The Route

In the Summer of 2022, my wife and I packed up and went on a trip we had been talking about for years, a drive around the Gaspésie Peninsula of Quebec. We added in a few stops before (Montreal, Quebec City) and a few after (Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia) to make the best use of our time in Canada. I hope this itinerary gives you a few good ideas for your own trip!



Our trip started in Montreal. We drove there over two days from our home in North Carolina. We visited on the weekend and chose a hotel outside the city center in the nearby suburb of Laval. While not particularly scenic, this nonetheless worked out well, as driving into Montreal itself on the weekend and finding parking was very manageable. Additionally, there was a suburban St. Viateur Bagel shop as well as a Premier Moisson nearby for breakfast. There was also a Metro station nearby that we could have opted for which would have taken us into town. Traveling by car we would have needed to pay for parking had we stayed in the center of the city.

Montreal, from the top of Mont Royal Park. Credit: Stories and Artworks by Bill

Day 1 Itinerary:  After breakfast at St. Viateur, we drove into the city and parked near Vieux Montreal. We walked the streets of the old city with stops at The Old Port, Bonsecours Market, Chateau Ramezay, and Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal (buy tickets online in advance). After lunch, we took the metro to the Olympic Stadium and spent the afternoon walking the nearby Montreal Botanical Garden

Day 2 Itinerary: We had coffee and delicious pastries at Premier Moisson, then we drove to Mount Royal Park and walked to Kondiaronk Belvedere for views of the city. After that, we visited the nearby Saint Joseph’s Oratory. The afternoon was all about food. We visited the Little Italy neighborhood and walked through the many stalls at Jean-Talon Market. After that, we had time for a quick stop at Habitat 67 for some photos. If you do make the Habitat 67 stop, walk the short trail along the river behind it, on a nice day there will be people surfing the eddies.

Quebec City

After one more St. Viateur bagel it was time for the short drive to Quebec City. We arrived at the hotel in Sainte Foy on the outskirts of Quebec City. Again, with a car we avoided staying in the crowded Old Town area, this too worked out well as driving and parking were very simple. If you fly to Montreal, there is a convenient bus and train service to Quebec City.

Old Town Quebec City. Credit: Stories and Artworks by Bill

Day 1: Leaving Montreal in the morning the drive to Quebec City was only 2.5 hours. That allowed for time for a stop at Parc Nautique de Cap-Rouge to look for shorebirds, as well as a drive into Old Town for a short sightseeing walk along the Promenade and down to Le Petit Champlain before dinner at Sapristi Old Town. We were seated outside on a pleasant summer evening watching people stroll by as we lingered over dinner.

Day 2: Île d’Orléans is an island in the St. Lawrence, very close to Quebec City. It is full of farms, wineries, restaurants, bakeries and shops. It is well worth spending a day there. We started in the morning and drove the perimeter of the island, stopping spontaneously and often. Highlights were Vignoble Ste Pétronille, the Horatio Walker Promenade, the Saint Laurent Maritime Museum, poutine for lunch at Resto de la Plage, and a bakery stop at La Midinette. We also stopped at a few farm stands for fresh strawberries. Les Fromages de l’isle d’Orléans for cheese, another vineyard stop at Le Vignoble du Mitan, then finally the last stop on our counter-clockwise loop, and easily the best, Cassis Monna et Filles for cassis ice cream and wine, port and cassis tasting. Bring a bottle or two home, they do not ship. On the way back to Quebec City at the end of the day, we stopped at Chute Montmorency but the cable car was closed, though one could still take the staircase to the top of the falls. If seeing the Chute is important I suggest doing that first thing before getting on the island.

Day 3: Quebec City. The first stop in the morning was Boulangerie Pâtisserie Le Croquembouche. Then we walked to and around The Citadelle. Soon it was time for lunch at Aux Anciens Canadiens. We finished the afternoon walking the Plains of Abraham, and The Joan of Arc Garden.


Day 1: It was time to leave the large cities behind and drive northwest to the Gaspe peninsula. We stopped for picnic supplies at Sainte Foy Public Market before leaving. From there it was a three-hour drive along the southern bank of the Saint Lawrence, past Riviere-du-Loup where we stayed for two nights. for a visit to L’Isle Verte. There are stops all along the coastal drive in the Gaspesie called “Halte Municipale”. Nearly every village seems to have one, no matter how small. Some are nothing more than a gravel parking lot and a composting toilet, others are larger and nearby shops and restaurants. Almost all of them afford great views of the river and nearby towns. We stopped at them frequently for pictures as well as to just slow down and enjoy the drive. I was grateful we took our time and did not just race from city to city on our agenda. We stopped After lunch at the L’Isle Verte Halte Municipale we learned we did not have time to take the ferry to the island, the route is severely constrained by the tides and does not run frequently enough for us to make a short visit. Instead, we walked through the quiet town and down to the pier, in hopes of seeing some birds but in the height of the afternoon, there weren’t many around. After checking in to Hôtel Universel we had time for a few park stops in town. The first was Parc Des Chutes, a small but very nice park that featured a waterfall, reminiscent of Ithaca NY, and many warblers and songbirds. Cedar Waxwings are very common in this part of the world in summertime. As the sun was setting we headed to Park of the Pointe for a spot on the beach along the river to watch the sunset with the locals. We struggled to find a parking spot, it was nearly full and every license plate was Quebec. Except for mine. Bring a picnic dinner and don’t miss this spot.

Sunset at Park of the Pointe. Credit: Stories and Artworks by Bill

Day 2: It was a Saturday so our first stop was the Marché Public in Rimouski followed by Boulangerie Le Farinographe Inc. for our day’s supply of food. We had planned to visit nearby Bic National Park for hiking and birdwatching but were turned away at the gate as the park was at capacity that Saturday morning and we did not know we needed to buy an advance ticket (always buy advance tickets a few days before visiting any Sepaq Canadian National Park). With the day free we wandered a bit and happily stumbled upon Site ornithologique du marais de Gros-Cacouna. It was nearly empty and there were trails and observation towers, and birds everywhere. There were Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Cedar Waxwings, and a great many ducks, Mallards, and Gadwalls. Another birder excitedly told us (in French) about a group of nearby Trumpeter Swans. For dinner, we packed a picnic and watched the sunset at Park of the Pointe again.


Day 1: On our way to Saint-Anne-des-Monts we made a turn inland to visit another park, the Réserve faunique de Matane. It felt fairly wild and remote, the last few miles of the drive were on a dirt road. We did however see a few warblers and a group of Common Mergansers on the river. We also saw a great deal of moose poop, but mercifully no moose. Upon arriving in town and checking in to the very nice Hôtel & cie we drove a short way to the water for a beer and sunset over the river at Microbrasserie Le Malbord. This is a can’t-miss stop on the journey. Saint-Anne-des-Monts was a wonderful place to stop for a few days, close to parks, small and quaint. Everything we needed was there.

Saint-Anne Waterfall, Gaspesie National Park. Credit: Stories and Artworks by Bill

Gaspésie National Park

Day 2: We took another inland drive, this time to Gaspésie National Park, for some hiking and birdwatching. Far less remote than Matane, it was crowded like a busy popular U.S. National Park, with a crowded visitor center and overflowing parking lot. We hiked a few of the trails near the main visitor center, including the waterfall trail. We had a great day birding there, a great many warblers, Cape May, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, and Magnolia to name a few. We also spotted this Red-breasted nuthatch. At the end of the day, we went back to Microbrasserie Le Malbord for one more sunset.


Day 1: Our last stop before leaving Sainte-Anne-des-Monts was the very nice MARIE4poches bakery where we bought our food for the long drive to Percé. The drive along the water was scenic and we stopped numerous times along the way before arriving at our hotel, Hôtel Motel Manoir de Percé located on the busy main street through town overlooking the water.

Perce Rock and Ile Bonaventure at sunset. Credit: Stories and Artworks by Bill

Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park

Day 2: We got pastries and quiche for breakfast at Boulangerie le Fournand. Our destination for the day was the Northern Gannet colony at Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park. We bought our park ticket a few days in advance, ferry tickets have to be purchased in person on the day of the trip at one of a few kiosks in town. We hiked the perimeter of the island and spent a long time with the many thousands of nesting gannets, who didn’t seem to mind our presence.

Part of the Northern Gannet colony on Ile Bonaventure. Credit: Stories and Artworks by Bill

Day 3: After another breakfast stop at Boulangerie le Fournand, we drove to Forillon National Park to spend the day hiking and birding. The Mont Saint Alban trail is a popular destination that includes an observation tower at the top. We hiked the entire trail, during which we had our first and only moose encounter. Fortunately, it was 20 yards or so off of the trail in the trees eating leaves, and didn’t seem to notice us or any of the other people walking by. We ended the day at the beach at nearby Cap-Bon-Ami, where we saw Black-legged kittiwakes, Harlequin ducks, and Black guillemots in the water. After the moose experience, I needed a beer back in Percé at Pub Pit Caribou at the end of the day.


Day 1: After picking up lunch for later in the day at Sandwicherie Chez Max we resumed the perimeter drive. We had hoped to stay in Carleton-sur-Mer but were unable to make a booking, so out of necessity we found a hotel in Dalhousie in nearby New Brunswick and that was our destination for the day. We stopped at numerous birding spots and Halte Municipales along the drive. Notable were: Lac Vachon in Chandler, Parc du Bourg de Pabos in Pabos Mills, and Port Daniel Bay. There is a small observation tower in Port Daniel Bay that had great views of the many ducks and shorebirds.

Day 2: On our last day on the Gaspésie peninsula, we first visited Miguasha National Park, and saw the many dinosaur fossils. Then we parked at Carleton-sur-Mer, our final stop. We bought a great vegetarian lunch at Le Comptoir du Vraquier and ate at a picnic table near the beach. It was so good we stopped in again later in the day for dinner. We walked all along the beach as well as past the campground out to the lighthouse, where at sunset families were setting their picnic tables for dinner. It would have been nice to be able to join them. Our time on the peninsula was complete, and we agreed to return in the future.

Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Day 1: Having completed our Gaspésie tour, we headed south through New Brunswick to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, where we spent two wonderful evenings at The Harbour House bed and breakfast in the heart of Charlottetown. Breakfast in the dining rooms was a highlight of each day. We only had time for a short walk around town before dinner and live music at Olde Dublin Pub. Where the Gaspésie peninsula felt very French, Prince Edward Island, at least Charlottetown, seemed more British or Irish in its feel and heritage.

Greenwich Trail, P.E.I. National Park. Credit: Stories and Artworks by Bill

Prince Edward Island National Park

Day 2: Prince Edward Island National Park, potatoes, blueberries. Our only full day on P.E.I.. we spent traveling to and walking the trails at this national park by the water. We took the floating walkway and climbed the stairs over the dunes to the pristine beach. We hiked all the trails in the Greenwich area and drove to the Brackley-Dalvay section of the park. It was August and we passed fields of potatoes all along the route on the way back. We stopped at a farm stand for fresh potatoes and blueberries and cooked them on a hot plate back at the B&B. The potatoes that is. 

Liverpool, N.S.

Day 1: A short stop in Nova Scotia was next, and after a fairly long drive, we arrived at Peggy’s Cove but only stopped for a short walk and a few pictures, as it was very crowded with tourists. We arrived in Lunenburg later in the day, in time for a short walk through the multicolored town and seafood for dinner at The South Shore Fish Shack. Bad weather cut our stay in Nova Scotia short.

Saint John, N.B

As the weather was still quite rainy, we headed in the general direction of Maine and decided for one last stop in Saint John, New Brunswick. The route map above shows us taking the ferry, but in reality we drove to Saint John. The ferry was quite expensive and ran very infrequently during the day. The conditions and timing didn’t leave time for much more than dinner at the Saint John City Market and an early night in. Had the weather and timing been better we might have ventured out to see the Reversing Falls.

Saint John was our last Canadian stop on the trip. Our next destination was New York City. We drove there in two days, with an overnight stop in Waterville, Maine.

Final Thoughts

We loved our trip to the Gaspesie. It was the perfect combination of nature, parks, and small towns to discover. It is a hidden gem and we are eagerly looking forward to returning in the future. I hope this itinerary gives you some ideas for your road trip!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.