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Everything You Need to Know to Plan a Trip to Côte-Nord
  • Tadoussac Bay
    Photo Plein Ciel / Tourisme Côte-Nord - Manicouagan

Everything You Need to Know to Plan a Trip to Côte-Nord

Are you starting to plan a vacation to Côte-Nord, Québec? Read on to find out everything you need to know to ensure your trip is a memorable one!

Immense, wild and fascinating, Côte-Nord (which literally means “north shore”) is made up of two tourist regions, Manicouagan and Duplessis. From Tadoussac to Blanc-Sablon and from the St. Lawrence Estuary to northern Québec, Côte-Nord will offer larger-than-life scenery throughout your trip. This is a region known for its whales, northern lights and wide-open spaces, but it’s also home to cultural and historic gems you won’t want to miss!

How to get there

To get to Côte-Nord from Québec City, take Route 138, which is also known as the Whale Route, and soak up the stunning landscapes that will unfold before your eyes.

You can also fly to Côte-Nord, to the Baie-Comeau or Sept-Îles airport and rent a car once you’ve arrived.

Finally, one of the most interesting ways to get to Côte-Nord is by ferry. If you’re travelling from Bas-Saint-Laurent or Gaspésie, four ferries can take you from these regions to Côte-Nord, a trip that can be incorporated into any of the St. Lawrence road trips.

You should also know that part of the Lower North Shore between Kegaska and Blanc-Sablon has no road access. To get there, you can board the MV Bella Desgagnés, a supply ship that stops in the remote villages of this area. The ship departs from Rimouski (in Bas-Saint-Laurent) and also stops in Sept-Îles. The crew will ensure you’re comfortable for the duration of your trip. To plan this segment of your journey, you may want to consult Voyage CoSte, a tour operator that can help you organize activities and excursions along the way.

A natural playground

The Whale Route runs along the coast of the region and offers many whale-watching opportunities. You can also learn more about cetaceans by visiting the Marine Mammal Observation Centre (CIMM) in Tadoussac, the Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre in Les Bergeronnes or the Marine Environment Discovery Centre in Les Escoumins. You can also visit the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park to see these impressive mammals up close, especially if you opt to participate in a whale-watching excursion.

For wildlife enthusiasts and bird lovers, Côte-Nord offers many observation sites. You can head out to the Sept Îles Archipelago to admire the razorbills on Corossol Island; visit Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes, which protects hundreds of species of birds; or explore the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, where you can see exotic-looking Atlantic puffins.

The vast landscapes of Côte-Nord also offer the opportunity to enjoy many outdoor activities. Sea kayakers can explore the St. Lawrence, the Saguenay Fjord and Tadoussac Bay, while hikers can discover the mysterious monoliths in the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. You can also admire the majestic Saguenay Fjord during hikes in Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay.

Side trip: Anticosti Island

To extend your stay, you may also want to go explore the flora and fauna of Anticosti Island. Sixteen times the size of the Island of Montréal, this island of a thousand treasures is home to over 115,000 white-tailed deer!

Regional culture and heritage

Côte-Nord has a unique geological history that was marked by the impact of a meteorite about 214 million years ago, which formed the Manicouagan impact crater. (The resulting reservoir can be seen from space!) Located on the edge of the Manicouagan Reservoir, the Uapishka Station offers an immersive experience in the Innu culture on a territory that has been travelled by this First Nation for thousands of years. Packages can include hiking, kayaking, interpretive activities focused on Innu heritage, lodging and more.

Further south, you’ll be impressed by the architecture of the Manic-5 dam, the largest multiple-arch-and-buttress dam in the world.

All along Route 138, you’ll have many opportunities to admire the St. Lawrence, sunrises and impressive scenery. As you travel, detour off the main road to visit the region’s many lighthouses. Proud witnesses to Côte-Nord’s maritime history, several are open to the public. To find out more, consult the Lighthouse Trail travel itinerary.

Throughout Côte-Nord, you’ll also come across many sites that will immerse you in Innu history and culture, including the Chauvin Trading Post in Tadoussac, the Old Trading Post in Sept-Îles, the Shaputuan museum in Uashat and the Innu cultural centre in Ekuanitshit.

In Natashquan, birthplace of famous Québec singer/songwriter and poet Gilles Vigneault, visit the Les Galets heritage buildings (former cod-fishing warehouses) in a stunning setting. You can also immerse yourself in Innu culture by attending the Innucadie storytelling festival.

Talented artisans

Given the region’s geography, it’s not surprising that regional specialties come from the sea or forest. Sample delicious seafood delicacies including snow crab, scallops, northern shrimp, sea urchins and Stimpson’s surf clams, along with wild berries, such as cloudberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. You’ll also want to try Labrador tea, which First Nations people drink as herbal medicine to treat ailments such as rheumatism or headaches.

During your stay, you may also have the opportunity to meet local artisans. Inspired by the natural world that surrounds them, by Innu traditions and/or by the materials they use, they’ll be happy to share their passion for their work with you. Studios, workshops, boutiques and art galleries will open their doors to introduce you to the region’s many talented artisans. Expect to be surprised!

Where to stay in Côte-Nord

Côte-Nord offers accommodations for all tastes and budgets, including hotels, inns, campgrounds and more. If you’re looking for a unique experience, be sure to stay at Canopée Lit, where you can sleep in a treetop cabin or bubble! Another possibility is the Ferme 5 Étoiles, where you can fall asleep to the sounds of the wolves in your yurt or teepee. You can also spend the night in a giant birdhouse at Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes! Consult our directory for more options.

Further adventures

Home to vast landscapes, rich flora and fauna, and friendly people, Côte-Nord is truly an enchanting destination. By the end of your trip, if you’re not quite ready to head home, you can continue your adventures in Labrador, which will requires more planning.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your vacation in Côte-Nord today!

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