Taste of Québec
While Québec is famous for its vibrant urban centres, it has another side that begs to be explored – the charming towns and villages by the sea where the maritime way of life thrives. Visitors will experience warm hospitality, local flavours and a wealth of things to see and do in the regions of Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie, Côte-Nord and Îles de la Madeleine, stretched along the beauty of the St. Lawrence River in eastern Québec.
SÉBASTIEN ST-JEAN / TOURISME CÔTE-NORD
Shaped by history and by the salty waters of the St. Lawrence estuary and the Gulf itself, these areas offer extraordinary, unforgettable experiences not replicated elsewhere. Whether you’re in search of authentic local flavours and the province’s freshest fish seafood, or outdoor adventures, Québec by the Sea satisfies appetites and wanderlust equally.
Understanding these regions is best done with a fork and glass in hand as they’re home to some of Canada’s most acclaimed food producers – from soil to sea.
Naturally, local seafood is a highlight. You’ll find delicacies such as smoked eel, herring and shrimp at Poissonnerie Lauzier, and lobster dinners with a view, including Restaurant de l’Hôtel La Normandie which faces Gaspésie’s famous Percé Rock. Also, in the area, Paqbo at the Riôtel Percé serves up seafood classics, like bouillabaisse, fish and chips and poached cod, in a dining room overlooking the sea. For poutine fans, La Poissonnerie wows diners with its lobster version, made with fresh Québec cheese curds and rich homemade gravy. Restaurant Chez Julie has been a local favourite since 1977 for its famous seafood pizza and heaping lobster platters.
Add to the mix regional specialties like Atlantic halibut, Stimpson surf clams, Minganie scallops, oysters and green sea urchins. Grab an order of fried clams and chips to go or linger longer in a sit-down family restaurant for a pan-seared salmon dinner.
Spring may be a few months away yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge your love of all things maple this fall. Visit Domaine Acer to sample its unique, mapleforward wines and spirits, and learn more about maple production. This is one of Québec’s many economuseums, which focus on enriching the visitor experience through education, tasting, observing or meeting the makers behind the businesses.
Drop by Ma Cabane en Gaspésie for maple syrup and maple-infused products – salt, sausage, caramelized popcorn, ketchup, steak spice, jams and pastries.
In recent years, Québec’s maritime regions have also seen a growth in distilleries. Gin lovers should sample the local artisanal varieties, including one made with 14 indigenous herbs from Distillerie des Marigots, another made with seaweed-infused from the St. Lawrence River from Distillerie du St. Laurent, and a lingonberry-gin liqueur crafted by Distillerie Puyjalon. Also shop for unique spirits like a Marseille-style pastis featuring star anise and wild local caraway seeds made by Distillerie Fils du Roy and amber rum aged in bourbon barrels crafted by Distillerie Mitis.
Another regional specialty worth checking out is Hydromellerie Saint-Paul-de-la-Croix, which uses local honey for its mead.
And, of course, there’s plenty of craft beer – more than 100 different ones in the maritime regions of Québec. At Brasserie La Mouche, try Mickey Finn, made with indigenous yeast or sample Belle Saison, infused with local herbs and flowers, at À l’abri de la Tempête microbrewery.
Jean-Christophe Lemay / Tourisme Bas-Saint-Laurent
Mathieu Dupuis / Le Québec maritime
You can discover craft beer at pubs and restaurants, but also consider exploring the special Beer Route, which stretches more than 1,370 kilometres from Rivière-Ouelle to Tadoussac. It’s a 12-day scenic journey of eastern Québec that beer aficionados shouldn’t miss. Along the way, meet the brew masters, taste their beer and develop a deeper appreciation of the passion that goes into each product.
Not surprisingly, the beers, wines and spirits of the maritime regions pair beautifully with local flavours. Create a charcuterie board with specialties from area producers – goat cheese from Fromagerie Les Biquettes à l'air, pâté and jerky at Boucherie Rossignol, crusty baguettes baked at Mon P’tit Bonheur aux Îles, chutneys, fresh fruit and vegetables sourced at one of the area’s many excellent farmers’ markets. For dessert, pick up chocolates, handmade on-site, at Boutique et Chocolaterie Artisanal or classic French pastries.
Sébastien St-Jean / Tourisme Côte-Nord
Fall is a wonderful, relaxing time to visit the maritime regions. The scenery is stunning as the leaves start to change, so you’ll want to book some time for hiking and cycling in pristine natural surroundings. It’s also the ideal season for wildlife spotting, from aquatic life (13 types of whales, plus seals), birds, and larger animals like moose, white-tailed deer and black bears.
To start planning your visit, go to: quebecmaritime.ca.We recommend calling ahead, since some businesses may close early for the season.
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail’s Globe Content Studio on behalf of Bonjour Québec. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.
CREDITS: Concept and oversight by JESSICA ROBINSON; Editing by SHELLEY WHITE; Art direction by JEANINE BRITO; Design and development by AASHISH ARORA; Illustrations by MAIA GRECCO