Quebec--The Other Road Trip
By Miranda Plunkett
Tariff bickering aside, our northern neighbor has a number of excellent road trips. In Quebec the lesser known Gaspé Peninsular to the northeast of Montreal and Quebec City sticks out like a tongue into the Gulf of St.Lawrence. Its stunning north shore runs along the southern side of the St.Lawrence River and bends round towards the maritime province of New Brunswick. A gentle drive from Montreal back to the States via Maine takes roughly ten days with stops of one to two nights along the way.
Some interesting places en route are the Ursulines Museum in Quebec City which has a well-curated collection showing life at the former convent and girls’ boarding school. Further ecclesiastical inspiration can be experienced with a night in one of the beautifully restored monastic rooms at Le Monastere des Augustines. The conversion into a sleek modern hotel and wellness center maintains the spirit of the former monastery with elegant simplicity.
Heading north along the St. Lawrence lies the summer resort of Tadoussac, a bastion of 28 English/Canadian families. A free car ferry goes back and forth across the mouth of the Saguenay River for the 15-minute crossing. Overlooking the bay is the original chapel built by a Jesuit missionary which is now a museum. Chez Mathilde in town serves creative local fare such as red dear, sea urchin and a maple syrup desert which appears on a plank of wood spread over ice.
Baie Comeau lies approximately two hours north of Tadoussac and has daily ferry crossings across the St.Lawrence. Arrive early to visit the Borale Soap Factory on the main street which makes and sells pure cleansing products on site. The ferry lands you on the Gaspé’s northern shore which is not to be missed by night as you drive east towards Percé and its dramatic off shore rock. It is a bustling resort worth exploring outside the province’s annual construction worker’s holiday, usually scheduled the last two weeks of July. Raoul and Simone is a treasure among the more predictable tourist shops, and nothing beats a table at Comptoir Monsieur Emile for a sunset water view.
The drive along the south shore can be completed in a day with a coffee break at Brulerie du Quai where the beans are home-roasted and the deck is a definite meeting spot. Crossing the bridge at Campbellton into New Brunswick the Acadian influence continues as far as Miramachi where Irish heritage takes over. The Governor’s Mansion Inn is a charming stopover. It lies on the river in a quiet hamlet and has been beautifully restored by the current owner including a bedroom where Queen Elizabeth reputedly slept on her first tour of Canada.
Reaching the US border in Calais, Maine can be done via Fredericton or Saint John with a final night or two in the picturesque town of St.Andrews on the Bay of Fundy. The Treadwell Inn has rooms overlooking the bay and a fun tapas bar, or a room at The Rossmount Inn might give you an advantage for a dinner reservation in its much coveted restaurant.
Miranda runs a travel consultancy business, mlpdestinations.com, and advises clients on all areas of travel from whom to travel with to preparing outline itineraries.