The Québec maritime Blog
Milder temperatures and insular tranquility make for a pleasant fall in the Îles de la Madeleine. A trip to the Islands at this time of year means you can enjoy local attractions without the summer bustle. It’s a perfect time to meet the locals and explore the archipelago at your own pace.
Adventures in nature
Fall in the Îles de la Madeleine is all about slowing down. Whether you explore the Islands on foot, by bike or in a sea kayak, you’ll practically have the place to yourself!
Discover the many facets of the Islands along a network of nearly 235 km (145 mi.) of trails that will take you from one end of the archipelago to the other. The Sentiers entre Vents et Marées trail network, which offers 13 sections to explore, will lead you to beautiful areas in various villages on the Islands, each offering superb views. This is a wonderful way to explore the region along natural and groomed trails, back roads and long stretches of beach, all of which will take you through stunning landscapes enhanced by the magical fall light.
The light in the fall has a particular quality that makes the red sandstone cliffs found throughout the archipelago more dazzling than ever as they contrast even more with the intense blue of the sea crowned with whitecaps. A stroll along the water’s edge on any of the islands’ magnificent beaches is sure to be invigorating. Firstly, because you’re very likely to have these sandy stretches all to yourself, but also because the sun’s rays give them a golden glow. The same goes for the tidal flats, where the tall grasses turn golden as early as September. Dune du Sud in Havre-aux-Maisons, Sandy Hook Beach near La Grave, Anse-aux-Baleiniers in Fatima… with 300 km (190 mi.) of beaches, the Islands offer lots of amazing spots to discover!
To admire how the fall transforms the archipelago from another vantage point, climb to the top of some of the many hills that shape the Islands. For example, Butte des Demoiselles offers a unique view of Entry Island and the La Grave heritage site. But in truth, every hill in the archipelago leads to beautiful panoramic views, and they all have stories to tell. The sunsets at this time of year are also spectacular. A great spot to watch them is from the Borgot Lighthouse in L’Étang-du-Nord, where the show goes on for long minutes…
The crisp fall wind also has its advantages. While many cyclists consider wind the enemy, one way to enjoy the fresh air while cycling on island roads or beaches is to rent an electric fatbike. Kitesurfing enthusiasts will also appreciate the wind as they try out this sport in the Islands’ shallow lagoons.
Fall is a great time to go bird watching in the Îles de la Madeleine since many species of migratory birds take refuge on the Islands at this time of year. The abundance of water and food makes the archipelago a choice stopover for birds that feed and rest here before continuing their migration southward. From the barachois in Fatima to the beach in Havre-Aubert, you can observe lots of shorebirds as well as seabirds, forest birds and even birds of prey. Peregrine falcons, common eiders, bald eagles and northern gannets have all been spotted in this region.
Seals love to bask in the sun along the coast, so the best way to see them is to take part in a sea excursion. These marine mammals are found on the Islands year-round due to the moderate temperatures of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. You can also observe grey and harbour seals in their natural environments from land. It’s not uncommon to see them along the shore as well as on sandbanks and rocky islets, such as at the end of the Dune du Sud Beach as well as on Grande Échouerie (Old Harry) Beach on Grosse-Île.
Once the peak tourist season is over, fall is a great time to get to know the Islanders, who love chatting with visitors—and will have more time to do so at this time of year! For example, you can meet local artisans by visiting a cheese factory or smokehouse and learn more about the archipelago’s culinary specialties. Note also that some fishing still goes on at this time of the year, including for mackerel and Atlantic halibut.
To immerse yourself in the daily lives of fishers and mariculturists, go on a sea excursion with Les Cultures du Large. This is a golden opportunity to learn more about the cultivation of mussels and oysters on the open sea as well taste delicious products!
Fall is also apple season, which means it’s apple cider season too. The Verger Poméloi apple orchard produces several alcoholic apple ciders, including their famous La Poméloi, a fortified cider with an apple in the bottle. The month of October is also berry picking time on the Islands. Many locals harvest wild cranberries, which grow in large numbers in the wetland meadows near the dunes. Why not join them in this activity or at least try these berries once they’re made into jam?
Are you ready to slow down and enjoy the pace of the Îles de la Madeleine this fall?