Quebec Maritime Itinerary – Your Epic 12-Day Road Trip

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There is no question you will never regret visiting La Belle Province – Quebec. Although you start in the capital – Quebec City – you will quickly find yourself in rural Quebec on this epic 12 day Quebec Maritime itinerary. Covering three of the four regions (we will miss the Magdalen Islands), this itinerary will get you started on the south shore arriving in Bas St. Laurent (Lower St. Lawrence), touring all of the Gaspésie (Gaspé Peninsula) and then moving over to Côte-Nord (North Shore).

This full itinerary can be anywhere from 10-14 days but can also be shortened to as little as seven days but that would be pushing it. It’s best to take your time and take in all that Québec Maritime has to offer.

Sunrise over Perce Rock Photo Credit @MathieuDupuis Gasp
Photo Credit: Mathieu Dupuis/Tourisme Gaspésie – Sunrise over Perce Rock, Gaspésie

This fall was my third time visiting this region and I have to say, there is still so much to see and do. I loved going on a whale watching tour, visiting national parks and relaxing in our luxury log cabin in the woods but I want to return to do a bit more hiking or maybe even venture on a snowmobile tour.

There is an abundance of themed tours you can take in this region which range from the traditional Whale Route, the eclectic Lighthouse Trail, the thirst-quenching Beer Tour to the adventurous Motorcycle or Snowmobile Tours. To find the perfect tour for you be sure and check out the Quebec Maritime website for detailed (maps, stops, itinerary) suggestions. I use it often for planning my trips to Québec Maritime.

There are two main highways that you can travel: (1) on the Côte-Nord (North Shore), you would follow Route 138 from Quebec City all the way up to Baie Comeau. At this point, you can take a ferry across the St. Lawrence River to Rivière-du-Loup and proceed through the Bas St. Laurent-Gaspésie Tour; or (2) you can take Highway 20 (the autoroute – quick but slightly less scenic) and then Route 132 for the loop around the Gaspé Peninsula starting and ending in Riviere-de-Loup. In this itinerary l combine both.

Moose observation in QM Chic Chocs Photo Credit EricDeschamps Quebec Martime
Photo Credit: Éric Deschamps/Le Québec maritime – Parc national de la Gaspésie, Gaspésie

Arriving in Aéroport international Jean-Lesage de Québec (YQB) in Quebec City you will have connected through Montreal or Toronto if you are coming from the US in the off-season. Between May and October, seasonal direct flights are available from other eastern cities.

How many days do you need in Québec City? I’d set aside a couple of extra days to visit. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will visit one of the most beautiful cities in Canada (including the most photographed hotel in the world – the Château Frontenac). If you want to know more about this city have a listen to this episode of The Amateur Traveler.

Highlights of Quebec City @DownshiftingPRO
Highlights of Quebec City – @DownshiftingPRO

Quebec Maritime Itinerary

Day 1 Kamouraska to Rimouski

Kamouraska Village & Microbrewery

To begin your road trip itinerary, head out of Québec City via Highway 20E. In less than 2 hours, take exit 465 off of highway 20E to Kamouraska. Head to this lovely village on the south shore and take a quick stroll around this quaint colourful village.

It is here that l would start driving the scenic Route 132 headed to the Bas St. Laurent region.

Continue to Saint-André and stop for a light-libation. Tête d’Allumette Microbrasserie is a local microbrewery that brews its beers over a wood fire. I highly recommend a beer flight and some tasty appetizers on the side. Right on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, it’s a great way to unwind and take in the fresh sea air.

Tete dAllumettes Microbrewery in St. Andre de Kamouraska @DownshiftingPRO

Fromagerie des Basques in Trois Pistoles

Fromagerie des Basques Trois Pistol Quebec @DownshiftingPRO

When visiting the province of Quebec be sure and taste one of its greatest culinary inventions: poutine. This delight is made up of French fries covered with fresh cheese curds and smothered with gravy. There are many variations now but this is the ‘classic’ combination. What makes this so special? It’s the squeaky cheese curds that melt all over.

I suggest you stop at La Fromagerie des Basques in Trois Pistols to pick up a big bag for the road or if you are really hungry, stop off at the restaurant. We had the best pizza here of the trip!

Parc Chutes (Falls Park) -Riviere de Loup

Parc des Chutes Riviere du Loup @DownshiftingPRO 3
Parc des Chutes in Rivière-du-Loup is a great place to hike in fair weather or ice climb in the winter – @DownshiftingPRO

Once you have consumed a few thousand calories, head up to the Parc des Chutes in Rivière-du-Loup. There are over ten kilometres of woodland trails along the river, a 33-metre waterfall and a power station, making a visit to this park a must. During the winter the rockface across from the power station is flooded to create a spectacular ice-climbing wall. You can read more about unique winter activities in Quebec Maritime (including ice fishing, snowmobiling, downhill skiing and snowshoeing).

Photo Credit - Mathieu Dupuis @QuébecMaritime Ice climbing in Rivière-du-Loup
Photo Credit – Mathieu DupuisLe @QuébecMaritime Ice climbing in Rivière-du-Loup

Day 2 – Rimouski

Rimouski

Rimouski is a hockey town and proud of it.  Rimouski Océanic alum include Sidney Crosby! One of the largest cities in the region, Rimouski is a great place to stock up on supplies before you head out if you intend on staying in self-catering units. It has all the amenities one would need for groceries, gas, outerwear and spirits.

Insider tip: On this Quebec road trip stop at the Cantine de la gare for the best poutine in the city. It was amazing!

As you enter Rimouski, you will pass by Parc National du Bic, a provincially run park ideal for hiking, camping and watching the fog roll in from the St. Lawrence River. Hike up to Pic Champlain, at an altitude of 346 m, is the highest summit of the rocky Massif des Murailles. From the top of its belvedere, the view of the estuary and the park is breathtaking. There are also extensive bicycle paths (you can rent bikes at the rental center located in the Rivière-du-Sud-Ouest sector), an interpretation centre and more places to take stunning Instagram pictures.

The fog rolling in at the beach in Parc National de la Bic Rimouski Bas St. Laurent @DownshiftingPRO
Parc National de la Bic – is a provincial park with hiking, camping, and an interpretation centre. – @DownshiftingPRO

Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse & National Historic Site

Driving through Rimouski, you will want to stop at Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse. A national historic site, it is one of the most well-known lighthouses on the trail. The one standing today is the third to be built on this site. Its octagonal tower rises to a height of 28 metres, making this lighthouse one of the tallest in Canada. Boasting unique architecture Pointe-au-Père remains one of the rare examples of a buttressed, reinforced concrete structure. The lighthouse was erected in 1909 because Pointe-au-Pere was where river pilots help ocean ships navigate the St. Lawrence River toward Quebec City and Montreal.

Empress of Ireland Museum and Onondaga Submarine

A small but very interesting museum is dedicated to the RMS Empress of Ireland. The maritime disaster commemorates the loss of 1,012 persons in the most fatal shipwreck in the 20th century, after the infamous Titanic tragedy.

The Onondaga Submarine is Canada’s first publicly accessible submarine. Take a self-guided audio tour and learn what life was like for the 70 men aboard this 90-metre behemoth that crisscrossed the North Atlantic from 1967 to 2000.

Pointe au Pere Lighthouse Empress of Ireland Onondaga Sub Rimouski @DownshiftingPRO

Canyon des Portes de l’Enfer

Canyon des Portes de l’Enfer was by far the favourite hike my family took. My adult children loved this challenging nature park making it a definite ‘must see’ in Bas-Saint-Laurent. The Canyon stretches for nearly 5 km between tight and steep walls sometimes reaching 90 meters in height. A network of hiking trails , totaling more than 20 km and accessible to all, allows you to discover unique panoramas and to have access to the highest suspended footbridge in Quebec which overlooks the gates of hell. 

@downshiftingpro

Hell’s Gate Canyon_Quebec Maritime This was a family favourite activity on our trip to #QuebecMaritime You should go…

♬ original sound – Margarita Ibbott

There was also the Labyrinth of Secrets , Gates of Oniria and The Devil’s Road. I could see why this particular nature park is made for family fun and a nature lover’s dream. The Labyrinth is intricate and set in a wooded area that is both mysterious and magical.

Domaine Valga

If you want a true luxury log cabin experience take a few days and stay at Domaine Valga. This family-owned resort has three large cabins and additional suites available in the main lodge.

The other very appealing feature is the aerial adventure Forêt de Maître Corbeau Park. With six high ropes courses and multiple ziplines, you will love this location. It also sits on a private lake where you can kayak, canoe or paddleboard. You can read more about this spectacular accommodation option here and watch this short video about our time on the course and ziplines.

10 Daring Winter Activities in Quebec Maritime 2

Day 3 – Matapedia to Bonaventure

Matapedia Valley

Belvedere Matapedia Charles DR photos Tourisme Gaspesie

Cutting across Bas. St. Laurent on Route 132-O (Ouest = West) head to the southern side of the Gaspé Peninsula, Chaleur Bay is an ideal place to go swimming and enjoy water sports.

Within this area, you will find some really interesting accommodations such as geodomes, yurts, treehouses and even a sailing ship replica – La Grande Hermine (“The Big Weasel”). If you are looking for something other than an Air BnB here are 10 Quirky and Unique Accommodations in Quebec Maritime.

Baie des Chaleurs

Geodome Baie des Chaleurs Photo credit Dany Vachon Tourisme Gaspesie 2 1
Parc régional du Mont-Saint- Photo Credit: Dany Vachon/Tourisme Gaspésie

Consider another unique accommodation option, the Geodomes in Carleton-Sur-Mer hugging the mountainside, they provide a full-service unit with a fantastic view of the Baie des Chaleurs. Close to Carleton-sur-Mer, you have access to beaches, a quai and numerous restaurant options. A multitude of activities (including more lighthouses) is offered throughout this sector, from Shigawake to Matapédia, via BonaventureNew Richmond and Carleton-sur-Mer.

Geodome Baie des Chaleurs Photo credit Dany
Geodomes on Mont-Saint-Joseph –
Photo Credit: Dany Vachon/Tourisme Gaspésie
@MathieuDupuis Gasp Juill2018 0441
Carleton Lighthouse – Carleton-sur-Mer, Gaspésie –
Photo Credit Mathieu Dupuis/Tourisme Gaspésie

Battle of Restigouche National Historic Site

Battle of the Restigouche Historic Site Interpretation Centre Photo Credit © Parks Canada Mathieu Dupuis 2
Battle-of-the-Restigouche-Historic-Site_Interpretation-Centre__Photo-Credit-©-Parks-Canada_Mathieu-Dupuis
Visitors observe an interpretation panel of the exhibition at the Battle of the Restigouche Historic Site.

The Acadian Museum of Quebec

Musee acadien du Quebec 188 Photo Credit Dylan Page 1
Musée Acadien du Québec_Photo Credit_Dylan Page

In 1755 with rising tensions between the British and the French, Acadians were deported from Nova Scotia. They dispersed through the Maritimes and went as far as Louisiana and the Caribbean. Many settled in ‘New France’ which would later become Quebec. There are over one million people in Quebec and over four million in North America who are descendants of the original Acadian families. This museum educates through illustrations, art, culture, architecture, language and music to show the richness of this community. I love that if you are unable to visit this museum, you can take a virtual tour. Located in the village of Bonaventure, you will have a bird’s eye view of the Baie des Chaleurs.

Day 4 & 5 – Percé Rock

Percé UNESCO Global Geoparc

@MathieuDupuis Gasp Juill2018 0206

UNESCO Global Geopark with a view of the Percé Rock, Percé, Gaspésie region – Photo credit: ©Mathieu Dupuis/Tourisme Gaspésie

Opened in 2017, the UNESCO Global Geopark provides a unique (and for some challenging) view as it is perched at an altitude of 200 metres. A suspended cantilevered platform, the glass bottom is pretty cool.

If you are up for more of an adrenalin rush, the platform is the start of the zipline! The course is 230 meters long with a height of 100 meters. The maximum speed is 50 km/hr!

Percé Rock

Perce Rock 2016 DownshiftingPRO Margarita Ibbott
Percé Rock is a must on your Quebec Maritime itinerary – @DownshiftingPRO

When Canadians think of iconic images, you would often think of the Rockie Mountains, the CN Tower or the Old Town in Quebec City but another natural wonder in Canada is Percé Rock. The view from the Geopark is pretty amazing but there is nothing better than taking a boat cruise to Bonaventure Island. The boat will cruise by Percé Rock and then circumvent the Island so you can have a better view of the over 200,000 seabirds that call Bonaventure Island home.

l’Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park  

Bonaventure Island National Park Looking towards Perce Rock @DownshiftingPRO
Bonaventure and Perce Rock National Park. Looking towards the Perce and the St. Lawrence
Photo Credit: Margarita Ibbott @DownshiftingPRO

The Island is both a provincial park and a sanctuary (since 1919) and has evolved into the largest colony of North Gannets in North America. Once you dock on Bonaventure Island, you can take one of four trails to the summit to observe the birds. This is one of the few places in the world where you can do this.

Crédit photo : Mathieu Dupuis/Tourisme Gaspésie Lieu : Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, Percé, Gaspésie
Northern gannets in Parc national de l’Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé,
Bonaventure Island, Gaspésie region
Photo credit: ©Mathieu Dupuis/Tourisme Gaspésie

I loved the hike up for the views alone. You will hear (and smell) the birds long before you see them but it is enchanting nonetheless. There is a kiosk at the top where you can grab a snack, sit back and take it all in or you can head to Resto des Margaulx for their famous fish soup located closer to the dock.

Day 6 – Forillon National Park & the Lighthouse Trail

Gaspé

If you feel a bit overwhelmed with the beauty of your natural surroundings and you start craving a bit more urban fair, you can stop off in the city of Gaspé.

If you are a history buff, you will enjoy the interpretation centres at the Micmac Interpretation Site of Gespeg, tour a reconstructed 17th-century traditional village and learn more about the Mi’kmaq from yesterday to today.

At the Musée de la Gaspésie and Jacques Cartier Monument, enjoy several exhibits that present the history, art, culture and heritage of Gaspésie, as well as a virtual-reality experience aboard an old fishing boat. Fishing history is also showcased at Manoir Le Boutillier, where you can visit the home of John Le Boutillier, a major cod exporter from 1850 to 1860.

Finally, the Birthplace of Canada offers a representation of the heart of the village of Gaspé as it was in 1900. Wander from the general store to the tavern and be sure to also visit the navy base and a typical home while interacting with costumed characters representing the people who marked the history of Gaspé. In the evening you can enjoy an outdoor multi-media show relating to the history of the area.

Insider’s Tip: Every summer, in August, Gaspé hosts the Festival Musique du Bout du Monde, a world music festival. For nine days, the village is transformed into a giant celebration, bringing together 20,000 festival-goers and over 200 performers, including local artists, big-name world musicians and promising new talents. During the summer season, you can get flights directly to this region.

Forillon National Park

If there is one place I could return to again and again, it would be Forillon National Park. I know there have been many scenic stops along the way but the stop we took above the cliffs, was one memory I will not soon forget. It is that vastness of the St. Lawrence opening up to the Atlantic Ocean that is so very spectacular.

Forillon National Park in the Gaspe Peninsula General Store @DownshiftingPRO
Overlooking Forillon National Park, Gaspesie – @DownshiftingPRO

This particular park would be a jewel in the crown of Parks Canada. Because it sits at the top of the Gaspé Peninsula, it provides the true nature experience that many identify with Canada. This is often a destination sought out by both Americans and Europeans. The idea of camping out in the woods with nothing but breathtaking views.

Forillon National Park Mont St. Alban Observation Tower Photo Credit © Parks Canada Roger St. Laurent 1 1
Mont-St-Alban observation tower. Photo Credit: © Parks Canada / Roger St-Laurent
At 283 m in altitude, you’ll be swept up by the exceptional beauty of the sea and cliffs below.

Don’t feel like you cannot experience a camping vacation as Forillon National Park offers ‘Ready to Camp’  options which provide all that you need for being in the outdoors. These unique buildings (tents, cabins or pods) are equipped with dishes, beds, stoves and even a fridge to make it easier if you want the camping experience. There are also camping spots for tents or trailers – you’ll need to make reservations early but it’s all a part of an authentic Quebec Maritime itinerary!

Cap des Rosiers Lighthouse is a National Historic Site and has stood as a sentinel since 1858. The exposed point of land is at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River where it enters the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is considered Canada’s tallest lighthouse.

Cap des Rosiers Forillon National Park @DownshiftingPRO
Cap-des-Rosiers – Forillon National Park @DownshiftingPRO –
The highest lighthouse in Canada stands at 37 meters for 165 years

Day 7 & 8 – More lighthouses and the Chic-Choc Mountains

Pointe à la Renommée Lighthouse

Pointe-a-la-Renommee-Lighthouse-Quebec-Maritime-@DownshiftingPRO
Pointe à la Renommée Lighthouse Photo Credit: @DownshiftingPRO

A little bit off the beaten pass (but well worth the detour) another stop on the Lighthouse Trail will lead you to the most moved lighthouse in Quebec, Pointe à la Renommée Lighthouse. Now in its original location, it was ‘exiled’ to Quebec City in the 1970s and returned in the late 1990s. In 1904 the first maritime radio station was built in North America at this site. They have an exhibition, Marconi and the History of Radio Communications and a small museum to learn more about the importance of this national historic event.

La Martre Lighthouse

 La Martre Lighthouse Museum - Photo Credit @DownshiftingPRO

Possibly my favourite lighthouse, La Martre Lighthouse Museum is made entirely of wood (as opposed to steel). Originally erected in 1876 the current tower was built in 1906, it stands at a height of 19.2 m (63 ft) and has a range of 27 km (17 miles).

The original timing systems still control the light. Take some time to see the permanent exhibit (which I LOVED) in the foghorn shed. The tableaux recount the history of the various shipwrecks in the area and will introduce you to the expertise involved in designing lighthouse lanterns.

Making your way on Route 132, head towards Ste. Anne des Monts, once there, you can head inland on Route 299 towards Parc national de la Gaspésie (this is part of the sepaq provincial park network – see note below). This is the gateway to Gaspésie National Park where you will find many options for outdoor activities. This area is well known as a hiker’s paradise. With almost 20 trails from easy to expert level. During the winter there are also designated snowshoeing trails to follow. They also offer ‘ready-to-camp’ options if you want to stay longer.

Many Americans are not aware that the northernmost section of the Appalachian Mountain range extends to the Chic-Choc Mountains in the Gaspésie.

@mathieudupuis GASP PNG 0021
Gaspesie National Park
Crédit photo : Mathieu Dupuis/Le Québec maritime – Parc national de la Gaspésie

Traveler’s Tip: What’s in a name ~ It’s helpful to understand that Canada Parks are National parks and are similar in scope and jurisdiction to the National Parks Service in the US. In Quebec, the provincial park system (sepaq = provincial park network ) are also referred to as national parks but are in fact similar to State Parks. All of these parks are so large that one could easily understand them to be as big (and as important) as Canada Parks. I point this out so that if you want to search for these parks you will be looking at two different websites (and jurisdictions). I have pointed out which are provincial parks with links directly to them.

Day 9 – Reford Gardens & Ferry Crossing

Jardin des Metis/Reford Gardens (International Garden Festival)

During the summer and fall, you can visit one of the loveliest gardens in Quebec. Established by Elsie Reford between 26 to 1958 the Reford Gardens is one of Canada’s national historic sites. Some 3000 species and plant varieties, including the famous Himalayan blue poppy, are spread out over 15 gardens. The reason to make this a ‘must-see’ destination in Bas St. Laurent is the annual Garden Festival.

Jardin des Metis Reford Gardens @mathieudupuis GASP JMetis 0028
Jardin de Métis, Gaspésie-Reford Gardens – Crédit photo : Mathieu Dupuis/Le Québec maritime

This International festival brings large interactive art installations into an outdoor setting. I first visited the festival in 2016 and enjoyed the many interesting exhibitions. One of my favourites was young maple trees planted in hidden rails. One was able to move the trees from one area to another. You can see this on this Instagram post.

With over 200 proposals sent only 40 made the cut in 2021. This year’s exhibition will begin at the end of June and until October 2, 2022. You can find more about this unique International Garden Festival on the blog. I will also recommend the cafe or the restaurant – if it is opened in the coming year. This is a farm-to-table menu with items harvested from the small farm on the grounds.

The Reford Gardens hosts an International Garden Festival every year and should be on your Quebec Maritime itinerary
“Se mouiller (la belle échappée)”- 2016 – International Garden Festival – Reford Gardens, Matane Quebec @DownshiftingPRO My Quebec Maritime itinerary

With plenty of time on the road, I would suggest you take a rest and stay at the modern and luxurious Riôtel Matane. With rooms overlooking the river and just a few kilometers from the Matane Lighthouse, enjoy some time on this rocky beach.

The best meal on my first trip to the Gaspé Peninsula was at their signature restaurant Cargo. Modelled for a container ship (that which runs up and down the seaway). Due to the ongoing pandemic, it is best to check directly with the hotel to see what menu is available. I would recommend a seafood or fish dish with locally sourced ingredients. You cannot go wrong!

Hotel Riotel Matane is a great stop on your Quebec Maritime itinerary
The sunsetting in Matane, Quebec – @DownshiftingPRO

Ferry from Matane to Baie Comeau/Godbout (North Shore)

At this point in the Quebec Maritime itinerary, you can take a ferry from Matane across to Baie Comeau and head south on Highway 138 towards Tadoussac. Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ) has provided ferry services from these two shores. It is best to contact the company directly to make reservations on the ferry. If you follow down the Cote Nord from Baie Comeau to Tadoussac you would be following The Whale Route.

If you visit in the winter, you can ride a series of snowmobile trails on the Côte-Nord (North Shore) region of Quebec Maritime. Believe it or not, you can drive your snowmobiles right onto the ferry and continue on the Snowmobile trail. These are well-maintained trails specifically for snowmobile enthusiasts.

CHOK8510
Photo Credit: Chok Images/Tourisme Gaspésie – Snowmobilers boarding the ferry from Matane to Baie-Comeau

Day 10 & 11 Tadoussac and the North Shore

If you choose not to cross at Matane, you can return to Riviere-du-Loup and catch a ferry to St-Siméon. You will be a short drive away from Tadoussac on the North Shore where I continue with the Quebec Maritime Itinerary. The ferry is about fifty dollars for the vehicle and $21 per passenger but is worth the crossing. Otherwise, you would have a 5+ hour trip to drive. You would have to return all the way to Quebec City and then head up again.

If you choose not to cross at Matane, you can return to Riviere-du-Loup and catch the ferry to St-Siméon. You will be a short drive away from Tadoussac on the North Shore where I continue with the Quebec Maritime Itinerary.

The ferry is about fifty dollars for the vehicle and $21 per passenger but is worth the crossing. Otherwise, you would have a 5+ hour trip to drive. You would have to return all the way to Quebec City and then head up again.

Waiting for the Ferry from Riviere du Loup to St. Simon @DownshiftingPRO

Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre

Before you take a whale-watching tour, you will want to stop at the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre in Tadoussac. This centre is dedicated to the study and preservation of whales that are found in the St. Lawrence seaway. There are guides to help you identify and teach you about marine mammals. They have whale skeletons and bones which have been painstakingly preserved for you to see. It is a small centre but full of interesting and educational items. All proceeds go directly back into the program.

Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre CIMM GREMM Tadoussac Quebec DownshiftingPRO
Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre – Tadoussac – @DownshiftingPRO
North Atlantic right whale at the CIMM Tadoussac Quebec
North-Atlantic-right-whale-at-the-CIMM-Tadoussac-Quebec @DownshiftingPRO

AML Croisiere (whale-watching tours from either Riviere-de-Loup or Tadoussac)

AML Croisiere Grand Fleuve Tadoussac @DownshiftingPRO

Undoubtedly one of the best activities to try on this trip is a whale-watching tour. I have written often about this marine adventure because there is no better way to experience the St. Lawrence River than from a ship, zodiac or kayak. With a guided tour, you get the benefit of a marine biologist teaching you about the many species of whales in the region.

From the beautiful white beluga whale to the impressive humpback whales. You will also see plenty of seals and seabirds on your trip. We took a  VIP St-Laurent Lounge of the AML Grand Fleuve last fall and loved the whole experience (even if it was pouring rain).

Haut-Fond-Prince Lighthouse_ Photo credit © Parks Canada_J.F.Bergeron_

Photo credit: Haut-Fond-Prince Lighthouse_ Photo credit © Parks Canada_J.F.Bergeron_

Lighthouse Fun Fact: Best seen from the water on a whale-watching cruise, Haut-fond Prince/ Prince Shoal Lighthouse was put into place in 1964. It is named for Prince Albert, Prince of Wales, whose ship hit the shoal in 1904 on his way to officially open the Victoria Bridge in Montreal.

Built-in Levis, Quebec (across from Quebec City), Le Toupie – as it’s been nicknamed, sits in the St. Lawrence River in 38 feet of water.

Once you have returned from the whale-watching cruise you have two very different options for accommodations in Tadoussac. You can stay at an old school, grande dame, type of hotel – Hotel Tadoussac (where there is a formal dining room and cocktail bar). The proximity to the beach lets you spend the day walking the shore or taking a short hike at Islet Point (Pointe de l’Islet).

Hotel Tadoussac

Hotel Tadoussac Cote Nord Quebec QuebecMaritime DownshiftingPRO 1
Iconic Hotel Tadoussac_ @DownshiftingPRO

Primarily a tourist destination, Tadoussac began as a trading post in the 17th century. Its location – where the Saguenay River meets the St. Lawrence River – provides epic scenic views of the Saguenay Fjords and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Its popularity as a vacation resort region began in the 19th century. Wealthy Québécois built a number of vacation villas. A Victorian hotel called the Hotel Tadoussac was built in 1864; it was expanded around 1900 and demolished in 1942, and replaced by a newer Hotel Tadoussac. This is an iconic hotel with a large lawn where you can sit in Adirondack chairs and sip a cocktail watching the boats come into the harbour.

Islet Point in Tadoussac looking towards Pointe Noire Interpretation and Observation Centre 1
Islet-Point-in-Tadoussac-looking-towards-Pointe-Noire-Interpretation-and-Observation-Centre – @DownshiftingPRO

From this point, you will be able to see the small ferry that crosses the Saguenay River to continue on Route 138 on the Côte-Nord (North Shore).

Your second option would be to stay at the family-owned and operated Ferme 5 Étoiles (5 Star Farm). Located just north of Tadoussac in Sacré-Coeur this property is one of the many quirky & unique accommodations in Quebec. There are different accommodation types from the Trapper’s Lodge, Yurts or two-bedroom kitchenette units. It is very versatile for families.

Ferme 5 Etoiles Cote Nord Quebec DownshiftingPRO
Ferm 5 Étoiles  is a family-friendly farm with varied accommodation options

The other appeal of this location is it has access to many unique experiences including a farm tour (with Grey and Artic wolves), Black Bear observation, dog sledding, kayaking, hiking and snowshoe trails.

Day 12 to 14 (additional time in Saguenay Fjords)

You can extend your Quebec Maritime itinerary with two possible changes. If you crossed over from Rivière-du-Loup to Baie Comeau, you can descend on Route 138 to Tadoussac and then to Quebec City. This is considered The Whale Route wherein you would be able to stop in villages along the way to take in the beauty of this North Shore.

The second possible addition would be a trip up the Saguenay Fjords towards Saguenay and Lac St. Jean. stop at the Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay which offers several interpretive and outdoor activities. One of the major attractions of Northeastern North America, this park’s hiking trails are filled with stunning views of the Saguenay Fjord. You will also be able to tackle a via ferrata (one of over 13 in Quebec).

Eternite Bay Saguenay River Fjords Photo Credit © Parks Canada J.F. Bergeron
Éternité Bay of the Saguenay River – Photo-Credit-©-Parks-Canada_J.F.-Bergeron

If you take this option, you will be exploring the Saguenay-Lac St. Jean region. If you want to know more about this addition, you can read this blog post – 10 Things to do in the Saguenay Fjord Region of Quebec.

This Quebec Maritime itinerary is not for the faint of heart but you can break this up into two or even three separate trips. Consider the beauty of slow travel and take even longer with a variety of accommodations you never thought were possible. You will be enriched by the culture, satiated by the marvelous seafood and microbrews, refreshed by the overwhelming natural beauty and fulfilled by knocking one more item off of your bucket list. Although this is an epic Quebec Maritime itinerary, this is not a region to be missed and I guarantee, you will want to return again and again. I have.


Disclosure: I was the guest of the tourism boards of QuébecMaritime and CôteNordSaguenay and Lac St. Jean regions as part of numerous FAM trips. I’m happy to partner with these regions for you to get to know more about them. All opinions are my own and held without reservation or prejudice. 

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.