It had been 9 years since we were last in Percé, so we wanted to spend one night there for another chance to marvel at Rocher Percé! There was no problem finding accommodations in May, so I booked Gite du Cap Blanc just on the western outskirts of the town – finding on arrival that we had been upgraded to an entire suite of living room, shower/toilet and bathroom at no extra charge (2nd and 3rd photos)!
This was the fanciest of the places we stayed on this trip and also the most expensive at C$82 including taxes (US$75). Once again we enjoyed conversing with our hosts as well as comparing notes with an elderly couple from Switzerland. Breakfast was excellent as usual, especially the starter of fresh banana slices covered with home-made yoghurt and topped with grapes, raspberries, blackberries and muesli (4th photo)! We were offered the usual gourmet fare, but were anxious to get moving on the long drive home (plus a one hour time zone loss), so were very happy with our juice, scrambled eggs, sausages, toast, coffee and various other small treats (5th photo)! The Swiss couple joined us for some farewells as we were nearing the end of our accelerated breakfast.
We had never been to Forillon National Park before and there appeared to be good hiking possibilities, so I arranged for two nights accommodations at Gite Blanchette specifically because it is surrounded by the park, enabling us to do our exploring with a minimum of driving. The elderly owners are very friendly long-time residents and have French and Channel Island roots dating back to the early settlers in this area, so we had a lot of interesting talks during our stay. The community is named Cap-aux-Os (meaning 'Cape of Bones') because of the great piles of whale bones along its shore when the first explorers arrived in the area.
Early in the season as it was, we were their only guests and had some interesting chats about their history, including the fact that one of the ‘historic homesteads’ in the National Park had been expropriated from their grandfather/father relatives (there are photos of it in my 'Things to Do' tips). We had our choice of bedrooms, so selected the one shown in the 2nd photo and we also had use of the nextdoor bathroom.
The meals (3rd photo) were of the usual high-quality one experiences in Quebec accommodations and we even had some home-made ‘johnny cake’ to sample! They mentioned that they often see whales off-shore from their rear deck and also black bears frequent their grounds, but have never caused them any problems! Gite Blancette accepts cash only, and we paid C$60 (US$55) per night for our stay.
We enjoyed relaxing at the rear of Gite Monts & Mer after a successful first full day exploring the Gaspe, especially with a cliffside view over the St. Lawrence River as we sat on the narrow strip of land at the back side of the B&B! The 2nd photo shows the same area, looking the other way into distant Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, including our picnic table where we had a sip of wine with some grapes and cheese while we discussed the trip to-date.
The owners of this establishment were young and very enthusiastic about their location, so we had some good talks with them, even comparing our Peterson ‘Birds of Eastern North America’ books. We had our binoculars with us, so were able to spot some interesting specimens along the coast without even moving, including a green-headed Common Merganser duck and a 34-cm (13-in) Greater Yellowlegs as it waded close inshore looking for fish. The morning we left, the owners showed us around their outside grounds and we were pleased to get a good look at the Tree Swallow in the 3rd photo. At breakfast I mentioned how I would love to one day visit the nearby rugged Anticosti Island just off this coast (it is 90th largest in the world and sandwiched between Crete [Greece] and Leyte [Philippines] in size, but with just 270 inhabitants it was formerly the largest privately-owned island in the world). I was very surprised when Christian pulled out a brochure offering an excellent deal – C$480 for 2 days/nights guided tour of this wilderness getaway, including airplane flights from Sainte-Anne-des-Monts to the islands only community of Port-Menier, very tempting! The map in my ‘General Tips’ shows a bit of Anticosti in the upper right corner.
With the weather being so ‘iffy’ when we started out and then having cancelled our reservation in Gaspesie provincial park, we did not have anything confirmed when we finally arrived on the St. Lawrence River north coast of the peninsula at the end of our 2nd day of driving. However, I had done some earlier research and called Gite Monts & Mer once we pulled into the small town of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. There was no problem this early in the season so we soon had ourselves a place to spend the night.
As the name suggests, this B&B is located on the narrow strip of land between the mountains and the sea, with a sharp drop to the shore behind the B&B shown in this view. The 2nd photo shows our bed with a door leading into a small attached toilet with shower and sink. Our hosts Andree and Christian served up a delicious breakfast in the morning (3rd photo) after asking us what we would like to have. I decided on some ham with mustard, fried eggs, crispy fried potatoe slices, toast, orange & grapefruit slices and coffee – very tasty!
Gite Monts & Mer accepts Visa credit cards but their machine was broken, so I paid C$70 cash (US$65) for our stay.
Gite du Mont-Albert, opened in 1950, is actually a 4-star hotel standing alone in the central Chic Choc Mountains and serves as the hub for numerous winter and summer activities in the surrounding Gaspesie provincial park. These photos (the first two were taken from the highway and the 3rd is a rear view from the Pavillion du Caribou accommodations block) show various views of the main hotel and restaurant where first-class gourmet meals in the best French tradition are the order of the day!
In addition to the hotel, there are various cabins and campsites located throughout the surrounding mountains and the entire complex operates from mid-December to the end of February for winter skiing and snow-shoeing activities and late-May to late-October for summer hiking.
We had originally planned to spend a night at Gite du Mont-Albert but the advance credit card booking requires a 48-hour cancellation notice to avoid losing the C$100 automatic deposit. With our late-May trip being half-way between winter and summer, intermittent snow and rain squalls were making the weather dicey and not all facilities were fully open, so I decided to cancel our reservation. We had booked the cheapest off-season rate of C$154/night (US$142) which included the room, full breakfast for two and taxes. However, we would also have had to pay for an expensive evening meal as well since the nearest town is many kilometers distant. Instead, we made a day-hike on trails near the hotel and then continued onward to the north coast during our second day of driving.
The view from our bedroom of the white birch trees beside a small cove was great, with sliding glass doors leading out onto a covered balcony. There was no wind the next morning when we arose and, with my binoculars, I was able to watch a Great Blue Heron in the closest pond as it stalked and caught fish while an Osprey ‘fish-hawk’ also circled above waiting to dive at any likely target!
However, the owner's small dog seemed anxious to show us around shortly after our arrival, so we followed the dog down a trail through the woods and out onto a beach with scattered bits of deadwood (2nd photo). She was quite happy to lead us along while disappearing every once in a while to bark at the squirrels. Just as we returned to the cottage we spotted some pretty blue flowers at the edge of the woods (3rd photo) but it turns out they are Creeping Bellflowers, classified as an invasive weed species from Europe!
The next morning we were served a delicious breakfast of orange juice, tea, cheese omelette, slices of strawberries, apples, kiwis and peaches as well as various breads and jams. We had a very interesting chat with the owners, who said they had been doing this for 15 years with traditionally over 90% of their customers arriving from Europe (and they hinted that this might be their final year).
It was close to 3:30 PM and after five and a half hours of driving that we reached our first B&B, in New Richmond on the shore of Chaleur Bay and at the southern end of Highway 299 that cuts through the central Chic Choc Mountains. Located just outside the western edge of town in a very pretty treed estate, we immediately like the looks of Les Bouleaux and its small dog which rushed out to check us over. In addition to four bedrooms in the main house, there is also a small cottage (at left in the 2nd photo).
We were early in the season so the owners upgraded us to their very comfortable main guest bedroom (3rd photo) which had a large bathroom with tub/shower a couple of steps away down the hall. Our hosts provided us with a detailed map of New Richmond and showed us where three of the best places to eat in town were located as we sat down for a brief chat with them. I had pre-booked this accommodation a couple of days earlier via a phone call, thanks to the website below. Les Bouleaux accepts Visa credit cards or cash and we were charged C$62 (~US$57 at the present exchange rate of ~0.92) for our room plus breakfast.
We stayed one night (June 2003) at the Gite du Loup Marin bed and breakfast in Cap-Aux-Os near the town of Gaspe.
Hosts Armand and Kathleen Langlois have fully renovated their home in white pine. The B&B rooms are upstairs with a range of large or small rooms - perfect for families or singles.
The home is right on the coast of the Bay of Gaspe - sometimes whales can be seen offshore. I was up early enough to see a misty sunrise.
Loup Marin means 'seal', and Armand promised in the morning to show us a spot where seal babies like to play.
'The children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of sealpuppies danced in their heads'.
The guest bathroom was decorated with stenciled frogs - a very playful atmosphere. Armand said that the proximity to the Forillon Park often brings him rained-out campers. I can see this being the perfect place to warm up!
The sites fill up quickly here! Forillon is a popular destination (but the scenery is worth it, really!), and you had better have a reservation if you want a campsite. There was some glitch with ours, but someone canceled just in time for us to get a spot. Here's a sunset shot of an old restored chapel on the short path between our campground and the nearby pebble beach. Another couple camping closer to the beach said they could hear gatherings of seals on the beach in the early morning hours.
There are also tons of cabins available for rent in the area around the park for lodging.
Laundry, sloppy food, a pool, etc are all available within the park. While there were a lot of people there, the trails were relatively empty, the park was clean, and we visited at the height of summer. If you take the time to hike/bike to the park's boundaries, you will be rewarded.
The moon was only a prelude to a fantastic display of the northern lights. Swirls of ghostly white covered most of the sky, at their peak moving too quickly to follow by eye. They started around 10 pm, and we watched for an hour before sleep dragged us down (we had hiked 26 km that day!) A truly wonderful start to our trip through Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and this park remained a highlight of the trip three weeks later at its conclusion.
Only 21 spots, extremely clean heated bathroom with showers. 42 km down dirt road from park center, which was only a little dicey in a downpour on our way in.
We didnt stay here, but camped elsewhere in the park. A nice view of the hotel, though, from the trail ascending Mont Albert. The pool is open for use by campers, too. The hotel is open year round, as the park trails are open for cross country skiing.
There isnt much else in the area in terms of indoor accomodations, camping is the way to go!
For being where it is, it has a decent quality. Although bohemic it does what it suppose to do. You get roof over your head.
The bedrooms are good and the people are nice and polite, and always interesting to talk to and see what they have done the last couple of days.
The cooking facilities left things to wish for, and its not really a supermarket around the corner anyway (Although there is a small store just 5 min walk 'south'). It does the trick - since there isnt to many restaurants around here either.
They have private room, but a Dorm costs around 20 dollars. An OK price for keeping you warm over night, if you want privacy or feel the need for luxury - this is not the place to be however.
All ages stay here, and it is a good place to get further info about other tours etc.
People to talk to about the area, and learn from their adventures.
Own cooking facilities, although not the best equiptment and stoves. You might have to wait for the working pots and facilities.
It's cheap and warm.
The Gîte du Mont-Albert is probably the only 4-star hotel on the Gaspé peninsula. It is right in the middle of the Parc National de la Gaspésie and is owned by Sépaq (the national park authority in Québec), and has access to trails and views to Mont-Albert.
There's also a pool and a gourmet dining room; one caveat: the room charges include meals, which are not cheap. On the other hand, if you're going to venture all the way out to the middle of the Gaspésie, you're not going to find anything else - so enjoy and take comfort in the fact that the rest of the area is cheap.
Don't let the name fool you- most lodging in Percé and much of coastal Gaspé are either motels or small inns.
When you pull in, you won't notice anything special; the look is the same all along the coastal route. When you enter the room, again, no-frills and back-to-basics. The special touch: every room has a deck with a water view looking right out onto the rock and the Ile Bonaventure.
The highlight of my stay: seeing a brilliant show of the Northern Lights from the deck.
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