Parks and wildlife reserves
From Abitibi-Témiscamingue to the Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec has 22 maintained parks and 15 wildlife reserves worth exploring. Known for their stunningly rich flora and fauna, they offer visitors exceptional hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing and sightseeing opportunities. Notable highlights include l’Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park in the Gaspésie, a nesting ground to an extraordinary colony of gannets, and the Saguenay-Saint-Laurent Marine Park, where you can observe blue whales and paddle the Saguenay Fjord—the longest of its kind in Eastern Canada. Along the way, stop at Jacques-Cartier National Park, a gateway to the Laurentian Mountains just 25 minutes north of Quebec City, or visit nearby Montmorency Falls and watch its 80-m waterfalls tumble into the St. Lawrence River.
Montréal Complètement Cirque (July 8-25)
Montreal goes circus crazy for 17 days in July when acrobats, trapeze artists, jugglers and other circus performers take part in the city’s newest festival. Events can be seen at three main locations—Tohu, the Quays of the Old Port of Montreal and the Latin Quarter. As well, Cirque du Soleil’s latest creation, Totem, will be staged this summer at Cirque’s renowned blue and yellow big top in old Montreal.
The St. Lawrence Lighthouse Trail and Gaspésie Tour
There are 43 lighthouses along the coastline and on the islands of the St. Lawrence River, and 19 welcome visitors and house a variety of attractions, including museums, restaurants and lodges. Visitors can stay at one of Quebec’s two oldest lighthouses: at Île Verte (1809) and Pointe-des-Monts (1830). For those looking for a beautiful scenic drive, the Gaspésie Tour begins in Bas-Saint-Laurent, where the St. Lawrence River widens into the sea, and ends in Forillon. Along the way, stop at Chaleur Bay, or explore Miguasha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located 215 km from the Gaspé coast, Îles-de-la-Madeleine is made up of a dozen islands that are home to beautiful beaches, dunes, rounded green hills, ochre cliffs and brightly painted houses that stand out against the intense blue backdrop of the sea. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a swim or a hike (on foot, bicycle or horseback), and is an invitation to just kick back. Adventure seekers can explore the archipelago’s coves and capes by kayak or inflatable raft, and the shallow bays and lagoons are perfect for kitesurfing and windsurfing. To get there, take a plane or a ferry from Prince Edward Island. Or arrive in style on a 440-passenger cruise ship that departs regularly from Montreal.
To see what Joannie Rochette picks as her favourite spots, go to Where famous Canucks go to play
For more information on events and travel in Quebec, see www.bonjourquebec.com