9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions on the Gaspé Peninsula
The Gaspé Peninsula (250 kilometers long and 100-140 kilometers across) extends into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, making it isolated from the rest of Québec. Inland, Gaspésie is a mountainous, wooded wilderness, but the peninsula has a wild and rugged north coast where the people live in small villages and depend partly on fishing for their livelihood. The south coast is gentler and not so steep and has some farmland as well as the usual timber. Not least of the Gaspé Peninsula's attractions is its excellent cuisine. Local specialties uphold the best of French tradition with game, fish, and seafood - including local trout, Atlantic salmon, and fresh lobster.
1 Forillon National Park
At the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, this scenic park juts out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Forillon National Park's northern coast is wild and rugged with mostly limestone cliffs. The southern coastal strip is less grand, but just as impressive with opportunities for bird watching and for whale watching trips by boat. For anyone wanting to know more about the wildlife of the area, there is an information center at Cap des Rosiers - which is also the site of a historic lighthouse, the tallest in Canada. Further on, at Cap Bon-Ami, a narrow path leads down to the beach for a magnificent view of the cape and the cliffs.
Address: 122 Gaspé Blvd, Gaspé
2 Bonaventure Island
This island of Île Bonaventure is a bird sanctuary covering about four square kilometers. It is North America's largest gannetry - about 50,000 gannets journey here in summer. The eastern side of the island is an ideal nesting site with rocky clefts and ledges. Besides the gannets, there are cormorants and other seabirds as well as a nature trail so that visitors can see them better.
From the top of the gleaming red rock mountain (320 meters), there is a magnificent view of the Percé Coast and surrounding region.
3 Editor's Pick Perce Coast
Most of the natural beauties of the Gaspé Peninsula are to be found in and around the community of Percé. Formerly a remote fishing village, Percé has a wonderful setting that is a great attraction for visitors in the summer months. The town gets its name from a heavily eroded rock, which is pierced (percé in French) by a large hole at one end. Indeed, the whole coast is a magnificent natural spectacle that's incredibly photogenic with rocky outcrops, towering cliffs, and surf. Another favored local site is the Grande Crevasse near Mont-Blanc. A path leads from Gîte de Gargantua to a precipitous chasm, although this is a walk for experienced ramblers only.
Gaspé, the main town of the peninsula and the administrative and commercial center, is on a hillside overlooking the York Rivière. The town owes its fame to Jacques Cartier, since it was here that he first set foot on the continent of North America in July 1534, fashioned a wooden cross under the gaze of the local settlers, and took possession of the land "in the name of the King of France". Nowadays Gaspé is a community based on fishing and the fishing industry, with a couple of sightseeing attractions. Well worth a visit, the modern cathedral of Gaspé is built almost entirely of wood and contains beautiful stained glass. The Musée de la Gaspésie tells of Jacques Cartier's voyages, and also gives an account of the Anglo-French struggle for power over this region.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Gaspé
Grande-Vallee is beautifully situated between rolling hills and the ocean with its small white church perched above a dramatic cliff. Scenic lookouts are the top attraction in town, but there is also a covered wooden bridge dating from 1923. About 45 kilometers east of Grande-Vallée, Pointe à la Renommée Historic Site is a much-photographed lighthouse and the one-time location of a Guglielmo Marconi maritime radio station.
This little holiday community is on Chaleur Bay, and was founded by Acadians fleeing here to escape deportation. During the summer months, Bonaventure gets busy when visitors flock to this region to visit the local Acadian museum, a church noted for it's architecture and paintings, and the Bioparc zoo. About 20 kilometers east of Bonaventure, Banc de Paspebiac Historical Site has 11 restored buildings that help tell the story of the local fishing industry.
The road to Ste-Anne-des-Monts is typical of the rocky coast. The route runs through impenetrable terrain, either at the water's edge or along the cliff tops, and passes through many little fishing villages with relatively large churches, and nothing but waves, white horses, and seagulls as far as the eye can see. The bright-red La Martre Lighthouse and Museum is situated about 15 kilometers east of the town. Inland from Ste-Anne-des-Monts, Parc de la Gaspésie contains the highest points in the Shickshock Mountains, including Mont Jacques-Cartier, Mont Richardson, and Mont Albert. Between the peaks, there are spacious valleys as well as trails for hiking and snowshoeing.
Carleton is on a bay with an offshore sandbank. The scenery here is dominated by Mount St-Joseph, which stands just under 600 meters high. From Carleton, a small road leads up to the peak from where there is a magnificent view over Baie des Chaleurs.
The village of Matapédia is in a lovely setting between famous salmon rivers amidst green hills - hills that show a fabulous display of color during the fall. The town and area are popular with fishermen and hunters. A number of covered bridges, some open to traffic - others pedestrian only, have been preserved from the early 20th century.