The Québec maritime Blog

What to See and Do on Vacation in Rivière-du-Loup
  • Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie lighthouse
    Nicolas Gagnon

What to See and Do on Vacation in Rivière-du-Loup

A stay in Rivière-du-Loup is an opportunity to explore the St. Lawrence, breathe in fresh sea air, soak up beautiful scenery and discover our natural and cultural heritage! Only 200 km (120 mi.) east of Québec City, this town in Bas-Saint-Laurent is easily accessible via Route 185 from New Brunswick, Highway 20 or scenic Route 132, which will take you all the way to the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula. Visit Rivière-du-Loup to discover a host of natural and historic treasures!

Wildlife Observation

Whales

Did you know that the stretch of the St. Lawrence from Rivière-du-Loup to Tadoussac is considered one of the best places in the world to see whales? Set off on a Croisières AML whale-watching cruise (make sure to wear a good windbreaker!) and you can listen to the powerful blows of these amazing marine mammals to your heart’s content! Watching the whales surface and dive is guaranteed to delight visitors of all ages.

Birds

Rivière-du-Loup is a birder’s paradise throughout the year. In the winter, you might see snowy owls or great gray owls; in the spring, colonies of waxwings swarm the town’s apple trees. Large flocks of snow geese migrate in the spring and fall, honking loudly as they go. More than anything, seabirds are the stars of this area: common eiders congregate in the bays along the coast as well as in the Kiskotuk coastal park in Cacouna; common murres, razorbills and black guillemots can be spotted off Île aux Lièvres. Don’t forget your binoculars!

National Parks and Natural Sites

Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park

What is a marine park, you ask? It’s a protected area of water that preserves a specific habitat for the organisms that live there. In addition, like any park, it offers visitors the opportunity to commune with nature. The Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park protects parts of the St. Lawrence Estuary and Saguenay Fjord, which are home to belugas and other whales as well as seals and seabirds. Whether you hike along the coastal trails or set off in a Zodiac or sightseeing boat, you will see exceptional wildlife and stunning scenery in this park.

Protected islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence

The islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence off Rivière-du-Loup are still haunted by the smugglers that used their wind-sheltered bays during Prohibition. Visit Île aux Lièvres, which is 13 km (8 mi.) long, and explore its beautiful hiking trails. You can camp on the island or spend the night in a cottage or inn. You can also stay in the lighthouse on neighbouring Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie Island. At low tide, you may spot seals sunning themselves on the beach; these islands are also great places to observe thousands of seabirds. Société Duvetnor offer daily boat departures from the Rivière-du-Loup marina.

Île Verte: A separate world

In the summer, the tides determine the schedule of the ferry that links Île Verte to the mainland. It’s impossible to get lost on this island, since it only has two roads: one that will take you west to the village and the other that will take you north to the lighthouse overlooking the region of Charlevoix. More so than in many places, Mother Nature reigns supreme on this enchanting island!

Parc des Chutes: A hiker’s paradise

Located right in the middle of Rivière-du-Loup, this park features the Rivière du Loup waterfall, which is over 30 metres (100 feet) high, as well as an old power station. The views of the city and the St. Lawrence in the distance are phenomenal. A footbridge will take you to the Platin trails, which run along the river and through a heritage orchard.

Culture and Discoveries

History and treasures: A walking tour of Old Rivière-du-Loup

Built on a hillside, Rivière-du-Loup offers residents and visitors alike a front-seat view of the St. Lawrence. The beauty of this town and its carefully preserved homes testify to the residents’ attachment to their heritage. In the oldest part of town, a heritage walking trail with information panels will take you on a tour that includes the Manoir Seigneurial Fraser museum as well as several heritage homes. Learn all about the glory days of this crossroads town!

Île Verte: The oldest lighthouse on the St. Lawrence

Built in 1809, the Île Verte Lighthouse now houses an interpretation centre that recalls the daily lives of the lightkeepers, who were rendered obsolete by technological advances. Up until the 1980s, these men and their families maintained the lighthouse equipment and buildings. Nearly 100 years earlier, the lightkeepers used to light seven oil lamps to guide ships at night. For an unusual experience, spend the night in the lightkeeper’s or assistant lightkeeper’s house!

With so much to see and do, Rivière-du-Loup is a vacation destination you must visit at least once in your lifetime!

Author Nathalie Le Coz

Nathalie Le Coz has been hiking and canoeing throughout Québec with boundless curiosity and enthusiasm for over 20 years. Her training in anthropology has shaped her view of the world, her reading of old texts and her interest in people and their ways of life. She has worked in museums as well as in the fields of arts and crafts, history and archeology. Since 2007, she has published three books about Québec’s rich natural and cultural heritage.

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