Îles de la Madeleine

Enjoy a complete change of scenery and fall for the Islanders’ way of life

Located in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, this green archipelago surrounded by white-sand beaches and red cliffs exerts a magnetic attraction on visitors. Renowned for their warm hospitality, the Islanders are also talented chefs, artists and artisans. During your stay, enjoy exquisite seafood, wind sports, sea excursions, visits to local art galleries and studios, hikes and more.

Whether you visit to enjoy the water and wind or to explore the rich culture of an island people surrounded by the sea, you will leave with wonderful memories and only one thought in mind: to come back for another visit! Furthermore, National Geographic Traveler has recognized the Îles de la Madeleine by including the region in their list of Canada’s 50 Places of a Lifetime.

The Îles de la Madeleine are made up of seven inhabited islands, six of which are linked by the main road. The seventh, Entry Island, is only accessible by boat. The total population of the Islands is under 15,000, most of Acadian origin. About 5% are English-speaking, mainly of Scottish origin. The Islands are in the Atlantic Time Zone, which means they are an hour ahead of mainland Québec.

From mid-June to late September, a CTMA cruise can take you to the Islands from Montréal every week; a ferry also runs from Prince Edward Island year-round. Flights to the Îles de la Madeleine are available at any time of year. The Islands are particularly suited to longer stays and are best explored during a series of day trips from a home base.


Enjoy the sea and the wind

Although the Îles de la Madeleine are famous for the baby seals born every March on the ice surrounding the Islands, most visitors enjoy this corner of paradise in the summer months when the water is ideal for swimming, with water temperatures reaching over 20ºC (68ºF) in mid-August. While the miles of fine-sand beaches are perfect for sunning or strolling, the rolling hills dotted with colourful houses will inspire you to go for a hike and admire sweeping panoramic views of the archipelago.

Sculpted by the wind and sea, the Islands’ red cliffs are riddled with caves, natural arches and mysterious nooks and crannies. Accompanied by an experienced guide, explore them by sea kayak or in a wetsuit. Sea excursions also offer the opportunity to watch seals or visit Brion Island or Rocher-aux-Oiseaux (Bird Rock), both of which provide refuge for hundreds of species of seabirds every year.

On the Islands, the wind, like the sea, is an integral part of many recreational activities. Various companies introduce visitors to the joys of kitesurfing and other wind sports in complete safety.


A rich culture

Arts and cultural activities are particularly important in the Îles de la Madeleine. The Islands’ many art studios, galleries and boutiques provide a window into the region’s artistic traditions. Several are found at the La Grave historical site, a former cod-salting station that is now a must-see tourist attraction.

The Islands also offer fine regional cuisine, beginning with superb seafood such as fresh Island lobster, which is available from May onward. Pied-de-Vent cheese, traditional smoked herring and craft beers from the À l’Abri de la Tempête microbrewery are some of the other gourmet delicacies on offer. To get a taste of all the flavours of the region, look for products labelled Le bon goût frais des Îles de la Madeleine, a true indicator of authenticity and freshness.

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