Quebec by the Sea: Road Trip in Maritime Quebec

Whales, islands and lighthouses are part of life along the St. Lawrence River

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Travel in Maritime Quebec - The St. Lawrence River in Quebec is home to many species of whales, and it's one of the best places in North America to see whales. Photo by Janna Graber
The St. Lawrence River in Quebec is one of the best places in North America to see whales. Photo by Janna Graber

“Look ahead,” says Captain Julie. “We might be coming up on a small pod of belugas.”

We’re in Quebec on a yellow zodiac, zooming across the St. Lawrence River in search of whales with Croisières AML. Captain Julie has taken us into the heart of the Saguenay-St Lawrence Marine Park, a protected region so rich with whales that marine researchers come here from around the world.

Sure enough, six beluga whales in the distance, their white backs reflecting in the Quebec sunshine as they surface.

We saw pods of beluga whales and dozens of minke. Photo by Janna Graber
We saw pods of beluga whales and dozens of minke whales. Photo by Janna Graber

Whale Watching in Quebec

Quebec may be known for its rich culture, unique history and excellent food, but it’s also one of the best places in North America for whale watching. Thirteen species of whales, including blue, fin and humpbacks, can be found in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The mighty St. Lawrence, one of the world’s longest rivers, bisects southeastern Quebec. Maritime Quebec has more than 3000 km of coastline, 40 lighthouses, 10 national parks and dozens of small towns and cities. Life is centered on the river, with ferries playing an important role in transportation.

Though the whales have drawn me to this region of Quebec, our travels here have been just as pleasant. After flying into tiny Mont-Joli Airport, my friends and I began our road trip in Maritime Quebec with a 140 km-drive to Rivière-du-Loup.

Marcel Gagnon's art installation reflects Quebec’s pride in its maritime heritage. Photo by Janna Graber
Marcel Gagnon’s art installation reflects Quebec’s pride in its maritime heritage. Photo by Janna Graber

Like all good road trips, this one included pit stops. Our first one was at Centre d’art, Auberge & Restaurant Marcel Gagnon in Sainte Flavie. The Marcel Gagnon art installation here reflects Quebec’s pride in its maritime heritage, with dozens of figures literally “coming from the sea”.

Rivière-du-Loup

It was evening by the time we reached Rivière-du-Loup. Our base for the night was Auberge de la Pointe, a beautiful riverside hotel that has been in the same family since 1957. Now owned by third generation family member, Marc-Antoine Côté, the hotel has been nicely updated.

There's a reason the Auberge de la Pointe, our first stop, is known for their beautiful sunsets. Photo by Janna Graber
There’s a reason the Auberge de la Pointe, our first stop, is known for their beautiful sunsets. Photo by Janna Graber

Many visit the hotel just to eat at L’Espadon, the popular onsite restaurant, or to enjoy the view from the terrace. This region is known for its beautiful sunsets, and sure enough, Mother Nature put on a nice display over the river that evening.

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