Gaspe Peninsula

8:17 p.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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I'm researching a summer trip to the Gaspe Peninsula in eastern Canada. If you've been to the region and have any must-do suggestions or book, map, or web site suggestions, please share them.

We'll be driving from Maine and will have two small children in tow. We plan to hike, camp, and if possible would really like to do some short backpacks with the kids.

12:36 p.m. on March 6, 2009 (EST)
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That brings back some wonderful memories. When we lived in Boston, we went up to Gaspe several times. Parc Gaspesian has some great campsites and trails to hike. Be sure to drive along the St Lawrence, especially around Cap Chat, and stop when you see the brick mounds along the road. Those "mounds" are actually wood-fired ovens, in which some of the local farm folk bake bread. It is great, fresh and hot from the oven, though it does seem to disappear quickly. It does help to brush up on your French. However, French as spoken on the Gaspe is not your high school Parisian French, nor even Quebecois as spoken in Quebec or Montreal. The wife of one of my grad students was from France and had her degree in French literature of the 14th through 17th Centuries (Siecles 14-17). She said what they were speaking was basically 17th Century Burgundian (much to her delight to hear it actually being spoken). Having learned my French while climbing in the French Alps (thus with a montagnard accent), I had a bit of difficulty understanding, though the locals seemed to have no difficulty understanding me.

Fall (Sept) seemed to be the best time to go, with fewer tourists and fantastic fall colors - more brilliant and fantastic than even your part of the world. The earlier sunsets also allowed seeing brilliant auroral displays, though we are just coming out of a solar minimum (less solar activity means less auroral displays).

The tip of the peninsula also is a great place, and if you have time, is one of the jumping off places to head over to Laborador (which is better in mid-summer). If you go over to Laborador, be sure to take the side trip to France - Ste Pierre and Miquelon islands, just off the coast of Laborador, are Compartements of France (fully represented in the French legislature). And you can visit the one authenticated Viking settlement in North America as well.

10:38 a.m. on March 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Hello! I'm actually from the area, it is a nice place. My most memorable moments were: driving around the Baie Des Chaleurs and walk on the beach, campfires on the beach, sailing in Carleton, the Blues festival in the same place, La Braderie in Bonaventure, swimming with seals in Forion Parc, hand fishing huge lobsters, the birds at Ile Bonaventure and the Rocher Percé.

Folks are really nice and it's good to ask around for things to do. Just bring a wet suit if you plan on doing any swimming or sailing in the fall, it's cold! Also, it tends to rain a fair amount. I'm afraid most of the info is in french though! If you want to know more drop me a line: franczazou@hotmail.com

-Franc

1:00 p.m. on March 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks for the tips, Bill and Franc.

We'll probably head to the area in August, since we've got a kid who needs to go to school in the fall. Otherwise, early-fall would be my first choice. We hope to go for up to two weeks, so we can really make it worth our while.

None of us speak French though. So, for better or worse, it won't make much difference to us what dialect is being spoken. Hopefully this won't make the trip too much of a challenge.

We're thinking about making a loop of it, maybe up through Quebec City and then around the peninsula. We definitely would like to check out the Chic-Chocs and Parc national de la Gaspesie. We'd like to stay at some campgrounds, or backpack in to some spots, whenever possible. We'll check out the beaches too.

Anyway, I need to do some more research and figure out our priorities. I don't want to spend my whole time driving from spot to spot, but would like to spend a few days hiking and enjoying certain areas, before moving on to another. I'll try to keep the plan open, so we can check out things on the fly.

Franc, thanks for the e-mail address. I'll let you know if/when I need some more specifics. If there is an English guide book or web site you'd suggest, please let me know.

9:07 p.m. on March 10, 2009 (EDT)
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You do have to drive a fair bit but there is a lot of things to do on the way...I should be around quebec city mid to end of august, let me know when you'll be there i might be able to show you around or at least give you a few pointers.

1:29 p.m. on March 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks, Franc! I'll be sure to check back once I have a vague itinerary in mind.

3:09 p.m. on March 11, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm not much of a city person, but Barb and I found Quebec Cite to be really enjoyable (much more than Montreal). Especially the older historical parts.

8:50 p.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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I am also going to the Gaspe Peninsula in August, but with 3 small children in tow. I have been trying to find which is the best (and safest) whale watching boat for children. Have you looked into that and if so have you found any? Thanks, Mina

5:05 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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Whale watching is usually in Tadoussac. I'll try to ask around, i have a couple buddies working on the zodiacs.

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