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Why Visit the Îles de la Madeleine Early in the Season
  • Petite Baie, Îles de la Madeleine
    Jonathan Gaudreau/Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine

Why Visit the Îles de la Madeleine Early in the Season

Have you been dreaming of visiting the Îles de la Madeleine one day? So far and yet so close at the same time, these magical islands are unique in every way, not least because of their spectacular scenery. In this blog post, I’m inviting you to discover this archipelago in the soft spring light of May and June, a time of year that offers many opportunities for authentic experiences.

Seafood and celebrations

A visit to the Îles de la Madeleine early in the season is your moment to commune with the soul of this unique place. Located in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Islands burst into life in early May when celebrations occur on wharves throughout the archipelago to mark the beginning of lobster season, the backbone of the Islands’ economy and a tradition deeply rooted in the hearts of the locals. In the eastern part of the Islands, the fishing port in Grande-Entrée, Québec’s lobster capital, is at the centre of the festivities. In the early hours of the morning on the day the boats first set off to sea, bundled-up residents and visitors of all ages will gather on the wharf to present the fishers with the Islands’ famous galettes (a type of biscuit) and witness the departure of the boats while wishing them safe travels and abundant catches. Watching the boats set off in the dark to launch their lobster traps into the depths of the sea is an emotionally charged and much anticipated moment preceded by friendly gatherings and various celebrations.

Have you ever tasted Island lobster fresh from the sea? Auberge La Salicorne, another main hub of activity at this time of year, offers a Lobster & Company package during the lobster season that includes lodging, activities and meals, for the complete experience. It goes without saying that visiting the Islands during the fishing season (from early May to early July) is a golden opportunity to enjoy seafood of all kinds at its freshest. And at this time of year, there’s no shortage of restaurants and dining rooms featuring freshly caught fish and seafood, including the Accents resto bistro, the Domaine du Vieux Couvent dining room and Gourmande de Nature. All are great places to enjoy tasty dining experiences as a couple, with your family or with friends.

To top it all off, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Pointe-Basse to breathe in the mouth-watering aroma of artisan-smoked herring at the Fumoir d’Antan and to treat yourself to some of the excellent products made by this smokehouse.

Finally, if you’d like to try your hand at fishing, various local companies offer sea fishing excursions at this time of year.

Where time is not measured by clocks but by moments…

The excitement of the early days of the lobster season will soon give way to a slower rhythm of life that’s more conducive to meeting the locals. So long as you don’t bother the fishers at work, you can stroll along the wharves as the boats return and watch them unload their catches—a unique sight! Throughout the Islands, you’ll be as warmly welcomed as the spring weather, and you’ll find no shortage of opportunities to chat with the locals. Take advantage of this less busy time of year to meet the many artists and artisans who live on the Islands by visiting their studios, workshops and boutiques. They’ll be delighted to talk to you about their work.

Playing in the water and wind

Water is an integral part of life on the Islands and offers a constant invitation to discovery and navigation. Even in the spring, you ask? Don’t worry: these days, outdoor gear is adapted to all seasons, which means you can play outside year-round. Wetsuits, booties, hoods and gloves… trust the professionals to provide you with the equipment you need!

Whether accompanied by a guide or not, at sunrise, sunset or some other time of the day, you’ll find many options for adventure at Cindyhook Sports Aventures. If you’re looking to make the most of the wind on the Islands, you can try out kitesurfing, windsurfing or wing foiling, a new sport that’s growing in popularity. All these activities can be safely enjoyed in the archipelago’s many lagoons.

The Islands’ very own Camino

At the end of the winter, when the days are getting longer and life is starting to blossom again, what a joy it is to lace up your hiking boots and take advantage of this surge of energy to go for a hike with a spring in your step! The Sentiers Entre Vents et Marées trails offer you the opportunity to walk the entire length and breadth of the Islands, a way of exploring this region at your own pace while marvelling at the awakening of nature, which will soon cover the archipelago in beautiful colours. As you hike (as little or much as you like) along these trails, you’ll no doubt notice the return of many migratory birds, which make stopovers on the Islands to feed and sometimes nest. After a day of fresh air, you’ll appreciate the comfortable accommodations offered by Domaine du Vieux Couvent, Château Madelinot, Petit hôtel de la Montagne, La réCréation, Les Rochers architectural home, Blanche de l'Ouest vacation rental, Domaine des Vacanciers, Navigateur Millerand, and Motel l’Archipel, where you can recharge your batteries as you get a good night’s sleep.

We’re betting you won’t regret your decision to stay on the Islands before the high season begins! Visit our website to start planning your trip now.

Author Julie Soyez

Ah, the invigorating air that awakens you to the beauty of the landscapes! That’s what Julie Soyez loves. Originally from France, she fell in love with La Belle Province during a study trip in 2013. Since then, she explores the beaches, forests, lakes and rivers of Québec in all seasons, whether on foot, by bike or by kayak. As an adventure tourism and ecotourism guide, she loves to share her passion for nature with others and always carries a pen in her big bag!

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