With a population of over 15,000 and a history that stretches back to the dawn of European colonization in what is now Canada, Gaspé is the largest city and unofficial capital of the region with which it shares its name. As the Gaspé Peninsula's most important service centre and transportation hub, almost every visitor to the region will pass through at one point or another on their travels.
But Gaspé presents something of a conundrum: no one comes to this part of Quebec in search of urban creature comforts, and — especially for tourists who've just been wowed by the majestic scenery while driving into town along the St. Lawrence, or spent a day taking in the touristy atmosphere of Percé down the road — at first glance Gaspé can seem like a workaday, all-business kind of town, a bit lacking in charm.
But that doesn't necessarily mean you should hit the road as soon as you've touched down at Michel Pouliot Airport, stocked up on fuel or provisions, or whatever has brought you to town. Stick around awhile and dig a little deeper, and Gaspé's low-key but worthwhile range of attractions might surprise you.
In 1971 — under the auspices of one of the Quebec provincial government's frequent spates of municipal reorganization — no fewer than eleven surrounding municipalities were annexed to Gaspé, among them Cap-aux-Os, Cap-des-Rosiers, Douglastown, Haldimand, L'Anse-au-Griffon, L'Anse-à-Valleau, Rivière-au-Renard, and York. While you'll still see these and other old place names on road signs along Route 132, and locals still often refer to them in conversation, all the points of interest within these former towns are contained within this article.
Additionally, Gaspé's city limits encompass the entirety of Forillon National Park, which is not covered in this article.
Gaspé's paramount importance in the colonial history of North America is unbeknownst even to many Québécois. Indeed, this city lays claim to the title of "Cradle of French America": in 1534, seven years before his failed attempt to establish a settlement at Cap-Rouge (and nearly three-quarters of a century before the foundation of Quebec City), the famous explorer Jacques Cartier, while sheltering in Gaspé Bay during a storm, came ashore briefly somewhere in the city and planted a crude wooden cross in the ground in the name of the French crown, thus setting the 200-year history of "New France" in motion. The indigenous Mi'kmaq people referred to the area as gespeg (meaning "land's end"; a reference to Cap-Gaspé at the east end of the peninsula), which was Gallicized by the colonists into its current name.
Despite its historical significance, the area remained a backwater for pretty much the entire two-century period of French rule. It was not until 1763 when settlement of what is now Gaspé began in earnest — and those first settlers were Englishmen, to whom Gaspesian land was given away free of charge after control of Quebec was firmly in British hands. They were followed in short order by waves of French-speaking Acadians expelled from their former homes in Nova Scotia, "United Empire Loyalists" driven out of what's now the United States after the revolution there, and immigrant fishermen and shipbuilders (the latter largely hailing from Jersey) who came from Europe to take advantage of the rich cod fishery in the surrounding waters. Gaspé's first post office opened in 1804, and the village was officially incorporated in 1855.
Gaspé hit its stride in the 19th century, with an economy centred around its importance as a port for the trans-Atlantic shipping trade — indeed, for a brief time around the turn of the century Gaspé figured among Canada's major seaports, with hundreds of foreign ships every year pulling into the deep, sheltered bay to take advantage of the city's status as a duty-free port, hundreds more setting off for distant lands with stocks of wood pulp, copper ore, dried cod, and other local goods, an impressive presence of branch consulates of countries such as Italy, Norway, and Brazil helping to further grease the gears of international trade, and a culture much more multilingual and cosmopolitan than the sleepy fishing and logging villages elsewhere in the region. However, despite the arrival of the railroad in 1911, Gaspé's port ultimately was unable to compete with larger and more centrally-located alternatives like Montreal and Halifax, and today it derives its significance mostly as a regional centre of population, business, and industry; the kind of place small-town folks from around the region head to go shopping, have a nice dinner out, and enjoy a semblance of city life.
Gaspé Forillon [dead link] is the official tourism website for the titular city and park: a comprehensive source of information including a visitor's guide, listings of hotels, restaurants and events, a lovely photo album, and even a mobile app for iPhone and Android users to download.
Gaspé's main Tourist Information Centre (Bureau d'information touristique de Gaspé) is located in the former VIA Rail station at 8, rue de la Marina, just across the bridge from downtown Gaspé. It's open year-round on weekdays from 8:30AM to 4:30PM.
A number of the outlying hamlets that make up the modern-day city have their own tourist information centres. The 1 L'Anse-à-Valleau Tourist Information Centre at 884, boulevard de l'Anse-à-Valleau is open daily 9AM-5PM from June 12 through September 30. Additionally, the building at 17, rue de la Langevin that houses the Forillon Yacht Club (Club nautique Forillon) and the Fishery Interpretive Centre (Centre d'interprétation des pêches) also does triple duty as the home of the Rivière-au-Renard Tourist Information Kiosk, open between June and September.
As with the vast majority of the peninsula's cities and towns, Provincial Route 132 — Quebec's main trunk road along the south shore of the St. Lawrence river and estuary — serves as Gaspé's main drag.
Coming from the direction of Montreal and Quebec City, follow Autoroute 20 eastward until the highway dead-ends at Trois-Pistoles. From there, make a left, following the signs for Route 132, then turn right and proceed eastward 314 km (195 miles) to L'Anse-Pleureuse. From there onward, you have several options:
- The quickest and most direct route into Gaspé would have you turning right at the junction with Provincial Route 198, the inland route via Murdochville that dumps you directly in the town centre. However, this option comes at the expense of missing out on the most majestic of the Gaspé Peninsula's shoreline scenery, and it's not really that much shorter.
- You can also follow Route 132 itself all the way into town, though the route it takes is circuitous indeed: after entering the city limits and passing through L'Anse-à-Valleau, Rivière-au-Renard, and other outer hamlets on a southeastward trajectory along the shore of the St. Lawrence, the road turns sharply to the southwest at Cap-des-Rosiers, winding and meandering its way through Forillon National Park before doubling back toward the northwest along the shore of Gaspé Bay. From there, it crosses over the mouth of the Dartmouth River and turns yet again toward the southeast on its final approach to Gaspé's town centre.
- The Goldilocks option, which is almost as fast as the inland route via Murdochville and also lets you enjoy most of that scenery, involves turning south on Provincial Route 197 at Rivière-au-Renard and rejoining Route 132 just before the aforementioned bridge over the Dartmouth River, thus cutting off the sinewy Forillon portion of the route.
Depending on which of those routes you take, from Quebec City to Gaspé you're looking at a drive of anywhere between seven-and-a-half and eight-and-a-half hours, excluding stops. If you're coming directly from Montreal, add another two and a half hours.
If you're coming from the direction of the Maritimes or certain parts of New England, the route is much more straightforward: pass through New Brunswick via Provincial Route 17, cross into Quebec at Campbellton, then follow Route 132 east from there. Gaspé is about 330 km (205 miles) past the provincial border, a drive of roughly three and a half hours excluding stops.
1 Michel-Pouliot Gaspé Airport (Aéroport Michel-Pouliot de Gaspé) (YGP IATA) is about 10 km (6 miles) outside the city centre at 60, rue de l'Aéroport, and is served by daily flights from Îles de la Madeleine, Quebec City, and Montreal. Enterprise and National have car rental facilities onsite.
If you're arriving from outside of Quebec, your best bet is to first fly into either of the latter two cities and then hop on a connecting Air Canada Express flight to YGP (or else settle in for the long drive up A-20).
The Orléans Express bus network serves the entire province of Quebec, including the Gaspé Peninsula. Two Gaspé-bound buses depart daily from Rimouski at 2:55PM, each taking a different turn at the fork in the road at Sainte-Flavie along the lasso-shaped trajectory of Route 132. The route through the Upper Gaspé via Matane and Sainte-Anne-des-Monts is quicker, cheaper, and more scenic, arriving in Gaspé at 9:35PM for a fare of $76.15 per passenger. If that one is sold out, the southerly route through the Matapédia Valley and Chaleur Bay regions via Amqui, Bonaventure, and Percé arrives in Gaspé at 11:10PM for a fare of $83.05 per passenger.
In all cases, fares include taxes and two checked bags, with a $5 upcharge for each additional checked bag up to a maximum of four total. The bus drops you off at Motel Adams at 20, rue Adams.
The main trunk line of the Route Verte — the largest network of bicycle routes on the American continent, with tentacles stretching over the entire province of Quebec — passes through the Gaspé Peninsula. Route Verte 1 largely follows the course of Provincial Route 132, though construction of bike lanes and other infrastructure is not yet complete throughout the entirety of the route. Indeed, Gaspé is accessible by bike from Percé and points south by way of a bike lane along the side of Route 132, but approaching from the other direction along the St. Lawrence, cyclists along 132 must ride directly in traffic lanes for 82 km (51 miles) between Sainte-Madeleine-de-la-Rivière-Madeleine and Rivière-au-Renard, where the roadside bike lanes finally re-emerge.
For details of Route Verte 1's trajectory through the city of Gaspé itself, see the corresponding section below.
The International Appalachian Trail (IAT; in French Sentier international des Appalaches or SIA) traverses Gaspé at the tail end of the North American mainland portion of its route. For long-distance hikers approaching from the west, the scenario is at first a continuation of the relatively easy and flat terrain they've been enjoying for the past several kilometres (miles): after crossing into the Gaspé city limits, the trail first hews closely to the coast and/or Route 132 and then, after a brief but steep climb about 2.5 km (a mile and a half) past Grand-Étang, passes along the crest of a high ridge slightly inland. There, you can link up if you like with the Windmills Trail (Sentier éolien), a 6.3 km (nearly 4-mile) loop through the Cartier Énergie Éolienne wind farm. After that, it's a slow and gradual descent back toward the St. Lawrence, passing by the lighthouse at Pointe-à-la-Renommée on another easy stretch of trail. After L'Anse-à-Valleau, though, the script flips: you take a sharp turn inland, loping over hill and dale through dense pine and birch forest, then you turn east through a verdant river valley and continue into Forillon National Park.
Sépaq, the provincial park and wildlife service, operates a number of backcountry campsites and lean-to shelters along the Québécois portion of the IAT. See below for information on the ones within Gaspé.
Located at 10, rue de la Marina, the marina at the 2 Jacques Cartier Nautical Club accommodates visitors arriving by boat with over 90 slips just outside of the city centre. In 2017, non-members were charged $1.55 per foot per day for docking, with longer-term visitors enjoying a 50% discount for every third day. If you're rigging your sailboat to a boom instead, it's $18/day. Launch fees apply as well; see the marina's website for details on those.
Gaspé's 2 Intermodal Transport Station (Gare intermodale) is located at 8, rue de la Marina, just across from the city centre. Train service into Gaspé used to be provided by VIA Rail's Montreal-Gaspé line, formerly known as the "Chaleur", with departures from Montreal Central Station every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evening at 6:55PM, arriving in Gaspé at 1:17PM the following afternoon. However, after September 2013 — when signal malfunctions and other unsafe conditions were found on some of the Gaspé Peninsula portions of the track — service was truncated to Matapédia and then suspended indefinitely. Though VIA Rail intends to resume service once repairs are made, there's no timetable for when that might happen, and the Montreal-Gaspé line may just be eliminated.
Walking would be a fine way to get around for those who don't intend to venture beyond the city centre, but let's face it — in a place like the Gaspé Peninsula, that's true of almost nobody. That being the case, a car is pretty much a necessity for getting around these parts.
By rental car
- 3 Discount Car Rental, 164, boulevard de Gaspé, ☎ . M-F 8AM-5:30PM.
- Enterprise Rent a Car, 60, rue de l'Aéroport (at Michel Pouliot Airport), ☎ . M-F 7:30AM-9PM, Su 5PM-9PM.
- National Car Rental, 60, rue de l'Aéroport (at Michel Pouliot Airport), ☎ . M-F 7:30AM-9PM, Su 5PM-9PM.
In the city of Gaspé, Route Verte 1 exists in three discontinuous segments:
- From Rivière-au-Renard, roadside bike lanes along Route 132 extend eastward for 10 km (6½ miles) into L'Anse-au-Griffon, then divert inland along a gravel-paved off-road trail through Forillon National Park. At the other end of the park, it's another 19.5 km (12 miles) of bike lanes along 132 between La Penouille and the corner of Rue Louise, just outside of Gaspé town centre.
- Beginning at the rear parking lot of the Carrefour de Gaspé shopping centre near the harbour, Route Verte 1 picks back up, following the course of an asphalt-paved off-road "rail trail" for 10 km (a little more than 6 miles) through Sandy Beach and into Haldimand, terminating at the intersection of Route 132 with rue de la Plage. This is arguably the most pleasant of the three segments, with nice views across the bay toward Forillon and precious few hills to contend with.
- A short distance west of Haldimand, on-road bike lanes re-emerge along Route 132 and continue southward past the airport, through Douglastown, and across the city line into Percé.
In the breaks between these segments, the trajectory of Route Verte 1 nominally proceeds along Route 132. However, for the time being, cyclists must ride directly in traffic lanes through these discontinuities as bike lanes and other infrastructure have yet to be constructed.
Bike rental is available from:
- Auberge Griffon Aventure, in L'Anse-au-Griffon at 829, boulevard du Griffon — from early May through mid-October, at a rate of $10 per half-day (9AM-12:30PM or 1:30 PM-dusk) or $20 all day.
- ÉcoRécréo at Haldimand Municipal Beach — from late June through late August, at a rate of $10 per hour, $18 per half-day or $20 all day for adults, $8/$15/$18 for children. Tandem bikes, fat bikes, and other such conveyances are also rented out, see website [dead link] for pricing.
- the 3 Marcel Bujold Sports Complex (Pavillon des sports Marcel-Bujold), on the campus of Gaspé Peninsula and Îles de la Madeleine Community College (Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles) — call +1 418 368-6939 for rates and availability.
Taxi service is available from Dery (☎ +1 418 269-3348), Fortin et Fils (☎ +1 418 269-3454), and Porlier (☎ +1 418 368-3131).
The parking lot of Place Jacques-Cartier shopping centre in downtown Gaspé serves as the main hub for RéGÎM, the regional public bus network serving the Gaspé Peninsula and the Îles de la Madeleine. No fewer than six of the system's bus routes begin, end, or pass through this nexus.
Routes that are contained entirely within Gaspé's city limits include:
- Route 20, which departs every weekday at 6:30AM from the 4 L'Anse-à-Valleau Post Office (Bureau de poste de l'Anse-à-Valleau) at 922, boulevard de l'Anse-à-Valleau, passing through Petit-Cap, Rivière-au-Renard, and Saint-Majorique and arriving at Place Jacques-Cartier at 7:33AM. Return trips depart daily at 4:47PM and arrive in L'Anse-à-Valleau at 5:36PM.
- Route 21, which departs every weekday at 6:29AM from 5 Dépanneur Bilodeau at 2, chemin du Portage in L'Anse-au-Griffon, passing through Forillon National Park and Saint-Majorique and arriving at Place Jacques-Cartier at 7:35AM. Return trips depart each weekday at 4:47PM and arrive in L'Anse-au-Griffon at 5:38PM.
- Route 23, a loop through Gaspé's western outskirts including the communities of Wakeham, Sunny Bank, and York. There are two trips every weekday: a morning run that departs Place Jacques-Cartier at 7:40AM, returning at 8:25AM, and an afternoon "express" run (passing over most of the stops within Gaspé's city centre) that departs at 3:45PM and returns at 4:19PM.
- Route 24, a loop through Gaspé's southeastern outskirts including the communities of York, Haldimand, and Sandy Beach. Buses depart Place Jacques-Cartier every morning at 7:40AM, returning at 8:30AM.
Routes that arrive in Gaspé from outlying towns include:
- Route 22, which departs every weekday at 6:40AM from L'Anse-à-Beaufils, stopping at Place Jacques-Cartier at 7:38AM, and ending its run a short distance east of the city centre at 6 C. E. Pouliot High School (École C.-E.-Pouliot) at 7:47AM. Return trips depart the high school at 5:50PM, pass by Place Jacques-Cartier at 6:02PM, and arrive in L'Anse-à-Beaufils at 7:02PM.
- Route 26, which runs Friday only, departing at 8:45AM from Murdochville, stopping at Place Jacques-Cartier at 10AM, and ending its run at Gaspé Hospital in York at 10:25AM. Return trips depart the hospital at 4PM, pass by Place Jacques-Cartier at 4:25PM, and arrive in Murdochville at 5:15PM. There's also an abbreviated midday run between the hospital and Place Jacques-Cartier only, with departures from the former at 1PM arriving at the latter at 1:25PM, and in the reverse direction departing at 1:20PM and arriving at 1:45PM.
Fare is payable in cash ($4) or with tickets ($3 apiece, available in books of ten from participating retailers or directly from the bus drivers). If you're planning on making heavy use of RéGÎM during your stay in the Gaspé Peninsula, it might be useful to buy a prepaid Access Card (available online for $5), which are good for a whole month and entitle you to the same discounted $3 fare as tickets.
Museums and history
The Gaspé Peninsula is first and foremost an outdoor destination: the stunning views of forest-cloaked mountains and wave-battered shorelines visible from every window practically command visitors to emerge into the fresh air and majestic wilderness. But of course, the weather in this part of the world isn't always cooperative — and if you've got a rainy-day hankering to switch gears and learn a little more about the region's fascinating history and culture, the city of Gaspé is the place to be.
Your first stop should be...
- 1 Gaspé Regional Museum (Musée de la Gaspésie), 80, boulevard de Gaspé, ☎ . Jun-Oct daily 9AM-5PM; Nov-May W-F 10AM-5PM & Sa-Su 12:30PM-5PM. The Gaspé Regional Museum's purview cuts a broad swath, covering the rich history, charming culture, and surprisingly vibrant art scene of the region. In the museum's main exhibit, "Gaspésie... A Grand Journey" (Gaspésie... Le Grand voyage), the region's story is told through the mouths of the men and women who shaped it, but that's just the beginning: fans of old-fashioned chanson can peruse a collection of old photos and heirlooms belonging to Mary "La Bolduc" Travers, the so-called "Queen of Canadian Folk Singers" who lived in Newport just down the road, and those interested in the history of the Gaspesian cod fishery — once the linchpin of the area's economy — can step aboard the Gaspésienne No. 20, a historic fishing boat restored and outfitted to its original appearance, and/or strap on a virtual-reality headset and "set out" on Gaspé Bay with a pair of friendly fishermen to learn more. There's also a range of temporary exhibits focusing on more specific aspects of Gaspesian identity (check website for current offerings), extensive archives of documents and artifacts for researchers, an onsite bistro, and a gift shop selling original artwork and gifts produced by local artists and artisans. Museum entry $11, students (18+ with school ID) and seniors (65+) $9.25, children (6-17) $5.25, children 5 and under free. Virtual-reality film is $6.50 per person. Discounts available for admission to both museum and film and to families; see website for detailed price breakdown.
- 2 In Memory of Her (En mémoire d'Elle). Located on the grounds of the Gaspé Regional Museum, this concrete statue — the work of Percé native Renée-Mao Clavet — was dedicated in 2013 in honour of the contribution of women to Quebecois history and society. 5 metres (16 feet) in height, the sculpture depicts a pregnant woman in a flowing skirt, with a face designed in an ambiguous way so as to be representative of Francophone, Anglophone, and First Nations women alike. The book and the satchel of traditional medicinal herbs that the figure carries symbolize women's contributions to the fields of education and medicine.
- 3 Jacques Cartier Monument National Historic Site (Lieu historique national du monument à Jacques Cartier). Also situated on the grounds of the museum, with an apropos setting overlooking the bay roughly halfway between In Memory of Her and the museum building itself, is this cluster of six upright granite tablets, carved on one side with bas-relief sculptures depicting Cartier's historic landing at Gaspé on July 24, 1534 — the founding date of the colony of New France — and inscribed on the other with passages from the journals of both Cartier and Father Chrestien Leclerq, who accompanied him on the expedition.
Then, if you want to dig deeper, you might also check out the following attractions.
- 4 Fishery Interpretive Centre (Centre d'interprétation des pêches), 17, rue de la Langevin, ☎ . M-Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM, late Jun through late Aug. Rivière-au-Renard once had one of the busiest fishing harbours in the region, and this interpretive centre traces its history from the glory days of the Gaspesian cod fishery to the cutting-edge, technology-driven industry of today. You can even sample freshly-caught local seafood onsite! Call for rates.
- 5 Gaspé, Birthplace of Canada (Gaspé, Berceau du Canada), 179, montée Wakeham, ☎ . W 9:30AM-6PM, all other days 10:30AM-6PM, late Jun through mid-Sept. Located on the waterfront across from Place Jacques-Cartier, this cluster of about a half-dozen buildings operates as a sort of miniature living-history museum depicting the village of Gaspé as it was around 1900, complete with interpreters in period costume. Tuck in to a nice meal at the tavern, explore the fish warehouse and old general store, tour the Horatio Leboutillier House (the genuine article, built c. 1850), or take off on one of the walking tours of modern-day downtown Gaspé that begin and end here. At the centre of it all is a granite replica of Jacques Cartier's cross, dedicated in 1934 on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his landing.
- 6 Gespeg Mi'kmaq Interpretive Site (Site d'interprétation micmac de Gespeg), 783, boulevard de Pointe-Navarre, ☎ . Daily 9AM-5PM, mid-Jun through mid-Oct. The Gespeg Mi'kmaq Interpretive Site's goal is to expose visitors to the culture of the Mi'kmaq people, who inhabited the Gaspé Peninsula and adjacent lands for centuries before the arrival of Europeans, as well as chronicling more recent chapters of local First Nations history since the 17th century. Volunteers are on hand to lead folks on guided tours through a reconstructed village, interpretive exhibits and artifacts detail Mi'kmaq history, cosmology, and everyday life, and there's even a display of medicinal herbs and plants used in traditional Mi'kmaq culture. As well, in the gift shop you'll find a range of authentic handicrafts produced by local artisans. $11, seniors (65+) $9.50, children 7-15 and students with ID $8.50, children 6 and under free, $32 for families of two adults and two children.
- 7 Le Boutillier Manor Socio-Cultural Centre (Centre socioculturel Manoir Le Boutillier), 578, boulevard du Griffon, ☎ . Daily 9AM-5PM, mid-Jun through mid-Oct. This National Historic Site of Canada was once the cozy timber-framed house of John Le Boutillier, a shipbuilding magnate and local politico who, in his day, was one of the most prominent citizens in the hamlet of L'Anse-au-Griffon. Nowadays, tour guides in period costume lead you through the main house, servants' quarters, and vast grounds — all restored to the way they looked in the 1850s — furnishing a glimpse at upper-class life in 19th-century Gaspé. There's a gift shop that sells locally-made clothes, accessories, and handicrafts, or cap off your visit with a stop in the attached tea room and pastry shop. Website in French only. $8; seniors and students with ID $6, children under 11 free, $18 for families of two adults and two children.
- 8 Plourde Sawmill (Moulin des Plourde), 5, rue du Moulin, ☎ . M-Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM, late Jun through late Aug. This is the only remaining steam-powered sawmill building on the Gaspé Peninsula, and was one of the last remaining ones in operation when it closed its doors in 1986 after eight decades of manufacturing shingles for local builders. Nowadays it functions as one of Quebec's famous "econo-museums" (économusées), where you can check out the original equipment still in place and learn the history of the Gaspesian forestry industry as well as that of the Plourde family, who owned the mill. Call for rates.
- 9 Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse (Phare de Cap-des-Rosiers), 1331, boulevard de Cap-des-Rosiers, ☎ . Site open daily 8AM-6PM, late Jun through early Sept; guided tours every half hour 9AM-5PM. The tallest lighthouse in Canada at a height of 34.1 metres (112 feet), Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse has been warning traffic on the St. Lawrence away from the rocky headland on which it stands since 1858 — using the original optical apparatus, no less. Now fully restored and automated, it was named a National Historic Site of Canada in 1973. Admission only: $3, children 6 and under free. With guided tour: $10, children 7-17 $7, children under 6 free; families $25 for 2 adults and 1 child, $30 for 2 adults and 2 children, $3 per additional child.
- 10 Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse (Phare de Pointe-à-la-Renommée), 200, chemin de la Pointe-à-la-Renommée, ☎ . Daily 9AM-5PM, mid-Jun through late Sept. Located a short distance west of L'Anse-à-Valleau, the photogenic Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse was built in 1907 to replace a smaller, wood-frame light dating to 1880, and guided ships along their path for nearly 70 years before it was decommissioned and "exiled" (as the locals put it) to the Old Port of Quebec City, where it stood for another three decades in front of the Coast Guard headquarters there. The lighthouse was moved back to its original site in 1998 thanks to a grassroots community effort, and today the striking red tower — along with its reconstructed keepers' quarters and other outbuildings — serves as a museum that contains two permanent exhibitions: "Pointe-à-la-Renommée: The Space of a Lifetime" (L'Espace d'une vie à Pointe-à-la-Renommée) relates the history of the lighthouse itself, the Ascah family who tended it during its operational life, and the small, tight-knit fishing community that surrounded it, while "Marconi and the Story of Radio Communications" (Marconi, histoire des communications et radio) deals with Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of wireless radio who in 1904 established one of North America's first marine radiotelegraph stations at Pointe-à-la-Renommée. Guided tours include both exhibits and end at the top of the tower, with stunning views over the mouth of the St. Lawrence Estuary. $10 for guided tour, $6 each individual exhibit. Children age 6-10 admitted at half price, children 5 and under are free.
- In Memory of Her (En mémoire d'Elle), on the grounds of the Gaspé Regional Museum. See above.
- 11 La Griffonne Art Gallery (Galerie d'Art la Griffonne), 696, boulevard du Griffon, ☎ . Open early Jun through mid-Oct. Montreal native Pauline Saint-Arnaud is an accomplished watercolourist whose oeuvre is dominated by the placid forest, farmland, and seacoast scenery found all over the Gaspé Peninsula — little wonder, then, that "The Sea and the Coastlines" (La Mer et les bords côtiers) is the title she chose for the permanent solo exhibition displayed at the farmhouse-turned-gallery in L'Anse-au-Griffon, where she spends her summers. Website in French only.
- 12 Le Griffon Cultural Centre (Centre culturel Le Griffon), 557, boulevard du Griffon, ☎ . M & W-F 11AM-9PM, Sa Su 8AM-9PM, late Jun through late Oct; by appointment other times. Once a cold storage warehouse where local fishermen stored their catches, this handsome old clapboard building overlooking L'Anse-au-Griffon's harbour is nowadays a multipurpose space — there's a breezy seaside café where local seafood is on the menu, a boutique where Gaspesian artisans sell handmade souvenirs, and above all, the Claude Côté Gallery and Workshop (Atelier-Galerie Claude Côté), where the eponymous artist in residence displays his watercolours during the tourist season. Côté has said of his work "I am inspired by my immediate environment, where 'intellectualism' is forgotten and gives way to the poetry of everyday life, the beautiful freedom of simple things", and that's as apt a way as any to describe the stark beauty of his landscapes and nature scenes. Website in French only.
- 13 Marie-Josée Gagnon Art Gallery (Galerie d'Art Marie-Josée Gagnon), 806, boulevard de Pointe-Jaune, ☎ . Working only with a spatula, Marie-Josée Gagnon creates dazzlingly colourful scenes from around her native Gaspé: landscapes, seascapes, and lovely flower paintings where the interplay of colours, light, and shadow are of foremost importance (or, to use her words: "it is the essence of a landscape that I wish to render, rather than a mere imitation of what I see"). In the small gallery in Pointe-Jaune that bears Gagnon's name is displayed not only her work, but also the evocative portraiture of Stella Joncas-Veillet and the abstract-expressionist paintings and sculpted figurines of Estelle Francoeur.
- 14 Christ the King Cathedral (Cathédrale du Christ-Roi), 20, rue de la Cathédrale, ☎ . The only wood-framed Roman Catholic cathedral in North America, Christ the King Cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Gaspé, whose territory covers most of the peninsula. Erected in 1969, this is the third church to be situated on this site; its striking design — wherein the fundamentals of traditional Christian religious architecture are totally subverted and reinvented along modernist lines — is the handiwork of Montreal-based architect Gérard Notebaert, working here in the "Shed Style" that had been pioneered only a few years earlier by Charles Moore with his Sea Ranch condominium community on the North Coast of California. Faced monochromatically in glue-laminated slats of red cedar, the sleek lines and angular geometric forms of this vaguely boat-shaped building certainly set it apart from the prototypical Gaspesian church. The interior is no less impressive, austere yet handsome and lit by a quintet of glass skylights built into the slopes of the roof. Bishop Gaétan Proulx delivers the Sunday Mass weekly at 11AM.
- 15 (Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-de-Pointe-Navarre), 765, boulevard de Pointe-Navarre, ☎ . Church open daily 8AM-7PM; gift shop M-Sa 9AM-4:30P & Su 1PM-4PM. In a peaceful setting several kilometres (miles) outside the town centre, Our Lady of Pointe-Navarre has been a place of retreat and pilgrimage for the local Catholic community since its founding in 1940 by Father Jean-Marie Watier. The complex consists of a spacious church building that's replete with breathtaking works of religious art and hosts novena recitals, personal visitations, and a Tuesday evening Mass every week at 7PM; the smaller Chapel of Remembrance, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for private prayer and meditation at the site of Father Watier's tomb; and a verdant hillside hermitage out back whose pleasant paths and grottoes offer a peaceful setting for spiritual reflection (not to mention spectacular views over Gaspé Bay). Website in French only.
On the water
Surrounded on three sides by water, Gaspé boasts aquatic fun in myriad forms.
The shore of Gaspé Bay is dotted with beaches that are popular summertime destinations for locals and visitors alike, including three within the city of Gaspé itself:
- 1 Haldimand Municipal Beach (Plage municipale d'Haldimand) is the most beautiful, the most centrally located, and the most crowded beach in Gaspé. Here you'll find pristine water, luscious white sand, a playground for the kids, and even a beachfront restaurant serving Mexican specialties, all a quick ten-minute drive from downtown. Lifeguards patrol the waters in high season (late June through late August), an annual sand castle competition draws crowds of onlookers in late July, and there are even paddleboards and bikes available to rent through ÉcoRécréo.
- For those in search of a more private beach getaway, 2 Douglastown Beach (Plage de Douglastown) lies further south, on the other side of the lagoon. Douglastown boasts a setting almost as beautiful as Haldimand's — and an even greater length, a sand spit fully a kilometre and a half (a mile) long — yet its more off-the-beaten-path location and lack of any amenities means it's more often than not just you, the rustling dune grass, and the crashing waves.
- Finally, in the shadow of Forillon National Park is found 3 Cap-aux-Os Beach (Plage de Cap-aux-Os), the smallest of the three. The water here tends to be a bit chillier, but that doesn't stop folks from coming down to enjoy swimming, sunbathing, a quick meal at the snack bar, or kayak rental courtesy of Cap Aventure. Public washrooms are offered, and leashed pets are welcome.
As you've probably gathered from reading thus far, fishing is a really big deal around these parts. Indeed, the fishery was the region's economic lifeblood for centuries, and although tourism has since usurped that status for the most part, it retains a good deal of importance even today.
But fishing isn't just an industry here — it's a way of life, for locals and visitors alike. Fishing in Gaspé can be as simple as finding a wharf or a dock and casting your line into the water, which can be done any time of year without a licence. Mackerel and smelt are popular with Gaspesian wharf fishers: the former are most plentiful in late July and early August, while smelt fishing is strictly a wintertime pursuit — ice fishing shacks are a common sight on Gaspé Bay starting in January, when freeze-up typically occurs.
Away from the shore, brook trout teem in the waterways of inland Gaspé. Locals generally don't bother with trout fishing, which has led to an abundant population — some say an overpopulation — in the fast-flowing streams and crystal-clear lakes of the Chic-Chocs. You can easily reel in some whoppers up here in the mountains; 2-kg (4½-pound) specimens are not at all uncommon. However, unlike wharf fishing from shore, trout fishing does require a licence from the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks (Ministère des forêts, de la faune et des parcs du Québec). This costs $20.19/$39.56 per day or $46.30/$148.57 annually, for Quebec residents and nonresidents respectively. Please also see the Ministry's website for information on other regulations that may apply to the specific body of water you're planning to fish.
But if there's one single species that comes to the mind of fishing connoisseurs when they hear of the Gaspé Peninsula, it's the Atlantic salmon — a species that, thanks to the efforts of the Quebec Salmon River Management Federation (Fédération des gestionnaires de rivières à saumon du Québec or FGRSQ), is on the rebound after decades of decline. With 22 world-renowned rivers managed by that organization, you're hard-pressed to find better salmon fishing anywhere — and you'll find two of those rivers within the city of Gaspé itself.
- The Saint-Jean River Wildlife Reserve (Reserve faunique de la rivière Saint-Jean) is the city's premier salmon-fishing venue, with a season that extends from May 25 through September 30 (catch-and-release only through the end of July up to a maximum of three fish per person; one catch-and-keep per person is permitted thereafter; size limits may also apply). The Saint-Jean flows eastward through Gaspé's southern precincts before emptying into Douglastown Bay, and is divided by the FGRSQ into three different zones, each with their own regulations. In Sector 1, which begins at the Route 132 bridge and extends about 10 km (6 miles) inland, the number of fishermen on any given day is limited to eight; for Sector 2, which extends further inland beyond the city line, regulations are still more stringent at two per day. Advance reservations are required, and you're best off booking as far ahead as possible. Day passes allowing fishing on the Saint-Jean cost $34.60/$67.20 in Sector 1 and $46.99/$91.98 in Sector 2, for Quebec residents and nonresidents respectively.
- The Dartmouth River Controlled Harvesting Zone (Zone d'exploitation contrôlée de la rivière Dartmouth) runs roughly parallel to the St. Lawrence along the northern part of the peninsula's interior spine and empties into Gaspé Bay a few kilometres (miles) northwest of the city centre. Like the Saint-Jean River, the Dartmouth is divided into seven zones, with Sector 1 comprising almost the entirety of the portion of the river within Gaspé's city limits. Though this sector features "unlimited access" — with no maximum number of fishermen allowed in the water simultaneously — the season is shorter (June 1 through August 31) and catch limits are no less stringent. In addition, a short stretch of river near the western boundary of the city falls within Zone 2, where you're back to the advance-reservation system with two anglers on the river at a time. Day passes for salmon fishing on the Dartmouth cost $41.02/$60.51 in Sector 1 and $73.75/$109.63 in Sector 2, for Quebec residents and nonresidents respectively.
Day passes can be purchased at the 7 FGRSQ regional office at 25, boulevard de York Est, which is open daily from 8AM-6PM, and the quoted fees are in addition to that of the provincial fishing licence mentioned above.
If ocean fishing is more your thing, the folks at Auberge Griffon Aventure run 2½-hour excursions aboard the Balbuzard where you can angle for mackerel along the coast or, weather permitting, head out to the deeper waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in pursuit of the Atlantic cod. Departures happen twice daily from mid-June through mid-September, at 6:30AM and 5PM, from Cap-des-Rosiers Marina. Additional departures may also be added to the schedule based on demand. Tickets cost $70 for adults, $50 for kids 17 and under, $220 for families of two adults and two kids, or $250 for families of two adults and three kids. Rods and tackle are provided, and — most convenient of all — no licence is necessary!
Of course, fishing isn't the only thing you can do on a boat here: from kayaks to sailboats to stand-up paddleboards, the waters surrounding Gaspé teem with fun-seekers of all different stripes. The colonies of grey and harbour seals that congregate on the shore of the bay, in Forillon National Park, are a popular destination for boating excursions departing from Gaspé.
- 4 Aube sur Mer, 2172, boulevard de Grande-Grève, ☎ (in season Jun-Oct), (other times). Sea kayaking is the name of the game at Aube sur Mer, with several different regularly-scheduled excursions setting off from their Cap-aux-Os headquarters. "Ride with the Seals" (Balade aux phoques) is a two-hour jaunt suitable for all skill levels, departing four times daily (8AM, 11AM, 2PM, and 5PM) for a visit to the Forillon seal colonies. More avid kayakers can get up bright and early for the "At the End of the World" (Au Bout du monde) excursion's 7AM daily departure, which goes further afield to the tip of Cap-Gaspé: five to six hours in all. Real kayaking fanatics can inquire about longer two-, three-, and four-day excursions around the region, and if you don't quite trust your sea legs, Aube sur Mer offers a choice of two Paddle Canada-accredited training courses: a one-day introductory class for $115, and a more in-depth two-day course for $225. And if human-powered vessels aren't your thing, Aube sur Mer also offers customized sailboat excursions on the bay accompanied by a trained captain. "Ride with the Seals" excursion $45 for adults, $41 for students (with ID) and $35 for children (14 and under); "At the End of the World" excursion $75 for adults, $69 for students with ID and $59 for children 14 and under; sailing excursions $59 adult/$39 child for 2 hours and $89 adult/$59 child for a half-day. See website for detailed price structure including discounts for families and pricing on longer excursions.
- Cap Aventure, ☎ . "Meet the Seals" excursion departs daily 8AM, "Zodiac Safari" departs 9AM, "Around Forillon" excursion departs 6:30AM on prior request. See website for schedule for "Seals at Sunset" excursion. To describe what Cap Aventure offers as mere "seal-watching excursions" wouldn't do them justice: much more than just another touristy trifle, these tours are true educational experiences, where seasoned guides put their affiliation with the Marine Mammal Watchers' Network (Réseau d'observateurs des mammifères marins) to good use in providing a window into the delicate ecosystem of Gaspé Bay, conducted in a manner that is sustainable and respectful of the natural environment. It's not all dry academia, though — the learning experience is punctuated daily by unforgettable sights like a pod of seals dancing and playing around your boat, the plaintive bellow of whales breeching in the distance, and seabirds by the hundreds taking flight from the top of the sheer seaside cliffs. Cap Aventure offers a range of excursions tailored to customers' individual needs: the short Meet the Seals (Rencontre avec les phoques) excursion is open to participants five and older and sticks to the interior of Gaspé Bay, the longer Around Forillon (Pourtour de Forillon) tour rounds Cap Gaspé, and the self-explanatory Seals at Sunset (Phoques au coucher du soleil) excursion is especially popular. All excursions depart from Cap-aux-Os Beach, with the exception of "Around Forillon", which leaves from Cap-des-Rosiers. Plus: if you like seals but kayaking is not your cup of tea, Cap Aventure also offers two-and-a-half-hour "Zodiac Safaris" out to the seal colonies in a 12-passenger boat helmed by an experienced captain-cum-docent, and if it's vice-versa, kayak rental is offered subject to availability (sit-on-top kayaks go for $14/$20 an hour for solo and tandem respectively, while sea kayaks go for $40/$60 for 4 hours or $50/$70 all day, for solo and tandem respectively). The season begins May 8 (June 1 for zodiac excursions) and runs through October 6, and wetsuits are provided during the spring and fall. Website in French only. See website for detailed price structure.
- ÉcoRécréo, 30, rue de la Plage. Daily 9AM-5PM, late Jun through late Aug. With rental kiosks and organized outdoor activities in locations all over the province, ÉcoRécréo is a familiar name to Québécois of an outdoorsy bent. If you're into stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) — or you're interested in learning this new-school watersport best compared to surfing with an oar — their Haldimand Municipal Beach outpost is the place to go in Gaspé. For experienced paddleboarders, $15 an hour, $32 per half-day, or $45 per day is the going rate for equipment rental, while introductory courses for beginners are offered for $45. Beyond that, ÉcoRécréo also does kayak rental, and if you're thinking more in terms of landward transportation, there's a range of bikes for rent too. See website for detailed price structure.
The folks at Auberge Griffon Aventure describe the guided canyoneering excursions they offer on Chesnay Creek as "like an outdoor waterpark designed by nature" — and indeed, there's hardly a more fun way to spend five hours in Gaspé than donning a wetsuit and helmet and slip-sliding down foaming river rapids into emerald green pools of crystal-clear water. Gear is provided for you (but do bring a bathing suit to wear underneath your wetsuit, as well as a pair of non-slip waterproof shoes); tours leave rain or shine, but may be cancelled in the event of high water levels in the canyon. Every day at 9AM between June 22 and September 2 (or later in the year, weather-depending), tour groups depart from the parking lot of Restaurant Chez Ron on boulevard de York; beginning July 16, one additional departure daily at 11:30AM occurs on high-demand days. Rates are $71 for adults and $61 for kids age 8-17.
- 5 Fort Prével Golf Club (Club de golf Fort-Prével), 2035, boulevard de Douglas, ☎ . Daily 8AM-6PM, late May through mid-Oct (weather-dependent during shoulder months of May, Jun, Sept & Oct). Enjoy sweeping views over mountains and sea as you hit the links on this beautifully manicured 6,428-yard, par-73 course on the Gaspé-Percé city line, but don't get too distracted by the scenery: with the ruins of a World War II-era coastal fortification doubling as hazards and a doozy of a second hole at 702 yards and par 6, Fort-Prével presents a truly challenging scenario for the golfer. There's also an onsite putting green for those looking to hone their short game, a practice field that plays host frequently to free training sessions for beginner golfers, an onsite restaurant, and even a hotel and campground. Staff is unfailingly polite and friendly. Website in French only. $39/$22.30 for 18/9 holes in high season, $28.30/$17.23 in shoulder season; children 12-17 $20 before noon and $14 thereafter; discounted admission for arrival after 1PM, with further discounts after 3PM. Other fees may apply, see website for detailed price structure.
If "full-size golf" isn't your thing, Gaspé also boasts a pair of mini-golf courses.
- 6 Cantine du Golf, 1833, boulevard Forillon, ☎ . Miniature golf course in Cap-aux-Os with attached snack bar. Open in season, call for hours and rates.
- Fort Ramsay Mini-Putt (Mini-golf de Fort Ramsay), 254, boulevard de Gaspé, ☎ . On the premises of Motel-Camping Fort Ramsay.
- 7 Le Centaure, 1713, boulevard de Forillon, ☎ . Le Centaure offers a diversity of equestrian experiences whose durations, intensities, and skill requirements vary widely — from one-hour sessions on the grounds of their spacious ranch in Cap-aux-Os that are perfect for beginners, to longer expeditions to Sandy Beach (2 hours) and Forillon National Park (5 hours), to multi-day expeditions to further-flung destinations like Gaspésie National Park. Website in French only. Call for rates.
Festivals and events
- Douglastown Irish Days (Journées irlandaises de Douglastown), ☎ . Tooling through this hamlet south of Gaspé city centre down streets with names like Kennedy, McDonald, and St. Patrick, it's not hard to realize that Douglastown was historically a community of Irish immigrants. This Hibernian heritage is feted each year in late July and/or early August with a weekend celebration of traditional foods, music and dance performances, and workshops and lectures on a wide range of subjects from knitting to genealogy. The 8 Douglas Community Centre (Centre communautaire de Douglas) at 28, avenue Saint-Patrick is the venue. Most events free, but check website.
- Festival Musique du Bout du Monde, ☎ . There's really no way to succinctly describe the typical lineup of acts that converge on Gaspé every year for this music festival, other than maybe "maddeningly eclectic". For ten days in August, a multiplicity of venues around town are packed with dozens of artists and bands from all around the world — alumni include Beninese singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo, British reggae sensations UB40, and Montreal rappers Loco Locass — along with dance performances, street theatre, food and drink, and miscellaneous family-friendly revelry. Traditionally, the headliner of each year's festival takes the stage at sunrise on Sunday morning at Cap Bon-Ami, in Forillon National Park, with shuttle service provided from central Gaspé. Ticket prices vary by performance.
- 9 Cartier Bowling (Salle de quilles Cartier), 8, rue de l'Église, ☎ . A small bowling alley in Rivière-au-Renard with six lanes.
- Cinéma le Cube, 178, rue de la Reine, ☎ . Gaspé's only movie theatre is located inside the Hôtel des Commandants, and it's a modest affair: there's one screen with one showing per day (at 6:30PM) of a feature that changes weekly. All movies are shown in French without subtitles, so if you don't speak the language, maybe stick to the attached video arcade and snack bar.
In the winter
Although National Geographic magazine has ranked the Gaspé Peninsula among the Top 10 cold-weather destinations in North America, the wonders of wintertime in this part of the world remain a well-guarded secret. Don't be fooled by the dirt-cheap hotel rooms and ghost-town feel in the streets: there's plenty to do in Gaspé offseason. (That goes double if you're a winter sports fanatic.)
- Les Bons Copains Snowmobile Club of Greater Gaspé (Club de motoneige Les Bons Copains du Grand Gaspé), 6, rue de l'Aréna, ☎ . M-Th 10AM-6PM, F 10AM-11PM, Sa 9AM-11PM, Su 9AM-6PM, in season. There are over 200 km (125 miles) of snowmobile trails in and around Gaspé, and these folks are the ones to talk to if you're interested in buying an Access Pass to ride them. Not only that, but their clubhouse at the 10 Rosaire Tremblay Arena (Aréna Rosaire-Tremblay) in Rivière-au-Renard is open to members and nonmembers alike: after a long day on the trails, you can warm up with a meal at the café, unwind with a game of pool or foosball, or even belt out some tunes at karaoke.
- 11 Les Éclairs Cross-Country Ski Club (Club de ski de fond Les Éclairs), 20, rue des Pommiers, ☎ . Daily 8AM-4PM in season. No, your GPS hasn't misdirected you — the way to Les Éclairs ski club does pass through a nondescript industrial park in York Centre. But there's nothing ugly about the extensive network of well-manicured trails, open to cross-country skiers and snowshoers alike, on the club's vast forested tract whose back end abuts the grounds of Michel Pouliot Airport. Website in French only. Day/season passes for ski trails: $12/$150, full time students 12 and over with ID $6/$50, children under 12 always free. Family ski passes are also available for $295/season. $10 annual membership card entitles adults & families to discount of $2/day or $15/season. Snowshoe trail access $6/day or $30 season, or free with purchase of ski trail access.
- 12 Mont-Béchervaise Ski Centre (Centre de ski Mont-Béchervaise), 50, rue Eden, ☎ . F-Su 9AM-3PM. Mont-Béchervaise may not be the largest or grandest ski resort in the Gaspé Peninsula, but it has a strong claim on the title of most conveniently located — given its oddly abbreviated opening hours and relative lack of onsite amenities, it helps that downtown Gaspé is only a quick five-minute drive away. Take the chair lift from the chalet to the top of the hill, which not only serves as the starting point for about two dozen ski trails suitable for all skill levels, but also offers a panoramic view over the bay. Off to the side at the base are a couple of shorter hills open to downhill tubing, and there's a small snack bar next to the parking lot. Mont-Béchervaise is also open in the summer to hikers and mountain bikers. Website in French only. Day/half-day: lift tickets $34/$27, seniors (55+) $24/$20, students with ID $22/$19; tubing $12/$8 per person or $22/$17 per family.
No, it's not the wonderland of souvenir trinkets that you'll find just down the road in Percé. However, being the largest city in the region by far, Gaspé naturally has a respectable range of shopping opportunities of a somewhat more conventional bent. These are concentrated principally in and around the city centre — especially along the surprisingly fashionable shopping street of rue de la Reine.
A case in point of the above. If you're the type of person whose tastes run toward the name brands and well-known designers that are sold at chain clothing stores, Gaspé is pretty much the only game in town on the peninsula that shares its name.
- 1 Carrefour de Gaspé, 39, montée Sandy-Beach, ☎ . M-W 9:30AM-5:30PM, Th-F 9AM-9PM, Sa 9:30AM-5PM, Su 11AM-4PM. The Gaspé Peninsula's largest retail complex is a sprawling strip mall just past the harbour, with 21 stores including locations of Canadian Tire and Sports Experts, a Hart department store, Uniprix pharmacy, and IGA supermarket. Website in French only.
- 2 Place Jacques-Cartier, 167, rue de la Reine, ☎ . M-W 9:30AM-5:30PM, Th-F 9AM-9PM, Sa 9:30AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. The Gaspé Peninsula's only indoor shopping mall anchors the west end of the downtown retail district. Small in size but unique in design, the three-storey Place Jacques-Cartier is built into the slope of the low hill that separates downtown from the shore of the bay. Here you'll find 15 shops, restaurants, and other businesses including a Provigo supermarket, another Uniprix, Rossy and Dollarama discount stores, SAQ provincial liquor outlet, and a McDonald's.
- Boutique le Galet, 557, boulevard du Griffon, ☎ . Daily 9:30AM-8PM in summer, Sa-Su 8AM-1PM in winter. Le Griffon Cultural Centre's gift shop stocks a wide range of gifts and souvenirs — everything from fashion accessories to books and greeting cards to ceramics, and even locally-grown produce from the shore of Chaleur Bay, all made in Quebec and all sourced directly from the artisans themselves. Website in French only.
- 3 Les Créations Marie Gaudet, 115, rue de la Reine, ☎ . Summer: M-F 9:30AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-4PM; winter: M-F 10AM-5:30PM. The oeuvre of the eponymous artist is centred around the painting and fashioning of the smooth, flat stones found on the shores of the beaches around Gaspé into supercute dolls and figurines, individually accessorized with hairdos, clothes and shoes. You'll find plenty of those on the shelves at her store, along with a vast selection of artisan jewelry, handmade pottery and ceramic decorative baubles (lighthouses are a common theme), and more.
Clothing and accessories
- 4 Bijouterie Dary, 109, rue de la Reine, ☎ . Daily 10AM-7PM. A wide variety of elegant men's and women's jewellery, watches, and even commemorative plates are to be had at this friendly shop in the heart of downtown Gaspé.
- 5 Boutique Mode Andréa, 123, boulevard Renard Est, ☎ . M-W 10AM-5PM, Th-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-4:30PM. A really nice, comfortable, fashionable yet unpretentious women's clothing shop in an out-of-the-way location: Rivière-au-Renard. Andréa's house style is statement-making without being over the top: bright colours and vibrant prints married to timeless traditional designs. Website in French only.
- 6 Chlorophylle, 114B, rue de la Reine, ☎ . M-W 9:30AM-5:30PM, Th-F 9:30AM-9PM, Sa 9:30AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. If you're in town over winter to hit the slopes at Mont-Béchervaise or take to the snowmobile or cross-country ski trails, stop in at the Gaspé location of this provincewide chain for a wide selection of upscale jackets, gloves, and other winter gear. If not, there are still three other seasons' worth of sports- and activewear to browse through.
- La Joaillerie, 167, rue de la Reine (At Place Jacques-Cartier), ☎ . M-W 9:30AM-5:30PM, Th-F 9AM-9PM, Sa 9:30AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Place Jacques-Cartier's resident jewellers offer a full line of gold and silver pieces including some that are locally made, as well as engraving and repair services.
- 7 Kon-Joint, 123, rue de la Reine, ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-5:30PM. You can't miss this place: it's a spacious shop nestled into the ground floor of the tallest building on rue de la Reine, a handsome mansard-roofed brick beauty right in the centre of the downtown action. The sign on the door advertises lingerie, and you will indeed find high-quality selections for regular and plus sizes, but that's not all: Kon-Joint also sells women's clothing and accessories of all descriptions. Fashions for all four seasons of the year are available, but the specialty seems to be cute, breezy summer wear of the type that's perfect for a day of outdoor people-watching in the warm months. Website in French only.
- 8 À Chacun Sa Bête, 33, rue Adams, ☎ . M-W 8AM-5:30PM, Th 8AM-6PM, F 8AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. If you're in the market for some new toys, clothes, or accessories for your dog or cat — or if you've brought Rover along on your trip and need someone to keep an eye on him for a day while you're off on a pet-unfriendly outing — set your sights on À Chacun Sa Bête. Aside from the above, they also offer a selection of premium name-brand pet foods, grooming services, and more. Ample onsite parking is a relative rarity downtown. Website in French only.
- 9 Boutique Sport Plein Air, 1, rue de l'Église, ☎ . M-Th 9AM-5:30PM, F 9AM-8PM, Sa 9AM-noon. If you've come to the Gaspé Peninsula to enjoy the great outdoors — and really, why else would you have come? — but find yourself shorthanded on gear, this is your one-stop shop. Stuffed into Boutique Sport Plein Air you'll find everything from hockey sticks to hunting rifles to boat motors to bikes, sold for decent prices by friendly folks. Website in French only.
- 10 Librairie Alpha, 168, rue de la Reine, ☎ . You'll find books of all kinds, on all subjects, and for all age levels on the shelves at this über-friendly independent bookstore in downtown Gaspé — but, being a proud member of the Quebec Bookstore Association (Association des librairies du Québec), those in search of works by local authors speaking from local perspectives can be assured they'll find more than their share of options here. Librairie Alpha also has a good selection of board games. Website in French only.
- 11 Marché des Saveurs Gaspésiennes, 119, rue de la Reine, ☎ . M-W & Sa 8AM-6PM, Th-F 8AM-7:30PM, Su 10AM-6PM. If you're a locavore with a taste for the gourmet, this is the destination for you: the place's name translates to "Market of Gaspesian Flavours", and that's no exaggeration. Locally-sourced produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and other delights populate the shelves in this friendly shop. Website in French only.
The restaurant scene is one area in which Gaspé definitely does not lag behind other cities on the Peninsula in terms of interest to visitors. For instance, if you've come to the region to check out Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock, sure you could stick around for dinner in one of Percé's overpriced, touristy eateries — but if you're in the mood for a more refined and distinctive experience, Gaspé is the place to go.
City centre and around
- 1 La Banquise, 102, boulevard de Gaspé, ☎ . Su-W 11AM-8PM, Th-Sa 11AM-9PM, Mar-Sep. Situated on the main drag just north of the Gaspé Regional Museum, this retro-style snack bar offers pleasant summery fare — think poutine platters, soft-serve ice cream, hamburgers, and even pizza — in a picturesque setting overlooking Gaspé Bay. Lines can be long on summer weekends and prices are a little high compared to the competition, but the combo "trios" offer a chance to economize. Website in French only. $10-20.
- 2 Bistro le Brise-Bise, 135, rue de la Reine, ☎ . Su-W 11AM-1AM, Th-Sa 11AM-3AM. One of the most distinctive, upscale, and trendy dining options on the Gaspé Peninsula, and a great option for folks who don't like seafood — all for prices that won't break the bank. The eclectic menu draws from Asian (a trio of Thai-style soups), classically Gaspesian (a locally-sourced grilled sausage and sauerkraut platter, plus crowd-pleasing shrimp poutine), and — above all — Italian (about a half-dozen pasta dishes and several specialty pizzas) influences. Bilingual waitstaff and English-language menus are a big help to those who have yet to master the local language, and live music performances are frequent. $20-50.
- 3 Café Sous-Marin, 3A, rue Adams, ☎ . Su-W 8AM-11PM, Th-Sa 8AM-midnight. Once upon a time it was a Subway sandwich shop that occupied the ground floor of the three-storey blue building at the foot of rue Adams across from Tim Hortons, and although it's nowadays a locally-owned mom-and-pop, relatively little has changed. In fact, if anything the offerings at Café Sous-Marin are more interesting — the new ownership has introduced an Eastern Mediterranean influence to the proceedings, with souvlaki and shawarma wraps among the hottest sellers, as are the "taco subs" of spicy seasoned beef — sold for the same modest prices as before. $10-25.
- 4 Mastro Pizzéria, 85, rue Jacques-Cartier, ☎ . Daily 6AM-8PM. With a friendly bilingual staff and a roster of specialty pizzas crowned by the ever-popular "All Dressed" (with pepperoni both under and on top of the cheese, plus mushrooms and green peppers), Mastro offers counter service and a small dining room but also, for a $3 upcharge, the Gaspé Peninsula's only pizza delivery service. If you're in the mood for something else, there's also a sizable menu of other options, especially in the domain of seafood: lobster rolls, Belgian-style moûles frites, seafood chowder, and a first-rate battered fish and chips made with locally-brewed Pit Caribou craft beer. Customers praise the quality of Mastro's food almost unanimously, but the very high prices are off-putting even in light of that. Website in French only.
Away from downtown, dining options get less fancy and high-concept, but no less appealing. If an unpretentious casse-croûte (snack bar) serving local fare is what you're after, seek it out in Gaspé's outer precincts.
- 5 La Baleinier, 2089, boulevard de Grande-Grève, ☎ . Daily 8AM-9:30PM. If you like seafood, first of all congratulations on choosing the right travel destination, and secondly this is the restaurant for you. Le Baleinier is Gaspesian cuisine done right: pan-fried cod, seafood poutine, and (above all) lobster are the standouts on the pint-sized but well-curated menu of this unassuming eatery in Cap-aux-Os just outside the entrance to Forillon National Park. Service is a weak spot, ranging from hostile to merely disinterested. Before you leave, don't forget to stop in to the onsite souvenir shop and peruse the range of crafts produced by local artisans. Website in French only. $15-30.
- 6 Bistro du Banc, 51, rue du Banc, ☎ . M-Tu 7AM-4PM, W-Th 7AM-6PM, F 7AM-7PM, Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 8AM-7PM. A family-style restaurant specializing in seafood (notice a pattern emerging?), Bistro du Banc earns rave reviews for its fish chowder, lobster rolls, cod filets, and other Gaspesian specialties from the briny deep. The interior looks straight out of the 1950s in such a way that you can't tell whether the decor is self-consciously retro or if it's simply never been updated. Service is friendly, and portions are generous for what you pay. Website in French only. $10-35.
- 7 Café Croque-Faim, 159, boulevard Renard Est, ☎ . M-W 5AM-9PM, Th-F 5AM-10PM, Sa 6AM-10PM, Su 7AM-8PM. They say good things come in small packages, and that's certainly the case with this casse-croûte in Rivière-au-Renard — Croque-Faim may be small in size, but it's certainly not short on friendly, lightning-fast service or unequivocally delicious, scratch-made comfort food. Nosh on hamburgers, fries, pizza, club sandwiches, and — most popular of all — 17 different varieties of poutine in the dining room or, on pleasant summer days, outdoors on picnic tables. Website in French only. $10-25.
- Café de l'Anse, 557, boulevard du Griffon (At Le Griffon Cultural Centre), ☎ . Summer: daily 8AM-9PM; winter: Sa-Su 8AM-1PM. The bright, breezy café portion of Le Griffon Cultural Centre serves a varied but predictably seafood-dominated menu in an ambience that's creative and elegant without pretension. The star attraction at Café de l'Anse is cod, served in varieties traditional to France (brandade in huge portions with mashed potatoes and a garden salad on the side), to the Gaspé Peninsula (breaded fritters with the same side dishes), and universally (grilled filets); elsewhere on the menu you'll find a respectable range of sandwiches, salads, meat dishes, and delectable bistro-style appetizers. Service can be inept and slow, but on a pleasant summer day, if you're not too hungry when you arrive, you can turn that to your advantage by taking the opportunity to linger on the outdoor terrace and take in the view over the Saint Lawrence. Bilingual staff, but website in French only. $20-45.
- 8 Chez Cathy, 216, montée de Rivière-Morris, ☎ . Daily 10AM-12:30AM, late Mar through mid-Sept. The last of a dying breed in this part of the world, this super-friendly casse-croûte has been recognized in the pages of the Huffington Post (among others) as the only remaining one on the Peninsula that offers carhop service. That's not the only reason why Chez Cathy is notable, though — the poutine that visitors rave about is topped with homemade gravy and available in myriad different varieties including BBQ and "all dressed" (topped with a mountain of sautéed onions, bacon, relish, mustard, ketchup, lettuce and tomato). If you're sick of poutine at this point in your travels, try the lobster rolls or fried scallops. Website in French only. $10-20.
- 9 La Maison d'À CôTHÉ, 463, boulevard de Forillon, ☎ . Th-Su 8AM-4PM, late May through late Sept. On the road toward La Penouille is where you'll find this handsome saltbox house, brimming with character and serving an ever-changing weekly menu of light gourmet breakfasts and lunches, homemade ice cream, and — as the name implies — a full slate of delicious teas. Soft music, pleasant surroundings (especially if you opt for outdoor seating in the rear garden!), and the work of local artists on the walls all combine to craft a uniquely relaxing and charming experience. Vegetarians and locavores are well cared for — and so, surprisingly, are children, with a dedicated play area occupying a corner of the dining room. Website in French only. $15-30.
Harbour area and southern outskirts
- Le Bourlingueur, 39, montée Sandy-Beach (At Carrefour de Gaspé), ☎ . Daily 7AM-9PM. Chinese-Canadian restaurants — not so much purveyors of fusion cuisine as odd hodgepodges where Westernized interpretations of General Tso chicken and pepper steak rub shoulders awkwardly on the menu with the likes of hamburgers, pizza, and (for that Gaspesian touch) cod filets — are a concept as familiar to the dining scene in this part of the world as they are foreign everywhere else. This cozy little place in the Carrefour de Gaspé shopping centre is a prototypical example, despite the often slow service. If you're looking to maximize the bang for your buck, show up at breakfast time. $20-40.
- 10 La Cantina Latinogaspésienne, 30, rue de la Plage, ☎ . Daily 10AM-5PM, late Jun through early Sept. If you're an aficionado of Mexican cuisine who's planning a trip to the Gaspé Peninsula, you'd better be arriving in the summer, because Cantina Latinogaspésienne is the only game in town — and when we say only, we mean only; even the nearest Taco Bell is a seven-hour drive away in Moncton, New Brunswick. But don't despair, amigos: there's no better place to enjoy a meal of tacos, burritos, or nachos (surprisingly authentic interpretations thereof, courtesy of chef/owner Juan Sebastián Larobina, a native of Mexico City) than on the sunny shores of Haldimand Municipal Beach. They even have live music performances on occasion. Website in French only. $10-25.
- 11 Casse-Croûte Jo-Ann, 137, boulevard de York Est, ☎ . Open late Apr through mid-Sept. Yet another roadside snack bar that's open seasonally and specializes in myriad varieties of poutine (along with burgers, fried chicken, soft-serve ice cream, and other summertime delights) — but this one has a staff that's friendly and bilingual. With uncommonly tasty food sold for cheap, Casse-Croûte Jo-Ann is a popular place, so be prepared to wait in line for a bit. Outdoor seating is available at picnic tables around the perimeter of the front parking lot, from which you can enjoy a pleasant view over the bay. $10-20.
- 12 Chez Ron, 627, boulevard de York Est, ☎ . Daily 7AM-8PM. It's all well and good to play the tourist, but there are some people who really like to get under the skin of a place they're visiting — to do what the locals do, go where they go, eat what they eat. If that kind of authenticity is your bag, head to Chez Ron. To be sure, there are some similarities between this place and the roadside greasy spoons frequented by many travellers — a goodly portion of the menu is indeed made up of poutine, soft ice cream (64 flavours; Baskin-Robbins, eat your heart out), and other local fast-food standbys — but the heart and soul of this place is in the more elaborate offerings of homestyle, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food served in generous portions in an environment that, while wholly unpretentious, is a solid step up from the average casse-croûte. As usual, seafood rules the day, but for a change of pace you might try one of Ron's family-size "super specials" of pizza, drinks and sides — an even better value than the rest of the food here. Bilingual menus and staff, too. $15-30.
- Nic et Pic, 39, montée Sandy-Beach (At Carrefour de Gaspé), ☎ . M-F 8:30AM-5PM. This cozy little family restaurant at Carrefour de Gaspé serves a wide-ranging menu of simple comfort food at all times of day, but is most renowned for its breakfasts — homestyle eggs-meat-and-toast concoctions served up in portions that are huge and for prices that aren't. $15-25.
Self-caterers in Gaspé have an abundance of options.
- 13 Bonichoix, 48, montée de Rivière-Morris, ☎ . M-Sa 8:30AM-9PM, Su 9AM-5PM.
- IGA, 39, montée Sandy-Beach (At Carrefour de Gaspé), ☎ . Daily 8AM-10PM.
- 14 Marché Ami (Épicerie Alban Aspirault), 43, boulevard Renard Est, ☎ . M-F 7:30AM-9PM, Sa Su 7:30AM-6PM.
- 15 Marché Ami (Marché Cassivi), 2051, boulevard de Grande-Grève, ☎ . Daily 8AM-10PM.
- Provigo, 167, rue de la Reine (At Place Jacques-Cartier), ☎ . Daily 8AM-10PM.
- 16 Richelieu, 420, route 132, ☎ . Daily 8:30AM-9PM.
- 17 Super C, 327, boulevard de York Est, ☎ . Daily 8AM-10PM.
To the extent that nightlife exists in the Gaspé Peninsula, you'll find it mostly in Gaspé — or, to be more precise, in Rivière-au-Renard, home of two of the three places listed below.
- 1 Bar Apollo, 69, rue du Banc, ☎ . Daily 2PM-3AM. From the outside it seems quite unassuming, but don't be fooled — Bar Apollo is a happening place, with booze, camaraderie, and good times in a super-friendly setting right in the heart of Rivière-au-Renard. Special events and theme nights are frequent, and if you're a country music fan, check their Facebook page to see about the concerts that Apollo puts on frequently.
- 2 Bar La Voûte, 114, rue de la Reine, ☎ . W-Sa 8PM-3AM. Another bar that doubles as a live music venue: more than any other, La Voûte's is the stage on which the Gaspé Peninsula's roster of local rock bands strut their stuff. As of this writing, the lineup of recent events there included a pair of tribute bands playing the music of Metallica and Rage Against The Machine, local country singer Nash Stanley, and a number of karaoke nights and DJ dance parties. And even if by some strange chance there's no event scheduled on a given night, head out anyway: the bar is small but well-stocked, the clientele is young and trendy, and the vibe is friendly as can be.
- 3 Microbrasserie au Frontibus, 41, rue du Banc, ☎ . Th-Sa 2PM-9PM. Launched in 2017 out of a former supermarket in central Rivière-au-Renard, Frontibus has wasted no time in becoming one of the most prolific craft breweries on the Gaspé Peninsula, with a roster of six Belgian-style Abbey beers and an English-style blond ale whose recipes are inspired by the untamed majesty of the surrounding landscape. The star of the show is their 9.2% ABV "Tripel Boréale", with fruity and spicy notes courtesy of a trio of indigenous ingredients known to the local First Nations since time immemorial: green alder pepper, Labrador tea, and chaga mushroom. Aside from their presence in supermarkets, specialty shops, and bars across Quebec, Frontibus' retail operation and tasting room is open three days a week, with frequent special events. Website in French only.
- 4 Brûlerie Café des Artistes, 101, rue de la Reine, ☎ . M-F 7AM-10:30PM, Sa Su 8AM-10:30PM. The Gaspé Peninsula's first coffee roastery sells its own line of house-brewed Arabica coffees not only at its home base — a cheery, airy café on the east end of the Rue de la Reine strip — but also at numerous other shops and restaurants throughout the region. Much more than a coffeehouse, though, Café des Artistes is also a place to enjoy a light lunch or dinner (the food menu consists of a range of delicious sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, and pita pizzas), reconnect with the online world (there's an Internet-connected computer terminal for customer use and free WiFi all over the property), peruse the work of local artists (a separate room off the dining area plays host to an ever-changing rotation of temporary exhibitions), and take in the occasional live music performance. Website in French only. Coffee $2-5 per cup, $15-35 per person for food.
Except where indicated, all rates quoted in these sections are for double occupancy in high season (July and August).
Hotels and motels
Most often, bedding down for the night in these parts means either checking in to a charming old gîte or roughing it in a campground. Not so in the Gaspé Peninsula's urban core: here traditional hotels and motels predominate.
City centre and around
- 1 Hôtel des Commandants, 178, rue de la Reine, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. Not only is this large, modern hotel located right on rue de la Reine, convenient to all the shopping and dining downtown Gaspé has to offer, but it really packs in the amenities too: onsite at Hôtel des Commandants is everything from the usual hotel accoutrements such as fitness centre, hot tub, free WiFi, and a verdant outdoor terrace, to standout features such as a massage therapist, onsite movie theatre and video arcade, and TÉTÛ Taverne Gaspésienne, one of the fanciest restaurants in town serving upscale reimaginations of classic Gaspesian specialties. Each room has a super-comfy bed, flat-screen TV, sofa, desk, and coffee machine, and many also boast microwaves, mini-fridges, and pleasant views over the bay. Bilingual staff. $144-199/night.
- 2 Hôtel Plante, 137, rue Jacques-Cartier, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. This is definitely more of a motel than a "hotel"; a cluster of low-hung, blue-roofed buildings tucked away off the street behind a nondescript brick office building. But don't be fooled by the rinkydink look of the exterior: Hôtel Plante gives you arguably the most bang for your buck of any hotel in Gaspé, and its central location in the heart of downtown sweetens the pot even more. Rooms are spacious, clean, comfortable, surprisingly modern, and loaded with amenities — standard rooms include kitchenettes with microwave, refrigerator, and coffee maker (yes, these are standard rooms we're talking about) as well as climate control, private bath with hair dryer, iron and ironing board, and free WiFi; deluxe rooms swap out the view of the parking lot for one over Gaspé Bay and upgrade the TV to a flat-screen, and suites and studios are more luxurious still. There's no breakfast, but Tim Hortons is down the street, along with a number of other restaurant options. $95-145/night.
- 3 La Maison William Wakeham, 186, rue de la Reine, ☎ . Check-in: 4PM-9:30PM, check-out: noon. Though it contains only 11 rooms, La Maison William Wakeham is the closest thing the Gaspé Peninsula has to a "grand old hotel". Built around 1860 as the home of its namesake, an eminent physician and government official, this Second Empire-style beauty has a long history of welcoming travellers: it was shortly after Wakeham's death in 1920 when its second owner, the prominent local hotelier John Baker, converted the place into the crown jewel of his burgeoning empire. But if what you've read thus far has led you to expect flawless luxury, prepare to be disappointed: the Maison Wakeham's tired old rooms need a proper round of updates before the place can really pull off the top-shelf boutique-hotel experience it's shooting for. Carpets are scuffed and threadbare, musty smells abound, and the wiring is an electrical fire waiting to happen. On the positive side, the place benefits from a Goldilocks location, with easy access to the downtown bustle via rue de la Reine yet far enough away to afford guests some quietude, the terrace offers lovely views onto Gaspé Bay, and the restaurant does a better job of projecting luxury, with an effortless elegance and a menu based on local seafood. There's free WiFi, air conditioning in the rooms, free parking, and breakfast is included in your room rate. $125-189/night.
- 4 Motel Adams, 20, rue Adams, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. The friendly, family-owned Motel Adams is an older place, but the rooms are clean, spacious, modern, and its central location makes it a good value for your money (albeit not quite as good as Hôtel Plante just up the hill). There's a fairly spartan range of amenities in the rooms — each one has air conditioning, a refrigerator, cable TV, and a hair dryer in the bathroom, and the property offers free WiFi and coin-operated guest laundry — but hungry travellers can choose from two onsite restaurants. Complimentary breakfast is offered at Restaurant Adams, a family-style diner with pleasantly dated decor and an extensive menu that starts but doesn't end with local seafood, while Le Castor is a bar & grill with a trendy but friendly vibe.Motel Adams is a very popular property — book early if you're planning to stay in high season, and prepare for a tricky scenario in the parking lot. The front desk doubles as a ticket agent for the Orléans Express bus network. $134/night.
- 5 Motel-Camping Fort-Ramsay, 254, boulevard de Gaspé, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Situated in a picturesque location a five-minute drive from downtown Gaspé, sandwiched between the inland mountains and the north arm of Gaspé Bay, visitors to Motel-Camping Fort-Ramsay can avail themselves of a boatload of amenities you wouldn't necessarily expect to find in such an unassuming place, and for such reasonable prices: cable TV, air conditioning, and kitchenette in every room; free WiFi propertywide; a fully bilingual staff; onsite snack bar, kids' playground, and mini-golf course; even a private beach. On the minus side, the rooms could use a renovation, and the location directly on Route 132 makes for unrelenting highway noise. In addition to the motel, Fort-Ramsay also offers serviced and unserviced campsites for tents, trailers, and RVs. From $82/night.
- 6 Auberge le Caribou, 82, boulevard Renard Ouest, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. Though parts of the sprawling complex have been renovated, this quintessential roadside motel at the west end of Rivière-au-Renard is really showing its age: the thin walls and squeaky floorboards do little to keep out the sounds from the rooms upstairs or next door, to say nothing of the sometimes rowdy crowds spilling out of the onsite bar and restaurant (La Revolte) at night. But the friendliness and helpfulness of the front desk staff goes a long way in making up for Auberge le Caribou's deficiencies. Also on the plus side, the hotel has a pleasant outdoor terrace facing its own private beach, and that same rowdy bar offers a lovely complimentary breakfast in the morning and sumptuous seafood dinners in the evening. Each of the 39 rooms has a fridge, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom with free toiletries and a hair dryer, and free but not terribly reliable WiFi covers the whole property. $80-123/night.
- 7 Chalets et Motel au Gaspésien, 58, rue des Touristes, ☎ . L'Anse-à-Valleau is where you'll find this cute, rustic little place that consists of a small three-room motel on one side of rue des Touristes and, on the other, a row of eight cozy cottages sandwiched between the road and the shore of the St. Lawrence estuary (and the views are unparalleled). Each of the rooms has a TV, en suite bath, and access to the property's outdoor pool and private beach, and the cottages also have small kitchenettes. Open June 15 through October 15. $65-75/night.
- 8 Hôtel-Motel le Pharillon, 1293, boulevard de Cap-des-Rosiers, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM-9PM, check-out: 11AM. In a picturesque location at the doorstep of Forillon and in the shadow of Canada's tallest lighthouse stands this humble motel whose 30 rooms variously offer views over the St. Lawrence (close-up ones at that; the building lies directly on the coast, and you can go to sleep to the sound of waves crashing outside your window) or towards the imposing crags of interior Gaspé (somewhat less impressive as the mountains lie in the distance across the highway; as if to make up for the disappointment, all the rooms on this side of the building feature kitchenettes with microwaves and mini-fridges). The rooms are basic but spacious, clean and quiet, with charmingly dated decor and either one queen or one or two full-sized beds, en suite bath, cable TV and free WiFi. Complimentary breakfast is offered, but it's nothing to write home about — a few cereals to choose from, bagels and muffins, and the like — and the staff, while friendly and super knowledgeable about the area, don't speak very good English. $85-95/night.
- 9 Motel-Camping des Ancêtres, 865, boulevard de l'Anse-à-Valleau, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. If you're looking to spend the night in L'Anse-à-Valleau but the au Gaspésien is booked up, or if the convenience of being located right on the main drag outweighs the inconvenience of hearing noisy traffic through thin walls, head around the corner to Motel-Camping des Ancêtres. The name of this place is apropos: these nine motel rooms are old but not without a certain tired charm, with decor straight out of a 1970s time warp and kitchenettes that will prove useful once you realize the place doesn't offer breakfast nor are there any nearby restaurants. Beyond that, the roster of amenities is about as scanty as they come — the TVs are big old boxes, there's no air conditioning, and the water in the bathrooms is not even potable. Indeed, the only thing to remind you what century you're in is the free and reliable WiFi. Aside from the motel, they also offer camping, but don't bother unless you're really desperate: the campsites are littered with garbage and debris, and use of toilet facilities costs extra (yes, you read that right). There is a nice playground onsite for kids, though. Website in French only. $85-90/night.
- 10 Motel-Chalets Baie de Gaspé, 2097, boulevard de Grande-Grève, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM-9PM, check-out: 11AM. Each of the eight motel rooms in this Cap-aux-Os lodging destination include private bathrooms, coffeemakers, mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs, and free WiFi Internet access — but true to its name, the major selling point here are the stunning panoramic views of Gaspé Bay from out the front window, as well as easy access to the beach just a five-minute walk away. And if you've instead booked one of the cottages toward the back end of the property, don't be too disappointed by the lack of an ocean view — the sweeping vistas of the inland mountains of Forillon are almost as impressive, plus you get a slate of extra amenities such as en suite kitchenettes and breezy outdoor terraces. On the minus side, customer service is hit-and-miss, and the tap water is not potable (though bottled water is offered free of charge). There's also a campground next door that's run by the same people. Website in French only. Motel rooms $104.50/night, one-bedroom cottage $132/night, two-bedroom cottage $154/night.
- 11 Motel du Haut Phare, 1334, boulevard de Cap-des-Rosiers, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. The more upscale of Cap-des-Rosiers' two motels: du Haut Phare only has 13 rooms, but they're all outfitted with either a queen or two double beds, a flat-screen TV with cable, free WiFi, and a private balcony boasting a view over the expansive St. Lawrence estuary (watch out for whales and seals!), and most also have kitchenettes with microwave, refrigerator, toaster, coffeemaker, and gas range (barbecue grills are also available for those who'd rather do their cooking outdoors). Staff is unfailingly friendly and helpful, and the magnificent breakfasts prepared daily by the owner's mother are well worth the $5 extra on your room rate. $119-148/night.
- 12 Motel le Noroît, 589, boulevard du Griffon, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 2PM-10PM, check-out: 11AM. L'Anse-au-Griffon's sole motel accommodation is a ten-unit property on the coastal side of Route 132. Le Noroît is a simple and no-frills but delightful place that's oriented perpendicularly to the shoreline, such that the view from each room is a combination of mountains, cliffs, and water: the Gaspé in a nutshell. After a long day of adventuring, you can rest up in a room that comes equipped with one or two double beds, cable TV, free WiFi, fridge, microwave, coffeemaker, and en suite bath, or else relax on the breezy terrace and try your hand at spotting whales, seals, and sea birds, or even descend the short stairway to the shore itself and dip your toes into the mighty St. Lawrence. The beds are comfy; staff is gracious, accommodating, and bilingual, and you're right on the doorstep of Forillon — what more could you ask for? $85-95/night.
- Auberge Fort-Prével, 2035, boulevard de Douglas, ☎ . Fort-Prével is a multifaceted kind of place: not only is this former WWII-era coastal fortification now home to Gaspé's premier destination for golfers, but they also offer lodging in multiple different forms. It's not an especially good value for your money if you're not a golfer, with expensive à la carte breakfasts in the onsite restaurant and non-air-conditioned rooms with nothing special in the way of amenities, but if you're looking for a pleasantly verdant, convenient yet quiet location midway between the urban creature comforts of Gaspé and the touristy diversions of Percé, you might give this place a look. Choose from hotel rooms with two queen beds, en suite bath, a comfy work desk, coffeemaker and small TV; spacious private cottages available for both nightly and weekly rental with 2 queen beds and kitchenettes with dining tables (make sure to clean up after yourself if you'll be taking advantage of this feature; the property assesses steep cleaning fees for those who don't wash their dishes and take out their trash!), fully serviced campsites for trailers and RVs, and more primitive sites for tent campers. Many of the hotel rooms and all of the cottages have ocean views, and guests have access not only to the golf course but also an outdoor pool and secluded private beach. Website in French only. Hotel rooms $135/night, cottages $160/night or $800/week, tent camping $30/night, trailer/RV camping $42/night.
- 13 Motel Gaspé, 960, route Haldimand, ☎ . Check-in: 1PM-9PM, check-out: 11AM. We'll start with the cons before moving on to the pros: the Motel Gaspé is an old building in desperate need of renovation, the rooms are filthy to the point where you wonder if they employ any housekeeping staff at all, the tap water is not potable (complimentary bottled water is offered), the no-smoking policy is routinely violated if the lingering scent is any indication, and the reception desk doesn't open until after noon so there's not even anyone to complain to in the morning (and good luck trying to get anyone on the phone). On the other hand, for those few of you who are willing to overlook those pretty egregious flaws, this is the closest motel you'll find to the beaches in Douglastown and Haldimand, and you're hard-pressed to find a cheaper room anywhere in town. All rooms contain cable TV, free WiFi, and either microwave and fridge or full kitchenette, and there's a pleasant terrace out back. $80-95/night.
The Gaspé Peninsula is a romantic kind of place, a perfect fit for those looking for a peaceful getaway somewhere that brims with historic character, with friendly and accommodating hosts that start each day off for you with a hearty breakfast and knowledgeable words of advice on what to do around the local area. That's where the gîte du passant — or just gîte for short — comes in. Proportionally speaking, in the Gaspé Peninsula (if not necessarily in Gaspé itself), gîtes are an even more popular lodging choice than bed & breakfasts (basically the same concept) are in the English-speaking world. You'll find a decent selection of them in the hamlets ringing Forillon National Park, especially Cap-des-Rosiers.
City centre and around
- 14 Auberge du Saumonier, 282, montée Corte-Real, ☎ . Check-in: 4PM-9PM, check-out: 10:30AM. Auberge du Saumonier is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a gîte — rather than a quaint historic house full of antique furniture and old-timey charm, it's a rustic backcountry lodge (ironically only 10 minutes from downtown), and rather than couples on romantic getaways, the typical guests here are salmon fishermen looking to sink their lines into the renowned waters of the Dartmouth, York, and Saint-Jean Rivers. But don't take this place for a "mancave": the innkeeper, Lisa, has added a pleasant feminine touch to the decor, in addition to cooking delicious country-style breakfasts each morning and even helping entertain those guests who may prefer to stay behind while her husband Eli serves as fishing guide on the expeditions they offer. The five individually-decorated guest rooms are upstairs and contain beds of various sizes and numbers (from two doubles up to one king), free WiFi, and balconies with views of the mountains, while the shared bathrooms, common room (stocked with cable TV and rainy-day activities such as board games), and dining room are on the ground floor. $127/night.
- 15 La Normande, 19, rue Davis, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM-8PM, check-out: 11AM. If you're looking for stately Gilded Age elegance, at a reasonable price, La Normande has it to spare: it's a handsome old brick manor in a quiet corner of Gaspé's city centre, in a prime hilltop location surrounded by a terraced garden and with a view over the bay. Stepping into the front door is like taking a trip back in time to the Victorian era: fancy woodwork, antique furniture and fixtures, and even period wallpaper abound. But La Normande has modern touches too: each room has cable TV and alarm clock radio, the shared baths include hair dryers, and free WiFi extends across the property. Best of all, even in a line of work where stellar customer service can literally make or break a business, innkeeper Chantal Leclerc distinguishes herself for her propensity to go above and beyond: not only does she work hard to personalize every experience to the guest's individual needs, but she runs a tight ship too, with spic-and-span rooms, beds as comfy as can be, and a breakfast that's a locavore foodie's dream come true, highlighted by homemade crepes, toast, and muffins with an ever-changing selection of seasonal fruit preserves. Website in French only. $110-130/night.
- 16 Chez Mammy, 1284, boulevard de Cap-des-Rosiers, ☎ . Chez Mammy is the most inexpensive of a cluster of gîtes in Cap-des-Rosiers, at the foot of Canada's tallest lighthouse and on the doorstep of Forillon National Park. Here the experience is less that of a traditional bed & breakfast and more one of sharing a house with a roommate. To wit, this is a pint-sized little cottage that's scarcely been reconfigured from the private residence it used to be: the two small bedrooms sparsely furnished with a bed and a TV are the only bit of privacy to be had, while both units share a bathroom, a common room (outfitted with a larger TV connected to a DVD player), and dining facilities (with a refrigerator, toaster, and stove). Free WiFi is available all over the property, your host Irène serves breakfast daily, and bike storage is offered. Open May 1 through October 31. From $83/night.
- 17 Gîte Haut-Phare, 1321, boulevard de Cap-des-Rosiers, ☎ . Check-in: 11:30AM, check-out: 11AM. Not to be confused with the Motel du Haut Phare around the bend, Gîte Haut-Phare is owned by Vern and Anna Green, a friendly elderly couple from Sudbury, Ontario — so no need to worry about a language barrier. The five smallish guest rooms have ceiling fans, clock radios, and predictably lighthouse-themed, just-this-side-of-kitschy decor that's the brainchild of Anna herself. There's a pleasant rear sitting area with a front-row view of the lighthouse, free WiFi, and the hungry can enjoy not only the hearty country-style breakfasts your hosts cook in the morning but also a walk-up ice cream stand next door. On the minus side, the mattresses on the beds are uncomfortably soft, and prepare to wait in line to use the bathroom on busy days: the place sleeps up to 14 people, which is a bit much to share one full and one half bath. Open June through September. $95/night.
- 18 Lumière sur le Golfe, 1325, boulevard de Cap-des-Rosiers, ☎ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 10AM. Lighthouse fans, listen up: this aptly-named gîte is the closest you can legally come to sleeping directly in the Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse: it's right in the backyard! Lumière sur le Golfe makes much of its quiet, countrified location away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Gaspé, and it's true: there's no better place to unwind than on the rear terrace in front of a panoramic view of lighthouse and seashore, and the three guest rooms are refreshingly bereft of distracting amenities, containing only comfy beds, airy ambiances, that same view over the sea, and tantalizing names such as "À couper le souffle" ("Breathtaking") and "Dans les bras de Morphée" ("In the Arms of Morpheus"). On the other hand, that's not to say there's nothing to do in the area other than relax — remember, you're right on the doorstep of Forillon National Park — and if you absolutely have to connect to the outside world, there's free WiFi throughout the property and a TV in the common room for those rainy days. The shared bathroom contains a hair dryer, and breakfast is almost an al fresco experience: the huge dining room is surrounded by windows on three sides! Open mid-June through mid-October. Website in French only. $85-105/night.
- 19 Le Meilleur des 2 Mondes, 689, boulevard de Forillon, ☎ . Check-in: 4:30PM-7PM, check-out: 11AM. One of these things is not like the others: you'll find Le Meilleur des 2 Mondes on the opposite side of Forillon from the other gîtes in this section, convenient to the beaches and walking trails of La Penouille as well as only ten minutes from downtown by car (perhaps that's the significance of its name, which translates to "The Best of Both Worlds"). Perhaps more than any other local innkeepers, your hosts Danièle and Laurent really live and breathe La Gaspésie: their love for the region they call home is palpable, and they revel in serving as their guests' go-to source for information on things to do in the local area or in simply telling tales of life here at the "end of the world". On the other hand, they also know how to walk the tightrope of being friendly and accommodating without being overbearing. The property has three rooms: the colour-themed "La Rouge sur Baie" ("Bayside Red") and "La Verte Pommeraie" ("Apple Orchard Green") each have a queen bed and share a bathroom, with the latter also boasting a corner sink and pull-out sofa; meanwhile, "Le Bas-côté" ("The Lower Side") is a luxury suite that sleeps a whole family, with a queen bed, two twin beds, and a futon, plus an en suite bathroom and kitchen facilities available upon request for extra cost (ask at booking for details). Free WiFi covers the whole property, and breakfasts, served daily between 7:30AM and 9AM, are an ever-changing spread of hearty homemade specialties. A minimum two-night stay is de rigueur in high season (July 1 through September 15). Website in French only. $85-115/night.
- 20 Pétales de Rose, 1184, boulevard de Cap-des-Rosiers, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Pétales de Rose makes up for its location a bit further from the lighthouse by offering a variety of amenities that's a lot wider than you'll find in Cap-des-Rosiers' other gîtes: the three guest rooms contain TVs and all boast ocean views, the common room has a larger TV as well as a working fireplace for those nippy Gaspesian nights, children are not only allowed but graciously accommodated with a small playground outside, the two shared bathrooms both contain hair dryers, and complimentary bike storage and WiFi Internet are provided. The deliciousness of the homemade baked goods and the heartiness of the eggs-and-meat combinations served up at breakfast are all the more fortunate given the absolute lack of nearby restaurants. The owner's limited proficiency in English is the only minor quibble. Open May through October. $90/night.
- 21 Le Phénix, 55, boulevard de York Est, ☎ . Check-in: 3PM-7PM, check-out: 11AM. Though Sylvie Hamel loves to tout the relaxing quietude of her gîte's location on the south shore of the bay out past the harbour, Le Phénix is truly a best-of-both-worlds scenario: the panoramic view of the city lights across the water that you can enjoy from this hilltop property serves as a reminder that the big-city action (relatively speaking) of downtown Gaspé is only a quick three-minute drive away. Built in the mid-19th century, the three guest rooms of this regal country-style manor still boast the names of the branch of the prominent Le Boutillier family that lived here long ago: the "Gertrude Le Boutillier" faces the backyard terrace and is furnished with queen-size bed, two dressers, and a pair of chairs; the "John Le Boutillier" has all of the above plus an armoire, a luggage rack, and a pair of upholstered wing-back chairs in place of the hard ones, and the "Antoine Panchaud" upgrades the queen bed to a king. In addition, all the rooms have work desks, a pair of nightstands, WiFi Internet, flat-screen TV, and private bathrooms (some en suite, some down the hall) with hair dryers. Best of all, Hamel is the consummate hostess, passionate about both the history of the building and the art of customer service, and the enormous breakfasts she prepares will "fuel you for days", as one reviewer put it. $125-135/night.
Cottages and vacation homes
Whereas hotels and motels are the most popular lodging option in the city centre, and gîtes tend to cluster in the northern outskirts toward Forillon, vacation cottages predominate south of downtown. If a convenient homebase between Gaspé and Percé is what you're after, read on.
- 22 Les Cabines sur Mer, 1257, boulevard de Cap-des-Rosiers, ☎ . Check-in: 4PM-7PM, check-out: 11AM. If you come from one of those European countries where everything is tiny, you'll probably feel right at home staying at Les Cabines sur Mer: one or two double beds are about all that can be crammed in to the bedrooms of the standard-sized ones, along with postage stamp-sized kitchenettes and bathrooms. If not, you can opt for one of the somewhat more spacious two-room "bungalows" with full kitchens (still close quarters, but large enough to actually prepare food in), or else console yourself with the fact that the units are immaculately clean, the view of the water is splendiferous, and your hosts Marc and Chantal are as friendly, helpful, and ever-present as at any gîte. "Cramped" is also a good way to describe the way these six cottages are sandwiched into the snug strip of land between Route 132 and the shore of the St. Lawrence on the way to Cap-des-Rosiers: they're almost directly on the side of the road (parallel parking is de rigueur for want of a lot, which makes for a precarious situation getting into and out of your car). Luckily, things usually quiet down enough after dark that traffic noise isn't an issue — guests report being lulled into dreamland by the crashing of the waves far more often than being kept awake by cars. Aside from the aforementioned, amenities include flat-screen TVs with cable, free WiFi, and a pleasant outdoor sitting area with picnic benches and a barbecue grill. Open mid-May through late September. $70-85/night.
- Chalets du Parc, 1231, boulevard de Forillon, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. The aptly named Chalets du Parc comprise 32 detached cottages arranged in two equally aptly named clusters about 2 km (1½ miles) apart from each other on opposite sides of Route 132, on the north shore of Gaspé Bay near the entrance to Forillon. The cottages of the 23 Chalets du Parc — Bord de la Baie cluster are smaller, cheaper, and a bit further from the action, but boast a panoramic view of downtown Gaspé from their waterfront location, not to mention bedrooms with a bed and a pull-out sofa, en suite bathroom, TV, free WiFi Internet, firepit, and access to a small private beach. Meanwhile, if a day on the beach at La Penouille is in the offing, you'll want to check out the larger and more luxurious accommodations at 24 Chalets du Parc — Plage de Penouille, located directly across the street from the main parking area of the national park: spacious two-, three-, and four-bedroom cottages with all the aforementioned amenities plus fully stocked kitchens (including pots, pans and silverware!) and full bathrooms. About the only bad thing you could say about this place is the TVs don't have cable (but who wants to veg out in front of a video screen in a place like this?) and the bugs tend to get inside. Open May 10 through October 15; 6-night minimum stay from July 16 through August 20, 3 nights minimum from June 23 through July 15, and 2 nights minimum at all other times. $150-270/night.
- 25 Les Chalets Forillon, 85, chemin du Portage, ☎ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. At least for the time being, the plural "chalets" is a misnomer: the smaller of the two units onsite at this L'Anse-au-Griffon property ("La Libellule") has been unavailable for rental since 2016. That leaves "La Chanterelle", a two-storey cottage that sleeps six with a bedroom and a bathroom on each floor, which friendly owners Françoise Tétreault and Stéphane Morissette have outfitted with a double bed in each as well as a pullout sofa and bunk beds on the upper and lower floors respectively. There's also a spacious living room with a TV and DVD player (make sure to bring some discs of your own, as there's no cable or satellite service), WiFi Internet, a fully stocked second-floor kitchen and dining room, and a barbecue grill outdoors. Payment is accepted in cash only, and a 3-night minimum stay applies. $150/night or $845/week.
- 26 Maison Madame Alain, 732, boulevard du Griffon, ☎ . Operated as an ordinary gîte up through the 2017 season, after the semi-retirement of its owners this former country general store just outside L'Anse-au-Griffon (still named in honour of its longtime shopkeeper) has made the transition to a weekly vacation rental, without any hosts onsite serving breakfast but still boasting the same off-the-beaten-path privacy, verdant tranquility, and resplendent view over the St. Lawrence as before. With four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully-stocked kitchen, washer and dryer, TV and DVD player, WiFi Internet, and a working fireplace, Maison Madame Alain is a true, full-fledged home away from home. Open year-round, with a one-week minimum stay from June 23 through September 1 and 3 nights minimum at all other times (discounted rates offseason, too). Website in French only. $1,050/week.
- 27 Ode à la Mer, 688, boulevard de Forillon, ☎ . Ode à la Mer is a cozy little cabin, just 53 m² (576 square feet) in area and with only a double bed and a pull-out sofa: the perfect place to escape from the madding crowds in a quiet bayside location near La Penouille, yet only a 10-minute drive from downtown. The wood-panelled walls, rustic furniture, and wood-burning stove in the living room lend this place an appropriately woodsy ambience that's further enhanced when you discover the pleasant outdoor sitting area in back, with a charming firepit and a view through the trees over the water. Aside from that, you've got one full and one half bathroom, a full kitchen with stove, fridge, microwave, toaster, coffeemaker, crockery, and utensils, and WiFi Internet (no TV, though). Open May 15 through November 15, with a one-week minimum stay through September 16 and 3 nights minimum thereafter. $750/week.
- 28 Aux Galets Doux, 13, rue de l'Anse-à-Brillant, ☎ . One of a pair of cottages you'll find nestled in a quiet, off-the-beaten-path waterfront location in L'Anse-à-Brillant, Aux Galets Doux consists of a spacious cottage and an even more spacious house that together sleep 13 — you can rent one or the other or both simultaneously. Both of these adjacent units contain two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen fully stocked with appliances, cookware, plates, glasses, and silverware, a living room with satellite TV and DVD player, WiFi Internet, access to laundry facilities, a rear balcony equipped with a barbecue grill, a delightful airy ambience, and a stunning view over Gaspé Bay and out to Forillon. On top of that, the house also has a finished basement with another TV. Best of all, the trail out back leads to a lovely private beach! $275/night or $675/week for cottage only (minimum stay 1 week between August 4 and 24, 3 days all other times); $1,750/week for house and cottage (minimum stay 1 week at all times).
- 29 Cap Soleil, 11, rue de l'Anse-à-Brillant, ☎ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. You'll find Cap Soleil right next door to Aux Galets Doux, with the same tranquil isolation, breathtaking views, simple but tasteful decor, and easy access to L'Anse-à-Brillant's beach and fishing harbour. As for the place itself, it's not quite as big as its neighbour: upstairs at this typical Gaspesian country house are only two bedrooms, with one queen and two double beds respectively, plus a full bathroom with a tub, while downstairs you'll find a living room (with cable TV, DVD player and wood-burning stove), a kitchen (fully equipped with stove, refrigerator, toaster, microwave, and cookware), and another bathroom. WiFi Internet, access to laundry facilities, and an outdoor firepit round out the list of amenities. However, if you're travelling with young kids, Cap Soleil is the superior option in L'Anse-à-Brillant: contact Sarah, the friendly owner, and she'll set you up with a high chair, crib, baby gate, stroller, and other accessories to help your little ones stay safe and make the most of their vacation too. Website in French only. $1,400/week.
- 30 Chalets du Bout du Monde, 1141, route Haldimand, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. If you're a summertime visitor looking for a place to stay that's near the beaches south of town yet you rue the thought of setting foot in the nightmarish Motel Gaspé, relief is at hand in the form of this octet of charming waterfront cottages just a little further away. The "Cottages at the End of the World" really pack in the amenities: each one has two bedrooms with four smallish but comfy beds between them (plus a pull-out couch in the living room), a fully stocked kitchen (complete with espresso machine and electric fondue plate!), cable TV with DVD player, WiFi Internet, barbecue grill, and outdoor firepit — and the luxurious Cottage #5 ("Mikmak") also has a Jacuzzi tub. The friendly management provides each visitor not only with a raft of blankets and towels for their days on the beach, but also complimentary kayak and mountain bike rental (first come, first served) and, in wintertime, snowshoe rental. The only complaint guests commonly lodge about this well-regarded place is that the buildings' thin walls do little to keep out the loud squawking of the seabirds that frequent the adjacent Douglastown Bay — though if you're into birdwatching, you're in luck! A one-week minimum stay length applies between June 29 and September 2. $1,295/week.
- 31 Chalets du 1925, 1925, boulevard de Douglas, ☎ . Named for their address on boulevard de Douglas on the road toward Percé, these three cottages are attached in a row, townhouse-style, and are way more spacious than they look from outside. Each one contains two double beds, a private en suite bathroom, a large kitchen and dining room with stove, fridge and microwave, cable TV and WiFi Internet, and huge windows that let in ample natural light and provide an expansive view of the mouth of Gaspé Bay where it meets the larger Gulf of St. Lawrence. Out back there's a pleasant shoreline sitting area centred on a large firepit, perfect for roasting marshmallows on a nippy night. Open May through September. $85-90/night.
Relative to neighbouring towns, Gaspé has a surprising paucity of campgrounds. If none of the options listed here are to your liking, check out what Forillon National Park has to offer.
- 32 Camping Baie de Gaspé, 2107, boulevard de Grande-Grève, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. Owned by the same people who run Motel-Chalets Baie de Gaspé next door, this Cap-aux-Os camping destination encompasses over 100 sites for trailers and RVs (fully serviced with water, electricity and sewer) as well as about a dozen unserviced tent sites that are perfect for those looking for a more primitive experience without completely giving up their creature comforts, situated in various milieux from fully shaded to out in the open with a panoramic view of the bay. Other amenities include a community room with games and kitchen facilities, a brand new complex of washrooms and shower facilities, free WiFi, and a public phone out front. Website in French only. Open June through September. Per night/week: $26/$156 for unserviced sites; $39/$234 for serviced sites with 30-ampere electric connections, $45/$276 for 50 amperes.
- 33 Camping des Appalaches, 367, montée de Rivière-Morris, ☎ , toll-free: . An aptly named campground if there ever was one, this complex of 129 sites for camper vans and RVs is situated in an out-of-the-way location between the Morris River and Route 197, amid the mountainous inland spine of the peninsula and just a stone's throw from the International Appalachian Trail's Forillon access point. Oscar, the friendly bilingual owner, will be more than happy to help you choose from fully serviced, semiserviced (with electricity and water but no sewer), or a handful of unserviced tent sites — and if you don't have any of those at your disposal, they even have a couple of campers for rent (call for rates and availability). Just past the entrance is a large common building containing most of the camp's amenities (washrooms with showers, coin laundry, a lounge with a selection of arcade games, convenience store, and a heated saltwater pool just behind the building); just beyond that is a basketball court, horseshoe pitch, and a small playground for the youngsters. Free WiFi, too. Open June through September. $27-37/night.
- 34 Camping Gaspé, 1029, route Haldimand, ☎ . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: noon. If camping and the beach sound like the perfect combination to you, head down to the shore of Douglastown Bay where these 53 well-shaded trailer and RV campsites lie only 2 km (1¼ miles) from the salt-and-pepper sands of Haldimand Beach. Unserviced, semi-serviced and fully serviced sites are all available (the latter two options come with 30 amperes of electricity), and other amenities include a laundry room, playground, free WiFi, a number of community firepits (wood is available for purchase at the front office), a horseshoe pitch, and even kayak and canoe rental. Best of all, if you're a large party who might otherwise need to book two or more spots, you can potentially save money by opting for the one trailer they have available for rent ($750/week in July and August, $700/week in June and September) that manages to sleep seven thanks to a sofa, dinette and bedroom table that all convert to beds to complement the queen-sized one in the master bedroom and the bunk beds in the smaller one. Strictly enforced "quiet hours" from 11PM to 7AM ensure a relaxing night's sleep for all. Open June through September. Unserviced sites from $24.35/night; semi-serviced from $28.70/$31.31 per night for tents and RVs respectively; fully serviced from $34.78/night.
- 35 Camping Griffon, 421, boulevard du Griffon, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: noon, check-out: 11AM. You might call Griffon the Ryanair of Gaspé campgrounds: it can be a good value for the money for those who mind their P's and Q's with regard to the sometimes picayune regulations, but more freewheeling types should be prepared to get nickel-and-dimed at every turn with extra fees: $3 to book over the phone rather than online, 25¢ for a paltry two and a half minutes in the shower, and a hefty $12 cancellation fee (or a full night's rate if you do so with less than 48 hours' notice!) Thankfully, the standard of customer service is where the analogy ends: the care the friendly bilingual staff takes with campers is anything but shoddy; rather, it's everything you'd expect from a third-generation family-owned business that folks have been coming back to year after year since 1969. 75 tree-shaded campsites for tents, camper vans, and RVs come with varying levels of service and a prime clifftop location right on the St. Lawrence in L'Anse-au-Griffon, with immaculately clean washrooms, showers and laundry facilities in the main building, a kitchen shelter, free and reliable WiFi, a playground for the kids, facilities for basketball, horseshoes, and other games, and access to the beach via a 75-step staircase. Open June through September. Sites with water from $28/night; with water and electricity from $33/night; fully serviced from $39/night.
Sépaq, Quebec's provincial park and wildlife service, maintains a provincewide network of 35 unserviced campsites and shelters that are open by prior reservation to hikers on the International Appalachian Trail. In all cases, these sites are open from June 24 through October 11, full payment must be made in advance, and hikers should have their ID and proof of reservation on hand at all times to show to any officials who may happen by. Hikers must bring all their own supplies, including sleeping bags, mattresses, flashlights, toilet paper, matches, and cooking and eating utensils, and clean up after themselves upon departure. A portable cookstove might also be a good idea, as fires are allowed only in specified areas, and only if forest fire danger is listed as low or moderate. In addition, all sites are located near a water source, but said water might not be potable; best practice is to boil thoroughly before drinking.
There are three Sépaq IAT shelters within the city of Gaspé (not including those in Forillon National Park). From west to east, they are:
- 36 Refuge du Zéphir (about 1km/0.6 miles east of Pointe-à-la-Renommée). Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. If a relaxing evening watching the sun set over the mighty St. Lawrence sounds like your ideal way to cap off a long day of backpacking, pencil in a night's stay at Le Zéphir. This sturdy wooden shelter atop a seaside cliff near L'Anse-à-Valleau sleeps up to 8 people in a quartet of bunk beds, has a wood-burning stove for heating (bring or chop your own firewood), and there's a dry pit toilet on site. $23/night per person.
- 37 Abri et Camping des Carrières (about 1km/0.6 miles east of chemin du Lac-Brillant). Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. With fewer amenities than the other two sites on this list and a true backcountry location deep in the interior wilderness, Les Carrières is for those who are looking to really rough it. Accommodation here takes two forms: a small three-walled lean-to shelter that sleeps four to six, as well as a pair of 3.7m square (12 feet 3 inches square) wooden platforms where you can pitch tents. There's also a dry toilet and a 4m (13-foot) "bear pole" on which to hang food out of reach of bears and other wildlife. $5.75/night per person to pitch a tent; $17.25/night per person for lean-to shelter.
- 38 Refuge de l'Érablière (about 8km/5 miles west of Route 197). Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. With room for eight people on bunk beds, L'Érablière is an enclosed wooden shelter with the exact same slate of amenities as Le Zéphir, but in a much more remote location than either of Gaspé's other IAT shelters, an 8-km (5-mile) hike from the nearest road. $23/night per person.
To reserve a shelter or campsite, contact Sépaq at ☎ +1 418 566-2058, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hostels and guesthouses
Rounding out the gamut of lodging options in Gaspé is a pretty respectable range of hostels and accommodations of a similar bent.
- 39 Auberge de Douglastown, 28, avenue Saint-Patrick, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM-7PM, check-out: noon. It bears emphasizing: the Auberge de Douglastown is a place to stay when you want to save money, not enjoy a sumptuous luxury experience. Don't misunderstand — this slightly off-the-beaten-path hostel in the heart of Gaspé's old Irish neighbourhood has a friendly staff, clean and spacious rooms, and generally gets the job done in its spartan way — but the sparsely furnished rooms and gloomy shared bathrooms and group showers definitely give off an institutional "boarding school" ambience. Choose from a bunk bed in the mixed-gender dorms or the privacy of an individual or family room, but if you're a light sleeper, bring earplugs because the beds are not secured to the floor (and the private rooms are no escape from the nightly creaking and cracking; these thin walls let in every little noise). That being said, the slate of amenities is fairly impressive given the price point: the common room has a TV and books, the windows are tiny but boast an impressive view over Douglastown Bay, the free WiFi is fast and reliable, continental breakfast included in the room rate is a nice touch, and best of all, the huge institutional kitchen in the adjacent Douglas Community Centre is a godsend once you realize there are no nearby restaurants or grocery stores. (And speaking of the community centre: if you're arriving in late July or early August, you're in for a treat.) $27.83/night for dorm bed, $50/65/75/85 per night for 1/2/3/4 people in private rooms.
- 40 Auberge Griffon Aventure, 829, boulevard du Griffon, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. More than just a hostel; more, in fact, than just a place to sleep at night: Auberge Griffon Aventure is a multifaceted experience with so much to offer that it's a struggle to contain it all in this listing. The focus here is on a sustainable, eco-friendly tourism experience: the Gaspé Peninsula is a magnificent natural wonderland, and with such measures as water-saving toilets and buildings constructed using upcycled wood, Griffon Aventure's owners are doing their part to help keep it that way. And it's not for nothing that "adventure" is a part of this place's name: the young, friendly, and energetic staff leads guests and the general public on fun-filled fishing and canyoneering expeditions, as well as other fun activities you won't find at your average lodging around these parts. And if you're not up for adrenaline-pumping action, don't worry: the place's magnificent setting — perched at the top of a seaside cliff in L'Anse-au-Griffon with a panoramic view over the St. Lawrence estuary (take a long but rewarding climb down the stairs to get to the private beach) — is great for relaxing and unwinding. As for accommodation, it takes myriad forms: dorm rooms are co-ed and include a reading light and power outlet for each bed; private rooms and cottages come in various sizes and bedding configurations and have heat, electricity, and (in most cases) kitchenettes, bedding, and private patios with barbecue grill; camping can mean anything from serviced RV sites to primitive tent camping in the woods to souped-up "prospector tents" for glampers with electricity, heat and kitchenettes. You can even sleep on a converted fishing boat. Washrooms, showers, and kitchen facilities are available at the lounge, which also boasts a bar with pool table, foosball, and Québécois craft beers on tap. There's free WiFi in the lodging areas, bike rental, a firepit, etc. etc. ad infinitum. Auberge Griffon Aventure is affiliated with Hostelling International (HI). Open May 4 through October 14. Dorm beds $25/night, private rooms $65-70/night, private cottages $100-140/night, tent campsites $15/night, camper/RV sites $18/night, "prospector tents" $90/night.
- 41 Auberge Internationale Forillon, 2095, boulevard de Grande-Grève, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 10AM, check-out: 10AM. On tap at this friendly place overlooking Gaspé Bay, a three-minute walk from Cap-aux-Os Beach and three minutes by car from the south entrance to its namesake national park, is a classic, old-school hostel experience, complete with a laid-back "hippie" vibe courtesy of the amiable Gilles and his welcoming staff. At Auberge Internationale Forillon you can choose from a bed in a mixed-gender dorm which includes bedding, or else opt for one of a limited number of private rooms which come sparsely furnished with bed, chair and table. In all cases, bathrooms are shared (there's one on each floor, small and equally as minimalistically appointed as the bedrooms; bring your own towels), with free but not terribly reliable WiFi as well as laundry facilities and a fully equipped and stocked communal kitchen in the basement. Plus, if you're looking to further economize beyond the already-reasonable prices, you can pitch a tent on the lawn out back. Open May through October. Website in French only. $30/night for dorm bed, $35/night for private room (plus $10 per night for each additional person), $15/night for tent camping.
- 42 Auberge La Petite École de Forillon, 1826, boulevard Forillon, ☎ , toll-free: . Check-in: 3PM-5PM, check-out: 11AM. Pull your car up the driveway past the expansive children's playground and toward the cheery red-brick building and it's obvious that the name of this place is to be taken literally: La Petite École de Forillon was indeed once an elementary school, and judging by the odd layout of the building and the institutional ambience, not so much has changed. This smaller but better-appointed of Cap-aux-Os' two hostels boasts ten private rooms plus an eight-bed, mixed-gender dorm, which each share three fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities, a fitness centre, a common room with flat-screen TV, free WiFi, and a large game room with foosball, ping-pong, and pool tables. Out back there's a manicured garden with picnic area and firepit, and even a skating rink for wintertime guests. Best of all, all those fun amenities, plus the aforementioned playground, combine with a clientele that skews older and less rowdy than your typical party-hearty backpacker crowd to make this place a good option for families with kids and other types of people who wouldn't normally consider staying at a hostel. Just don't come expecting to sleep in the lap of luxury: the rooms, while comfy enough, are sparsely furnished and dimly lit, and the scenario presented by the bathrooms is not much better (think along the lines of threadbare towels). Website in French only. $29/night per person for dorm bed, from $60/night per person for private rooms.
- 43 Gaspé Peninsula and Îles de la Madeleine Community College (Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles), 94, rue Jacques-Cartier, ☎ . During summer break (roughly mid-June through mid-August), the downtown Gaspé campus of the regional cégep offers up their student residence facilities to travellers passing through. Accommodation is available either in pavilion-style dorms (with one or two beds, a work desk, and shared bathroom and shower facilities) or else in private apartments that sleep up to eight people (with en suite bath and kitchenettes equipped with stove, fridge, dishes, and dining table and chairs; bring your own silverware and cooking utensils). Whichever you choose, all guests are also provided with bedding and towels, and have access to free WiFi, foosball and pool tables in the student lounges, and coin laundry. $50/65 per night for single/double dorm room, from $110/140 per night for private apartment (3 night minimum).
- 44 La Merluche, 202, rue de la Reine, ☎ . Check-in: 4PM-9PM, check-out: 11AM. If a central location is what you're after in a hostel, head to the far west end of rue de la Reine to get to this sprawling old house on the edge of downtown, wherein you'll find the usual selection of dorm beds, individual rooms, and even an entire private apartment. If you chose one of the former two options, prepare for what is (despite some pretty nifty antique furniture and snazzy hardwood floors) a relatively spartan affair: dorms are little more than two side-by-side, not-terribly-comfortable bunk beds separated by a small night stand, while private rooms are an only marginally more elaborate affair with a work desk and small dresser to store your clothes. Either way, bathrooms are shared, bedding is provided for you, there's free WiFi on the whole property as well as a community computer for wired Internet access, a homey communal kitchen that looks little changed from the days when this place was a private residence, a cozy common room with TV, and a rear terrace with an outdoor foosball table. The private apartment is another story entirely, with its own kitchen, bathroom, sitting room with futon for extra guests, and even a separate entrance onto rue Davis. The friendly staff speaks English, French, and Spanish. Open June through August. Website in French only. $30/47.84 for single/double dorm bed, $65.23/82.65 for private room that sleeps two/three, $100 for private apartment.
Gaspé, along with the rest of the peninsula, is served by area codes 418 and 581. Ten-digit dialling is mandatory for local calls, so to reach a number within Gaspé or the immediate vicinity, it's still necessary to dial the area code first. To call long-distance within Canada or to the United States, dial 1, then the area code, then the number. For international calls, dial 011, then the country code, then the city code (if applicable), then the number.
Gaspé's main post office is located downtown in the 8 Frédérica Giroux Building (Immeuble Frédérica-Giroux) at 98, rue de la Reine, and is open weekdays 8:30AM-5:30PM. Branch post offices can be found in Cap-aux-Os, Cap-des-Rosiers, Douglastown, Fontenelle, L'Anse-à-Valleau, Petit-Cap, Rivière-au-Renard, Saint-Maurice-de-l'Échouerie, and York Centre.
9 Gaspé Hospital (Hôpital de Gaspé) is just outside of downtown at 215, boulevard de York Ouest.
- While the points of interest listed in this article are all well worth your time, it would be a shame to leave Gaspé without experiencing its most prominent tourist attraction by far: Forillon National Park. Though inside the city limits, Forillon seems a world away: 242 km² (94 square miles) of rugged forest sandwiched between Gaspé Bay and the St. Lawrence Estuary, with a mind-boggling diversity of landscapes and ecosystems packed inside. Hikers, nature lovers, whale-watchers, watersports enthusiasts, and even history buffs will all find something of interest here at the bout du monde (end of the world).
- Just south of here you'll find Percé, an unabashed tourist town that's the perfect antidote to Gaspé's button-down, all-business vibe. Rather than the hustle and bustle of urban life (or as close as you can come to that around these parts), on tap in Percé are all the souvenir shops, ice cream stands, and miscellaneous touristy bric-a-brac you could want — not to mention Percé Rock (Rocher Percé), the iconic arch-shaped rock formation that's the Gaspé Peninsula's main tourist draw by far, and which, together with the seabird haven of Bonaventure Island (Île Bonaventure), make up yet another entry in the region's roster of national parks.
- Heading the other way along Route 132? The next major town, about two hours' drive away, is Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. Here in the Upper Gaspé's main population centre, salmon fishermen who were impressed by their catches in the Saint-Jean and the Dartmouth will find more of the same along the Sainte-Anne River, kitesurfers flock to the windswept Cartier Beach (Plage Cartier), and the annual Driftwood Festival (Fête du Bois Flotté) is an end-of-summer haven for sculptors working in an offbeat medium. However, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts is best known to tourists as the gateway to...
- Gaspésie National Park, the rooftop of the Gaspé Peninsula, perched at the summit of its highest interior mountains about half an hour south of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts via Route 299. If you thought the Gaspé portion of the International Appalachian Trail was remote, wait till you get a load of the Grande Traversée, a 100-km (62-mile) backcountry adventure that passes through the territory of the only remaining caribou herd south of the Saint Lawrence on its way to Mont Jacques-Cartier, the highest peak in the Chic-Chocs. And if you're a skier who (understandably) found Mont-Béchervaise less than impressive, you can hit the slopes here in five separate ski and snowboard areas.
|Routes through Gaspé|
|Rimouski ← Percé ←||W E||→ END|
|Rimouski ← Forillon National Park ←||W E||→ Percé → Rimouski|
|Rimouski via ← Murdochville ←||W E||→ END|