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Quebec’s Islands : Sheer Beauty Along the St. Lawrence River

The majestic St. Lawrence River, which borders the southern side of the Canadian province of Quebec, is among the 25 longest Canada_flag_halifax_9_-04rivers in the world, extending across more than 3000 kilometres. Home to fantastic animal species including whales (which can easily be observed in Tadoussac), the St. Lawrence River is also home to multiple islands, which represent valued destinations for travellers who wish to explore another aspect of French Canadian culture in isolated, peaceful locations where natural wonders abound. Here is a list of five islands or groups of islands along the St. Lawrence River that every single tourist should be yearning for.

1. Les Îles de Sorel

An archipelago of more than 100 islands, the Sorel Islands are a peculiar place where marshes, bays and small channels blend into a fabulous setting which is perfect for kayak lovers. The Sorel Islands are not only home to some 100 rare bird species, they also are the gateway to the Lac Saint-Pierre, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Region mostly known for being the largest heron nesting ground in the world. If you find yourself looking for great nature activities to do close to Montreal, a short drive to the Sorel Islands is more than worth it!

2. L’Île d’Orléans

Located about 15 minutes away from Old Quebec by car, the Orleans Island was discovered by French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1535. Dubbed the “cradle of French civilization in North America”, the Orleans Island was first called the “Bacchus Island” by Cartier due to the presence of indigenous vines. Unsurprisingly, numerous operating producers of wine and other types of typically Quebecois alcohols (cider, ice cider, blackcurrant liqueur, etc.) are nowadays prosperous and highly respected way beyond the limits of the island itself.

The Orleans Island offers a fantastic outlook on the Montmorency falls as well as an interesting panorama of Quebec City. This is the perfect place for a little afternoon road trip: going all around the island and stopping at the innumerable worthy spots will bring about long-lasting memories. Sporty visitors will also find happiness on the island as going around it by bike offers a ride full of surprises, both natural and architectural.

3. L’Isle-aux-Coudres

Winter, spring, summer or fall (as Carole King would probably say!), the Isle-aux-Coudres is a wonderful family destination. Located in the stunning, mountainous Charlevoix Region, the island is endowed with a small, charming local population. The island offers a wide range of possibilities for families wishing to spend one day or more relaxing on the island: great camping sites, tens of kilometres of bike paths, kite surfing, theatre performances, cider tasting (for adults only, obviously, although special juices are available for kids!), cultural discoveries, etc. An inevitable stop if you find yourself in the Charlevoix region.

4. Les Îles Mingan

Located beyond the 50th parallel in the North-Eastern part of the St. Lawrence River, the Mingan Archipelago offers a unique panorama: tens of limestone islands and more than 1000 granitic islets and reefs are comprised within this Natural Park Reserve of Canada. The Mingan Archipelago wonders are not only visually stunning, but they represent the perfect setting to discover an exceptional ecosystem where seals, dolphins, whales, Atlantic puffins and other magnificent animal species cohabit. A memorable journey in a totally different world!

5. Les Îles de la Madeleine

Going to the Magdalen Islands is a special trip: their location in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence is such that Quebecois have to drive through two other provinces (New-Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) before they can take the boat to get to the Magdalen Islands and officially be back in Quebec! Although flights are available, mixing the car with the boat generally remains the cheapest way to get to the islands.

The Magdalen Islands inhabitants (called the Madelinots, in French) are renowned for their warmth, cheerful personality, charming accent and great sense of fun. The islands themselves do not only offer breathtaking sceneries: they are a real haven of peace where beauty meets calmness, where culture meets sports activities, where gastronomy meets the heartland. People who went to the Magdalen Islands are unanimous: going once makes you addict.

About the author:

Alexandre Duval is a freelance blogger who writes about travel destinations in Quebec, Canada and elsewhere in the world for ViaRail. He has lived in three countries and travelled in more than fifteen. He is currently completing his master’s degree in Montreal.


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