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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Maritime Quebec. Garfield the Cat greets visitors. Photo by Janna Graber
Garfield the Cat greets visitors at Café du Clocher in Kamouraska. Photo by Janna Graber

Kamouraska

After ferrying back across the river that next morning, we drove to the village of Kamouraska. The town’s art galleries, chocolate factory and other shops are popular with vacationers. We browsed the stores, chatted with local artist Camille Paradis at her studio, and then stopped for coffee on the outdoor patio at Café du Clocher, where we were entertained by a chubby local cat named Garfield.

Then it was back in the car to continue our road trip through Maritime Quebec. In Rivière-du-Loup, we bought tickets for the Rivière-du-Loup to Saint-Siméon ferry.

Ferries play an important role in Maritime Quebec. Photo by Janna Graber
Ferries play an important role in Maritime Quebec. Photo by Janna Graber

Ferries are a part of everyday life here along the St. Lawrence; this one carries more than 700 cars a day. On board, senior captain Marco Ouellet invited us in for a quick chat, and we learned about the important role that ferries play in this region. The 65-minute ride was quite comfortable, with a restaurant and shops on board.

From Saint-Siméon, it was a 40 km drive (including one more ferry crossing) to the resort village of Tadoussac, our final destination. With an enviable location on the bay, Tadoussac is at the heart of the Saguenay – St. Lawrence Marine Park. Whales can often be seen right from shore, especially from the Pointe-de-l’Islet overlook at the edge of town.

While many come to Tadoussac to see and learn about whales, the town is a rightful destination all its own. We found a comfortable base at Auberge La Galouïne, a boutique hotel in the heart of town.

It was just a five-minute walk to local restaurants (my favorites were the Café Bar Le Gibard for live music and drinks, au Père Coquart for pizza and Auberge La Galouïne Restaurant for dinner).

We also walked to the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre, a small but informative center dedicated to whales and marine life. Whale researchers work from the center, and a marine biologist shared his insight as we toured the facility. The goal is to educate, and we heard about the types of whales in the region, as well as how they live and thrive. One fun exhibit even offered a whale singing course.

Photo by Janna Graber
The Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre. Photo by Janna Graber

Whale watching tours are offered right next door with Croisières AML. Tours operate from April to the end of October – and it seems we’re here right in time.

Our whale watching experience has been the highlight of the trip. Out on the water, Captain Julie points out three minke whales on the right. From my perch on the zodiac, they’re so close that I can hear them breathe. The sound is loud and powerful, and I’m awed by the experience. My eyes follow them as they swim in the distance, eventually disappearing into the depths of the St. Lawrence River.

You can never have too many photos of Quebec. The author captures one more image. Photo by Jay Kana
You can never have too many photos of Quebec. The author captures one more image. Photo by Jay Kana

If You Go to Quebec

Maritime Quebec
quebecmaritime.ca

Author Bio: Janna Graber has covered travel in more than 45 countries. She is the editor of three travel anthologies, including “A Pink Suitcase: 22 Tales of Women’s Travel,” and is the managing editor of Go World Travel Magazine