Southeastern Quebec is a coastal region in Quebec with small towns and villages hugging the coast. It is east of Quebec City and south of the St. Lawrence River. The Gaspé is particularly scenic.
between the St. Lawrence River and northern Maine
|Gaspé Peninsula |
rugged peninsula jutting into the Gulf of St. Lawrence
- 1 Gaspé the gateway to Forillon National Park; it doesn't have much of interest to visitors, but it is the peninsula's main service centre
- 2 Matane — the terminus of the easternmost ferry crossing of the St. Lawrence
- 3 Percé — a tourist town at the eastern tip of the peninsula is most famous for the Percé Rock — an arch-shaped rock formation swarmed constantly in the summer months by tour boats (and seabirds)
- 4 Rimouski — the biggest city of Bas-Saint-Laurent, known for its student community
- 5 Rivière-du-Loup — home of the Musee du Bas Saint-Laurent, which has a huge collection of photographs
This is the most "maritime" part of Quebec. Its economy and culture are, much like neighbouring New England or Atlantic Canada, heavily influenced by the sea. This area was explored by Europeans (mainly people from the Basque-speaking region of France) hunting for whales, before becoming a French-speaking agricultural settlement using the St. Lawrence River for transportation.
Nowadays, whale-watching, not hunting, is an important industry here along with fishing and farming.
French is the primary language of communication here, and you hardly hear any English spoken, although many younger people are bilingual.
Autoroute 20 will bring you into the region from Montreal or Quebec City and goes through Rivière-du-Loup to Trois-Pistoles. Route 132 continues up the river to Rimouski, and into the Gaspesie and to Campbellton, New Brunswick.
Autoroute 85 will bring you from Edmunston, New Brunswick.
There are ferries across the St. Lawrence River from Saint-Siméon to Rivière-du-Loup, Forestville to Rimouski, and from Baie-Comeau/Godbout to Matane.
Aéroport régional de Mont-Joli (YYY IATA) is the closest airport with scheduled flights, 35 km to the east of Rimouski. It has flights from Baie-Comeau, Montréal, Quebec City, Sept-Îles and Bonaventure/Îles de la Madeleine.
Via Rail's Ocean service between Montreal and Halifax stops three times a week in Rimouski, La Pocatière, Trois-Pistoles, Rivière-du-Loup and Matapedia.
Orléans Express has many daily runs to Rivière-du-Loup from Quebec City and Montreal with onward connections to Rimouski. Maritime Bus runs across the Gaspésie peninsula to Rivière-du-Loup from Moncton with connections to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and PEI.
Route 132 runs along the shore of the St. Lawrence River the length of the Bas-St-Laurent region and around the Gaspé Peninsula. The faster and less scenic Autoroute 20 follows a parallel route through Rivière-du-Loup as far as Trois-Pistoles.
Route 299 cuts through the virgin wilderness of the peninsula's interior from New Richmond to Sainte-Anne-des-Monts.
Two Orléans Express buses per day follow Route 132 eastward around either side of the Gaspé peninsula.
RéGÎM (Régie Intermunicipale de Transport, or Intermunicipal Transportation Board) is a rural public transit network with about a dozen routes that cover most of the Gaspé Peninsula, except the Matapédia Valley.
The Route Verte 1 of Quebec's cycling network is mostly a bike lane along the paved shoulder of Route 132, with some detours along secondary roads and directly through village centres that are bypassed by the highway. There are many sections have not been completed.
The drive along the coast of the Gaspé Peninsula is spectacular. And the Gaspé Peninsula offers four national and provincial parks (in Quebec, both are called parcs nationals): Gaspésie National Park, Forillon National Park, Miguasha National Park, and the Gaspé Peninsula's marquee tourist attraction, Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock National Park. The latter is home to Percé Rock, a rock formation pierced through the bottom by a 15-metre (49-foot) arch, and to Bonaventure Island, home of the world's largest breeding colony of gannets, and to thousands of cormorants, puffins and murres.
For history and culture, you can explore Point-au-Père maritime historic site, which has the second-tallest lighthouse in Canada,and a marine museum with an exhibit on the sinking of the Empress of Ireland ocean, and the Onondaga, a Canadian Navy submarine. The Musee du Bas Saint-Laurent, in Rivière-du-Loup, has nearly 250,000 photographic images mainly covering the first half of the 20th century. The Aster scientific station, in Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, has an interactive exhibition and a telescope of 356 mm.
In Bonaventure, the Quebec Acadian Museum is an interpretive museum that retells the saga of the Acadian settlers of Quebec. In New Richmond, the Gaspesian British Heritage Village has a recreation of an 18th-century Loyalist town with 20 period-style buildings including houses, a school, a general store, and a lighthouse.
Almost 2,600 km of ATV trails crisscross the Gaspé Peninsula, linking seaside villages and penetrating the rugged interior. There are trails hundreds of kilometres of trails for hikers along the coast and in the mountains. The most famous of these is a segment of the International Appalachian Trail which links with the American Appalachian Trail. The Quebec leg crosses the Gaspé Peninsula from Matapédia, on the border with New Brunswick, to Cap-Gaspé in Forillon National Park, and passes through the Matapédia Valley and Gaspésie National Park and along the St. Lawrence coast. Ile aux Lievres, 8 km off Rivière-du-Loup (accessible by passenger boat), has 45 km of hiking trails. The 144-km Bas-Saint-Laurent National Trail stretches from Trois-Pistoles to Degelis crossing 10 municipalities. Hikers will move from a seascape to a more forested landscape along the Trois-Pistoles River.
Throughout the region, fishing, boating, water sports, or spending time on the beaches along the St. Lawrence or in Chaleur Bay (so named because of its warm waters). There are also many mountain streams and lakes in the interior. Salmon fishing is particularly popular.
In winter, there are great places for skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. More than 6 metres of snow fall each year on the Chic-Chocs Mountains, which offer great slopes in a variety of locations. Snowmobilers can take advantage of an extensive network of trails.
- See also: Winter in North America
The articles cold weather and winter driving have advice which will be relevant to many travellers in this region. Black bears and moose can be particular dangers. See dangerous animals for information on safety advice.