With the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, Joe was itching to travel and get on a plane but Laura didn’t want to leave Quebec.
We hadn’t heard much about the Îles de la Madeleine prior to this Summer. We had never considered it as a vacation destination. The silver lining of the COVID 19 pandemic is that we are now exploring our “own back yard” and visiting Quebec.
It was such a beautiful discovery! Every morning, we were excited to get up and explore what the islands have to offer. We’ve decided to revive our blog with this post about our itinerary since many of you were interested in our IG stories and asked us many questions about the islands.
Planning your trip – How to get there :
- You can fly (2h flight from Montreal) : this is what we did. It was easy breezy, but flights can often be disrupted by weather conditions
- Car and Ferry (this takes a lot of planning this year – because of the pandemic, you need to fill out government paperwork, you cannot stop in New Brunswick and PEI, you have to drive straight to the Ferry which you need to book in advance. There is also a cost related to the bridge crossing in PEI and to the ferry)
Plan in advance. Especially during the pandemic, the hotels are down to 50% capacity, restaurants too. Since a lot of people are choosing to fly, the cars get all booked up.
How to get around:
- If you want to see EVERYTHING and get around easily, you will need a car
3 options for car rentals:
- L’agence de location des Îles
- Leblanc location d’auto
- Ledé Sport Honda
- We were last minute (as per usual) and couldn’t find a car. We rented bikes from VéliVélo and it turned out to be a fun adventure (and quite the workout). The guy who rented us the bikes was very nice, gave us detailed itinerary and maps of where to go. Your other option bike rental option is Le Pédalier.
Keep in mind that the islands are NOT completely flat. The wind can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Try to check wind directions before you leave in the morning. Overall, we were really happy to explore the islands by bike as it gave us a lot more flexibility, a more relaxed experience as we didn’t rush from one place to another and enjoyed the outdoors and the sun.
Apparently that in non-COVID times, hitchhiking is also a legit option – and we believe it, people are so nice! – but with the pandemic, no one will pick you up. Apparently, in pre-covid times, you wouldn’t even need to hitchhike (“faire du pouce”) people simply ask you if you need a ride!
Because we didn’t have a car, we were limited on how far we could get. We found Fatima/Cap-aux-Meules to be a central location from where to explore the rest of the Islands.
Day 1: we didn’t have our bikes yet, so this was mostly a walking day in Cap-Aux-Meules
We landed at the tiny YGR airport and took a taxi we had reserved that same morning to drive us to our hotel.
- There are 2 options for taxis : Taxi Madeli and Taxi des Îles
We stayed at Le Madelinot – it was the only option we found available. The rooms would need a little revamp but the view from our terrasse was worth it!
We started off our day with a coffee and a ham+cheese+pesto croissant from L’Arbre à Pains/ Café Lili.
Located on the Chemin du Quai, it’s definitely worth a visit and while you’re there, check out the other colourful boutiques next to the café.
Across from it, there’s a Saturday Market where locals come get their groceries. If you’ve rented a house/cottage, it’s a great idea to get some fresh local products. If you won’t be cooking, it’s still a nice place to hang out and drink your coffee you just got across the street.
We then walked up to the Observation deck where you get a nice 360 view of the Islands.
For lunch, we went back down to the Cap-aux-Meules village (which is considered the “downtown” of les Îles de la Madeleine) We grabbed some fresh lobster sushis from “La Poissonnière” It’s also a good spot to try out the “coques”, a small type of shellfish you can go pick on certain beaches.
For dinner, we ate at Les Pas Perdus – which is a must during your stay here. The food and the service were great. They even have a fire pit outside where you can have a drink while you wait for your table. We suggest you make a reservation.
Note to self : Loup Marin is not the same thing as Loup de Mer. The first is basically a seal, the latter is a fish. The surprise on Laura’s face when she expected a white fish and saw the meat was priceless.
Day 2: We picked up our bikes and headed to Havre-aux-Maisons
Our first stop was Hélènes des îles for pastries and cannelés. Then we kept riding for our next two stops, the Fromagerie Pied du Vent and the Fumoir d’Antan. We grabbed cheese, smoked Herring and a baguette and ate them by the beach. Unfortunately, because of COVID, the visits have been cancelled but we were all alone at the Fumoir and the nice gentleman kindly gave us a glimpse of their impressive smokehouse
Then we continued to make our way towards the Dune du Sud. On the way there, we stopped by a beach where we were all alone. It’s on the Chemin des Échoueries, right after the Cape-Alright Lighthouse viewpoint.
The Dune du Sud is beautiful. If you walk along the beach at low tide, you’ll notice caves amongst the beautiful red rock.
Our final stop of the day on our bike ride was Pointe-aux-loups, with it’s beautiful and long white sand beach.
This totalled 50 km! It was a beautiful first day. The views along the way were incredible. There’s just something about lobster cages and linen drying in the wind.
We decided to walk to Pizza de la Pointe for dinner, which was a great suggestion from our hotel reception. They have the best seafood pizza you can enjoy on their back porch and delicious decadent dessert.
Day 3: Exploring l’Étang du Nord
We started off late, sore from the day before.
We had lunch at LA cantine renaissance, which probably has the best lobster roll!
Then we rode our bikes all the way to À L’Abri de la Tempête, a microbrewery with amazing beer (which we drank throughout our stay on the Islands) We enjoyed trying out their beers on their balcony with a couple of oysters. #vacationvibe
We got back on our bikes and continued exploring L’Étang du Nord and had a second lunch (because why not) at “Gourmande de Nature” The Poke is delicious and the boutique has some great home articles.
The road after that was hilly, but we stubbled upon a gorgeous spot called “La Belle Anse” – it wears its name properly! The view was amazing, reminded us of the Australian Great ocean road / of the South of Portugal.
That night, we were tired and we ordered food from our hotel’s restaurant, Bistro Accents, which has some delicious items on their menu.
Day 4: Windy day in Havre-Aubert
It was way too windy to ride our bikes. We reserved our spots on the REGIM public transport. This bus network is not very widespread. It has 4 lines and only runs a few times a day in certain directions to lift local and workers. The bus driver is so nice though! He told us all about life on the islands and is very flexible with his pick ups and drop offs.
It took us to La Grave, the historic site at the tip of Havre-Aubert.
The boutiques are cute! Take the time to explore every one of them and buy some souvenirs. Our favorite shot, which is a must see, is “L’Atelier Côtier” which makes decoration items out of sand. Trust us, even if you don’t buy anything, it’s worth a visit.
We did get on our bikes that day to go from la Grave to Sandy Hook beach. It was worth the 11 minutes ride (more like 20 with the wind) It felt like you could walk to infinity on this beach (it’s a 2h walk one way) and we were all alone.
We had lunch at Le Café de la Grave, which we really enjoyed.
Day 5 was a beach day in Fatima
We had breakfast at our hotel and tried out a classic Madelinot Beignet with caramel dip.
We hit the road on our bikes for one last time to get to l’Anse aux Baleiniers in Fatima, a gorgeous long beach with amenities (shower, bathroom and casse croûte)
We had a beautiful sunny lazy day enjoying our last few moments on les Îles de la Madeleine.
We ended up grabbing a Boar poutine from “Au coin des Sangliers” which was delicious and who’s owner was a very nice lady who we chatted with while we ate our poutine on her porch.
For our last dinner, we got lucky (thank you whoever cancelled their reservation!) and got a table at Quai 360. This is probably the fanciest restaurant on the islands and worth the hype! It’s absolutely delicious! The lobsters raviolis were to die for as well as the scallops. Our mains were delicious and comforting.
The Îles de la Madeleine are well worth a visit. For the views, the beaches, the food and the people. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. And what about our bike ride? We really enjoyed exploring at our own pace, taking in the views, the smells and the sounds. Yes, we didn’t see everything (for example, we didn’t make it to Grande-Entrée) but it’s okay because we’ll definitely be back!