FDR, Frederic Church, Gaspe Peninsula, Haute-Gaspesie, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller, Perce Rock, Quebec, Shelburne Farm Inn, US Grant
After a visit back home celebrating our kids first home of their own (a fixer-upper we know will be great when they’re done); checking in with an eye doc about Ed’s eventual cataract surgery and enjoying time with family and friends, we headed north towards the Hudson River area of New York. With no particular plan other than eventually landing in Canada’s Gaspésie Peninsula, we did a kind of house tour trip as we went. In the interest of brevity and not really having much to say, we’ll offer up these brief recommendations.
Now….on with the “real” blog post 🙂
The south shore of the St. Lawrence River runs the length of the northern border of the Gaspésie Peninsula until both river and land meet the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the Canadian province of Quebec. On the south side, the peninsula is separated from the Province of New Brunswick by the Restigouche River and Chaleur Bay. As has always been our experience with all the Canadian Border Services personnel, crossing at Fork Kent, Maine was easy. We chatted with the officer about where we were going and how long we intended to stay. He gave us some direction suggestions and didn’t seem to mind we had no concrete plans. 🙂
The peninsula is divided into sections with descriptive names and we headed north for Sainte-Flavie in the part labeled “The Coast” where we managed to get a tight, unlevel but ok spot on the St. Lawrence River at Capitaine Homard.
Having made good driving time and with our site secured we headed just up the road to Jardins de Métis (Reford Gardens). These beautiful gardens were the result of Elise Reford’s doctor’s suggestion of less stressful excursion (i.e. instead of her normal fishing, riding, and hunting) following an appendectomy.
Ed generally likes to travel counterclockwise when doing big loops so we headed south on 132 into the section labeled “The Valley”. The countryside here is low, steep mountains where after a bit the road also runs beside the Matapedia River. We took a side road to Saint-Irene where the guidebook said there was a lookout tower.
Upon reaching the south side of the peninsula, “The Bay” section, we headed east on the ring road 132 where the views were to our eye, just water (sometimes) and small towns.
We stopped for the night at Parc du Bourg de Pabos where a nice bilingual fellow camper helped us get a spot.
Finally in the section labeled “Land’s End” we started to actually see boats and folks playing in the water.
The drive from Percé Rock was prettier than anything we had seen so far. Arriving at the town of Gaspé we sat at the sidewalk tables of Brise-Bise had a very good lunch.
Next day we drove to the north entrance of Parc National Forillon and did the short walk out to Cap Bon Ami.
Continuing west on 132 just outside Forillon we spotted Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse.
At the very beginning of the loveliest section on the peninsula, “The Haute-Gaspesie” (High-Gaspesie) we stopped briefly at the Cap de la Madeleine Lighthouse.
From here the road is absolutely running “between a rock and a hard place” 🙂 For approximately 84 kilometers (52 miles) RT 132 runs next to the cliff face of the Chic-Chocs Mountains and the St. Lawrence.
Overall, our recommendation for the Gaspésie Peninsula is weak at best. Except for the Lands End and Haute- Gaspesie sections it’s just not special enough, although Ed’s photographs may seem to put the lie to this. The people are the least friendly we have ever met! Without exaggeration, in the 7 ½ days, we were here 5 people either smiled back, said bonjour/hello or waved when we did any of those things (which we do all the time.) NONE did so first! I will say that one on one, almost everyone was pleasant, helpful and/or patient. Granted they are FRENCH Canadians, but Canada is an English language country. Almost exclusively, no effort is made to include a translation on signs, labels, menus, directions, anything, and it does complicate things. Although, we both are getting better at figuring words and meanings out. True disclosure…I went from an A to an F in 7th-grade French class! I commented to Ed several times that coming from a country where everything seems to have English/Spanish (or more) on it, these folks sure don’t seem to want to be inclusive 🙂 . We, me especially, found the experience exhausting and it colored my whole outlook. So, after a night of conversation and wine, we decided to head for the ferry at Matane to cross the St. Lawrence and see what was on the north shore and beyond.