The seemingly boundless area that stretches from Tadoussac to Blanc-Sablon and from Schefferville to Anticosti Island includes 1,300 km of coastline and vast expanses of magnificient landscape. This spectacular region is located in eastern Québec; its gateway, Tadoussac, is some 220 km from Québec City and about 475 km from Montreal.
North Shore residents have always appreciated their area's riches: the immense boreal forest, fast-flowing rivers and abundant natural resources. The Innu and Naskapi Nations are descended from the first people who occupied this territory and whose origins date back nearly 9,000 years. History buffs will be thrilled to learn that the North Shore has over 1,400 archaeological sites. It is also the first Quebec region to be described by the famour explorer Jacques Cartier.
Today, the North Shore economy is still based on major industries, although it is gradually being diversified.
Along the North Shore, the majesty of the mighty St. Lawrence River and its estuary confront the visitor at every turn. Among its many treasures are 13 species of whale, which can easily be seen from shore at various points along Route 138 or from on board one of the many whale-watching cruises. Travelling along the Whale Route, you are sure to fall in love with its many charms. The Manicouagan Regional County Municipality’s distinctive qualities were recognized by UNESCO’s designation as a World Biosphere Reserve. Covering 54,800 km2 and encompassing Baie-Comeau, the surrounding villages, and the entire backcountry, where the boreal forest gradually gives way to the taiga, it is one of the largest such Reserves in the world.
The North Shore has a number of bustling urban centres: Forestville, Baie-Comeau, Port-Cartier, Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre and Fermont, to name some of the largest. These cities strike a balance between availability of services andproximity to nature, and their tourism product has something for every taste: museums, parks, churches, interpretation centres, industrial tours and festivals.
The Caniapiscau region, where the famous caribou herds live in the trackless taiga, is a favourite destination for seasoned hunters, anglers, canoeists, and snowmobilers.
In Minganie, you can experience the life you hear described in the songs of legendary Québécois singer-songwriter, Gilles Vigneault. The Bouleau River is the gateway to this region, where picturesque coves and villages are perched, like jewels in Mother Nature’s crown. Year after year, the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve attracts curious visitors, come to admire the immense stone sculptures dispersed across the chain of around 40 islands.
Anticosti Island is a favourite destination for hunters because of the Virginia (or white-tailed) deer that live there. However, the island is also home to fossils, caves, canyons and waterfalls. This is where visitors can grasp the true meaning of the slogan “Nature, Beyond Measure.” From Port-Menier, the main road that bisects the island leads to outfitting camps and the remarkable flora and fauna that help make this huge island such a magical place.
You’re sure to fall in love with the Lower North Shore and its breathtaking panoramas. Because of its large size (over 400 km) and relatively small population (about 6,000 inhabitants), visitors to this sparsely populated region are bound to experience the wonderful sensation of feeling small in such a vast landscape.
Included: Sacré-Coeur, Bergeronnes, Escoumins, Essipit
Welcome to Côte-Nord! Tadoussac, the gateway to the region, is reached by a free 10 minute ferry ride from Baie-Sainte-Catherine. Located 2½ hours east of Québec City, Tadoussac is an internationally renowned destination recognized as one of the most beautiful bays in the world. The village is the starting point of the Whale Route (Route 138) and also provides access to the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park. North from here–and south from the Saguenay region–the Fjord Route (Route 172) leads to the village relais of Sacré-Coeur, a service center for tourists. Just 30 minutes east of Tadoussac, Les Bergeronnes, Les Escoumins (village-relais), and the Innu community of Essipit welcome you. Tadoussac and the surrounding area have a charm all their own, what with whale watching excursions on the St. Lawrence and in the fjord, interpretation centers, a historic church, world-class outfitters, and numerous onshore sites for observing whales and birds. Another ferry runs between Les Escoumins and Trois-Pistoles, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence.
Included: Longue-Rive, Portneuf-sur-Mer, Colombier
A bit further east, the municipalities of Longue-Rive, Portneuf-sur-Mer, Forestville, and Colombier welcome you. Salt marshes and unique vegetation provide rich habitat for wildlife and make the region a bird lovers paradise sure to delight new and seasoned birders alike. An accredited village-relais (service center), Forestville has a charming historic heritage and a vast backcountry popular with hunters, anglers, and cottage-goers drawn by its fish-laden lakes and outfitting operations. The town also boasts numerous winter activities, including the popular Boréal Loppet cross-country skiing competition. In summer, a ferry links Forestville and Rimouski.
Included: Pessamit, Ragueneau, Chute-aux-Outardes, Pointe-aux-Outardes, Pointe-Lebel, Franquelin, Godbout, Baie-Trinité
Some 30 minutes from Forestville, you’ll come to the community of Pessamit, situated along a magnificent river. Travel on to discover the charms of the Manicouagan Peninsula, a paradise for wind and board sports enthusiasts. Winding through the municipalities of Ragueneau, Chute-aux-Outardes, Pointe-aux-Outardes, and Pointe-Lebel, the Beach Route is your jumping off point for 30 km of fine-sand beaches among the loveliest in the region. Further east, dynamic Baie-Comeau welcomes you with its vibrant industrial, historic, and religious heritage, and a host of activities. Take a journey back in time at Jardins des glaciers and discover the traces left by the last Ice Age. Some 20 minutes past Baie-Comeau, you’ll reach the Panoramas sector comprising the communities of Franquelin, Godbout, and Baie-Trinité. The scenic vistas and surroundings are an invitation to relax and admire nature at its finest. Attractions include a unique fish ladder, a historic lighthouse, and a shipwreck interpretation center.
Included: Fermont and route 389
To reach the town of Fermont north of the 52nd parallel, follow Route 389 from Baie-Comeau. Along the way, be sure to take in some of Québec's greatest achievements in hydroelectrical engineering at Manic-2 and Manic-5, the largest multiple-arch-and-buttress dam in the world. The mining town of Fermont is reknowned for its impressive 1,3 km windbreak wall and a very popular destination with hunters, anglers, hikers, and snowmobilers. Still further north, where the boreal forest meets the tundra, the town of Schefferville dans the aboriginal communities of Matimekush-Lac-John (Innu) and Kawawachikamach (Naskapi) await. Fishing, adventure tourism, and aboriginal culture are the main attractions in this area, located over 12 hours away by train from Sept-Îles in the heart of the mineral-rich Labrador Trough.
Included: Pointe-aux-Anglais, Rivière-Pentecôte, Gallix, Clarke City, Moisie
Route 138 takes you to the region of Port-Cartier and Sept-Îles, the two largest municipalities on the North Shore, east of Baie-Comeau. This vast area, consisting of the Pointe-aux-Anglais, Rivière-Pentecôte, Gallix, Clarke City, and Moisie sectors and the Innu communities of Uashat and Mani-Utenam, offers a wide range of visitor and accommodation services and cultural and outdoor activities.Long, fine sand beaches line the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and well-known salmon rivers dot the region. Parc de la Rivière aux Rochers, Patterson Island, McCormick Island, the Port-Cartier–Sept-Îles wildlife reserve and Sept-Îles Archipelago are idyllic spots that offer camping, hunting, fishing, boating excursions, or hiking. From west to east, you’ll come across numerous museums and interpretation sites tracing the region’s history.
At 222 km long, Anticosti Island is the largest island in Québec. Located opposite Havre-Saint-Pierre in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it can be reached by plane or by boat. In 1895, the island was purchased by French chocolate maker and industrialist Henri Menier, who developed it until 1926. It is home to over 160,000 white-tailed deer, some 160 bird species, and rare and sometimes endemic plants. Its limestone geology, which is rich in fossils, has fashioned incredible landscapes. Salmon fishing, deer hunting, and vacationing are among the island’s main activities. Parc national d’Anticosti also offers many outdoor activities for exploring this vast island playground. Port-Menier is the only inhabited village of the area.
Included: Sheldrake, Magpie, Rivière-Saint-Jean
The communities of Sheldrake, Magpie, and Rivière-Saint-Jean stretch along the shore around the village-relais (service center) of Rivière-au-Tonnerre. Considered one of the North Shore’s most picturesque villages, this municipality is a popular place to relax and unwind. Fishing, birding, and whale watching from shore or on the water as well as the maritime link with Île Anticosti are the main draw in these coastal villages typical of the Minganie region. You’ll find a variety of accommodations, local specialty products, and picturesque little churches well worth a detour in their own right.
With its multitude of islands and islets stretching over 175 km and its impressive monoliths and limestone structures, the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve has been attracting visitors to Havre-Saint-Pierre and the surrounding area for many years. From Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan eastward, you’ll find boat operators and visitor and interpretation centers providing information about maritime transportation services and activities available in the area, including excursions and camping on the islands, hiking, birding, and whale watching. Located at the confluence of Rivière Mingan and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Innu community of Mingan invites you to discover a thousand-year-old culture through its art, handicrafts, and scenery. In the heart of the taiga at the eastern end of this sector lies the small village of Baie-Johan-Beetz, renowned for salmon fishing and its outstanding marine environment. Featuring wide open spaces and stunning coastal scenery, this is the perfect escape!
Included: Aguanish and l'Île-Michon, Pointe-Parent, Kegaska
Natashquan is unquestionably one of the best-known villages in Côte-Nord and Québec as a whole. Not only does it provide visitors with a unique taste of a vibrant and original regional culture, it also offers striking vistas and nature at its most authentic. As in the neighboring municipalities of Aguanish and Kegaska and the Innu community of Nutashkuan, there are fine sand beaches, swimming areas, trails through the taiga, and magnificent wild rivers. A brand new bridge on the large Natshquan River completed at the end of summer 2013 extends Route 138 and links the small fishing village of Kegaska to the rest of Québec.
Les Galets of Natashquan is a highly visited area of the village.