Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
Day 1: Quebec City
Your starting point

Must-stops along the way

With its deep history, UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and heady mix of cultures and award-winning restaurants, Québec City is practically surreal. But this fortified provincial capital (it’s the only walled city north of Mexico) is decidedly down-to-earth. Founded in 1608, it maintains a festive atmosphere year-round, with easily-accessible sights that give you a glimpse into this exceptional city that’s a destination like no other.

  • Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec: Ready to learn a little about Quebec’s captivating history and emerging future? Get a primer by browsing the collections of early and contemporary art at the National Museum of Fine Arts of Québec. The museum possesses nearly 40,000 works! Before you visit, explore the collections online. You can even save your favourites, then seek them out when you arrive.
  • Quartier Petit-Champlain: One of the best ways to discover the essence of a city is to wander its streets. Discovering the Petit-Champlain District’s cobbled streets, fashionable boutiques, and age-old architecture doesn’t require a plan; simply get lost and see what you find. Make a point of getting get there via the old 1879 funicular (it was revamped in 1998) and marvel at the city views as you ascend.
  • Changing of the Guard: No, you’re not at Buckingham Palace. But this ceremony that’s held at the Citadelle (a National Historic Site) was indeed inspired by London’s daily tradition. Your spine is sure to tingle as you watch the Royal 22e Régiment’s soldiers wearing their signature red attire and bearskin hats perform this colourful military tradition.

 

Eat

Québec City is arguably a hotbed of quintessentially Canadian cuisine. Start off with a light bite and then dig deep into traditional game meats and more

  • Cantook: Since 1982 this cafe has been dedicated to roasting and brewing the best beans it can put into your cup, whether a cold brew or steaming latte. Hunker down in the hipster surroundings with a pastry and your java of choice and ponder the inspiration behind the cafe’s name, which comes from the French word for a tool used by lumberjacks. 
  • Aux Anciens Canadiens: Built from 1675–1676, historic Maison Jacquet in Québec City is the province’s oldest house. It’s a fitting place for this restaurant where you can take a big bite of Québec’s traditional cuisine. Expect hearty game dishes such as bison tenderloin and poutine of pig’s knuckle, plus desserts like maple syrup pie.

 

End your day

Finish off a day of discovery by shopping for gourmet goods and sleeping in a castle.

  • L’Épicerie J.A. Moisan: The oldest grocery store in North America, here you'll find delectable items like Québec cheeses and craft beer, soaps, spices, and teas. Upstairs, the former apartments have been converted into L’Auberge, an inn with four guest rooms that each ooze Victorian charm.
  • Fairmont Le Château Frontenac: It was already the world’s most photographed hotel, but now this regal edifice’s crown gleams even more, thanks to a multimillion-dollar renaissance project undertaken in 2018. Splurge and stay a night or two in this castle-esque National Historic Site secluded behind Old Québec’s walls overlooking the St. Lawrence River. You’ll be in good company: since it opened in 1893, the hotel has hosted luminaries such as Queen Elizabeth, Alfred Hitchcock, and Charles Lindbergh.
 
Parc National du Bic
Day 2: Rimouski
Total drive time: 4.5 hours

Must-stops along the way

Leave the buzz of the city behind for the sanctitude of forest and sea

  • Parc National du Bic: During summer and early fall, keep your eyes peeled for grey and harbour seals that haul out on the St. Lawrence Estuary’s rocks. In winter, cross-country ski, snowshoe, or hike the network of trails, stopping in at a warming hut to catch your breath and soak up views of the stark yet stunning surroundings.

 

Eat

Fuel up on Gaspé cuisine and Québec cider.

  • Le Crepe Chignon: You’ll find French faves like escargot and egg pots at this restaurant in Rimouski, but as its name implies, people come here for the sweet and savory crepes. For breakfast try Crack Sur Moi, a crew made with lamb sausage, apple, and Emmental cheese, with a fried egg on top. Dropping by for lunch? Be sure to sample a glass of Québec cider and have maple-sugar crepe for dessert.

 

End your day

The coast’s endless views continue when you check into a waterfront hotel.

  • Hotel Saint-Germain: The sleek and spacious rooms overlooking the water in Rimouski offer amenities galore. Creature comforts include like in-room coffee makers (or order up continental breakfast), a gym, and even a co-working space so you can sneak in a little work or exercise while on the road.
 
Couleur Chocolat in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts
Day 3: Sainte-Anne-des-Monts
Total drive time: 3 hours

Must-stops along the way

Get extra close with nature at its wildest by going dog sledding and looking for caribou and moose.

  • Dog sledding: Near Matane, head south on Route 195 to Saint-Vianney village for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of mushing Siberian and Alaskan huskies with Gaspésie Dog Sledding. Learn how to lead your own sled and take part in harnessing the dogs before you set off.
  • Gaspésie National Park: Caribou or moose? You’ll have a chance to see both these massive creatures in their natural habitat. In fact, the park was created in 1937 to protect the the Gaspésie caribou, an endangered species. Year-round you can explore many of this park’s high-altitude peaks, tundra landscapes, and rivers full of spawning salmon.
  • Musée des Phares: Back on the coast, take time to stretch your legs at the lighthouse museum in La Martre. Take a guided tour of the unmistakable cherry-red octagonal structure and check out the gift shop and exhibition on shipwrecks.

 

Eat

Indulge in traditional Québec and Gaspésie cuisine and modern treats that bring a taste of the forest to your plate.

  • La Broue in the Toupet: Grilled beef is the star of the plates served up at this Sainte-Anne-des-Monts bistro tucked inside the Hôtel & Cie. You’ll find simple fare like fried pickles with horseradish sauce, and standout dishes like red deer tartar and Québec pork ribs, which embody the restaurant’s farm-to-table ethos.
  • Couleur Chocolat: Make time to drop in to this artisan chocolate shop in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts for a taste of the unusual. Case in point: The chocolats forestiers are made from ingredients found in the Gaspé forest, such as balsam fir, wild caraway, and parsnip.

 

End your day

See sunset and sunrise in the park surrounded by mountain views.

  • Gîte du Mont-Albert: Can’t rip yourself away from the park? Get cosy at Mont Albert Cottage (as it’s known in English), a four-star hotel set amid stunning Gaspésie National Park with rooms overlooking namesake Mount Albert.
 
Forillon National Park, Gaspé
Day 4: The city of Gaspé
Total drive time: 3 hours

Must-stops along the way

History lesson in a day? Hike ancient trails, discover Indigenous culture, and see the place where French explorers arrived in Canada. 

  • Forillon National Park: When you arrive at the peninsula’s “land’s end” you’ll also have found the start of the International Appalachian Trail. But before you start hiking the historic trails by old barns, through maple groves, and along sea cliffs, take a few minutes to absorb the area’s beauty. If you’re patient, you might even spot a blue whale breaching in Gaspé Bay or the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
  • Cross of Gaspé: When Jacques Cartier came ashore in Gaspé in 1534, he erected a wooden cross, claiming this land for King Francis I of France. On the waterfront look for the 42-ton granite cross that marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of French explorers in Canada.
  • Site d'interprétation Micmac de Gespeg: Québec’s Indigenous communities comprise an integral part of the province’s past and present. Take a guided tour through a traditional camp where you’ll learn about the Mi'gmaq culture — from their ancestral beliefs and customs to the work tools they used dating back to the 17th century.
  • Birthplace of Canada: Visit this interpretive site in Gaspé on the York River, which includes a series of heritage and reconstructed buildings depicting the township in 1900. During evenings in summer and fall watch “A Tale of Time and Tides,” a free multimedia show on Gaspé’s heritage.

 

Eat

Feast on fresh seafood on a terrace overlooking the ocean.

  • Café de L’Anse: Whether you want to dive into a hearty breakfast (try the French toast sandwich) before hitting the road or wind down the day over a platter of smoked cod, salmon, and fresh shrimp on the terrace overlooking the sea, this lovely cafe satisfies. Located in Le Griffon Centre Culturel, a cold-storage warehouse for fish that was built in 1942 and saved from demolition by village locals, the emphasis here is on regional produce.

 

End your day

Visit an 1860s stone home — then spend the night.

  • Auberge William Wakeham: Rustic, Royal, Romantic? These are merely three of the charming rooms from which to choose at William Wakeham House, an ancestral home built in the 1860s for its namesake owner. Once composed of a doctor’s office, sports hall, and music room, this carved-stone structure overlooks the Bay of Gaspé and the York River, making it a restful retreat in the picturesque city of Gaspé. 
 
Northern Gannet birds in Parc National de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé
Day 5: Percé
Total drive time: 1 hour

Must-stops along the way

Spend the day discovering a 375 million-year-old sea stack and visiting a colony of Northern Gannet birds.

  • Parc National de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé: Water, water everywhere! The best way to gaze in wonder at the famed Percé Rock and its natural arch is to venture out to sea. The 375 million-year-old limestone sea stack has been recognized by UNESCO as a Global Geopark and an icon of nearby Gaspé city and the peninsula itself. Visit Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock National Park in summer to get a close-up look at the world’s largest and most accessible colony of Northern Gannet birds.

 

Eat

Indulge in ice cream at an artisanal dairy bar.

  • La Vieille Usine: Don’t miss poking around L'Anse- à- Beaufils, a former fishing village. Stop in at its hub, the La Vieille Usine, or old factory (check out what on at the theatre and pop into the art gallery), for casual fare at the cafe-bistro. Want something sweet? Have a Bonaventure waffle or ice cream at Au Glaces De L’Anse, an artisanal dairy bar located in a 1940s-era building.

 

End your day

Admire Percé Rock in the distance from your private balcony.

  • La Normandie: Watch the morning sea mist rising and the gannets circling Percé Rock from your seaside suite in this primely positioned hotel. Most rooms have private balconies and electric fireplaces, boosting the romance quotient of this waterfront getaway.
 
Microbrasserie Le Naufrageur in Carleton-sur-Mer
Day 6: Carleton-sur-Mer
Total drive time: 3 hours

Must-stops along the way

  • Swim and sail: Thanks to its location in the shallower waters of Baie-des-Chaleur, Carleton-sur-Mer offers calm beaches and superb summer swimming. Another way to enjoy Gaspé’s south shore is to learn how to sail (there are single-day camps for kids) or take a relaxing excursion on a catamaran; both adventures are available through Écovoile Baie-des-Chaleurs.

 

Eat

Sip local beer in an old theatre on the seaside.

  • Microbrasserie Le Naufrageur: Get in touch with local life in Carleton-sur-Mer while sipping a pint of organic beer (try the Doris blonde lager that has hints of lemon and green apple) at this rustic micro-brasserie and pub located in the old La Moluque Theatre. Have a snack to go with your suds, such as eggs pickled with vinegar and stout, handmade sausages served with crusty bread, and other Gaspésian treats.

 

End your day

Stay close to the sea, whether you bed down in an historic hotel or hide away in a tent.

  • Manoir Belle Plage: With mountain and water views, plus delightful rooms decorated with works from the region’s artists, you won’t want to leave this former English-style village in Carleton-sur-Mer. Get a taste for Gaspésian terroir here too: dine at Le Courlieu, the on-site restaurant overlooking the sea.
  • Luxury beach camping: Forget about hauling camping gear. Experience Beaubassin Beach near the city of Bonaventure by overnighting in a ready-to-camp Beauséjour tent (ideal for a family of four). Commune with nature, cook meals outdoors, and access the beach with ease.
 
Quartier Petit-Champlain
Day 7: Quebec City
Total drive time: 6 hours, 45 minutes

Must-stops along the way

Start your day early and make the final push to Québec City, stopping for some easy cycling en route.

  • Parc National du Lac-Témiscouata: After overnighting in Carleton-sur-Mer, drive to St. Leonard and take Highway 2 north toward yet another amazing wilderness area that boasts 10,000 years of human history. Rent a bicycle and hit the trails on this Lands and Forests of Acadia circuit. Want to spend more time in quiet contemplation? Fish for speckled trout and perch on Grand-Lac-Touladi and Petit-Lac-Touladi.

 

Eat

After days of indulging in gourmet Québec cuisine, opt for lighter local fare.

  • Le Comptoir Gourmand: It’s worth stopping (or staying another night) in postcard-pretty Kamouraska en route to Québec City. But make time to have lunch or a pastry in this café and bakery that’s run by a mother-daughter team. And if it’s picnic weather, get a meat pie, salad, or sandwich to go, so you can keep up your energy as you continue exploring.
  • Bistro L’Orygine: In a city brimming with hearty yet heavy French fare (like poutine: French fries heaped with gravy and cheese curds), this organic bistro is a celebration of local ingredients made with a light hand. Menu items showcase seasonal foods like elk carpaccio paired with cherries and hazelnuts and vegan-friendly hummus made with beets and chickpeas.

 

End your day

Wind down your week-long adventure with a celebratory beer, then stay in a carbon-neutral hotel in a 300-year-old building.

  • Korrigane: Artisanal beers — from red ale to black IPA — brewed in small quantities are at the cornerstone of this St. Roch neighbourhood brasserie that also makes it a mission to support Québec-based micro-enterprises. Share a plate of nachos or go for the veggie chilli made with organic tofu. Most menu items have suggested beer pairings so you can learn a little about Québec craft beer as you drink up and chow down.
  • Hôtel du Vieux-Québec: Recognized for its commitment to environmental sustainability, this carbon-neutral hotel situated in a 300-year-old building in Old Quebec combines the best of old and new worlds. Contemporary guest rooms are filled with furniture made by Québecois craftspeople, organic vegetable and herb gardens are located on the hotel’s rooftop, and urban bee hives produce honey that’s used in the property’s on-site restaurant, Le Tournebroche.

 

A week of driving the diverse Gaspé peninsula gives you a sampling of all this region has to offer. If you want to delve deeper into French-Canadian culture, you can easily extend your trip to 10 days or more.

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