If one will search for a certain destination, we can call it planning, but if one will find a casual pamphlet about a destination, we might call it destiny.
This is the circumstance I have turned my fate to these places when I found this piece of paper with nice pictures and a seductive title: “Route des baleines”. Doesn’t this sound alluring, mysterious, and perhaps romantic? The only way for me was to search and find what this was about.
And so I found that from Tadoussac to Blanc-Sablon, Cote-Nord is a land of nature, where one can observe and study the wildlife, where, along the route of over 1000km of St Lawrence River, one can watch the whales even from the shore, where one can do lots of outdoor activities, enjoy the food, the nature, and the people.
Since Tadoussac is the first town from the route, and the closest to the “humanity”, we could not look for another base for our long desired trip. The time is flying by when you look forward, and once you pass Montreal, heading to the East, you see with different eyes the whole landscape, or maybe the reflections of the landscape in your eyes are changed for some reason. Especially the last 100 km before reaching Tadoussac were the most enjoyable sceneries, with their highlands, sea sights, forests, birds, the whole nature screaming at us, captivating, appealing.
And if you think that the whales are just waiting for us to arrive, you might be wrong. If you whale watching with one of the available cruises by boat or zodiac, you might find them. But while you’re chasing more or less illusive whales, you can surely enjoy the surroundings. So we did until we bumped into the beautiful lighthouse suddenly aroused from the fogy waters of the river.
But in case you don’t decide for any cruise, you can simply enjoy the scenery, laying on the rocky shore, observing the tide, taking again the ferry between Baie-Sainte-Catherine where you can find cheaper accommodation, and Tadoussac, a charming and friendly town.
And just as you enjoy the view, the breeze, the sunset, and the food, you might be lucky enough to see the whales while you cross just one more time the Saguenay River, after a long wait for the ferry, or a visit to Pointe-Noir Interpretation and Observation Centre.
And while you can go camping to Ranch Du Fjord you can also have some fun riding horses at the same place. You can hang around on the hills, do nothing, or just simply sit on the rocks and watch the sky. Or you can try new things, different food, as I first tried elk meat at “La Bolee”, which was one of our best choices to have dinner at.
Nice signs pointing a short cut to Newfoundland was a funny way to look for a further destination, opposed to the longer Route 138, partially taken.
And when the time to leave these places came, we had no other option than taking few more stops on this French-speaking land.. Which one if not Quebec City itself, one of the oldest settlements in North America, where one can see and feel the old city as well as the new one, blending together into one magnificent place.
And since the Route takes one through the town of Beaupre, at the mouth of Sainte-Anne-du-Nord River, we had to stop at the Basilica, a Sanctuary dedicated to Sainte Anne, the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Jesus, and where one can see the 3 relics of Saint Anne.
While in the same town of Beaupre, we could not miss visiting the canyon, one of the most beautiful attractions in the area, with three suspension foot bridges across the canyon, high above the river.
Many observation points can let you discover the canyon and waterfalls from different points of view, or else for the strong hearted ones a zip lining and a via ferrata can satisfy the adventure fever.
Next stop would be of course at Chute Montmorency, where one can discover it by foot or by cable car. For adrenaline lovers, there is also zip lining and via ferrata, but also the walking path for hikers like me. Located few minutes from Quebec City, Montmorency Falls is a spectacular site, with its 83 meters high falls.
And then our last, but not the least destination, beautiful and charming Quebec City, finally was waiting for us with its delectable alleys, boutiques, music, food, and joy.
The charismatic place with friendly locals and European charm is named The Old Quebec. One can find here some history in a modern environment, old as well as modern art, street entertainers, singers and artists, boutiques and restaurants. Where Chateau Frontenac is watching majestically the North side of St Lawrence River, haughty sentinel over the years.
Museum of Civilization and La Citadelle are the 2 main bridges connecting the past to the present, where one can find information about Quebec history, about first French settlers as well as all others as involved up until today. About the generations that have been through these lands, about love and war, about truce and friendship.
And when you are tired from walking to all these museums, from all the questions, or cheerful guides chatter, you can simply sit in one of the hundreds local restaurants, enjoy the various food, trying something new (the famous Quebecoise La Tourtiere), or something old (Italian pizza or pasta), and let yourself transposed into a different world, into a different dream.
And if by night you don’t get yet the feeling of a familiar home, a chic and merry place to live in, you do realize for sure that “le vie est belle” with all its beauties and its goodies.