Quebec by the Sea – The Lighthouse Trail in Quebec Maritime – Detailed Itinerary

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Quebec Maritime has to be one of the most beautiful areas in Canada. Full of sweeping vistas of mountains, fjords and the spectacular St. Lawrence Seaway. Quebec Maritime is, in fact, four regions: Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie, Côte-Nord or the Îles de la Madeleine. With over 3,000 kilometers of coastline, 10 National Parks the best part about this region is the diversity of activities. One of the best ways of seeing this region is by following The Lighthouse Trail.

Once beacons safeguarding ships as they navigated the St. Lawrence, they are now guardians of our maritime culture. Of the more than 40 lighthouses that line the coasts, 18 offer tourism activities or services to the public. You can visit these sentinels along with adjacent museums, inns or cafés, they provide visitors with an opportunity to discover history and architecture in a new way. Many are surrounded by scenic parks where you can enjoy a picnic by the sea.

To do this road trip justice, you will need to set aside between 10-14 days if you wanted to visit both the North and South shores of Quebec. We did not have that amount of time when we visited for the first time but we were able to visit a fair amount of lighthouses in 7 days. This abridged itinerary has stops in a few National and Provincial National Parks as you drive from Perce to Rimouski on Route 132.

The Lighthouse Trail in Quebec Maritime

This particular route covers 520 km and will take 6 hours, 53 minutes if driven in one shot. You can see from the map above that I have assembled the directions if you flew into Gaspe and headed 50 minutes south to Cap d’Espoir. From there you would start heading north on Route 132 towards Perce Rock.

Cap-d’Espoir

Boats with the Cap dEspoir Lighthouse QM 000429
Boats with the Cap d’Espoir Lighthouse in the background: Photo Credit: Marc Loiselle/QM

Not only is this a lighthouse but it is also a unique accommodation in Quebec Maritime. Located at the end of a point jutting out into the sea more than a kilometer from Route 132, this unique accommodation will charm you. You can rent the living quarters once occupied by the staff of the lighthouse, witness the history and legends of the sea.

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

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Although technically not a lighthouse stop, you cannot miss this stop. One of the natural symbols of Canada the iconic Percé Rock stands stoically between the Gaspé Peninsula and Bonaventure Island. It is home to 116,000 northern gannets, in the most accessible colony of these birds in the world. Be sure to also visit the Le Boutillier House to learn more about the region’s fishing history.

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Once in Percé, you would be well advised to take a cruise from the town towards Bonaventure Island with Croisières Julien Cloutier for a sea excursion towards Bonaventure island. You will tour the iconic Percé Rock and then hike up to the summit where you will visit Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park. The hike towards the colony of gannets is well worth it but be prepared for the very loud noises that these birds make. There is a cantina at the top with food and beverages available for purchase.

Cap Gaspé Lighthouse

Cap Gaspe Lighthouse Forillon National Park Photo credit Mathieu Dupuis Le Quebec maritime
Cap-Gaspé Lighthouse, Forillon National Park : Mathieu Dupuis/Le Québec maritime

Located at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, Forillon National Park is noted for its rich plant life and the thousands of seabirds nesting in its cliffs. The park also offers a multitude of activities: hiking, sea excursions, seal and beaver watching, and more. Travel back in time to the turn of the 20th century in the Grande-Grave sector by visiting various period buildings that recount the history of this area.

Perched on a 95-metre (310-foot) cliff in Forillon National Park, the Cap Gaspé Lighthouse is still operational and can be reached via the Les Graves trail. It is relatively small: about 13 metres (42 feet) high. The information panels on site will explain the navigational aids used on Cap Gaspé.

Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse

A Parks Canada Historic Site Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse stands 34 metres (112 feet) high with a range of 39 km (24 miles). It is the tallest lighthouse in Canada. It has been standing at this site since 1858 and was designated a National Historic Site in 1973. Its stone tower faced with firebrick has walls over seven feet thick at the base, tapering to three feet at the top, with foundations extending eight feet beneath the surface. Participate in a guided tour and learn more about its history and operations as you climb to the top of the light tower. Visit the engine room and see the diaphone. You can also have a virtual tour of the lighthouse.

Interesting fact: Cap-des-Rosiers site has experienced the largest number of shipwrecks in Gaspésie region.

The Lighthouse Trail in Quebec Maritime - Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse.
Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse

Pointe-à-la-Renommée Historic Site

Erected in 1880 and standing at a height of 15.5 m (50 ft), the Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse is known as the most traveled lighthouse in the world. It was reposition in 1997 after 20 years of exile in Québec city!, You can take a self-guided tour focusing on architecture and history, including the presence of North America’s first maritime radio station, installed by Marconi in 1904.

The Lighthouse Trail in Quebec Maritime - Pointe-à-la-Renommée Historic Site
Pointe-à-la-Renommée Historic Site

Find out more by visiting the two exhibitions on site: the lighthouse and the wireless telegraphy building. You will learn about the early methods of communication and the lives of the lightkeepers and their families.

Cap de la Madeleine

Located at 4, route du Phare, Sainte-Madeleine-de-la-Rivière-Madeleine, this simple lighthouse was built in 1871 and stands at 16.8 m (55 ft). It has a range of 32 km (20 miles) and is constructed of tubular steel.

Cap de la Madelaine Lighthouse Quebec Maritime Lighthouse Trail
Cap de la Madelaine Lighthouse

Cap-Chat Lighthouse

Poster of the Lighthouse Trail in Quebec Maritime that hangs in my office @DownshiftingPRO
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Perched on a cliff next to a cape in the shape of a cat, this lighthouse, which is still operational, is surrounded by flowered trails leading to the sea. Learn about the history of the lighthouse and its lightkeepers by reading the information panels. Various activities are offered on-site, and you can also spend the night in the lightkeeper’s house.

La Martre Lighthouse

The Lighthouse Trail in Quebec Maritime - La Matre Lighthouse

Possibly my favourite lighthouse, La Martre Lighthouse Museum (10, avenue du Phare, La Martre) 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 controls the light. From the tower, balcony, enjoy the strong winds and the romantic setting. A permanent exhibit (which I LOVED) in the foghorn shed recounts the history of the various shipwrecks in the area and will introduce you to the expertise involved in designing lighthouse lanterns.

The Lighthouse Trail in Quebec Maritime - La Matre Lighthouse Museum

Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site

The Lighthouse Trail - Quebec Maritime - Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site

On the night of May 29, 1914, the Empress of Ireland was struck by a Norwegian coal ship, the Storstad, near Pointe-au-Père in Bas-Saint-Laurent. The ship was headed for Liverpool and sank in just 14 minutes, killing 1012 of the 1477 people on board. A 128-step climb to the top of the Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse (the second tallest in Canada) provides a clear view of the waters where this terrible tragedy occurred. The Empress of Ireland Museum, located behind the lighthouse, recreates the ship’s last voyage.

Haut-fond Prince / Prince Shoal Lighthouse

The Lighthouse Trail - Le Toupie - Prince Shoal Lighthouse in the St. Lawrence River.
Haut-fond Prince Prince Shoal Lighthouse

Best seen from a boat, 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 official 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. It was a

Insider Tip: You will need to take a boat cruise to be able to see Le Toupie as it sits in the St. Lawrence River. Pick one up in Tadoussac and take advantage of a visit to the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre (CIMM) to learn more about whales, seals and marine life in Quebec’s St. Lawrence Seaway and Saguenay River regions. This small museum is both a research and information centre. You can learn more about Whale Watching Tours in Quebec Maritime here. Or take a virtual tour here.

Hotel Tadoussac Cote Nord Quebec Maritime @DownshiftingPRO copyright protected

Insider Tip: Stay at the iconic Hôtel Tadoussac (165, rue Bord de l’Eau, Tadoussac, Quebec, G0T 2A0 (418) 235-4421). One of the oldest hotels in the region steeped in tradition. Have a cocktail sitting on their huge front lawn watching the boats come in.

Rates: from $170 (single occupancy) to $233 (double occupancy)
Note: opening dates July 1 to the end of October

The Lighthouse Trail in Quebec La Martre
The Lighthouse Trail in Quebec Pointe au Pere Rimouski 1
The Lighthouse Trail in Quebec Haut Fond Prince Lighthouse
Haut Fond Prince Lighthouse Gaspe Peninsula Quebec Maritime Lighthouse Trail @DownshiftingPRO
Haut-fond Prince/ Prince Shoal Lighthouse – Quebec Maritime’s Lighthouse Trail

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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.

2 thoughts on “Quebec by the Sea – The Lighthouse Trail in Quebec Maritime – Detailed Itinerary”

    • It is pretty spectacular. Have you been to Quebec Maritime? Let me know if you have. I’d love to read a blog post! Thanks for dropping by.

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