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The Gaspésie Tour
Distance: 1422 km (884 mi.) Plan a 5-7-day trip.
Regions: Québec City & Area to Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie / Québec maritime
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Begin your Gaspésie tour from Québec City then head for the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, which can boast the most remarkable sunsets on the planet. From La Pocatière, scenic Route 132 winds along the St. Lawrence River through the gentle landscapes of Bas-Saint-Laurent, with its pretty villages that French and English gentry turned into resorts in the early 1900s, to the rugged but breathtaking scenery of the Gaspé Peninsula and the famous Percé Rock.
1. Québec City was founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. This fortified city is all about enchantment. Old stone houses, musems, quant ships, street musicians and over 250 restaurants.
2. Discover Kamouraska, where the old-world charm of narrow winding streets lined with sturdy 18-th century-old houses meets fishing nets strung along the shore. You won't want to leave without trying the village specialties of smoked eel, marinated fish and fresh seafood prepared on site.
3. Notre-Dame-du-Portage, whose opulent period verandas overlook the Pélerins Archipelago, is a popular holiday resort. It is famous today for its inns and health spa.
4. By the end of the 17th century, Rivière-du-Loup 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 offers direct river access - walking paths and bike path. Or hop on a Whale-watching cruise.
5. You must stop at the Bic National Park. Observe seabirds, rare plants and seals sunning themselves on the rocks. Explore the park by foot, bike, or sea kayak to discover breathtaking views. Visit the exhibit, participate in discovery activities and spend a night in one of their yurts!
6. In Rimouski, the St. Lawrence River is no longer a river, it has become the sea. Visit the Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site. You will relive 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.
7. Stop in at Grand-Métis to admire the 3000 native and exotic plants at the internationally renowned Reford Gardens. From the third week in June until late September, make sure to stop in at the International Garden Festival, one of the world’s leading annual garden festivals.
8. Your next stop is Matane, which means "beaver breeding ground" in the language of the Mi'kmaq Indians. Known for its shrimp factory, Matane also offers a lookout from which to watch the Atlantic salmon battle their way upstream.
9. Pursue your journey to the small village of Cap-Chat, home to Canada's largest windmill park with 133 windmills.
10. Sainte-Anne-des-Monts is the gateway to Gaspésie National Park and its breathtaking views. Stop in at Exploramer to see unusual marine phenomena, touch live organisms and sail off to discover the sea.
11. Forillon National Park of Canada is a naturalist paradise. Observe whales from its cliffs, hike through its diverse land formations and travel back in time in a meticulously restored 19th century fishing village.
12. Cap-des-Rosiers has witnessed the most impressive shipwrecks on the whole Gaspesian Coast. Visit its lighthouse, built in 1858, it is the highest lighthouse in the country.
13. The cross erected by Jacques Cartier in 1534 earned Gaspé the title of "Cradle of Canada" The municipality covers an area of nearly 1500 km2 and groups together 17 coastal villages. The Gaspé 2009 Celebrations will mark its 475th anniversary. The Gaspé Bay is a great spot for whale-watching excursions, scuba diving and kayaking. Hop on the ferry to visit Îles de la Madeleine.(reservation required - Ferry leaves at 10 h 30 p.m. from Chandler and arrives at 7 h 00 a.m.)
14. Take a cruise to Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock National Park and hike around the island. It is home to the most accessible gannet colony in the world as well as the largest. Over 300,000 seabirds nest on this island. Knowledgeable park wardens will tell you all about the history of the island, which once housed a fishing village.
15. Percé Rock is a 5-million-ton monolith. Formed over 350 million years ago, it rose from the depths of the sea. Early explorers mentioned two holes in the rock; one of the arches crumbled on June 17, 1845. Stroll around Percé, one of Québec's loveliest coastal villages. Cafés, boutiques and art galleries line its streets.
16. In Pasbébiac, visit the Banc-de-Pêche-de Paspébiac Historic Site. Discover 11 unique buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, vestiges of the world's two largest Jersey Island companies to export dried salted cod. Interpreters in period costumes and demonstrations of traditional crafts.
17. Protected by natural elements, the Chaleur Bay enjoys a micro-climate that warms its waters. Dotted with many picturesque villages, it offers inviting beaches, mountainous panoramas and red cliffs. It is an official member of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club.
18. Travel through time and find out how vertebrates made the transition from water to land in the Natural History Museum at Miguasha National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site also preserves a fossil cliff where fish and plants lived some 378 million years ago!
19. Nestled in a magnificent valley, Amqui is located where the Matapédia River and Lake meet. Dowtown, at the Pierre-et-Maurice Gagné Park, enjoy hiking, visit a covered bridge, some heritage buildings and salmon fishing sites.
For more information on the Gaspésie Tour visit: www.quebecmaritime.ca