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Gourmet Trail Featuring the Local Flavours of the Îles de la Madeleine
  • Site de la Côte, Îles de la Madeleine
    Mathieu Dupuis

Gourmet Trail Featuring the Local Flavours of the Îles de la Madeleine

An enchanting archipelago in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Îles de la Madeleine captivate all who set foot in this region. These islands buffeted by the wind offer many opportunities to connect deeply with nature in a place where time seems to stretch forever between each magnificent sunrise and sunset. Exploring this unique region also means immersing yourself in culinary adventures that feature local delicacies from the land and sea.

The Islands are accessible by plane or by car (via a ferry departing from Souris, Prince Edward Island). Once you arrive in this region, we recommend you pick a central home base and then explore the archipelago on day trips rather than via a traditional road trip. By following the main road, Route 199, you can go from island to island, making a multitude of foodie discoveries along the way.

Are you ready? Your starting point is Cap aux Meules Island. And be sure to bring a cooler with you—it’ll come in very handy along the way!

Cap aux Meules Island

Start your gastronomic adventure by stopping at Le Marché du Village, a farmers market held in Place des Gens de Mer at the heart of Cap-aux-Meules. Enjoy the festive and lively happy-hour atmosphere of this market, along with live music, every second Wednesday from early July to early October.

Just around the corner, you can stop next at Boucherie Côte à Côte, a butcher shop and gourmet food store. You’ll find lots of things to fill your cooler here, including delicious takeout dishes. Their friendly staff are proud to offer you personalized service and will be more than happy to introduce you to seal meat. Expect to be surprised by the variety of options available to you here, including sausages, merguez, jerky, terrines and egg rolls, all made with seal meat!

For a meal where finesse and simplicity combine with the rich flavours of the land and sea, head to Quai No 360, a restaurant offering market cuisine. Depending on the season, your options may include dishes made with lobster, scallops, snow crab, seal meat, fish or lamb from the Islands, all creatively and expertly prepared by the chef. Early reservations are highly recommended!

Continue your gastronomic journey by heading to the west side of the island, in L’Étang-du-Nord, where you’ll find the charming Gourmande de Nature bistro and boutique. Whether you stop for lunch or dinner, this friendly little restaurant will delight you with a menu infused with fresh ingredients and local flavours. The establishment also offers takeout dishes and a variety of artisanal products, including salt flavoured with sea parsley and lemon, chanterelles or herbs as well as jams and coulis. A visit to Gourmande de Nature is guaranteed to be a memorable foodie experience!

Another place not to miss in L’Étang-du-Nord is À l’Abri de la Tempête, a popular microbrewery and brewpub overlooking Dune de l’Ouest. The reputation of this company rests on the hard work of two women who are passionate about making unique beers that showcase ingredients from the Islands, such as Corne de Glace, an exceptional ice beer.

Havre Aubert Island

Your next destination is further south, in Bassin on Havre Aubert Island, where you’ll make three stops. First, visit the Fromagerie Les Biquettes à l’Air, the only goat farm on the Islands. Take advantage of this exclusive opportunity to taste their fresh goat cheeses, which are only available locally. These exceptional farmhouse products have unique and delicate flavours: you’ll want to try both the plain and flavoured options!

Next, explore another unique feature of the Îles de la Madeleine, Le Verger Poméloi, the only orchard on the Islands, which produces ciders and elixirs. Discover their products in tasty cocktails, some of which are made with crab apple syrup, along with delicious appetizers. You can also go on a tour of the facilities, during which you’ll discover how they get a whole apple in each bottle of La Poméloi, a cider fortified with brandy.

If you have a craving for seafood pizza, your last stop in Bassin should be at Le Millerand, a charming and creative eatery that serves very fresh seafood. Some say they make the best seafood pizza in the world!

Before you leave this island, head to La Grave in Havre-Aubert for another foodie experience, this time at Effet Mer. This chic canteen with a seaside atmosphere is known for making the best lobster guédilles (lobster rolls) in the region as well as tasty fish and chips.

Next, head north towards Havre aux Maisons Island, making a couple of stops in Fatima (back on Cap aux Meules Island) along the way. First, stop to visit the L’Anse aux Herbes herbal boutique, where you’ll discover flavoured cooking oils, including one made with lobster and another with sea parsley. You can also purchase various seasonings and herbal teas here. Then, make a slight detour to stop at Les Glaces de l’Anse, a dairy bar that offers a wide variety of artisanal frozen delights, a delicious indulgence that’s a must on a gourmet tour!

Havre aux Maisons Island

In Havre-aux-Maisons, stop to visit the Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent cheese economuseum. A pioneer in Québec, this company produces cheeses made with the milk of Canadienne cows (the only breed of dairy cattle developed in Canada), which are fed exclusively on fodder from the Islands. This gives their cheeses a truly authentic local flavour.

Another fascinating economuseum to explore in Havre-aux-Maisons is the Le Fumoir d’Antan smokehouse, where the traditional art of smoking herring has been passed down from generation to generation. However, the expertise of the Arseneau brothers doesn’t stop there! They also make a whole range of other smoked and marinated fish and seafood products. Be sure to book your tour online so you can admire the breathtaking sight of thousands of fish suspended for smoking.

If you’re an oyster or mussel lover, you’ll want to visit the Les Cultures du Large sea farm, also in Havre-aux-Maisons. Their Trésor du Large oysters are simply exquisite, with their fleshy consistency and distinct taste of the sea. Cultivated in the cold waters of the gulf (as are the mussels), these products are of exceptional quality. The farm is also an interpretation centre offering immersive videos, sea excursions and tasting sessions, so you can learn all about aquaculture.

Where there’s seawater, there’s salt… So this is your opportunity to discover Alcyon, a high-quality local sea salt that adds a unique dimension to the culinary identity of the Îles de la Madeleine. This salt is produced using a meticulously controlled, preservative-free manufacturing process, ensuring the purity of these delicately textured crystals. Alcyon also offers a variety of sea salts with innovative flavours such as vegetable, spicy maple, floral mint and more. You’ll want to buy the whole collection to take home with you!

Next, discover some sweet products at Miel en Mer, a honey farm located in a charming site by the sea. The farm offers exceptional honey thanks to the many wildflowers found on the archipelago and the absence of pesticides.

End your tour of Havre-aux-Maisons by stopping at the Le Barbocheux winery, which is famous for making bagosse. Often called the “beer of the Islands,” this drink is actually a traditional home-brewed fruit wine that would have been made by every family on the Islands in the old days. You have two different kinds to choose from: one made with strawberries and raspberries, and the other made with cranberries and dandelion flowers.

Grande Entrée Island

There’s one last stop on this gourmet tour, on Grande Entrée Island, which is Québec’s lobster capital. Every spring, over 100 lobster boats set out to sea to harvest these precious crustaceans. One place you can savour the famous Island lobster is at Auberge La Salicorne in Grande-Entrée, which offers an all-inclusive vacation package that also includes various activities and excursions at sea.

You’ve now come to the end of your gourmet tour of the Îles de la Madeleine. Of course, you’ll encounter many other foodie options along the way and can also enjoy meals in the various dining rooms and restaurants found in lodging establishments, such as the Accents resto bistro at Château Madelinot or the gourmet bistro in Domaine du Vieux Couvent. Be open to the unexpected as you explore the Islands—these are the kinds of stops that will enrich your culinary adventures. Enjoy your discoveries!

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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