The Québec maritime Blog

Everything You Need to Know to Plan a Trip to Bas-Saint-Laurent
  • Biking in Bas-Saint-Laurent
    Nicolas Gagnon / Tourisme Bas-Saint-Laurent

Everything You Need to Know to Plan a Trip to Bas-Saint-Laurent

Bas-Saint-Laurent is a very diverse region located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, full of picturesque coastal villages, enchanting islands, historic lighthouses and stunning vantage points—wait until you admire some of the region’s breathtaking sunsets! Take the time to explore the high country, in the interior, where you’ll be charmed by rural and forest scenery.

How to get there

If you’re coming from Québec City or Montréal, follow Route 132 along the south shore of the St. Lawrence, which is known as the Navigators’ Route from La Pocatière to Sainte-Luce, a picturesque village about 20 km (12 mi.) east of Rimouski. Be sure to stop at the many cultural, culinary and maritime attractions that dot this road or even spend a few days in one of the numerous must-see sites along the way, where you can soak up exceptional views and enjoy a variety of activities.

If you’re travelling from the Maritimes, follow the Border Route along Route 289, which runs along the border with New Brunswick and Maine from Saint-Jean-de-la-Lande to Saint-André-de-Kamouraska. To guide you, Morris columns in the shape of boundary monuments are located in each municipality along this road. Don’t miss this opportunity to discover the rich history and many attractions found in these communities.

Motorcyclists will be interested to know that Route 289 is part of a popular motorcycle touring route called the Border Route and Lakes, which can be combined with another similar route, Tidal Dykes and Plateaus.

The region is also a favourite cycling destination. The Petit Témis Interprovincial Linear Park, which consists of 134 km (83 mi.) of gravel trails reserved for cyclists and hikers, runs along an old railroad bed from Rivière-du-Loup to Edmundston, New Brunswick. It’s perfect for cycle touring since campgrounds are located at regular intervals along the way.

Nature’s playground

Bas-Saint-Laurent offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. If you’re looking for a multi-activity stay, Domaine Valga offers a network of hiking, cycling and ATV trails, as well as treetop trekking in the “Forêt de Maître Corbeau” aerial adventure park—a thrilling experience for visitors of all ages. Lodging is also available on site.

If you enjoy hiking, cycling, sea kayaking or outdoor activities in general, you’ll be charmed by Parc national du Bic. Come and explore the park’s coves, islands and shoreline, on land or at sea. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll likely spot harbour seals poking their heads out of the water or sunning themselves on the rocks.

Did you know that one of the largest lakes south of the St. Lawrence is found in Bas-Saint-Laurent? Lake Témiscouata has an area of nearly 70 km2 (30 sq. mi.) and almost half of its banks are within Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata, which protects a representative sample of the natural region of the Notre-Dame Mountains. This is an ideal spot for canoeing and hiking as well as nature observation. The potential of this area was recognized as long ago as the late 1920s by conservationist Grey Owl, who lived there for three years.

Still inland, in the high country near Saint-Narcisse-de-Rimouski, test your mettle on the “Descent to Hell,” a 300-step staircase that will take you down to the Rimouski River between steep and narrow rock walls up to 90 metres (295 feet) high at the Canyon des Portes de l’Enfer (Hell’s Gate Canyon). You can also admire this impressive canyon from the highest suspension footbridge in Québec, which is 63 metres (205 feet) long.

For another type of stunning natural sight, soak up the scenery in the Kamouraska area at the SEBKA riverside park. Whether you go sea kayaking on the majestic St. Lawrence or rock climbing on the Saint-André cliffs, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views in this park.

Would you like to see some of the beautiful sunsets this region is famous for? Visit Parc de la Pointe, in Rivière-du-Loup, another enchanting spot along the banks of the St. Lawrence. The park offers a walking/bike trail, lookouts and more. Another option for front-row seats is to stay on an island. Departing from Rivière-du-Loup, you can spend the night in a tent or cottage on Île aux Lièvres (Hare Island), which is owned by Société Duvetnor. You may even wake up to the sound of the whales! You can also enjoy an escapade on Saint-Barnabé Island, where you can camp in complete tranquility after savouring a delicious meal outdoors and admiring the sunset, a perfect end to a day of hiking on this island.

Regional culture and heritage

History, heritage and cultural activities await you in Bas-Saint-Laurent!

Are you interested in maritime heritage? If so, you’ll want to visit the Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site, where you can climb to the top of one of the tallest lighthouse in Canada, built in 1909. After admiring the view, head back down to tour the Onondaga submarine, and find out about the daily lives of the crew members who lived for months at a time in this 90-metre (300-foot) vessel. End your visit at the Empress of Ireland Museum, where you can learn all about the passenger ship of the same name, from its construction in 1906 to its sinking off Pointe-au-Père in 1914, which killed 1012 people in one of the worst maritime disasters of the early 20th century.

If you’re a history buff and would like to learn more about the border conflict between Canada and the United States in 1839, visit Fort Ingall in the Témiscouata area. An authentic reconstruction of a British fort awaits you here, along with exhibitions, the firing of the Noon Gun and musket-firing demonstrations!

Home to many high-quality theatres and other venues, Bas-Saint-Laurent also regularly hosts cultural events, festivals and other celebrations, including Les Grandes Fêtes TELUS, the “Concerts aux Îles du Bic” Chamber Music Festival and the Rimouski Festi Jazz International, all of which take place in the Rimouski area. Join in the festivities and discover the region’s dynamic cultural scene!

Local artisans: A feast for your eyes and taste buds

The artisans of Bas-Saint-Laurent are constantly creating new and unique items. For example, one of the region’s many maple syrup producers, Domaine Vallier Robert, in Auclair, in the Témiscouata area, makes various alcoholic maple beverages. Be sure to stop in for a visit and try out their wines and fine liqueurs as well as a wide range of other maple syrup products. You can also visit their maple syrup economuseum, where you can learn all about this typical Québec product.

If you have a taste for fine food as well as a sweet tooth, you’ll be delighted by the selection of chocolates, caramels, spreads, sweets and other delicious treats available at La Fée Gourmande in Kamouraska, not to mention the pastries, artisanal chocolates, breads and sweets available at Pâtisseries & Gourmandises d’Olivier in Rimouski. If you enjoy sampling local craft beers on your travels, you’ll want to stop in at the Tête d’Allumette microbrewery in Saint-André-de-Kamouraska as well as at the Microbrasserie de la Madawaska in Dégelis. If you’re more interested in spirits, be sure to visit the Distillerie du St. Laurent in Rimouski.

Foodies will be in heaven in Bas-Saint-Laurent since local ingredients are featured on the menus found in many of the region’s renowned restaurants and dining rooms, including Côté Est in Kamouraska, Auberge du Mange Grenouille in Le Bic, Auberge du Chemin Faisant in Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac and the April bistro in Auberge sur Mer in Notre-Dame-du-Portage.

Where to stay in Bas-Saint-Laurent

As with everything else, Bas-Saint-Laurent offers a wide variety of lodging options: hotels, inns, camping options (including glamping) in national parks or on uninhabited islands, cottages of all kinds, B&Bs, lightkeeper’s houses, yurts and more. Whatever your budget or expectations, you’ll find what you need, whether you’re primarily looking for comfort or adventure. Consult our directory to find out more.

Whatever your tastes and interests, you’re sure to enjoy an amazing vacation in Bas-Saint-Laurent! Visit our webpage for the region and start planning your trip today.

Author Jean-Pascal Côté

A certified translator and avid outdoorsman, Jean-Pascal Côté works as a freelance writer and translator in Bas-Saint-Laurent, the region where he was born. He regularly escapes his daily life by going road biking, cycle touring or cyclocross racing, skiing in the mountains of Bas-Saint-Laurent or Western Canada, or sea kayaking on the St. Lawrence River. He is constantly dreaming up new travel plans. He also blogs (on an admittedly irregular basis) about his cycle touring adventures.

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