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Gaspesie, Quebec, Canada

Gaspé is a city at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine region of eastern Quebec, Canada. Gaspé is located about 650 kilometers northeast of Quebec City and 350 kilometers east of Rimouski. 

In addition to Gaspé itself, the city's territory also includes the communities of Cap-aux-Os, Cap-des-Rosiers, Douglastown, Haldimand, Jersey Cove, L'Anse-à-Fugère, L'Anse-à-Valleau, L'Anse-au-Griffon, Penouille, Petit-Cap, Petite-Rivière-au-Renard, Pointe-Jaune, Rivière-au-Renard, Rivière-Morris, Sandy Beach, Saint-Majorique, Saint-Maurice-de-l'Échouerie, Wakeham, and York Centre. The city's territory occupies 1440 square kilometers and borders the sea and the St-Lawrence River for some 130 km. French is the first language learned by most of Gaspé's population where nearly 90% of the population is French Canadian.

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Gaspesie, Quebec, Canada

Destination:

Gaspé is a city at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine region of eastern Quebec, Canada. Gaspé is located about 650 kilometers northeast of Quebec City and 350 kilometers east of Rimouski. 

In addition to Gaspé itself, the city's territory also includes the communities of Cap-aux-Os, Cap-des-Rosiers, Douglastown, Haldimand, Jersey Cove, L'Anse-à-Fugère, L'Anse-à-Valleau, L'Anse-au-Griffon, Penouille, Petit-Cap, Petite-Rivière-au-Renard, Pointe-Jaune, Rivière-au-Renard, Rivière-Morris, Sandy Beach, Saint-Majorique, Saint-Maurice-de-l'Échouerie, Wakeham, and York Centre. The city's territory occupies 1440 square kilometers and borders the sea and the St-Lawrence River for some 130 km. French is the first language learned by most of Gaspé's population where nearly 90% of the population is French Canadian.

Gaspé is where Jacques Cartier took possession of New France (now part of Canada) in the name of François I of France on July 24, 1534.

Etymology

The most common assumption is that "Gaspé" may come from the Mi'kmaq word Gespeg which means "Land's end". However, other theories hold that the name may be a mutation of the Basque word geizpe or kerizpe which means "shelter" or "place of refuge". Another theory is that it is named after Portuguese explorer Gaspar Corte-Real, who explored the Labrador in 1500.

In 1600, Englishman Richard Hakluyt used the name Gaspay in his translation of Cosmosgraphie by Jean Alfonse, which became the common spelling in the early 17th century. Thereafter, many other spellings appeared such as Gachepé, Gachepay, Gaschepay, Gaspey, Gaspèche, and Gapèche.

History

Gaspé claims the title of "Cradle of French America", because on June 24, 1534, Jacques Cartier halted in the bay after losing an anchor during a storm and officially took possession of the area by planting a wooden cross with the king's coat of arms and the sentence Vive le Roi de France (meaning "Long live the King of France"). Cartier met there an indigenous tribe that referred to the territory as Honguedo, probably a Mi'kmaq word meaning "meeting place".

Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, British officers and soldiers acquired free land in Gaspé. And in 1784, they were joined by many Loyalist settlers. From then on, Gaspé became an important commercial fishing centre, especially of cod. In 1804, its post office opened.

In 1833 in Gaspé County there were only ten farmers, all in the Gaspé Bay area (of whom seven were also involved in the fishery), four whalers in Gaspé Bay, five shipbuilders (one a Jersey firm), one blacksmith, two lumber merchants, five shipowners (all Jerseymen), eighteen fish merchants (of whom all but five were Jerseymen) and thirty-two major fishing establishments (of which sixteen were Jersey owned).

Gaspé was first incorporated as a village municipality in 1855. From 1861 to 1866, the port of Gaspé was a duty-free port, making shipping the primary economic activity. With some 40 to 50 European ships docking annually, many countries opened consulates in Gaspé, including Italy, United States, Brasil, Portugal, and Norway. By 1911, the railroad reached Gaspé. But the town's ambition to become an international shipping and transportation hub ended with the growing importance of the Montreal and Halifax harbors.

During World War II, some 3000 soldiers were stationed at a naval base built at Sandy Beach, in order to patrol the Gulf of Saint Lawrence against German submarines.

In 1959, Gaspé gained city status. In 1971, the city was greatly expanded when it amalgamated these 11 surrounding municipalities (with a year of original incorporation):

In subsequent years, the city's area was further expanded by absorbing large tracts of adjacent unorganized territory.

A representation of a small village, with a dozen houses serving as a historical site, was constructed in front of the Place Jacques Cartier mall and above the boardwalk along the York River. The village is a monument to Jacques Cartier and serves as a museum for tourists and locals.

Cross of Gaspé

In 1934, the Federal Government commissioned the installation of a monolithic granite cross in Gaspé, for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Jacques Cartier in Gaspé as of July 24, 1534. This 32 feet (9.8 m) high monolithic cross had been cut in 1934, from a block of gray granite extracted from the stone quarry of Augustus Dumas, in Rivière-à-Pierre in the Portneuf region, on North Shore of the Saint Lawrence river. This

Cross of Gaspé

that weighs more than 42 tons, was transported by two railcars of the Canadian National Railway from Rivière-à-Pierre. Then the cross was carried on a coaster to Gaspé wharf. This cross was erected on its base using a rail system of pulleys and cables, driven by the strength of many horses. The original craftsmen would be listed at the top of the cross. This cross is the largest monolithic granite cross crafted in Canada.
A commemorative plaque located at the foot of the

Cross in Gaspé

was inaugurated on 23 August 2009, in memory of artisans from Rivière-à-Pierre who extracted and cut this block of granite.

A replica of the

Cross of Gaspé

was crafted by Rivière-à-Pierre craftsmen and erected in the heart of the village of Rivière-à-Pierre. This granite cross is half the height of the original cross.

Climate

In spite of its coastal position, Gaspé has a humid continental climate with vast seasonal differences in temperature. Summers are warm but relatively short, whereas winters are very cold given its coastal position, but still far warmer than inland areas of the province. It stays above the subarctic range due to the seasonal lag keeping September temperatures above 10 °C (50 °F) in the daily mean. As a result of the seasonal lag, March is a proper winter month and is far colder than November. As typical of Quebec, precipitation and resulting snowfall are high due to the reliable winter temperatures below freezing.


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Gaspesie, Quebec, Canada: Port Information


The Port of Gaspé has a two-sided wharf; on the one, it measures 175 meters (574 ft), with a depth of 8 meters (26 ft), and on the other measures 180 meters (590 ft) with a depth of 10 meters (33 ft).
Most cruise liners are anchored, and passengers are transported to the wharf by tender boats.
There's a terminal building, where you can find a tourist information stand, shops, Wi-Fi Internet, etc.
Taxis, shuttle buses, car rentals are available.

Get around Gaspesie, Quebec, Canada


Walking would be a fine way to get around for those who don't intend to venture beyond the city center, but let's face it — in a place like the Gaspé Peninsula, that's true of almost nobody. That being the case, a car is pretty much a necessity for getting around these parts.

By rental car

  • Discount Car Rental, 164, boulevard de Gaspé, ☎ +1 418 368-1970. M-F 8AM-5:30PM.
  • Enterprise Rent a Car, 60, rue de l'Aéroport (at Michel Pouliot Airport), ☎ +1 418 368-1541. M-F 7:30AM-9PM, Su 5PM-9PM.
  • National Car Rental, 60, rue de l'Aéroport (at Michel Pouliot Airport), ☎ +1 418 368-1541. M-F 7:30AM-9PM, Su 5PM-9PM.

By bike

In the city of Gaspé, Route Verte 1 exists in three discontinuous segments:
  • From Rivière-au-Renard, roadside bike lanes along Route 132 extend eastward for 10 km (6½ miles) into L'Anse-au-Griffon, then divert inland along a gravel-paved off-road trail through Forillon National Park. At the other end of the park, it's another 19.5 km (12 miles) of bike lanes along 132 between La Penouille and the corner of Rue Louise, just outside of Gaspé town center.
  • Beginning at the rear parking lot of the Carrefour de Gaspé shopping centre near the harbour, Route Verte 1 picks back up, following the course of an asphalt-paved off-road "rail trail" for 10 km (a little more than 6 miles) through Sandy Beach and into Haldimand, terminating at the intersection of Route 132 with rue de la Plage. This is arguably the most pleasant of the three segments, with nice views across the bay toward Forillon and precious few hills to contend with.
  • A short distance west of Haldimand, on-road bike lanes re-emerge along Route 132 and continue southward past the airport, through Douglastown, and across the city line into Percé.
In the breaks between these segments, the trajectory of Route Verte 1 nominally proceeds along Route 132. However, for the time being, cyclists must ride directly in traffic lanes through these discontinuities as bike lanes and other infrastructure have yet to be constructed.
Bike rental is available from:
  • Auberge Griffon Aventure, in L'Anse-au-Griffon at 829, boulevard du Griffon — from early May through mid-October.
  • ÉcoRécréo at Haldimand Municipal Beach — from late June through late August.
  • the Marcel Bujold Sports Complex (Pavillon des sports Marcel-Bujold), on the campus of Gaspé Peninsula and Îles de la Madeleine Community College (Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles) — call +1 418 368-6939 for rates and availability.

By taxi

Taxi service is available from Dery (☎ +1 418 269-3348), Fortin et Fils (☎ +1 418 269-3454), and Porlier (☎ +1 418 368-3131).

By bus

The parking lot of Place Jacques-Cartier shopping center in downtown Gaspé serves as the main hub for RéGÎM, the regional public bus network serving the Gaspé Peninsula and the Îles de la Madeleine. No fewer than six of the system's bus routes begin, end, or pass through this nexus.

Routes that are contained entirely within Gaspé's city limits include:
  • Route 20, which departs every weekday at 6:30 AM from the 4 L'Anse-à-Valleau Post Office (Bureau de poste de l'Anse-à-Valleau) at 922, boulevard de l'Anse-à-Valleau, passing through Petit-Cap, Rivière-au-Renard, and Saint-Majorique and arriving at Place Jacques-Cartier at 7:33 AM. Return trips depart daily at 4:47 PM and arrive in L'Anse-à-Valleau at 5:36 PM.
  • Route 21, which departs every weekday at 6:29 AM from 5 Dépanneur Bilodeau at 2, chemin du Portage in L'Anse-au-Griffon, passing through Forillon National Park and Saint-Majorique and arriving at Place Jacques-Cartier at 7:35 AM. Return trips depart each weekday at 4:47 PM and arrive in L'Anse-au-Griffon at 5:38 PM.
  • Route 23, a loop through Gaspé's western outskirts including the communities of Wakeham, Sunny Bank, and York. There are two trips every weekday: a morning run that departs Place Jacques-Cartier at 7:40 AM, returning at 8:25 AM, and an afternoon "express" run (passing over most of the stops within Gaspé's city centre) that departs at 3:45 PM and returns at 4:19 PM.
  • Route 24, a loop through Gaspé's southeastern outskirts including the communities of York, Haldimand, and Sandy Beach. Buses depart Place Jacques-Cartier every morning at 7:40 AM, returning at 8:30 AM.
Routes that arrive in Gaspé from outlying towns include:
  • Route 22, which departs every weekday at 6:40 AM from L'Anse-à-Beaufils, stopping at Place Jacques-Cartier at 7:38 AM, and ending its run a short distance east of the city center at 6 C. E. Pouliot High School (École C.-E.-Pouliot) at 7:47 AM. Return trips depart the high school at 5:50 PM, pass by Place Jacques-Cartier at 6:02 PM, and arrive in L'Anse-à-Beaufils at 7:02 PM.
  • Route 26, which runs Friday only, departing at 8:45 AM from Murdochville, stopping at Place Jacques-Cartier at 10 AM, and ending its run at Gaspé Hospital in York at 10:25 AM. Return trips depart the hospital at 4 PM, pass by Place Jacques-Cartier at 4:25 PM, and arrive in Murdochville at 5:15 PM. There's also an abbreviated midday run between the hospital and Place Jacques-Cartier only, with departures from the former at 1 PM arriving at the latter at 1:25 PM, and in the reverse direction departing at 1:20 PM and arriving at 1:45 PM.

What to see in Gaspesie, Quebec, Canada


Museums and history

The Gaspé Peninsula is first and foremost an outdoor destination: the stunning views of forest-cloaked mountains and wave-battered shorelines visible from every window practically command visitors to emerge into the fresh air and majestic wilderness. But of course, the weather in this part of the world isn't always cooperative — and if you've got a rainy-day hankering to switch gears and learn a little more about the region's fascinating history and culture, the city of Gaspé is the place to be.

Your first stop should be...
  • Gaspé Regional Museum (Musée de la Gaspésie), 80, boulevard de Gaspé, ☎ +1 418 368-1534. Jun-Oct daily 9 AM-5 PM; Nov-May W-F 10 AM-5 PM & Sa-Su 12:30 PM-5 PM. The Gaspé Regional Museum's purview cuts a broad swath, covering the rich history, charming culture, and surprisingly vibrant art scene of the region. In the museum's main exhibit, "Gaspésie... A Grand Journey" (Gaspésie... Le Grand voyage), the region's story is told through the mouths of the men and women who shaped it, but that's just the beginning: fans of old-fashioned chanson can peruse a collection of old photos and heirlooms belonging to Mary "La Bolduc" Travers, the so-called "Queen of Canadian Folk Singers" who lived in Newport just down the road, and those interested in the history of the Gaspesian cod fishery — once the linchpin of the area's economy — can step aboard the Gaspésienne No. 20, a historic fishing boat restored and outfitted to its original appearance, and/or strap on a virtual-reality headset and "set out" on Gaspé Bay with a pair of friendly fishermen to learn more. There's also a range of temporary exhibits focusing on more specific aspects of Gaspesian identity, extensive archives of documents and artifacts for researchers, an onsite bistro, and a gift shop selling original artwork and gifts produced by local artists and artisans. 
           - In Memory of Her (En mémoire d'Elle). Located on the grounds of the Gaspé Regional Museum, this concrete statue — the work of Percé native Renée-Mao Clavet — was dedicated in 2013 in honor of the contribution of women to Quebecois history and society. 5 meters (16 feet) in height, the sculpture depicts a pregnant woman in a flowing skirt, with a face designed in an ambiguous way so as to be representative of Francophone, Anglophone, and First Nations women alike. The book and the satchel of traditional medicinal herbs that the figure carries symbolize women's contributions to the fields of education and medicine.
          - Jacques Cartier Monument National Historic Site (Lieu historique national du monument à Jacques Cartier). Also situated on the grounds of the museum, with an apropos setting overlooking the bay roughly halfway between In Memory of Her and the museum building itself, is this cluster of six upright granite tablets, carved on one side with bas-relief sculptures depicting Cartier's historic landing at Gaspé on July 24, 1534 — the founding date of the colony of New France — and inscribed on the other with passages from the journals of both Cartier and Father Chrestien Leclerq, who accompanied him on the expedition.

Then, if you want to dig deeper, you might also check out the following attractions.
  • Fishery Interpretive Centre (Centre d'interprétation des pêches), 17, rue de la Langevin, ☎ +1 418 360-3631. M-Sa 9:30 AM-5:30 PM, late Jun through late Aug. Rivière-au-Renard once had one of the busiest fishing harbors in the region, and this interpretive center traces its history from the glory days of the Gaspesian cod fishery to the cutting-edge, technology-driven industry of today. You can even sample freshly-caught local seafood onsite! Call for rates.
  • Gaspé, Birthplace of Canada (Gaspé, Berceau du Canada), 179, montée Wakeham, ☎ +1 418 368-9423. W 9:30 AM-6 PM, all other days 10:30 AM-6 PM, late Jun through mid-Sept. Located on the waterfront across from Place Jacques-Cartier, this cluster of about a half-dozen buildings operates as a sort of miniature living-history museum depicting the village of Gaspé as it was around 1900, complete with interpreters in period costume. Tuck in to a nice meal at the tavern, explore the fish warehouse and old general store, tour the Horatio Leboutillier House (the genuine article, built c. 1850), or take off on one of the walking tours of modern-day downtown Gaspé that begin and end here. At the center of it all is a granite replica of Jacques Cartier's cross, dedicated in 1934 on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his landing.
  • Gespeg Mi'kmaq Interpretive Site (Site d'interprétation micmac de Gespeg), 783, boulevard de Pointe-Navarre, ☎ +1 418 368-7449. Daily 9 AM-5 PM, mid-Jun through mid-Oct. The Gespeg Mi'kmaq Interpretive Site's goal is to expose visitors to the culture of the Mi'kmaq people, who inhabited the Gaspé Peninsula and adjacent lands for centuries before the arrival of Europeans, as well as chronicling more recent chapters of local First Nations history since the 17th century. Volunteers are on hand to lead folks on guided tours through a reconstructed village, interpretive exhibits and artifacts detail Mi'kmaq history, cosmology, and everyday life, and there's even a display of medicinal herbs and plants used in traditional Mi'kmaq culture. As well, in the gift shop, you'll find a range of authentic handicrafts produced by local artisans.
  • Le Boutillier Manor Socio-Cultural Centre (Centre socioculturel Manoir Le Boutillier), 578, boulevard du Griffon, ☎ +1 418 892-5150. Daily 9 AM-5 PM, mid-Jun through mid-Oct. This National Historic Site of Canada was once the cozy timber-framed house of John Le Boutillier, a shipbuilding magnate and local politico who, in his day, was one of the most prominent citizens in the hamlet of L'Anse-au-Griffon. Nowadays, tour guides in period costume lead you through the main house, servants' quarters, and vast grounds — all restored to the way they looked in the 1850s — furnishing a glimpse at upper-class life in 19th-century Gaspé. There's a gift shop that sells locally-made clothes, accessories, and handicrafts or cap off your visit with a stop in the attached tea room and pastry shop. 
  • Plourde Sawmill (Moulin des Plourde), 5, rue du Moulin, ☎ +1 418 269-1212. M-Sa 9:30 AM-5:30 PM, late Jun through late Aug. This is the only remaining steam-powered sawmill building on the Gaspé Peninsula and was one of the last remaining ones in operation when it closed its doors in 1986 after eight decades of manufacturing shingles for local builders. Nowadays it functions as one of Quebec's famous "econo-museums" (économusées), where you can check out the original equipment still in place and learn the history of the Gaspesian forestry industry as well as that of the Plourde family, who owned the mill.

Lighthouses

  • Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse (Phare de Cap-des-Rosiers), 1331, boulevard de Cap-des-Rosiers, ☎ +1 418 892-5767. Site open daily 8 AM-6 PM, late Jun through early Sept; guided tours every half hour 9 AM-5 PM. The tallest lighthouse in Canada at a height of 34.1 metres (112 feet), Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse has been warning traffic on the St. Lawrence away from the rocky headland on which it stands since 1858 — using the original optical apparatus, no less. Now fully restored and automated, it was named a National Historic Site of Canada in 1973. 
  • Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse (Phare de Pointe-à-la-Renommée), 200, chemin de la Pointe-à-la-Renommée, ☎ +1 418 269-3310. Daily 9 AM-5 PM, mid-Jun through late Sept. Located a short distance west of L'Anse-à-Valleau, the photogenic Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse was built in 1907 to replace a smaller, wood-frame light dating to 1880, and guided ships along their path for nearly 70 years before it was decommissioned and "exiled" (as the locals put it) to the Old Port of Quebec City, where it stood for another three decades in front of the Coast Guard headquarters there. The lighthouse was moved back to its original site in 1998 thanks to a grassroots community effort, and today the striking red tower — along with its reconstructed keepers' quarters and other outbuildings — serves as a museum that contains two permanent exhibitions: "Pointe-à-la-Renommée: The Space of a Lifetime" (L'Espace d'une vie à Pointe-à-la-Renommée) relates the history of the lighthouse itself, the Ascah family who tended it during its operational life, and the small, tight-knit fishing community that surrounded it, while "Marconi and the Story of Radio Communications" (Marconi, histoire des communications et radio) deals with Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of wireless radio who in 1904 established one of North America's first marine radiotelegraph stations at Pointe-à-la-Renommée. Guided tours include both exhibits and end at the top of the tower, with stunning views over the mouth of the St. Lawrence Estuary.

Art

  • La Griffonne Art Gallery (Galerie d'Art la Griffonne), 696, boulevard du Griffon, ☎ +1 418 892-0110. Open early Jun through mid-Oct. Montreal native Pauline Saint-Arnaud is an accomplished watercolorist whose oeuvre is dominated by the placid forest, farmland, and seacoast scenery found all over the Gaspé Peninsula — little wonder, then, that "The Sea and the Coastlines" (La Mer et les bords côtiers) is the title she chose for the permanent solo exhibition displayed at the farmhouse-turned-gallery in L'Anse-au-Griffon, where she spends her summers.
  • Le Griffon Cultural Centre (Centre culturel Le Griffon), 557, boulevard du Griffon, ☎ +1 418 892-5679. M & W-F 11 AM-9 PM, Sa Su 8 AM-9 PM, late Jun through late Oct; by appointment other times. Once a cold storage warehouse where local fishermen stored their catches, this handsome old clapboard building overlooking L'Anse-au-Griffon's harbor is nowadays a multipurpose space — there's a breezy seaside café where local seafood is on the menu, a boutique where Gaspesian artisans sell handmade souvenirs, and above all, the Claude Côté Gallery and Workshop (Atelier-Galerie Claude Côté), where the eponymous artist in residence displays his watercolors during the tourist season. Côté has said of his work "I am inspired by my immediate environment, where 'intellectualism' is forgotten and gives way to the poetry of everyday life, the beautiful freedom of simple things", and that's as apt a way as any to describe the stark beauty of his landscapes and nature scenes. 
  • Marie-Josée Gagnon Art Gallery (Galerie d'Art Marie-Josée Gagnon), 806, boulevard de Pointe-Jaune, ☎ +1 418 269-3198. Working only with a spatula, Marie-Josée Gagnon creates dazzlingly colourful scenes from around her native Gaspé: landscapes, seascapes, and lovely flower paintings where the interplay of colors, light, and shadow are of foremost importance (or, to use her words: "it is the essence of a landscape that I wish to render, rather than a mere imitation of what I see"). In the small gallery in Pointe-Jaune that bears Gagnon's name is displayed not only her work but also the evocative portraiture of Stella Joncas-Veillet and the abstract-expressionist paintings and sculpted figurines of Estelle Francoeur.

Religious sites

  • Christ the King Cathedral (Cathédrale du Christ-Roi), 20, rue de la Cathédrale, ☎ +1 418 368-5541. The only wood-framed Roman Catholic cathedral in North America, Christ the King Cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Gaspé, whose territory covers most of the peninsula. Erected in 1969, this is the third church to be situated on this site; its striking design — wherein the fundamentals of traditional Christian religious architecture are totally subverted and reinvented along modernist lines — is the handiwork of Montreal-based architect Gérard Notebaert, working here in the "Shed Style" that had been pioneered only a few years earlier by Charles Moore with his Sea Ranch condominium community on the North Coast of California. Faced monochromatically in glue-laminated slats of red cedar, the sleek lines and angular geometric forms of this vaguely boat-shaped building certainly set it apart from the prototypical Gaspesian church. The interior is no less impressive, austere yet handsome and lit by a quintet of glass skylights built into the slopes of the roof. Bishop Gaétan Proulx delivers the Sunday Mass weekly at 11 AM.
  • Our Lady of Pointe-Navarre Shrine (Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-de-Pointe-Navarre), 765, boulevard de Pointe-Navarre, ☎ +1 418 368-2133. Church open daily 8 AM-7 PM; gift shop M-Sa 9 AM-4:30 PM & Su 1 PM-4 PM. In a peaceful setting several kilometers (miles) outside the town center, Our Lady of Pointe-Navarre has been a place of retreat and pilgrimage for the local Catholic community since its founding in 1940 by Father Jean-Marie Watier. The complex consists of a spacious church building that's replete with breathtaking works of religious art and hosts novena recitals, personal visitations, and a Tuesday evening Mass every week at 7 PM; the smaller Chapel of Remembrance, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for private prayer and meditation at the site of Father Watier's tomb; and a verdant hillside hermitage outback whose pleasant paths and grottoes offer a peaceful setting for spiritual reflection (not to mention spectacular views over Gaspé Bay).

What to do in Gaspesie, Quebec, Canada


On the water

Surrounded on three sides by water, Gaspé boasts aquatic fun in myriad forms.

Beaches

The shore of Gaspé Bay is dotted with beaches that are popular summertime destinations for locals and visitors alike, including three within the city of Gaspé itself:
  • Haldimand Municipal Beach (Plage municipale d'Haldimand) is the most beautiful, the most centrally located, and the most crowded beach in Gaspé. Here you'll find pristine water, luscious white sand, a playground for the kids, and even a beachfront restaurant serving Mexican specialties, all a quick ten-minute drive from downtown. Lifeguards patrol the waters in high season (late June through late August), an annual sand castle competition draws crowds of onlookers in late July, and there are even paddleboards and bikes available to rent through ÉcoRécréo.
  • For those in search of a more private beach getaway, Douglastown Beach (Plage de Douglastown) lies further south, on the other side of the lagoon. Douglastown boasts a setting almost as beautiful as Haldimand's — and an even greater length, a sand spit fully a kilometer and a half (a mile) long — yet its more off-the-beaten-path location and lack of any amenities means it's more often than not just you, the rustling dune grass, and the crashing waves.
  • Finally, in the shadow of Forillon National Park is found Cap-aux-Os Beach (Plage de Cap-aux-Os), the smallest of the three. The water here tends to be a bit chillier, but that doesn't stop folks from coming down to enjoy swimming, sunbathing, a quick meal at the snack bar, or kayak rental courtesy of Cap Aventure. Public washrooms are offered, and leashed pets are welcome.

Fishing

As you've probably gathered from reading thus far, fishing is a really big deal around these parts. Indeed, the fishery was the region's economic lifeblood for centuries, and although tourism has since usurped that status, for the most part, it retains a good deal of importance even today.

But fishing isn't just an industry here — it's a way of life, for locals and visitors alike. Fishing in Gaspé can be as simple as finding a wharf or a dock and casting your line into the water, which can be done any time of year without a license. Mackerel and smelt are popular with Gaspesian wharf fishers: the former are most plentiful in late July and early August, while smelt fishing is strictly a wintertime pursuit — ice fishing shacks are a common sight on Gaspé Bay starting in January when freeze-up typically occurs.

Away from the shore, brook trout teem in the waterways of inland Gaspé. Locals generally don't bother with trout fishing, which has led to an abundant population — some say an overpopulation — in the fast-flowing streams and crystal-clear lakes of the Chic-Chocs. You can easily reel in some whoppers up here in the mountains; 2-kg (4½-pound) specimens are not at all uncommon. However, unlike wharf fishing from shore, trout fishing does require a license from the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks (Ministère des forêts, de la faune et des parcs du Québec).
But if there's one single species that comes to the mind of fishing connoisseurs when they hear of the Gaspé Peninsula, it's the Atlantic salmon — a species that, thanks to the efforts of the Quebec Salmon River Management Federation (Fédération des gestionnaires de rivières à saumon du Québec or FGRSQ), is on the rebound after decades of decline. With 22 world-renowned rivers managed by that organization, you're hard-pressed to find better salmon fishing anywhere — and you'll find two of those rivers within the city of Gaspé itself.
  • The Saint-Jean River Wildlife Reserve (Reserve faunique de la rivière Saint-Jean) is the city's premier salmon-fishing venue, with a season that extends from May 25 through September 30 (catch-and-release only through the end of July up to a maximum of three fish per person; one catch-and-keep per person is permitted thereafter; size limits may also apply). The Saint-Jean flows eastward through Gaspé's southern precincts before emptying into Douglastown Bay and is divided by the FGRSQ into three different zones, each with their own regulations. In Sector 1, which begins at the Route 132 bridge and extends about 10 km (6 miles) inland, the number of fishermen on any given day is limited to eight; for Sector 2, which extends further inland beyond the city line, regulations are still more stringent at two per day. Advance reservations are required, and you're best off booking as far ahead as possible.
  • The Dartmouth River Controlled Harvesting Zone (Zone d'exploitation contrôlée de la rivière Dartmouth) runs roughly parallel to the St. Lawrence along the northern part of the peninsula's interior spine and empties into Gaspé Bay a few kilometers (miles) northwest of the city center. Like the Saint-Jean River, the Dartmouth is divided into seven zones, with Sector 1 comprising almost the entirety of the portion of the river within Gaspé's city limits. Though this sector features "unlimited access" — with no maximum number of fishermen allowed in the water simultaneously — the season is shorter (June 1 through August 31) and catch limits are no less stringent. In addition, a short stretch of river near the western boundary of the city falls within Zone 2, where you're back to the advance-reservation system with two anglers on the river at a time.
Day passes can be purchased at the 7 FGRSQ regional office at 25, boulevard de York Est, which is open daily from 8 AM-6 PM, and the quoted fees are in addition to that of the provincial fishing license mentioned above.

If ocean fishing is more your thing, the folks at Auberge Griffon Aventure run 2½-hour excursions aboard the Balbuzard where you can angle for mackerel along the coast or, weather permitting, head out to the deeper waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in pursuit of the Atlantic cod. Departures happen twice daily from mid-June through mid-September, at 6:30 AM and 5 PM, from Cap-des-Rosiers Marina. Additional departures may also be added to the schedule based on demand. Rods and tackle are provided, and — most convenient of all — no license is necessary!

Boating

Of course, fishing isn't the only thing you can do on a boat here: from kayaks to sailboats to stand-up paddleboards, the waters surrounding Gaspé teem with fun-seekers of all different stripes. The colonies of grey and harbor seals that congregate on the shore of the bay, in Forillon National Park, are a popular destination for boating excursions departing from Gaspé.
  • Aube sur Mer, 2172, boulevard de Grande-Grève, ☎ +1 418 892-0003 (in season Jun-Oct), +1 418 360-4073 (other times). Sea kayaking is the name of the game at Aube sur Mer, with several different regularly-scheduled excursions setting off from their Cap-aux-Os headquarters. "Ride with the Seals" (Balade aux phoques) is a two-hour jaunt suitable for all skill levels, departing four times daily (8 AM, 11 AM, 2 PM, and 5 PM) for a visit to the Forillon seal colonies. More avid kayakers can get up bright and early for the "At the End of the World" (Au Bout du monde) excursion's 7 AM daily departure, which goes further afield to the tip of Cap-Gaspé: five to six hours in all. Real kayaking fanatics can inquire about longer two-, three-, and four-day excursions around the region, and if you don't quite trust your sea legs, Aube sur Mer offers a choice of two Paddle Canada-accredited training courses.
  • Cap Aventure, ☎ +1 418 892-5056. "Meet the Seals" excursion departs daily 8 AM, "Zodiac Safari" departs 9 AM, "Around Forillon" excursion departs 6:30 AM on prior request. To describe what Cap Aventure offers as mere "seal-watching excursions" wouldn't do them justice: much more than just another touristy trifle, these tours are true educational experiences, where seasoned guides put their affiliation with the Marine Mammal Watchers' Network (Réseau d'observateurs des mammifères marins) to good use in providing a window into the delicate ecosystem of Gaspé Bay, conducted in a manner that is sustainable and respectful of the natural environment. It's not all dry academia, though — the learning experience is punctuated daily by unforgettable sights like a pod of seals dancing and playing around your boat, the plaintive bellow of whales breaching in the distance, and seabirds by the hundreds taking flight from the top of the sheer seaside cliffs. Cap Aventure offers a range of excursions tailored to customers' individual needs: the short Meet the Seals (Rencontre avec les phoques) excursion is open to participants five and older and sticks to the interior of Gaspé Bay, the longer Around Forillon (Pourtour de Forillon) tour rounds Cap Gaspé, and the self-explanatory Seals at Sunset (Phoques au coucher du soleil) excursion is especially popular. All excursions depart from Cap-aux-Os Beach, with the exception of "Around Forillon", which leaves from Cap-des-Rosiers. Plus: if you like seals but kayaking is not your cup of tea, Cap Aventure also offers two-and-a-half-hour "Zodiac Safaris" out to the seal colonies in a 12-passenger boat helmed by an experienced captain-cum-docent, and if it's vice-versa, kayak rental is offered subject to availability. The season begins May 8 (June 1 for zodiac excursions) and runs through October 6, and wetsuits are provided during the spring and fall.
  • ÉcoRécréo, 30, rue de la Plage. Daily 9 AM-5 PM, late Jun through late Aug. With rental kiosks and organized outdoor activities in locations all over the province, ÉcoRécréo is a familiar name to Québécois of an outdoorsy bent. If you're into stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) — or you're interested in learning this new-school watersport best compared to surfing with an oar — their Haldimand Municipal Beach outpost is the place to go in Gaspé. Beyond that, ÉcoRécréo also does kayak rental, and if you're thinking more in terms of landward transportation, there's a range of bikes for rent too. 

Canyoneering

The folks at Auberge Griffon Aventure describe the guided canyoneering excursions they offer on Chesnay Creek as "like an outdoor waterpark designed by nature" — and indeed, there's hardly a more fun way to spend five hours in Gaspé than donning a wetsuit and helmet and slip-sliding down foaming river rapids into emerald green pools of crystal-clear water. Gear is provided for you (but do bring a bathing suit to wear underneath your wetsuit, as well as a pair of non-slip waterproof shoes); tours leave rain or shine but may be canceled in the event of high water levels in the canyon. Every day at 9 AM between June 22 and September 2 (or later in the year, weather-depending), tour groups depart from the parking lot of Restaurant Chez Ron on boulevard de York; beginning July 16, one additional departure daily at 11:30 AM occurs on high-demand days. 

On land

Golf

  • Fort Prével Golf Club (Club de golf Fort-Prével), 2035, boulevard de Douglas, ☎ +1 418 368-6957. Daily 8 AM-6 PM, late May through mid-Oct (weather-dependent during shoulder months of May, Jun, Sept & Oct). Enjoy sweeping views over mountains and sea as you hit the links on this beautifully manicured 6,428-yard, par-73 course on the Gaspé-Percé city line, but don't get too distracted by the scenery: with the ruins of a World War II-era coastal fortification doubling as hazards and a doozy of a second hole at 702 yards and par 6, Fort-Prével presents a truly challenging scenario for the golfer. There's also an onsite putting green for those looking to hone their short game, a practice field that plays host frequently to free training sessions for beginner golfers, an onsite restaurant, and even a hotel and campground. Staff is unfailingly polite and friendly.
If "full-size golf" isn't your thing, Gaspé also boasts a pair of mini-golf courses.
  • Cantine du Golf, 1833, boulevard Forillon, ☎ +1 418 355-4653. Miniature golf course in Cap-aux-Os with attached snack bar. Open in season, call for hours and rates.
  • Fort Ramsay Mini-Putt (Mini-golf de Fort Ramsay), 254, boulevard de Gaspé, ☎ +1 418 368-5094. On the premises of Motel-Camping Fort Ramsay.

Horseback riding

  • Le Centaure, 1713, boulevard de Forillon, ☎ +1 418 892-5525. Le Centaure offers a diversity of equestrian experiences whose durations, intensities, and skill requirements vary widely — from one-hour sessions on the grounds of their spacious ranch in Cap-aux-Os that are perfect for beginners, to longer expeditions to Sandy Beach (2 hours) and Forillon National Park (5 hours), to multi-day expeditions to further-flung destinations like Gaspésie National Park.

Festivals and events

  • Douglastown Irish Days (Journées irlandaises de Douglastown), ☎ +1 418 368-0288. Tooling through this hamlet south of Gaspé city center down streets with names like Kennedy, McDonald, and St. Patrick, it's not hard to realize that Douglastown was historically a community of Irish immigrants. This Hibernian heritage is feted each year in late July and/or early August with a weekend celebration of traditional foods, music, and dance performances, and workshops and lectures on a wide range of subjects from knitting to genealogy. The 8 Douglas Community Centre (Centre communautaire de Douglas) at 28, avenue Saint-Patrick is the venue.
  • Festival Musique du Bout du Monde, ☎ +1 418 368-5405. There's really no way to succinctly describe the typical lineup of acts that converge on Gaspé every year for this music festival, other than maybe "maddeningly eclectic". For ten days in August, a multiplicity of venues around town are packed with dozens of artists and bands from all around the world — alumni include Beninese singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo, British reggae sensations UB40, and Montreal rappers Loco Locass — along with dance performances, street theatre, food and drink, and miscellaneous family-friendly revelry. Traditionally, the headliner of each year's festival takes the stage at sunrise on Sunday morning at Cap Bon-Ami, in Forillon National Park, with shuttle service provided from central Gaspé. Ticket prices vary by performance.

Indoors

  • Cartier Bowling (Salle de quilles Cartier), 8, rue de l'Église, ☎ +1 418 269-5752. A small bowling alley in Rivière-au-Renard with six lanes.
  • Cinéma le Cube, 178, rue de la Reine, ☎ +1 418 368-3355. Gaspé's only movie theatre is located inside the Hôtel des Commandants, and it's a modest affair: there's one screen with one showing per day (at 6:30 PM) of a feature that changes weekly. All movies are shown in French without subtitles, so if you don't speak the language, maybe stick to the attached video arcade and snack bar.

In the winter

Although National Geographic magazine has ranked the Gaspé Peninsula among the Top 10 cold-weather destinations in North America, the wonders of wintertime in this part of the world remain a well-guarded secret. Don't be fooled by the dirt-cheap hotel rooms and ghost-town feel in the streets: there's plenty to do in Gaspé offseason. (That goes double if you're a winter sports fanatic.)
  • Les Bons Copains Snowmobile Club of Greater Gaspé (Club de motoneige Les Bons Copains du Grand Gaspé), 6, rue de l'Aréna, ☎ +1 418 269-5021. M-Th 10 AM-6 PM, F 10 AM-11 PM, Sa 9 AM-11 PM, Su 9 AM-6 PM, in season. There are over 200 km (125 miles) of snowmobile trails in and around Gaspé, and these folks are the ones to talk to if you're interested in buying an Access Pass to ride them. Not only that, but their clubhouse at the 10 Rosaire Tremblay Arena (Aréna Rosaire-Tremblay) in Rivière-au-Renard is open to members and nonmembers alike: after a long day on the trails, you can warm up with a meal at the café, unwind with a game of pool or foosball, or even belt out some tunes at karaoke.
  • Les Éclairs Cross-Country Ski Club (Club de ski de fond Les Éclairs), 20, rue des Pommiers, ☎ +1 418 368-0044. Daily 8 AM-4 PM in season. No, your GPS hasn't misdirected you — the way to Les Éclairs ski club does pass through a nondescript industrial park in York Centre. But there's nothing ugly about the extensive network of well-manicured trails, open to cross-country skiers and snowshoers alike, on the club's vast forested tract whose back end abuts the grounds of Michel Pouliot Airport.
  • Mont-Béchervaise Ski Centre (Centre de ski Mont-Béchervaise), 50, rue Eden, ☎ +1 418 368-2000. F-Su 9 AM-3 PM. Mont-Béchervaise may not be the largest or grandest ski resort in the Gaspé Peninsula, but it has a strong claim on the title of most conveniently located — given its oddly abbreviated opening hours and relative lack of onsite amenities, it helps that downtown Gaspé is only a quick five-minute drive away. Take the chair lift from the chalet to the top of the hill, which not only serves as the starting point for about two dozen ski trails suitable for all skill levels, but also offers a panoramic view over the bay. Off to the side at the base are a couple of shorter hills open to downhill tubing, and there's a small snack bar next to the parking lot. Mont-Béchervaise is also open in the summer to hikers and mountain bikers.

What to eat and drink in Gaspesie, Quebec, Canada


Eat

The restaurant scene is one area in which Gaspé definitely does not lag behind other cities on the Peninsula in terms of interest to visitors. For instance, if you've come to the region to check out Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock, sure you could stick around for dinner in one of Percé's overpriced, touristy eateries — but if you're in the mood for a more refined and distinctive experience, Gaspé is the place to go.

City centre and around

  • La Banquise, 102, boulevard de Gaspé, ☎ +1 418 368-6670. Su-W 11AM-8PM, Th-Sa 11AM-9PM, Mar-Sep. Situated on the main drag just north of the Gaspé Regional Museum, this retro-style snack bar offers pleasant summery fare — think poutine platters, soft-serve ice cream, hamburgers, and even pizza — in a picturesque setting overlooking Gaspé Bay. Lines can be long on summer weekends and prices are a little high compared to the competition, but the combo "trios" offer a chance to economize.
  • Bistro le Brise-Bise, 135, rue de la Reine, ☎ +1 418 368-1456. Su-W 11AM-1AM, Th-Sa 11AM-3AM. One of the most distinctive, upscale, and trendy dining options on the Gaspé Peninsula, and a great option for folks who don't like seafood — all for prices that won't break the bank. The eclectic menu draws from Asian (a trio of Thai-style soups), classically Gaspesian (a locally-sourced grilled sausage and sauerkraut platter, plus crowd-pleasing shrimp poutine), and — above all — Italian (about a half-dozen pasta dishes and several specialty pizzas) influences. Bilingual waitstaff and English-language menus are a big help to those who have yet to master the local language, and live music performances are frequent.
  • Café Sous-Marin, 3A, rue Adams, ☎ +1 418 368-4337. Su-W 8AM-11PM, Th-Sa 8AM-midnight. Once upon a time it was a Subway sandwich shop that occupied the ground floor of the three-story blue building at the foot of rue Adams across from Tim Hortons, and although it's nowadays a locally-owned mom-and-pop, relatively little has changed. In fact, if anything the offerings at Café Sous-Marin are more interesting — the new ownership has introduced an Eastern Mediterranean influence to the proceedings, with souvlaki and shawarma wraps among the hottest sellers, as are the "taco subs" of spicy seasoned beef — sold for the same modest prices as before.
  • Mastro Pizzéria, 85, rue Jacques-Cartier, ☎ +1 418 368-1313. Daily 6AM-8PM. With a friendly bilingual staff and a roster of specialty pizzas crowned by the ever-popular "All Dressed" (with pepperoni both under and on top of the cheese, plus mushrooms and green peppers), Mastro offers counter service and a small dining room but also the Gaspé Peninsula's only pizza delivery service. If you're in the mood for something else, there's also a sizable menu of other options, especially in the domain of seafood: lobster rolls, Belgian-style moûles frites, seafood chowder, and a first-rate battered fish and chips made with locally-brewed Pit Caribou craft beer. Customers praise the quality of Mastro's food almost unanimously, but the very high prices are off-putting even in light of that.

Northern outskirts

Away from downtown, dining options get less fancy and high-concept, but no less appealing. If an unpretentious casse-croûte (snack bar) serving local fare is what you're after, seek it out in Gaspé's outer precincts.
  • La Baleinier, 2089, boulevard de Grande-Grève, ☎ +1 418 892-6184. Daily 8AM-9:30PM. If you like seafood, first of all, congratulations on choosing the right travel destination, and secondly this is the restaurant for you. Le Baleinier is Gaspesian cuisine done right: pan-fried cod, seafood poutine, and (above all) lobster are the standouts on the pint-sized but well-curated menu of this unassuming eatery in Cap-aux-Os just outside the entrance to Forillon National Park. Service is a weak spot, ranging from hostile to merely disinterested. Before you leave, don't forget to stop in to the onsite souvenir shop and peruse the range of crafts produced by local artisans.
  • Bistro du Banc, 51, rue du Banc, ☎ +1 418 269-1616. M-Tu 7AM-4PM, W-Th 7AM-6PM, F 7AM-7PM, Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 8AM-7PM. A family-style restaurant specializing in seafood (notice a pattern emerging?), Bistro du Banc earns rave reviews for its fish chowder, lobster rolls, cod filets, and other Gaspesian specialties from the briny deep. The interior looks straight out of the 1950s in such a way that you can't tell whether the decor is self-consciously retro or if it's simply never been updated. Service is friendly, and portions are generous for what you pay.
  • Café Croque-Faim, 159, boulevard Renard Est, ☎ +1 269-3336. M-W 5AM-9PM, Th-F 5AM-10PM, Sa 6AM-10PM, Su 7AM-8PM. They say good things come in small packages, and that's certainly the case with this casse-croûte in Rivière-au-Renard — Croque-Faim may be small in size, but it's certainly not short on friendly, lightning-fast service or unequivocally delicious, scratch-made comfort food. Nosh on hamburgers, fries, pizza, club sandwiches, and — most popular of all — 17 different varieties of poutine in the dining room or, on pleasant summer days, outdoors on picnic tables. 
  • Café de l'Anse, 557, boulevard du Griffon (At Le Griffon Cultural Centre), ☎ +1 418 892-0115. Summer: daily 8AM-9PM; winter: Sa-Su 8AM-1PM. The bright, breezy café portion of Le Griffon Cultural Centre serves a varied but predictably seafood-dominated menu in an ambience that's creative and elegant without pretension. The star attraction at Café de l'Anse is cod, served in varieties traditional to France (brandade in huge portions with mashed potatoes and a garden salad on the side), to the Gaspé Peninsula (breaded fritters with the same side dishes), and universally (grilled filets); elsewhere on the menu you'll find a respectable range of sandwiches, salads, meat dishes, and delectable bistro-style appetizers. Service can be inept and slow, but on a pleasant summer day, if you're not too hungry when you arrive, you can turn that to your advantage by taking the opportunity to linger on the outdoor terrace and take in the view over the Saint Lawrence. Bilingual staff.
  • Chez Cathy, 216, montée de Rivière-Morris, ☎ +1 418 269-5518. Daily 10AM-12:30AM, late Mar through mid-Sept. The last of a dying breed in this part of the world, this super-friendly casse-croûte has been recognized in the pages of the Huffington Post (among others) as the only remaining one on the Peninsula that offers carhop service. That's not the only reason why Chez Cathy is notable, though — the poutine that visitors rave about is topped with homemade gravy and available in myriad different varieties including BBQ and "all dressed" (topped with a mountain of sautéed onions, bacon, relish, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, and tomato). If you're sick of poutine at this point in your travels, try the lobster rolls or fried scallops.
  • La Maison d'À CôTHÉ, 463, boulevard de Forillon, ☎ +1 418 360-0056. Th-Su 8AM-4PM, late May through late Sept. On the road toward La Penouille is where you'll find this handsome saltbox house, brimming with character and serving an ever-changing weekly menu of light gourmet breakfasts and lunches, homemade ice cream, and — as the name implies — a full slate of delicious teas. Soft music, pleasant surroundings (especially if you opt for outdoor seating in the rear garden!), and the work of local artists on the walls all combine to craft a uniquely relaxing and charming experience. Vegetarians and locavores are well cared for — and so, surprisingly, are children, with a dedicated play area occupying a corner of the dining room.

Harbour area and southern outskirts

  • Le Bourlingueur, 39, montée Sandy-Beach (At Carrefour de Gaspé), ☎ +1 418 368-4323. Daily 7AM-9PM. Chinese-Canadian restaurants — not so much purveyors of fusion cuisine as odd hodgepodges where Westernized interpretations of General Tso chicken and pepper steak rub shoulders awkwardly on the menu with the likes of hamburgers, pizza, and (for that Gaspesian touch) cod filets — are a concept as familiar to the dining scene in this part of the world as they are foreign everywhere else. This cozy little place in the Carrefour de Gaspé shopping center is a prototypical example, despite the often slow service. If you're looking to maximize the bang for your buck, show up at breakfast time.
  • La Cantina Latinogaspésienne, 30, rue de la Plage, ☎ +1 514 943-2012. Daily 10AM-5PM, late Jun through early Sept. If you're an aficionado of Mexican cuisine who's planning a trip to the Gaspé Peninsula, you'd better be arriving in the summer, because Cantina Latinogaspésienne is the only game in town — and when we say only, we mean only; even the nearest Taco Bell is a seven-hour drive away in Moncton, New Brunswick. But don't despair, amigos: there's no better place to enjoy a meal of tacos, burritos, or nachos (surprisingly authentic interpretations thereof, courtesy of chef/owner Juan Sebastián Larobina, a native of Mexico City) than on the sunny shores of Haldimand Municipal Beach. They even have live music performances on occasion. 
  • Casse-Croûte Jo-Ann, 137, boulevard de York Est, ☎ +1 418 368-5508. Open late Apr through mid-Sept. Yet another roadside snack bar that's open seasonally and specializes in myriad varieties of poutine (along with burgers, fried chicken, soft-serve ice cream, and other summertime delights) — but this one has a staff that's friendly and bilingual. With uncommonly tasty food sold for cheap, Casse-Croûte Jo-Ann is a popular place, so be prepared to wait in line for a bit. Outdoor seating is available at picnic tables around the perimeter of the front parking lot, from which you can enjoy a pleasant view over the bay.
  • Chez Ron, 627, boulevard de York Est, ☎ +1 418 368-6274. Daily 7AM-8PM. It's all well and good to play the tourist, but there are some people who really like to get under the skin of a place they're visiting — to do what the locals do, go where they go, eat what they eat. If that kind of authenticity is your bag, head to Chez Ron. To be sure, there are some similarities between this place and the roadside greasy spoons frequented by many travellers — a goodly portion of the menu is indeed made up of poutine, soft ice cream (64 flavors; Baskin-Robbins, eat your heart out), and other local fast-food standbys — but the heart and soul of this place is in the more elaborate offerings of homestyle, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food served in generous portions in an environment that, while wholly unpretentious, is a solid step up from the average casse-croûte. As usual, seafood rules the day, but for a change of pace, you might try one of Ron's family-size "super specials" of pizza, drinks, and sides — an even better value than the rest of the food here. Bilingual menus and staff, too.
  • Nic et Pic, 39, montée Sandy-Beach (At Carrefour de Gaspé), ☎ +1 418 368-2950. M-F 8:30AM-5PM. This cozy little family restaurant at Carrefour de Gaspé serves a wide-ranging menu of simple comfort food at all times of day but is most renowned for its breakfasts — homestyle eggs-meat-and-toast concoctions served up in portions that are huge and for prices that aren't.

Grocery stores

Self-caterers in Gaspé have an abundance of options.
  • Bonichoix, 48, montée de Rivière-Morris, ☎ +1 418 269-3300. M-Sa 8:30AM-9PM, Su 9AM-5PM.
  • IGA, 39, montée Sandy-Beach (At Carrefour de Gaspé), ☎ +1 418 368-5211. Daily 8AM-10PM.
  • Marché Ami (Épicerie Alban Aspirault), 43, boulevard Renard Est, ☎ +1 418 269-3202. M-F 7:30AM-9PM, Sa Su 7:30AM-6PM.
  • Marché Ami (Marché Cassivi), 2051, boulevard de Grande-Grève, ☎ +1 418 892-5383. Daily 8AM-10PM.
  • Provigo, 167, rue de la Reine (At Place Jacques-Cartier), ☎ +1 418 368-7144. Daily 8AM-10PM.
  • Richelieu, 420, route 132, ☎ +1 418 269-3212. Daily 8:30AM-9PM.
  • Super C, 327, boulevard de York Est, ☎ +1 418 360-0021. Daily 8AM-10PM. 

Drink

To the extent that nightlife exists in the Gaspé Peninsula, you'll find it mostly in Gaspé — or, to be more precise, in Rivière-au-Renard, home of two of the three places listed below.
  • Bar Apollo, 69, rue du Banc, ☎ +1 418 269-3538. Daily 2PM-3AM. From the outside, it seems quite unassuming, but don't be fooled — Bar Apollo is a happening place, with booze, camaraderie, and good times in a super-friendly setting right in the heart of Rivière-au-Renard. Special events and theme nights are frequent, and if you're a country music fan, check their Facebook page to see about the concerts that Apollo puts on frequently.
  • Bar La Voûte, 114, rue de la Reine, ☎ +1 418 368-0777. W-Sa 8PM-3AM. Another bar that doubles as a live music venue: more than any other, La Voûte's is the stage on which the Gaspé Peninsula's roster of local rock bands strut their stuff. As of this writing, the lineup of recent events there included a pair of tribute bands playing the music of Metallica and Rage Against The Machine, local country singer Nash Stanley, and a number of karaoke nights and DJ dance parties. And even if by some strange chance there's no event scheduled on a given night, head out anyway: the bar is small but well-stocked, the clientele is young and trendy, and the vibe is friendly as can be.
  • Microbrasserie au Frontibus, 41, rue du Banc, ☎ +1 418 360-5153. Th-Sa 2PM-9PM. Launched in 2017 out of a former supermarket in central Rivière-au-Renard, Frontibus has wasted no time in becoming one of the most prolific craft breweries on the Gaspé Peninsula, with a roster of six Belgian-style Abbey beers and an English-style blond ale whose recipes are inspired by the untamed majesty of the surrounding landscape. The star of the show is their 9.2% ABV "Tripel Boréale", with fruity and spicy notes courtesy of a trio of indigenous ingredients known to the local First Nations since time immemorial: green alder pepper, Labrador tea, and chaga mushroom. Aside from their presence in supermarkets, specialty shops, and bars across Quebec, Frontibus' retail operation and tasting room is open three days a week, with frequent special events.

Coffee shops

  • Brûlerie Café des Artistes, 101, rue de la Reine, ☎ +1 418 368-3366. M-F 7AM-10:30PM, Sa Su 8AM-10:30PM. The Gaspé Peninsula's first coffee roastery sells its own line of house-brewed Arabica coffees not only at its home base — a cheery, airy café on the east end of the Rue de la Reine strip — but also at numerous other shops and restaurants throughout the region. Much more than a coffeehouse, though, Café des Artistes is also a place to enjoy a light lunch or dinner (the food menu consists of a range of delicious sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, and pita pizzas), reconnect with the online world (there's an Internet-connected computer terminal for customer use and free WiFi all over the property), peruse the work of local artists (a separate room off the dining area plays host to an ever-changing rotation of temporary exhibitions), and take in the occasional live music performance.

Shopping in Gaspesie, Quebec, Canada


No, it's not the wonderland of souvenir trinkets that you'll find just down the road in Percé. However, being the largest city in the region by far, Gaspé naturally has a respectable range of shopping opportunities of a somewhat more conventional bent. These are concentrated principally in and around the city center — especially along the surprisingly fashionable shopping street of rue de la Reine.

Shopping centers

A case in point of the above. If you're the type of person whose tastes run toward the name brands and well-known designers that are sold at chain clothing stores, Gaspé is pretty much the only game in town on the peninsula that shares its name.
  • Carrefour de Gaspé, 39, montée Sandy-Beach, ☎ +1 418 368-5253. M-W 9:30AM-5:30PM, Th-F 9AM-9PM, Sa 9:30AM-5PM, Su 11AM-4PM. The Gaspé Peninsula's largest retail complex is a sprawling strip mall just past the harbor, with 21 stores including locations of Canadian Tire and Sports Experts, a Hart department store, Uniprix pharmacy, and IGA supermarket.
  • Place Jacques-Cartier, 167, rue de la Reine, ☎ +1 418 368-1460. M-W 9:30AM-5:30PM, Th-F 9AM-9PM, Sa 9:30AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. The Gaspé Peninsula's only indoor shopping mall anchors the west end of the downtown retail district. Small in size but unique in design, the three-storey Place Jacques-Cartier is built into the slope of the low hill that separates downtown from the shore of the bay. Here you'll find 15 shops, restaurants, and other businesses including a Provigo supermarket, another Uniprix, Rossy and Dollarama discount stores, SAQ provincial liquor outlet, and a McDonald's.

Souvenirs

  • Boutique le Galet, 557, boulevard du Griffon, ☎ +1 418 892-5679. Daily 9:30AM-8PM in summer, Sa-Su 8AM-1PM in winter. Le Griffon Cultural Centre's gift shop stocks a wide range of gifts and souvenirs — everything from fashion accessories to books and greeting cards to ceramics, and even locally-grown produce from the shore of Chaleur Bay, all made in Quebec and all sourced directly from the artisans themselves.
  • Les Créations Marie Gaudet, 115, rue de la Reine, ☎ +1 418 368-8161. Summer: M-F 9:30AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-4PM; winter: M-F 10AM-5:30PM. The oeuvre of the eponymous artist is centered around the painting and fashioning of the smooth, flat stones found on the shores of the beaches around Gaspé into super cute dolls and figurines, individually accessorized with hairdos, clothes, and shoes. You'll find plenty of those on the shelves at her store, along with a vast selection of artisan jewelry, handmade pottery and ceramic decorative baubles (lighthouses are a common theme), and more.

Clothing and accessories

  • Bijouterie Dary, 109, rue de la Reine, ☎ +1 418 368-1212. Daily 10AM-7PM. A wide variety of elegant men's and women's jewelry, watches, and even commemorative plates are to be had at this friendly shop in the heart of downtown Gaspé.
  • Boutique Mode Andréa, 123, boulevard Renard Est, ☎ +1 418 269-7766. M-W 10AM-5PM, Th-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-4:30PM. A really nice, comfortable, fashionable yet unpretentious women's clothing shop in an out-of-the-way location: Rivière-au-Renard. Andréa's house style is statement-making without being over the top: bright colours and vibrant prints married to timeless traditional designs.
  • Chlorophylle, 114B, rue de la Reine, ☎ +1 418 368-8222. M-W 9:30AM-5:30PM, Th-F 9:30AM-9PM, Sa 9:30AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. If you're in town over winter to hit the slopes at Mont-Béchervaise or take to the snowmobile or cross-country ski trails, stop in at the Gaspé location of this provincewide chain for a wide selection of upscale jackets, gloves, and other winter gear. If not, there are still three other seasons' worth of sports- and activewear to browse through.
  • La Joaillerie, 167, rue de la Reine (At Place Jacques-Cartier), ☎ +1 418 368-1881. M-W 9:30AM-5:30PM, Th-F 9AM-9PM, Sa 9:30AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Place Jacques-Cartier's resident jewelers offer a full line of gold and silver pieces including some that are locally made, as well as engraving and repair services.
  • Kon-Joint, 123, rue de la Reine, ☎ +1 418 368-2708. M-Sa 10AM-5:30PM. You can't miss this place: it's a spacious shop nestled into the ground floor of the tallest building on rue de la Reine, a handsome mansard-roofed brick beauty right in the center of the downtown action. The sign on the door advertises lingerie, and you will indeed find high-quality selections for regular and plus sizes, but that's not all: Kon-Joint also sells women's clothing and accessories of all descriptions. Fashions for all four seasons of the year are available, but the specialty seems to be cute, breezy summer wear of the type that's perfect for a day of outdoor people-watching in the warm months.

Miscellaneous

  • À Chacun Sa Bête, 33, rue Adams, ☎ +1 418 368-9362. M-W 8AM-5:30PM, Th 8AM-6PM, F 8AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. If you're in the market for some new toys, clothes, or accessories for your dog or cat — or if you've brought Rover along on your trip and need someone to keep an eye on him for a day while you're off on a pet-unfriendly outing — set your sights on À Chacun Sa Bête. Aside from the above, they also offer a selection of premium name-brand pet foods, grooming services, and more. Ample onsite parking is a relative rarity downtown.
  • Boutique Sport Plein Air, 1, rue de l'Église, ☎ +1 418 269-2535. M-Th 9AM-5:30PM, F 9AM-8PM, Sa 9AM-noon. If you've come to the Gaspé Peninsula to enjoy the great outdoors — and really, why else would you have come? — but find yourself shorthanded on gear, this is your one-stop shop. Stuffed into Boutique Sport Plein Air you'll find everything from hockey sticks to hunting rifles to boat motors to bikes, sold for decent prices by friendly folks.
  • Librairie Alpha, 168, rue de la Reine, ☎ +1 418 368-5514. You'll find books of all kinds, on all subjects, and for all age levels on the shelves at this über-friendly independent bookstore in downtown Gaspé — but, being a proud member of the Quebec Bookstore Association (Association des librairies du Québec), those in search of works by local authors speaking from local perspectives can be assured they'll find more than their share of options here. Librairie Alpha also has a good selection of board games.
  • Marché des Saveurs Gaspésiennes, 119, rue de la Reine, ☎ +1 418 368-7705. M-W & Sa 8AM-6PM, Th-F 8AM-7:30PM, Su 10AM-6PM. If you're a locavore with a taste for the gourmet, this is the destination for you: the place's name translates to "Market of Gaspesian Flavours", and that's no exaggeration. Locally-sourced produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and other delights populate the shelves in this friendly shop.

Safety in Gaspesie, Quebec, Canada


Quebec is generally a safe place. Visitors should use common sense when traveling, as they would anywhere else. There are very, very few places (if any) where a tourist will encounter violence or the usual tourist plagues such as pickpockets. Opportunistic theft (valuables left without surveillance, unlocked car doors, ...) is slightly more of a concern in some areas but tourists are no more subjected to it than are the locals. As a general rule, you are statistically as safe or safer than home when you're in Quebec.

Language spoken in Gaspesie, Quebec, Canada


French is the main language. However, English is also widely spoken.

LOCAL TIME

5:08 pm
November 21, 2019
America/Toronto

CURRENT WEATHER

0.67 °C / 33.206 °F
light snow
Fri

0.92 °C/34 °F
snow
Sat

0.17 °C/32 °F
heavy snow
Sun

-2.9 °C/27 °F
scattered clouds
Mon

1.02 °C/34 °F
snow

LOCAL CURRENCY

CAD

1 USD = 0 CAD
1 EUR = 0 CAD
1 GBP = 0 CAD
1 AUD = 0 CAD

Travelers recommend visiting the following places of interests



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