The North Shore or Côte-Nord is a region of Quebec on the shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In 2011, it had about 95,000 residents in an area about the size of Italy. It is divided into two tourist regions: Duplessis and Manicouagan.
The Duplessis region is known for the vastness of its natural spaces, boreal forest, outdoor activities, kitesurfing, beaches, islands, whales, aurora borealis and natural resources. It is a popular destination for hunting and fishing. During the winter season, it is known for its snowmobile trails and snowkiting (where people use kite power to glide on snow or ice). It offers a great diversity, from old fishing villages, to young dynamic and industrial cities, to native communities and to English-speaking villages.
The Manicouagan region's coast overlooks the magnificent St. Lawrence River with cliffs that frame the imposing Saguenay Fjord. Its salt marshes welcome 175 species of birds. It offers salmon fishways, whales that swim in the river, vast boreal forest, the tundra, bubbling rivers and the deep lakes of its hinterland. This grandiose setting gave birth to a hydroelectric empire dominated by the largest multi-vaulted dam in the world, the Daniel-Johnson Dam (Manic-5). This area is ideal for hiking, camping, scuba diving, sea kayaking, hunting, fishing and snowmobiling, and covers a vast area of wilderness that will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts.
- 1 Baie-Comeau — main city of Manicouagan and important hub for the North Shore
- 2 Blanc-Sablon — an historic fishing village accessible by road from Labrador, but not from Quebec
- 3 Caniapiscau — composed of the mining towns of Vermont and Schefferville (which is accessible by air or by rail only)
- 4 Forestville — a popular spot for hunting and fishing
- 5 Havre-Saint-Pierre — a good base for exploring the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
- 6 Natashquan — birthplace of singer Gilles Vigneault
- 7 Port-Cartier —port town known for its penitentiary
- 8 Sept-Îles — an excellent starting point for discovering the endless forests and innumerable bodies of water in the region
- 9 Tadoussac — at the maritime crossroads of the Saguenay fjord and the majestic St. Lawrence river, with sand dunes and a small lake in the heart of the village
- 1 Anticosti — Gulf of St. Lawrence Island encompassing Anticosti National Park
- 2 Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve — a string of limestone islands with monoliths, exceptional geological structures, and excellent bird watching
Much of the North Shore is the traditional land of the Naskapi Innu First Nation (Aboriginal) people. 850 Naskapi people live in Kawawachikamach, approximately 16 km northeast of Schefferville, and thousands of others live in settlements throughout the region.
The region's economy is based on mining (mostly iron), lumbering, aluminum production, and tourism. Côte-Nord's fourteen hydroelectric dams, notably the Manicouagan-Outardes complex, supply Hydro-Québec with over 10,500 megawatts of power.
The region of Quebec east of the Natashquan River uses Atlantic time zone of UTC -4 and does not use Daylight Saving Time. So clocks in the extreme far east of Quebec match Labrador City in the winter and Montreal in the summer.
As this region of Quebec is near the Atlantic Ocean, many storm systems can be very intense throughout the year with a lot of snow throughout the long winter. Temperatures can vary significantly throughout the day and year.
Route 138 begins at the US border with New York State (where it becomes New York State Highway 30) southwest of Montreal and runs along the St. Lawrence River to Natashquan. Highway 20 and Highway 40 are alternatives. From Quebec City, the area is about 220 km. It is also possible to reach Route 138 from Rivière-du-Loup to Bas-Saint-Laurent (accessible by Route 132) by taking the Trans-Saint-Laurent ferry linking Saint-Siméon to the Charlevoix (65 min). By taking Route 138, you will enter the region at Tadoussac. Route 138 has a marine section between Baie-Sainte-Catherine in the Charlevoix and Tadoussac to cross the Saguenay Fjord. The crossing is free for passengers and vehicles and lasts approximately 10 min. It is not necessary to book and the service is offered year round.
It is also possible to reach the region by car by taking the Camille-Marcoux ferry from Matane on the Gaspé Peninsula.
- Intercar provides service between Quebec, Havre-St-Pierre, Sept-Isles and Baie-Comeau. Mandatory reservation.
- Traverse Matane-Baie-Comeau-Godbout from Matane to Baie-Comeau
- Compagnie des basques from Trois-Pistoles to Les Escoumins (May-Oct only)
- CNM Evolution from Rimouski to Forestville (May-Sep only)
- The main airport in the region is Sept-Îles YZV IATA. It is the receives flights by Air Canada, Air Labrador, Air Liaison and PAL Airlines (Provincial Airlines), and by Air Inuit for Schefferville only.
- The Baie-Comeau Airport (YBC IATA) (10 minutes from the city) is served by Air Liaison, Air Canada Jazz and Pascan Aviation. It can be quite expensive to fly between small Quebec airports, so it is advisable to compare with other modes of transportation before booking a flight.
- Quebec Route 389 runs north from Baie-Comeau to Caniapiscau (and then into Western Labrador). This is a challenging road to drive, alternating between sections of asphalt and gravel with very few fuel or rest stops. Call 511, the provincial Road Condition Information Service.
- The Whale Route is a circuit that crosses the region for more than 300 km on the St. Lawrence coast between Tadoussac and Baie-Trinité. Cruises are organized to observe marine mammals including blue whales, belugas and other whales. There are 13 different species of whales in the Estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is possible to observe them by sea kayaking or even from observation sites on the bank. In addition, there are seals all along the coast. Marine mammals mainly frequent the region from May to October.
The Duplessis region is known for wildlife viewing. It includes impressive caribou herds that are particularly admirable in winter when they migrate to the Fermont area. Anticosti Island is home to more than 120,000 white-tailed deer. Whales, dolphins and seals can be seen in the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Bird watchers will enjoy its nine migratory bird sanctuaries. On the coast, penguins, black guillemots, and common murres nest in colonies, while bald eagles can be seen on Anticosti Island.
Airplane tours are offered by the company Labrador Air Safari which allows to observe the panoramas of the North Shore and the Lower North Shore from Sept-Îles, Baie-Comeau and Havre-Saint-Pierre in Otter, Beaver or Cessna type aircraft.
The area is known for outdoor activities and ecotourism.
The region is a recognized destination for kitesurf and snowkiting enthusiasts. In winter, it is a paradise for snowmobilers because it includes a network of trails of more than 2,000 km, including the "White Road" along the coast and in the hinterland. Other winter activities in the area include downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing, ice fishing and dog sledding. Other seasons also offer a wide range of walks and excursions by car, coach, bike or boat, such as the Whale Route or the scenic route of Chicoutai, to discover the beauties and variety of regional landscapes.
Sea excursions, cruises or kayaks, are obviously a must to enjoy the region and to watch the whales. Scuba diving enthusiasts will also be well served by the aquatic flora and fauna of the St. Lawrence River and by some wrecks.
Outfitters also offer ice fishing packages including the stay in a cottage. Several cross-country ski trails run through the region. There is also a well-signposted snowmobile trail network that includes some pretty impressive bridges. In Baie-Comeau , a ski center offers 14 slopes of different levels for downhill skiing and other sliding sports.
At this height, the St. Lawrence River forms a real sea and several sandy beaches are present to enjoy and swim. It is recommended to learn about the tides before venturing along the river to avoid unpleasant or dangerous surprises.
The Manicouagan includes several hiking trails such as the Pointe Saint-Gilles in Baie-Comeau which has sculptures and interpretive panels along its route. It is also possible to go on horseback or by bike. The Monts Groulx is a good destination for trekking and wilderness lovers.
The quad (called ATV, or all-terrain vehicle, in Quebec) is a popular activity in the region. A well-marked network of trails allows you to discover the region and observe the landscapes of its hinterland.
Outfitters offering facilities and services for those interested in river fishing for Atlantic salmon and brook trout (locally called speckled trout), and hunting, especially for white-tailed deer and moose.
At the cultural level, the initiation to the Innu culture is an activity of perception, even of learning, interesting for those who are attracted by the human relations. Indeed, Duplessis includes seven Innu communities. The largest of them is in Sept-Îles. During the summer season, you can experience the Innu culture and way of life by visiting their cultural centres and attending their artistic events.
There are four 9- or 18-hole golf courses at Manicouagan. The Tadoussac Golf Club has a magnificent view of the Saguenay Fjord, while the Forestville Golf Club overlooks the St. Lawrence River. The other two clubs are in Baie-Comeau and Pointe-aux-Outardes.
Being on the ancestral land of the Innu, the souvenirs to bring back will be mainly Innu objects manufactured in a traditional way, and paintings by native artists. These can be found at some convenience stores, at the Innu Cultural Centres, or in the two largest Aboriginal communities: the village of Pakua Shipi (1 km north of the airport), and La Romaine (5 km south of La Romaine airport).
Maple syrup, and syrups and jams made by hand from wild berries.
Sept-Îles is the main city and the only one with a large number of shops and boutiques.
The culinary specialties of the North Shore are seafood, such as sea scallops, fish, game meat, berries and wild berries hand-processed into syrups and jams, and other products from the region. terroir. The restaurants in the area are diverse and you will find them in every city. Consult the pages of each city for more details.
Of course, the fishmongers in the region are numerous and offer fresh products from the sea. Another interesting culinary activity is a visit to a maple grove.
Accommodation offers are varied from cottages and hotels to campsites and condos at the edge of the sea. There are even more unusual offers such as a night in a house in the trees or in a lighthouse. See the cities pages for more details.
If you are looking for hostels, there is only one in the whole region and it is located in Sept-Îles .