in the public campground shelter avoiding the rain and chatting. And then we had more visitors.

parc national de la gaspesie

Our pictures are a bit blurry, but they came so close that I was a bit nervous! Fun to watch them snacking on the trees, though.

parc national de la gaspesie

Mama was huge.

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The next morning the rain had stopped, and we decided to take our time with breakfast and reading.

parc national de la gaspesie campsite

parc national de la gaspesie camping breakfast

We recharged our camera batteries after breakfast and then went on our last short hike in the park. We debated between the short hike and Mont Albain, which is supposed to be beautiful, but our camera batteries weren’t the only ones in need of recharging.

Lac aux Américains

This hike is only about 2 kilometers, meaning it only takes a half hour round trip. Considering how easy and short the hike was, the lake area wasn’t too busy. We only shared it with one family.

parc national de la gaspesie lac aux americains

parc national de la gaspesie lac aux americains

parc national de la gaspesie lac aux americains

parc national de la gaspesie lac aux americains

parc national de la gaspesie lac aux americains

Really cold.

parc national de la gaspesie lac aux americains

Right after the hike, we left the park, headed toward Sainte-Anne-des-Monts and on toward Kamouraska.

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We loved our time in the park. The only downside was the mosquitoes. But if the moose suffer through them, I guess we can too.

Land’s End in Quebec | A Visit to Percé Rock, Bonaventure Island, and Park Forillon

These stops were part of our Gaspésie road trip. Click here to view the full itinerary.

We were a little later than planned when arriving to our campsite in Park Forillon. Park Forillon is known for its wildlife, but also its peninsula marking “land’s end.” This park is actually run by Parks Canada, not SEPAQ. Our reserved campsite was closed due to some issues that weren’t explained in detail, but there was enough room available at the Des Rosiers campground so that all of us who booked for Cap Bon Ami were accommodated. Des Rosiers ended up being a nice alternative. We wandered down to the beach on the first night.

park forillon

park forillon

park forillon

park forillon

park forillon

park forillon

The next day, we breakfasted and then headed to the town of Percé to view the famous Percé Rock and hop a boat to Bonaventure Island to view the bird colony. From the park, it took about an hour or so to reach the town of Percé. We stopped for the moose on the way.

camping coffee

camping breakfast

camping breakfast

moose park forillon

Percé is small, a bit touristy, but adorable. One of my co-workers who was originally from the region always told me how touristy and commercial it was, trying to damper my enthusiasm. Sure, it was touristy, but she had me picturing the stretch of Pigeon Forge before the Great Smoky Mountains. Percé remains a bit quaint.

percé

percé

To get on the boat, simply walk into one of the cruise/boat stands along the main stretch of road. You can’t miss them. And I don’t think it really matters which one you take, because you can get on the same boat. There was no need to book ahead, but you’ll have to be by the boat 15 minutes before it leaves. Boat tickets are about 28 dollars per person. At first we thought this was ridiculous, but trust me, you want that tour around the island rocks.

percé

There’s free parking across the street from the harbor with the company you buy with. No need to pay for the parking on the park’s side. You’ll have to pay park access fees if you decide to get off on the island. These are about seven dollars per person.

While waiting for our boat ride, we had a mid-morning coffee and then hit the Pit Caribou Pub around noon. We know, that’s early and we were hiking afterward, but this is pretty much my favorite beer. And you can only get it on tap here and at a couple restaurants in Percé. I was giddy when I realized the brewery/pub was located here and that we’d be able to stop.

percé

pit caribou pub percé

pit caribou pub percé

Happy husband.

pit caribou pub

Thankfully they offered glasses, not only pints.

We headed down to the harbor and caught the 1:00 boat. The boat ride takes about an hour total if you’re returning to Percé, or about 45 minutes to the drop-off point on the island.

Truly, we were skeptical about the price of the boat ride. I mean, you can see the island. Stronger folks could probably swim that distance (though I wouldn’t try). But there was a park guide on board, providing information about the rock and the islands. And we had underestimated what we were in store for. We snapped some photos of the mysterious eroding rock (read about its history and legends here) and then thought we’d be calmly waiting inside until we reached the drop-off point.

Instead, we ended up being wowed by the thousands of birds tucked away in every nook and cranny of island rocks. I quickly ran outside and found myself hanging out with the squealing eight-year-olds. Look at all of the birds! It’s a seal! (The word for seal, by the way, is phoque. It’s really strange hearing children scream this word…)

percé rock

percé rock

percé rock

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

Can you see the lazy phoque? (Inappropriate, joke? Probably. Anglo joke? Yep. Couldn’t resist.)

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

We felt so silly for having underestimated the boat ride. Yeah, we knew about the colony on the island, but didn’t know the boat tour would be so cool. Definitely, definitely would pay 28 dollars to see that again.

bonaventure island quebec

And after 45 minutes, we disembarked and prepped for our island tour. The trails here are pretty easy. If you have the time, I recommend taking the Colonies trail to see the birds (this took us about 30 minutes) and then coming back along the shore of the island on Chemin du Roy (about 45 minutes). All trails lead to the birds, though, rest assured. But the Chemin du Roy leads to a swimming cove (if it had been warm enough) and many seals!

First, the birds. About 200,000 migratory birds call this island home. The majority of these are the white gannets you’ll see below. I prefer the French name, Fou de Bassan (something like “the crazy from Bass Island”). When you see them battle with their beaks and defend their nests, etc., you understand. Very intriguing to watch. And if you have questions, there’s a park employee standing by for questions.

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

Could spend a while watching them. Many flying overhead with food in their beaks, many simply guarding the nests.

Eventually, we continued on our trail. A bit later, Jordan stopped me and had to pull a feather out of my hair. Thankful it was only a feather considering the number of birds overhead.

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

Keep and eye out for seals here. Well, actually, your ears will probably hear them before your eyes will see them.

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

bonaventure island quebec

The last boat returns to Percé at 5pm. Be on it. But don’t worry if it’s full. If they fill up, they’ll send another.

When we returned, we looked like hikers. So we didn’t want to slum it in the fanciest option in town (La Maison du Pêcheur). Instead, we went a little more casual.

percé

We had fried clams, lobster clubs, and another sample of Pit Caribou.

fried clams percé

lobster club percé

Our neighbors got dessert before we did. Two Quebecois traditions: tarte au sucre and pouding chômeur. Jordan eyed the pie and the neighbors (probably in their upper 70s or 80s) started giggling at him. Regarde ses yeux ! Il regarde ta tarte au sucre ! (Look at his eyes! He’s looking at your pie!) Il la regarde encore ! (He’s looking at it again!)

Oh, how they chuckled when they saw that we ordered them, too. Il l’a prise ! (He got it!)

tarte au sucre percé

pouding chomeur

They seemed like they wanted to strike up a conversation, so kept asking if Jordan thought it was good. It was a fun little exchange between them and us. And the desserts were guiltily indulgent.

After eating, we drove toward Les Graves to catch the sunset and explore that side of the peninsula a bit. Saw this fantastic Mr. Fox on the way.

fox park forillon

park forillon sunset

park forillon sunset

And a mama moose with twins.

moose park forillon

The next morning was a quick [s’more style] yogurt bowl breakfast followed by a hike to the summit of Mont Albain. We did the entire loop, which took us about 2.25 hours (though we really kept a good pace after the summit). This summit offers the view of the park you’ll see on the brochures. We only saw one other person at the actual observation tower. (He usually comes every year on the longest day of the year. Mentioned that he usually sees a lot of whales but hadn’t seen a one…made us feel better).

smore yogurt breakfast bowls

park forillon mont albain hike

The stick was in case the giant porcupine we had just seen returned.

park forillon mont albain hike

park forillon mont albain hike

park forillon mont albain hike

park forillon mont albain hike

park forillon mont albain hike

park forillon mont albain hike

There was a great panoramic view. I definitely recommend the hike to the summit. But if you’re in a hurry, I’d recommend skipping the full loop and just leaving from and returning to the Cap Bon Ami area. We enjoyed the extra walk (especially after the treats from the day before) and being in the wilderness, but the rest of the trail wasn’t a highlight per se.

We never saw any whales on this trip, which was a bit disappointing, but between the moose, the seals, and the incredible flock of birds, we hardly missed them.

Loved, loved, loved the town of Percé and the Bonaventure Island excursion. Well worth it. I’d have to call that day trip one of the happiest days of my life.

boat from percé to bonaventure island

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After the Mont Albain hike, we hit the road, continuing on to Parc National de la Gaspésie, which I’ll be sharing about in my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Overnighter in Parc National du Bic | Rimouski, Quebec

This was stop one on our Gaspésie road trip. To see the full road trip itinerary, click here.

par du bic sunset on lake

Helping friends out can really have its benefits. We helped a friend move a few weeks ago (Jordan helped move; I provided the food for the guys who carried stuff). During this, we were introduced to a friend of a friend, who heard we were taking this road trip. He recommended Parc National du Bic near Rimouski. We’d been considering staying there, but hadn’t yet decided where to spend day one. Happy to have had the extra encouragement.

SEPAQ (Quebec’s park system) really has their stuff together. The facilities were great, everything went smoothly. We had reserved online and pre-paid our entrance fees. It was super easy. We got in a bit late for a long hike, so spent the early evening hiking (really just walking) along the Chemin du Nord. There’s actually a tea house along the trail, which is a lovely idea, but we never stopped in. We got too distracted by the deer, ducks, and porcupine. We also tried to spot seals, but didn’t have any luck. The trail leaves from the information center you see pictured here.

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord sunset

parc du bic chemin du nord sunset

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord sunset

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

parc du bic chemin du nord

We popped into a different cove where the seals typically like to hang out. No avail.

parc du bic chemin du nord

We then headed back to camp across the river to get to work on some grilling.

parc du bic

shish tauok on campfire

The next morning we ate breakfast at the campsite before heading off on a hike.

camping breakfast

camping breakfast

parc du bic campsite

camping breakfast

camping breakfast

Our morning hike was Pic Champlain. The hike is uphill on the way there, but pretty short, so has an intermediate classification. At the trail head, we met a smiley woman of about 70 years who was off to hike by herself. She talked to us a bit in French. I had trouble understanding her pronunciation of specific word…leading to some confusion….then leading to giggles. We saw her later on during the hike, too, and exchanged some smiles, waves, and saluts.

The hike up wasn’t too impressive, so you’ve got to commit to reaching the summit. Then it’s worth it.

parc du bic pic champlain

parc du bic pic champlain

parc du bic pic champlain

A lovely stop that I’m happy we decided to make. Sure, we could have saved some park fees by choosing another nearby campsite and then had a bit more time setting up camp later in the evening, but then we would have missed this. And those confusion giggles.

parc du bic pic champlain

 

Roadtripping to Québec’s Gaspé Peninsula | 7 days and 6 nights of camping, hiking, and eating

We are back!

gaspesie road trip

That’s me waving from the passenger seat of our rented Nissan something-or-other. In the last week, I spent countless (they could be counted, but I’d rather not) hours there. We’re back from our road trip out to Gaspé and Percé. Wondering where those are? Here’s a quick map reference of our road trip itinerary. For those with rusty Canadian geography (I don’t judge, I was there before we moved here), note the position of Maine.

Gaspesie Road Trip Itinerary Map

Percé, or point D to the right, is about a 12-hour drive from Montreal. Meaning a minimum of 24 hours on the road. Ugh…BUT…

This was a pretty epic vacation. Yeah, I mean that in the way we all overuse epic in our vocabulary. But it was still really great. I saw wildlife galore, hiked six trails, watched gorgeous sunsets on a nightly basis, filled up on Quebecois guilty pleasure foods (including, but not limited to poutine), practiced my French, drank Pit Caribou on tap, and even got to cook.

To me, the funniest part about it all, is that I really had no clue about any of the places we visited until we moved to Québec.

After moving here and talking with locals, I deduced that a road trip to Gaspésie is long, but worth it. And I was pretty sure that I’d never have a better chance to visit than during the two years we lived in Québec.

The biggest deterrent to this trip is time. Otherwise, it can be quite affordable. In fact, the neo-hippies hitchhiking their way along the Gaspesian Coast did it much cheaper than we did. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many hitchhikers in such a short stretch.

If you’re worried about a lack of French, don’t. It’s true that many of our servers didn’t speak much or any English, but a good portion did. And you can also take a pocket dictionary or phrase book just in case. Being able to speak French made our trip a bit easier and probably more rewarding, but wasn’t really necessary. Just be apologetic about your lack of skills and be nice enough to use the easy words like Bonjour, Merci, Bonne Soirée, etc. For those who are learning but get frustrated with the Montreal servers who tend to speak to you in English, you’ll be pleased to know that this rarely happens. If you’re trying to speak French, they’ll gladly help you along.

Gaspesie Road Trip

A quick note about our type of travel: We camped because we like it, but also because it’s affordable. Our focuses when traveling tend to be nature, good (and local when possible) food, merry drink, walking or hiking, and neat atmosphere and architecture. We like to indulge from time to time, but we are also fans of cheap eats and making our own meals if possible. This itinerary is best for those who happen to be the same types of travelers, but something on the trip should appeal to all types of travelers. 🙂

Now, on to the good stuff.

Day 1-Drive from Montreal to Parc National du Bic (near Rimouski)

5.5 hours of driving

We left Montreal around 9am after picking up the rental and filling it full of our camping gear. We had a cooler full of ingredients, but decided we needed to take advantage of the drive and make a few stops along the way. During the trip you’ll notice many, many fromageries (cheese producers/shops), poissoneries (fish/seafood shops), cantines (non-chain fast food joints), and casse-croûtes (pretty much like a cantine). My students and our friends say that stopping at these are musts. Not every one–that’d be freakin’ impossible.

On day one, we stopped at La Fromagerie du Terroir de Bellechasse and a casse-croûte (just okay) along the way. Wisconsites, check out the homage to cheese curds.

fromagerie quebec gaspesie road trip

We bought a salted cheese braid for the road. Good, but super salty.

gaspesie road trip cheese braid

And we indulged in a sucre à la crème ice cream sundae. Because we’re in Québec and Jordan still hadn’t had any sucre à la crème. No, this wasn’t the actual dessert, but at least now he has an idea what it’s like.

gaspesie road trip sucre a la creme ice cream

I never said this was a healthy road trip, okay? Next up, my first poutine of the trip. Casse-croûtes are not normally a place where you eat off of real dishes. I think we chose the most high-class casse-croûte option. If such a thing exists.

gaspesie road trip veggie poutine

Around 4:30ish, we reached Parc National du Bic, where we camped for the night (hikes and camping recap post to come).

gaspesie road trip parc du bic

Day 2-Drive from Parc National du Bic to Parc Forillon | poutine pit stop in Rimouski

5.5 hours of driving–Click here for link to the Parc National du Bic post.

The next day, we stopped at La Cantine de la Gare in Rimouski, which came highly recommended by friends. Supposedly, this is some of the best poutine in the province. It probably was the best I’ve had. The service was nice (didn’t have problems dealing with stuttering tourists) and the place seemed very popular with locals. All that said, I think I’ve given up on trying to convert myself into a poutine-lover. I recognize its cultural value, but I don’t have poutine urges. And that’s okay. I don’t have to like it all.

gaspesie road trip cantine

gaspesie road trip poutine rimouski

gaspesie road trip poutine

Husband got the Slovak version, complete with sausage and coleslaw. Ha.

We waddled our poutine-filled selves to the car and continued on along the coast of the Saint Lawrence. Here, the Saint Lawrence becomes something of an enigma. Is it really just a river at this point? It’s not really a sea or an ocean either, though…

You can stop for lighthouse pics and watch for seals along the rocks on the way.

gaspesie road trip lighthouse

gaspesie road trip lighthouse

We had a dreary driving day past this point. It became cloudy and chilly. The small towns seemed isolated and eery enough for a few good I-Know-What-You-Did-Last-Summer-like movies. Maybe it’s just the fisherman theme making me think that…

gaspesie road trip

Finally, we reached Parc Forillon around 8pm and set up camp.

Day 3-Visit to Town of Percé, Percé Rock, and Bonaventure Island

less than an hour drive to town of Percé from Parc Forillon. Click here to see the full Percé, Park Forillon, and Bonaventure Island post.

We spent a little bit of time in the town itself and then hopped the boat tour for Percé Rock and Bonaventure Island. Probably my favorite day of the trip. (Detailed post to come).

gaspesie road trip percé rock

bonaventure island

Day 4-Hike in Parc Forillon and Drive to Parc National de la Gaspesie

Potentially only about 3 hours of driving, check for road conditions. Click here to see the full Percé, Park Forillon, and Bonaventure Island post. Click here for the Parc National de la Gaspésie post.

forillon park

After getting our morning hike in at Parc Forillon (will include in post with Percé day trip above), we stopped in Gaspé for provisions. There’s a great market called Marché des Saveurs where we were able to buy local charcuteries and cheeses for our camping and hiking meals. Nice staff as well. We loved the Grey Owl cheese.

marché des saveurs gaspé

Next, we drove from Gaspé through Murdochville to Parc National de la Gaspesie. We chose this route because it saved us time, which we were a bit short on. However, the bridge on Route 16 in the park was out and Route 14 was washed out, so we ended up driving up to Saint-Pierre and then down that route. Okay drive. Lots of trees. Lots of green. Those interested in copper mines might want to stop in Murdochville.

We decided to stop for some nourishment since we had to venture further north than planned. If you’re looking for the lobster roll on the menu, you are searching for a guédille au homard.

gaspesie road trip lobster roll

gaspesie road trip cantine on coast

We reached Parc National de la Gaspesie around 4pm (the Jacques-Cartier campsite).

Day 5-Hike Mont Jacques-Cartier and Camp in Secteur Mont Albert

45 minutes to 1 hour of driving from one side of park to the other

Click here for the Parc National de la Gaspésie post.

We hiked in the late morning and early afternoon and then drove over to the other campsite area of the park, where we sneaked in an early evening hike before taking shelter from the rain and spying on moose. (Post to come)

mont jacques-cartier gaspesie

Day 6-Morning hike and then drive to Kamouraska

About 5 hours of driving

We took our time the next morning, deciding not to hike Mont Albert, but instead the simple Lac aux Américains trail. Around 1pm, we headed toward Kamouraska for camping and quality eating and sipping.

In Sainte-Félicité, Jordan saw a sign for a crêperie and decided to swing by on a whim. Good choice. The café-crêperie Les Gamineries was a wonderful stop. I highly recommend it. There is also a hostel here is anyone’s tired of pitching the tent. The waitress was super nice and the food was exactly what we needed after so many cantines and casse-croûtes. Here I learned how to say “sunny-side up” in French. 🙂 We played tourist big time while here.

gaspesie les gamineries

gaspesie les gamineries sainte felicite

gaspesie sainte felicite creperie les gamineries

dessert crepe sainte felicite qc

gaspesie

gaspesie road trip

Along the way, we raced to beat the sunset.

bas saint laurent

bas saint laurent sunset

We finally reached Kamouraska around 8:30, just in time for the sunset. (Rest assured, this small town will have a post coming your way). Supper here was delicious, snacky, and accompanied with a couple local microbrews.

Day 7-Kamouraska to Quebec City to Sherbrooke

1.5 hours driving plus 2.5 hours driving

We skipped a camping breakfast on this day, instead rushing to the bakery before heading to see Quebec City in the summertime. We’d been there in the winter, but I had a hunch it’d be different with a bit of warmer weather.

kamouraska bakery

We found parking in Quebec City in time to catch a little bit of the US World Cup match. A loss, yes, but at least we found a really neat pub to watch it at! Look for Le Sacrilège. Great terrasse (aka patio) in the back.

quebec city

quebec city bar

We spent about two hours after the game just strolling. We ventured into the Château Frontenac lobby, peered into adorable restaurants that we would have eaten at if we’d had time (or a bigger budget, I suppose), and watched the tour buses full of golden-aged tourists. After a week of hearing almost only French, it was strange to hear English-speaking tourists around us.

quebec city bookstore

quebec city bookstore

quebec city artist alley

Look! I had real clothes (read: not only hiking clothes) packed in my bag, too!

DSC_quebec city chateau frontenac

quebec city

quebec city

quebec city

quebec city

quebec city

DSC_quebec city

quebec city

quebec city

I loved seeing the city in the summer. Very charming. If I lived in Montreal long term, I’d rent a Quebec City apartment one week every summer. It’s cozy and feels intimate somehow, even among the tourists and bureaucrats (provincial government employees were everywhere). But alas, we had to keep on the road.

We left around 4pm to drive to Sherbrooke. Sherbrooke doesn’t usually make it onto the typical tourist itinerary. It’s a nice medium-sized city, sure, but mostly we went to stop in to see some of our friends who recently moved there.

We spent the evening eating a dish prepared with Matane shrimp, catching up, and making faces at their three-month-old baby girl.

Day 8-Sherbrooke to Montreal | pit stop at the St-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey

2 hours of driving

abbaye saint-benoit-du-lac

Remember way back when, when my parents came to visit? We stopped into the abbey to pick up some delicious cheese, honey, and apples at that time. Since the husband had never been, we decided to stop in to pick up some cheese, honey of course (if you know the guy, you know he loves sweets), and a bottle of the hard cider. We’ve got it chilling, waiting for the right moment.

We reached Montreal around 5:30, but then managed to get seriously stuck in traffic. Being stuck in traffic for an hour reminds you about the downsides of the city. Especially after a week of camping.

But once we got that car returned, we headed out for Indian thalis, gelatos, and a meander through the Jazz Festival. Camping is great.

montreal jazz fest opening night

The road trip was great, but the city ain’t so bad either.

*********************

In the next couple days (before my flight to visit the family!!), I’ll sort through our trip photos and post recaps for the highlights of our trip. Usually, I do this just because I love to, but after doing some searching for this trip, I didn’t see that many blog recaps about these stops, so here’s hoping my post helps another wife out there to convince her husband that they really ought to take the trip 🙂

If anyone happens to be planning a trip and needs more details than what is provided in the post above or the forthcoming posts, feel free to contact me either by comment or email: therestoflhistoire (at) gmail (dot) com for more information. As other posts are added, links will be edited in.

 

Sunday Mont-Royal Stroll

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

Strolls on summer Sundays in Parc du Mont-Royal are really something. It seems like everyone’s there. Really, everyone. Those medieval knights you were searching for all week? Check. Those sun-bathing beauties? Check. Those large, happy extended families? Check.  Those members of the Rastafarian drum circle? Check. Those skateboarding teenagers? Check. (There actually pretty respectful and wait for walkers and joggers to pass). Those young moms jogging with strollers? Check. The adorable old couple walking hand-in-hand? Check. The circus performers and wannabes practicing their tight-rope walking (okay, sure, slack-lining)? Check.

Quite. A. Sight.

I’ll probably get another run or two in before July 1, but my strolls with the camera in tow are probably over. So I tried to document the experience one last time so you might imagine what it’s like.

No beach in sight? Doesn’t mean you can’t pretend…

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

Prepping for the next battle/joust/God only knows:

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

Brief moments of near solitude can still be found if you’re patient.

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

Can you spot him in the next picture?

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

May your day be beautiful and filled with smiles.

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

mont royal summer therestoflhistoire.com

Just your average Sunday here.