© 2011 jemma

Cruising the Gaspé!

And so it began, our great adventure into the Gaspésie. We jumped off Hwy 20 from Quebec City and onto the smaller 132 at Rivière-Ouelle to take the scenic route the rest of the way to our first stop Rivière-du-Loup.

We travelled through beautiful villages and stopped in at a boulangerie (bakery) and a general store in the little town of Neimand to pick up supplies. It was here that I found one of the best almond croissants I have ever eaten and the Pain aux chocolat wasn’t bad either.

We stopped in at sleepy coastal villages, envious at the views each little cottage had. The coast is beautiful and the water was so calm. It looks so much like an ocean that is it hard to think that this is a “river”. The only clue it that you can see the other side and the beautiful mountains to the North West.

When we arrived in Riviere-du-Loup late that evening we had a little problem. All day water had been sloshing behind the dash and dripping every so often onto my foot and onto the carpet making a nice slushy puddle at my feet. We had already worked out the problem and found out how to find and fix it, we just needed space, which it not readily available in Quebec City.

So we pulled up in our hotel car park and got to work ripping the front of the car apart and fixing the problem. Half an hour later with water dripping out the bottom of the car we had fixed the air conditioning! I was very very very happy!! No more wet feet. We celebrated our victory by going to the small mall in the Loup and buying Subway for dinner, which is where you get to say one of my favourite French words…12 pouces.

Day two of our road trip began with a little trip out to see the falls in Riviere-du-Loup. We had a long day of driving ahead of us, so it was nice to start our day with a little serenity. We began driving up the 132 early, only to find our way was blocked by construction. After convincing the man that we really needed to visit Cacouna – we didn’t – we were allowed through the construction as “local traffic”.

Now we had passed through LOTS of construction already on this trip, but not like this. The whole town had been dug up. Massive holes, no roads and trenches covered the town. Half way through we both decided that going this slow was not really worth ignoring the detour. Lesson learnt.

We were heading towards Parc national du Bic which I had read was well worth a look. We stopped at a fromagerie along the way and picked up some cheese curd, swiss and a tasty garlic pull apart for lunch. Jess also added some smelly smoked trout and salmon to the mix.

We made it to Bic and went for a hike before lunch. It was a beautiful hike following the shore, past coves and though the forests. We saw seals and lots of birds. It’s an amazing park with beautiful islands, tidal pools and beaches. We certainly worked up an appetite for our lunch, so soon after our hike we devoured the bread and cheese with a view of the coastline and a fat harbour seal.

After the park we headed full steam ahead towards Mont Saint Pierre. We stopped only a few times, once at the oldest house in eastern Quebec, and the other time at Cap-Chat to see the highest vertical-axis wind turbine in the world. The mountain range along the Gaspésie are full in some places of wind turbines. We also stopped to admire the magnificent view every once and a while too.

We made it to Mont Saint Pierre just before dark. Checking into our hotel was a fun experience due to the fact that the older gentleman didn’t speak English and we don’t speak that much French, but we got through it.

Mont St Pierre is a beautiful cove, an elbow in the highway that is surrounded by mountains and boarded by the sea. Our motel – like the whole town – was on the beach and it made for a nice afternoon stroll before dinner. It was also moose season in Quebec and a couple of guys staying at the motel had caught two moose which were hanging over wooden posts in the backs of their trucks. Lucky fellows.

The next morning we rose early as we had an even longer drive today. We would be heading across the top of the peninsula and then down to the small town of Maria. We drove along the coast, and up and down mountains. This end of the peninsula is the start of the Appalachian Mountain range. Again we drove though many sleepy fishing villages which were even sleepier on a Sunday and stopped at lighthouses and on steep cliffs to look at the views.

Heading down to Gaspé we travelled through Forillon National Park. This makes for some fantastic views heading around the peninsula. We made it to Gaspé for lunch and found that not much was there, or what was there wasn’t open. Finally we found a little cafe that sold chicken sandwiches.

Moving onto Percé we rounded some more magnificent coastline as we drove through farmland and villages that practically sit on the ocean. Percé’s main attraction is Percé Rock which is one of the largest natural arches in the world. It was very windy walking up to the lookout where you can’t even see the arch. The arch can only be observed from either side of the harbour, it is quite amazing though.

From Percé we still had a long way to go to get to Maria. We pushed on down the coast admiring the view but wanting to get to our destination. Finally we reached Maria in the late afternoon, in time for sunset walk along the water. We made salads for dinner and prepared to eat them outside, only to be attacked by black bugs. We were certainly getting closer to the Maritimes!

The next day was the last of our road trip. We were heading out of Quebec and into New Brunswick! Another province to add to our list. We drove to Grand Falls and got there in the evening. We even passed through an awesome place called Robinsonville on the way! Yes, it really exists in the beautiful Appalachian mountains.

We ate subway for dinner and saw the monstrous Grand falls at night. Gorgeous, gorgeous. Would have gone zip lining over them if it was open! It was a nice view though to finish to our road trip.

After a little sightseeing we tucked ourselves in for an early night. We needed to be well rested for our drive the next day to Saint John to see Jess’ Uncle Reg and Aunt Yvonne. Can’t wait to meet them and even more Belliveaux!