The Québec maritime Blog
Tourists in search of relaxation, wide-open spaces, excitement and a change of scenery have been visiting the Gaspé Peninsula for decades. But how well do you know this timeless vacation destination? Here are 7 unusual facts about the region that may surprise you.
1. Gaspésie is home to nearly as many northern gannets as people
It’s true! Every year, about 110,000 northern gannets visit Bonaventure Island off the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula—an impressive number when you consider that only about 133,000 people live in this region! Find out more about these iconic birds from the interpreter guides in Parc national de l’Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé. For example, did you know that northern gannets eat about 550 grams (20 oz) of fish per day? This gives you an idea of the rich bounty found in their feeding grounds in the Gulf of St. Lawrence!
2. You’re likely to find flowers on your plate here
Of course you can enjoy lobster and a big poutine in Gaspésie (or even both at the same time!), but did you know that you can also eat flowers in this region? One of the best places to do so is at the Reford Gardens, an exceptional site where you can admire some 3000 species and varieties of plants. Not all flowers are edible, of course, but those that are inspire the dishes served at the Estevan Lodge and Le Bufton restaurants (the latter is located at the entrance to the gardens). You’re sure to be delighted by the chef’s innovative dishes made with the freshest local ingredients!
3. Gaspésie is considered the birthplace of Canada
As you stroll through the streets of Gaspé, remember that this village is where the explorer Jacques Cartier planted a cross in the name of the King of France in the summer of 1534, which eventually led to the colonization of New France. Cartier took refuge in Gaspé Bay during a storm, and it was there that he met the area’s first inhabitants, the St. Lawrence Iroquoians. Two places in particular allow you to discover this history: the outdoor site at the Musée de la Gaspésie, which commemorates Cartier’s arrival with an exact replica of the cross he erected, as well as the Birthplace of Canada, which is a representation of the village of Gaspé as it was in 1900.
4. Gaspésie is most famous for a rock!
Photos of Percé Rock have made their way around the world and many people dream of admiring this iconic landmark with their own eyes. It’s a fascinating natural site for many reasons! First of all, it’s a truly impressive size: 450 metres (1475 feet) wide, 90 metres (295 feet) deep and 85 metres (280 feet) high—and it weighs approximately 5 million tons! This limestone giant can be seen for miles around. You’ll also be intrigued by its famous natural arch, created by erosion from the sea. By the way, did you know that it used to have more than one hole? According to Jacques Cartier’s accounts of his travels, it once had three! Over the centuries, the face of the rock has changed. With storms and erosion, it loses about 300 tons of limestone every year! When will it become the eighth wonder of the world?
5. There’s more than one way to experience the Gaspésie Tour
This legendary tour is quite different depending on which direction you’re driving in! Although you can enter the region by taking the ferry to Matane or driving into the south side of the peninsula via New Brunswick, the official starting point of the Gaspésie Tour is the village of Sainte-Flavie. This is where you have the option of heading north or south on Route 132 and circling the peninsula in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Each of these options has its advantages! Find out more by reading the following blog post: “Which Way Should You Drive Around the Gaspé Peninsula?” Rest assured that whatever direction you choose, you’ll be dazzled by the beauty of the sea and mountain scenery!
6. Exploring the Bonaventure River is a bit like floating in the air!
A natural wonder awaits you in the Chaleur Bay area: the crystal-clear waters of the Bonaventure River will give you the impression that you’re floating in the air! Cime Aventures gives you many options to explore this amazing waterway: by canoe, kayak, tube, paddleboard or inflatable raft. You can also go snorkelling in the river. Let yourself be amazed by the natural wonders that surrounds you in this area!
7. The locals have about 20 distinctive accents
Like the rest of Québec, the official language in Gaspésie is French (though there are also several English-speaking communities in this region). However, because the Gaspé Peninsula is made up of a rich cultural mosaic, the accents of the locals change from village to village. You can hear Mi’kmaq, European French, British, Jersey Island, Scottish, Irish, Acadian and other influences in the French spoken here! And if you do speak French, we guarantee that you’ll hear a few expressions that you’ve never heard anywhere else!
Want to learn even more about this beautiful maritime region? We recommend you read the following blog post: “Gaspésie: A Dream Destination!”