Touring the Gaspé Peninsula With Family
The Gaspesie (Gaspé peninsula) area has turned out to be a highlight of our cross Canada trip. The views, the colours, the wildlife and beaches, this is worth the drive to get here. And trust us, we know worthy drives at this point!
We are arriving from Tadoussac, in October, which means we are at the mercy of the one ferry sailing time, 1pm. Being get-up-and-go-people, not getting up to go is odd and disorienting. Still, we have a wonderful morning exploring a bit more of the Route de Baleine and are thrilled when we spot whales right from the shore.
Before we know it, it’s time to head to the ferry line, butcher our french while confirming our reservation and then drive on. The ferry is small and I scramble and fail to find Gravol for us all. The 1.5 hour trip has whale and dolphin sightings but also seasickness and Darth Vader wannabes…
We’re across to Trois Pistoles at 2:30pm and now begin our 440km coastal drive to Cap-des-Rosiers, the edge of Forillon National Park. This is not even close to our biggest mileage day, yet it feels like an eternity. After stopping to shop for groceries & birthday cake, then dinner, and photo snapping, darkness prevails and the drive drags along. Maybe it feels all the longer sensing how stunning the scenery is but not being able to see it. But it’s also windy with a speed limit crawling to 50km through all the tiny villages dotting the shore.
Confession Time Two
The Bad News
Upon arrival, we find we booked the wrong room and do not have a kitchenette, not a fridge or coffee pot either. A problem since we just bought all the food and off season means no restaurants open.
Motel is, well, a motel room. Small room, small beds, old everything.
Kids finally fall asleep while Bal and I grumpily stare into our phones when I remember I have presents to wrap for Kaya’s birthday tomorrow. I forgot to pick up wrapping paper! Nooo!!! On the uncomfortable shared double bed, by phone light alone, I wrap recycling homeschool papers and whale brochures.
The provided breakfast is lackluster at best. Don’t even get me started on the coffee…
Note the no photos for this section. Funny how I never take photos of the bad stuff. A note for us all to remember when thinking others have the ‘perfect lives’. Anyways, here’s a lighthouse. Which was closed so we couldn’t go up. That’s bad.
The Good News
The birthday girl is up dancing for sunrise setting the tone for the rest of the day, and week. She’s 11, she’s with her family, thinks whale wrapping paper is ‘awesome’, and is ready for an adventure for her birthday.
Our fridge cooler keeps the food fresh and we are travelling with all our camping supplies so a picnic style birthday dinner can certainly count as an adventure.
Though working in a motel is never ideal, the wifi is good and Bal readies for his day while us girls set out to explore the park.
Forillon National Park
Usually I have done some research on wherever it is we’re headed. Perhaps I’m weary at this point in our cross Canada travels, but I have done none for Forillon. This iconic shot is about all I’ve seen so first we head to the interpretation centre for maps and info. We discover there are 2 entry points to the park and 3 main areas to visit. We begin at the North entrance.
North side- Cap Bon Ami
Here we are, the impressive cliffs overlooking the mighty sea.
Jaws dropped in wonder, we wander along until realizing we’re on a hike, not just a quick viewpoint side trail. I madly go through the backpack making sure we have water and food. Thankfully, my backpack is rarely without some sort of power bar and water so we carry on. At one point we see a viewpoint way up high and assume that’s where we’re headed. Brennyn looks dismayed, Kaya is thrilled- it’s high, it’s a tower, it’s awesome- so being her birthday and all, she insists we go straight for it. Sister grumbles but acquiesces to the power of the birthday.
We’re all thankful for birthday girls choice as the farther we go, the more stunning the view. Turns out we’re on the Mont-Saint-Alban trail. The hike is only 2km up, but it is all up. We stop along the way for red chair pitstops and to take in the views. Brilliant.
When we make it back down, we head straight for the pebbly beach that sings as the waves lull in and out. The girls find a waterfall coming down the rocks and spend a solid hour ‘saving’ the waterfall by opening up a path for it to fall to the sea. We could spend hours more here but for the grumbly tummies so we head back to the motel for lunch.
Wildlife of the Gaspé
On our way back, we finally see a moose! We have travelled the whole country, seeing countless moose statues, moose souvenirs, moose mascots… But no moose. We are elated as we pull up and watch the moose eat a snack. I scramble with my phone and manage to capture Moose Butt which we all find hilarious. Eventually he wanders into the bush, antlers blending in with the boreal forest he’s munching on. Kaya declares this the best birthday gift yet, a Moose sighting!
When Bal is off work, we bring him back to Cap-Bon-Ami. First greeting is a bear! More birthday wildlife. After some beach play, we head out and we watch amazed as 2 cubs play a bear version of Tag in and out of the forest. They are having a blast until mamma calls and they slink out of sight at mamma’s scolding.
The next morning Bal wants to head up to the viewpoint for sunrise. Brennyn is having none of it, no one’s birthday this time, so Kaya heads up with Daddy while Brennyn and I greet sunrise from the beach. On our way, we come across a porcupine waddling. Listen, we have seen a ton of porcupine roadkill on our journey, but I have never seen a live porcupine in the wild. Now we get to see Porcupine butt! So exciting!
South side- L’Anse-aux-Amerindiens
We stop first at Hyman & Sons general store, a replica of an 1864 store. Worth a stop and great for a homeschooling lesson on life in the 1800’s and the cod industry of the area.
We move on to begin our 8km hike to Land’s End. I do not tell the girls it is 8km just that ‘We’re going to Land’s End guys! That’s amazing! Maybe we’ll see a whale!” We don’t. We do see stunning scenery, a cool solar powered lighthouse, and oh my god, the most amount of bear scat I have ever seen.
Listen, I’m from bear country. Bears do not phase me. But this is A LOT of bear poop. I keep wondering if this is a designated poop alley for the bears or if there is this much distributed throughout the forest and if so, HOW MANY FREAKIN BEARS ARE IN THIS AREA?! Shockingly, we see no bears, but we imagine they are right there in the bushes beside us laughing at the fools walking through their outhouse. Oct 5th and this is our first Christmas carol of the season trying to be loud and known 😉
The girls hear me mention a sandy beach and insist we be done with all the hiking and get them to a beach for crying out loud! We spend an afternoon ‘homeschooling’ here. Let’s call it art/drama/gym class. While they run wild and free, I spot the cutest little cabins sitting up above. Free me from the motel room and get us here now please! I research and discover they are in our budget, they’re available but (why is there always a but!) the wifi is spotty. Fortunately, the lure of getting-the-hell-outta-the-motel has Bal agree to risk it.
Upon arriving at the Les Chalets Du Parc, we are upgraded to a 2 bedroom cabin AND IT HAS A TRAMPOLINE in the front yard!! And a firepit. And don’t forget we are right above the BEST BEACH EVER. Bliss.
Except for that one minor detail of the wifi not being so reliable. Oops. Bal is frustrated but beyond a couple of hours in the morning, manages to make it work.
Meanwhile us 3 girls are in heaven.
Since we love our cabin so much we add on a night, foregoing a stay in Percé. This was definitely the right move for us though we do stop in Percé for a bit of lunch, sightseeing and souvenir shopping. We haven’t seen any shopping up until this point in the Gaspé so have fun browsing the funky shops.
We stop in Chandler for the sole reason of seeing Nova Lumina.
In Chandler, for reasons unknown, stars are falling from the sky, filling the beaches with light as they wash ashore. Let the stars be your guide and embark on this mythical voyage between Earth and sky. Your mission is to carry the light of a fallen star along the way and return it to the night sky. Follow the path to where the stars are waiting for you.
Wow, this was a truly fantastic family outing. It’s interactive, imaginative and so very dreamy making all of us feel like we’ve entered a magical realm. Brennyn especially was grumpy and really not interested in whatever mamma was dragging her to. In the end, she clasped onto my arm and whispers, “Mamma, I should always trust you because you always take me to things that I really love. This is awesome!”
Listen, if you ever have a chance to experience a Moment Factory experience, do it. We first visited Aura at the Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal. I will never forget the girls faces of awe as the music and colours sweep over us. Which is why I insist on this stop in Chandler. We are here on their last night of the season and I’m so very grateful we make it.
Unique, outdoors and wonder-filled. My kind of place!
Recommendations in the Gaspé
- Fall is spectacular if you don’t mind a lack of services. We are there Oct2-7 and there is not much open and not many people around. We adore this but some may not.
- Hiking to the tower was an absolute highlight. Don’t miss it.
- Plan on a full day a Penouille beach. Just trust me. Bring grumpy kids here and let them run free. Soul happy place.
- Binoculars will come in handy
- Deep breath, s-l-o-w down and enjoy!