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Gourmet Trail Featuring the Local Flavours of Côte-Nord
  • Havre-Saint-Pierre
    Éric Marchand

Gourmet Trail Featuring the Local Flavours of Côte-Nord

Côte-Nord is a region full of charm, where natural beauty and gourmet pleasures combine to offer you an extraordinary road trip experience. Renowned for being home to some of the world’s largest marine mammals, Côte-Nord is also home to many impressive land-based wonders. There’s something magical about this region, which you’ll soon discover as you dip your toes into the cold waters of the Estuary or Gulf of St. Lawrence while gazing at the horizon… Once you’ve set foot here, you’ll want to come back again and again. To discover the region’s many flavours, we suggest you follow the Whale Route, a 1730-km (1075-mi.) round-trip journey along Route 138, which will take you about 13 days if you include a cruise to the Lower North Shore.

Are you ready for a gourmet road trip across this region, starting in Tadoussac? Be sure to bring a cooler with you—it’ll come in very handy along the way!

Tadoussac and Sacré-Coeur

You’ll begin your gourmet adventure by discovering Terroir Boréal in Tadoussac, a line of natural products that will give you a taste of the wild and boreal flavours of Côte-Nord. Keep an eye out for their blueberry syrup, cranberry and apple spread, and tomato and rhubarb ketchup, as well as powders made with fruit, wild mushrooms and even spruce needles!

For a total immersion in boreal flavours as well as those of the St. Lawrence, head to Chez Mathilde, a restaurant that showcases local cuisine. Each dish is crafted with passion, finesse, creativity and an explosion of flavours. It’s a gastronomic experience you won’t want to miss if you’re a foodie in search of authentic culinary adventures.

For a coffee break filled with the irresistible aromas of freshly baked goods, stop in at À l’Emportée, a friendly cooperative bakery that makes a variety of artisan breads and pastries, including croissants filled with chocolate and wild berries. They also offer sandwiches, fresh salads and other café-style items you can eat on site or take out.

Next, drive to Sacré-Coeur, which is just north of Tadoussac via Route 172, for a stop at Herbamiel, a charming artisanal honey farm, which you can discover on a guided or self-guided tour. You can also stroll through the forager’s garden, where you’ll find an abundance of bee-friendly plants. Before you leave, be sure to purchase some of their honey, such as the balsam fir honey, or the tasty forest vinaigrette, then return to Route 138 and start your drive eastward.

Les Bergeronnes

Make your first stop along the Whale Route in Les Bergeronnes at the La P’tite Cochonne artisan bakery, where you can satisfy your sweet tooth with a crispy bread pudding or a decadent chocolate brioche or maple chocolate brioche with candied lemon pieces. You’ll also find tasty breads and a variety of regional products here to enjoy along your drive.

Baie-Comeau area

Drive east along the coast for another 150 km (95 mi.) or so to Chute-aux-Outardes for a stop at the Québec North Shore Distillery, where you can discover their VOLKÂ vodka as well as Amy, an amaretto made with rowan berries handpicked after the first frost, which has a tart flavour reminiscent of cherries.

Next, stop in Pointe-Lebel to visit Ferme Manicouagan, a farm specializing in haskap berries. This is your opportunity to discover this sweet-tart berry in sauces and spices that are ideal for barbecuing. If you’re visiting during the pick-your-own season, you can enjoy these berries fresh! We bet they won’t last very long!

Continue on to Baie-Comeau and stop at the St-Pancrace microbrewery, a popular spot among the locals. The brewers, in collaboration with local pickers and producers, have created a magnificent range of beers inspired by the region’s flora, history and culture. Don’t miss this opportunity to try the unique Crâââbe, a bitter flavoured with crab shells!

Port-Cartier and Sept-Îles

Your next destination is Port-Cartier, another 170 km (105 mi.) further east, where you’ll want to stop in at Chocolaterie Cartier, the first bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Côte-Nord. While you’re there, you can learn more about the various steps involved in making chocolate, from roasting the beans to transforming them into chocolate goodies. For some other sweet treats, stop in at Ma Mie, a bakery and pastry shop just around the corner.

Continue on for another 60 km (40 mi.) to Sept-Îles for a stop at the La Compagnie microbrewery. All their beers have been given evocative names inspired by the town’s history and industrial heritage. For example, Sorensen is an American-style IPA named after a whaling captain who plied the waters of the St. Lawrence in the early 20th century, while Ouvrière (which means “worker”) is a blond ale that pays tribute to all the hard workers who built the town of Sept-Îles. When you raise your glass, you’ll also be toasting these defining moments in local history!

Before heading out to the Sept Îles Archipelago, be sure to book an unforgettable excursion to see the Purmer sea farm, where you’ll learn about the cultivation of mussels, scallops and edible seaweed at the heart of Grosse Boule Island. Nestled in a natural setting with breathtaking views of Sept-Îles Bay, this archipelago is also frequented by whales, which will add another dimension to your tasting experience!

Once back on dry land, stop at the Edgar café-bar for a bite to eat and/or visit the Poissonnerie Fortier & Frères fish market to stock up before continuing on your journey. In addition to fish and seafood, the fish market also offers various products made with cloudberries, which are emblematic of the region. Resembling raspberries but with a golden yellow colour when ripe and a rather acidic taste, these berries are showcased at the Maison de la Chicoutai (which literally means “Cloudberry House”) in Rivière-au-Tonnerre (a further 120 km, or 75 mi., east). Discover the taste of these berries in delicious coulis, jellies, jams, vinaigrettes and more. You’ll also find these products at many other points of sale throughout the region.


From Sept-Îles, you’ll drive another 200 km (125 mi.) or so further east along Route 138 to reach Havre-Saint-Pierre, where you can stop for a delicious meal at the Chez Julie restaurant. This unpretentious and friendly place offers tasty local cuisine: the pizza and seafood platter as well as the cloudberry pie are favourites. Just down the road, you can stop at the Chez Julie boutique for a wide range of local gourmet products.

Nearby, the Puyjalon distillery is another place worth visiting to discover distilled spirits that reflect the rich flavours of the Mingan Archipelago. These include Betchwan Premium Gin, which is made with a blend of 13 botanicals; Rubis Nordique, a lingonberry gin liqueur with a ruby-red hue; and Niapiskau Premium Vodka, which is made with water drawn from the depths of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This is where you can taste the nordicity of Côte-Nord flavours!


Continue your gourmet adventures by driving another 125 km (75 mi.) eastward, stopping in Aguanish to visit the Fumoir Le Goynish smokehouse and restaurant, which is well-known throughout the area for its marinated and hot- and cold-smoked salmon, as well as its rillettes. You can also enjoy a meal featuring their smoked products or take some home with you.

About 25 km (15 mi.) further east, you’ll reach Natashquan, the birthplace of Gilles Vigneault, one of Québec’s most famous poets and singer-songwriters. A visit to this village would be incomplete without a stop at the Café-Bistro l’Échouerie, where you can enjoy a drink or bite to eat in a friendly atmosphere and often listen to live music. Be sure to also go stick your toes in the sand at the beach, which is one of the most beautiful in the world!

Other gourmet discoveries await you at De baies et de sève, a company that makes a range of specialty products using locally sourced plants from the unspoiled Minganie area. This is your opportunity to purchase their signature Minganie herbal tea, rosehip berry butter or balsam fir tonic syrup, not to mention their pesto made with sea parsley!

You’ve now come to the end of your gourmet road trip along the Whale Route in Côte-Nord, though of course you get to drive all the way back to Tadoussac—which means you can stop at all the places you missed on the way here! There are plenty of other foodie stops you could make along the way, as well as fine dining options in many of the lodging establishments in Côte-Nord. This road trip is a thrilling opportunity to discover all the wonders of this region as you travel in both directions along Route 138. Have a great trip!

Author Diane Drapeau

Over the course of numerous culture and tourism projects, Diane Drapeau has developed a strong attachment to buying local and supporting culinary tourism. Curious and passionate about local flavours, she never fails to visit food artisans on her travels and always comes home with a wealth of new discoveries. This is her definition of happiness! Her delight in her finds comes from a great respect for the people who grow and make the products from our regions and an abiding love for the St. Lawrence and its bounty, which are so integral to our culinary identity.

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