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Travelling to the Magdalen Islands

My trip to the Magdalen Islands turned out to be a memorable experience. I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Tourisme Îles-de-la-Madeleine for organizing the trip and to air carrier Pascan. I was quickly charmed by the warm welcome I received and the idyllic landscapes of the Magdalen Islands, located in the middle of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. A bit of history: in 1629, Samuel de Champlain writes “La Magdeleine” on a map to mark the location of Havre Aubert Island. It is also said that the islands were named the Magdalen Islands (Îles-de-la-Madeleine in French) in 1663 by François Doublet de Honfleur, who had gained concession of the islands, in honour of his wife Madeleine Fontaine.

Most of the islands are connected by long strips of sand and are inhabited. These islands include Havre Aubert Island, Cap aux Meules Island, Havre aux Maisons Island, Pointe aux Loups Island, Grande Entrée Island and Grosse-Île Island. Entry Island is also inhabited, but Brion Island, located north of Grosse Île Island, is uninhabited. The administrative centre of the archipelago and of the Magdalen Islands MRC is Cap-aux-Meules. The Magdalen Islands archipelago is located in the heart of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and includes 12 islands, with seven connected by dunes and bridges.

Beaches
The windswept beaches are a must-see for every traveller. Here, the white dunes and immense wild beaches are a beautiful contrast to the red sandstone cliffs and blue ocean. Several beaches in the Magdalen Islands benefit from strong, constant winds that make them wonderful areas to practice kitesurfing and other wind powered water sports.

Grande-Entrée Island
Bassin Est Beach
Bassin Ouest Beach
Dune de la Pointe

Pointe aux Loups Island
Pointe-aux-Loups Beach
Dune du Nord Beach

Havre aux Maisons Island
Dune du Sud Beach

Cap aux Meules Island
Corfu Beach
Pointe Beach
Martinique Beach

Havre Aubert Island
Ouest Beach
Cap Beach
Havre Beach
Dune du Bassin
Havre Beach – Sandy Hook

Outdoor activities

Outdoor activities are excellent ways of taking in the magnificent scenery and breathtaking views.

La Crinière au Vent horseback riding
Cap-aux-Meules zodiac boat excursion and caves
Centre Nautique l’Istorlet
Water activities at Grande-Entrée

Must-see stops

Havre Beach – Sandy Hook (length: 12 km)
Réserve naturelle des Demoiselles (trail: 1 km)
Ouest Beach (length: 3.8 km)
Cap Alright rest stop
La Butte Ronde
Dune du Sud Beach
Borgot lighthouse
Butte du Vent trail
St-Pierre-de-Lavernière church

Foodie destinations and local products

In addition to wonderful landscapes that will astound every traveller, the Magdalen Islands are home to a vibrant economy powering local organizations and sectors that play a key role in the growth and future of the archipelago. There are myriad local products and unique flavours waiting to be discovered.

Bakeries and Pastry shops
Boulangerie Madelon
L’Arbre à Pains
Pâtisserie Hélène Des Îles
Boulangerie de Grand-maman

Le Fumoir d’Antan
Aucoin des sangliers
Les Cultures du large (huîtres, moules et pétoncles)
Miellerie Miel en mer
Fromagerie Les Biquettes à l’air
Fromagerie Du-Pied-de-Vent

Food

The people on the Magdalen Islands are hard workers and, rain or shine, create outstanding products.
Producing high-quality food is especially important in the Magdalen Islands because they are a people who are proud of producing exceptional terroir products.
Everywhere I went, I was astounded by the quality of the products and the warm welcome I received: canteens, bistros, gourmet restaurants all reflect the beauty of the islands. A gastronomic experience that will satisfy even the most refined palates.

Canteens

Grampy’s
LA Cantine Renaissance
Decker Boy
Chez Armand

Bistros and cafés

Gourmande de nature
Café d’chez-nous
Café de la Grave
Le Four à Pain
Pizza d’la Pointe
Restaurant La Côte
Resto Madelinot
Bistro Plongée Alpha

Restaurants

Domaine du Vieux Couvent
Resto Bistro Accents
Le Sablier
Quai 360
La Table des Roy

I stayed at many places during my time in the Islands. On the first night I was welcomed by the Domaine du Vieux Couvent, a former convent with rooms featuring a king or queen bed, a mini fridge, a desk, a TV set, a coffee maker, and a wonderful rainfall shower. Guests can also enjoy the free Wi-Fi network and comfortable bath robes. For more than 30 years, the Château Madelinot has been renowned for the quality of its welcome, the variety of package deals it offers, and its staff that do all they can to add a touch of Magdalen warmth to services! Located by the water and in the heart of the archipelago, Château Madelinot is the perfect place to enjoy a memorable vacation. This seaside haven offers 118 rooms and 2 suites designed for extreme comfort. Guests can enjoy the beach, an indoor pool, a jacuzzi, and end their day at the Resto Bistro Accents to taste a cuisine teeming with local flavours.

A beautiful, majestic house on the Islands, Auberge chez Denis à François provides great service and exceptional food! Every room (14 in all) includes a private bathroom, a phone, Internet connection, cable TV, a mini fridge, and a smoke-free environment. The warm, cozy décor is perfectly complemented by the magnificent view of the ocean. And you can enjoy free breakfast. The Gîte La Maison du Cap-Vert has 3 large rooms with a private bathroom, including 2 with ocean view. You can head to the Dune du Nord beach on foot via the Barachois trail. You’ll see a small dock for lobster fishermen about 2 minutes away on foot and an outstanding view of the red sandstone cliffs.

During my travels I was able to enjoy the beauty of the Magdalen Islands with its 300 km of beaches, cliffs, pastures, and colourful hoses and ports. The archipelago is truly a haven of serenity. Its residents are also renowned for their love of music. Numerous artists of all kinds call the archipelago their home. Travellers are invited to explore the many museums, art galleries, workshops, and La Grave. This is one of Quebec’s most treasured areas! To travel to the Islands is to fall in love with them.

Jérémie Beaulieu

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