Never heard of the Magdalen Islands?
Îles de la Madeleine | Magdalen Islands | Québec maritime
Lawrence makes the perfect getaway. Visitors who make the trek during tourist season the beginning of June to the end of September will be richly rewarded, particularly if they give this list of 10 things to do in the Magdalen Islands top priority.
Discover the 50 most gorgeous parks across Canada. An estimated vessels sank in the waters surrounding the Magdalen Islands during the 18th and 19th centuries—a sobering stat with implications felt to this day, as almost every Madelinot is a descendant of a shipwreck survivor. Lighthouses have remained crucial to the identity of the islands, and understandably so.
There are six working lighthouses tourists can visit, each one easily accessible. In the s and 50s, the Magdalen Islands produced million pounds of smoked herring every year.
In a word: delectable. An kilometre stretch of white sand and calm waters, the beach is made all the more striking thanks to the gorgeous red sandstone cliffs that surround it. Not a swimmer?
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Dune du Sud is the perfect place to build sand castles, collect seashells or just sit and meditate by the sea. Just make sure to explore the caves hidden in the volcanic rock formations before you leave! Pied-de-Vent is made from the milk of a single dairy herd of Canadienne cows exclusive to the Magdalen Islands.
Oh, and it pretty much melts in your mouth, too. Here are 10 must-try Canadian dishes—and where to find them. Opened in , the glassblowing studio and boutique is renowned for its glass spheres in which coloured powders are suspended to resemble jellyfish the perfect souvenir of your time in the islands.
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Opened in by two friends who fell in love with the Magdalen Islands after visiting we told you they were captivating! More reason to visit! Sprinkled across the islands, there are bed and breakfast homes as well as some motel and resort accommodation, but our favorite default choice is always to sleep with local history if we can find it.
Today these carefully-maintained structures are home to numerous craft and artisan shops, art galleries and small family eateries with lots of local color. There we were welcomed to the imposing Domaine du Vieux Couvent with yet another historical tale and another gourmet eatery from which to sample the gastronomic specialties of the island.
Even into the early 20th century, literacy and education were scarce commodities here with students having to leave to get any education. A residential convent school was built to train young local women to be future teachers in small community schools throughout the archipelago. With volunteers from all districts, this only stone building on the islands was completed in four years.
From until when a public high school began educating all Madelinots to graduation, the Domaine du Vieux Couvent was an active educational institution. Today, still under local Acadian ownership, its ten elegant rooms offer breathtaking views of the sea from original floor to ceiling windows.
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We were fascinated by the whimsical paint color combinations of houses which we were assured had a practical as well as a spirit-raising rationale in a time where there were no house numbers by which to give directions for either mail delivery or fire extinguishing. In a relatively flat land-scape where most homes boast a sea view, a bright purple house with pink trim or a red and yellow house standing tall against vivid green grass also served as a navigation beacon for local mariners skirting shores where miscalculations about the nearest safe haven could mean a watery grave.
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Our morning drive took us past endless vistas of wide cream sand beaches on either side of the road, over narrow bridges and through diminutive fishing and farm hamlets eventually ended at a bustling commercial marina for hundreds of lobster boats. Teams of women waited to unload the lobster catch into refrigerated trailers that would take it to local canneries or to be fresh packed for flights to restaurants and grocery stores in Europe and America. Sharing stories with these women about their fishing families and watching how swiftly the low-slung boats backed nimbly to the dock, offloaded their catch and sped away to their moorings provided one more island treat.
If readers are sensing a preoccupation with food in this article, let it be known that the Madelinots eat like kings and queens and serve their hearty organic soups and herb-laden savory dishes with the same panache as they play the haunting Acadian music, and paint their houses. Only minutes from the CTMA dock but in a gastronomic stratosphere of its own, our final restaurant stop shouted out the final word on the nobility of island cuisine with its well-deserved name, La Table des Roy Table of Kings.
The 10 Best Things to Do in the Magdalen Islands
Each dish arrived on our table with a flourish and the colorful presentation did more than hint at the flavorful delights to conclude our all-too-brief stay. If joie de vivre is to be found anywhere in this world, it must surely be on these illusive islands floating low on the horizon in the Gulf of St Lawrence! Photo above: A modern freighter wreck along the shore of one island is a reminder of the current dangers of the archipelago seas even today.
There are over documented ship wrecks in the region.
If those dates are not the highest priority, other months have quieter charm and good off-season rates in a climate that is relatively temperate for the region. Check out our in-depth feature article highlighting the special features of these two exceptional cities, including illustrations and descriptions of their most unique accommodations. Alison Gardner is a travel journalist, magazine editor, guidebook author, and consultant. She specializes in researching vacations throughout the world, suitable for people over 50 and for women of all ages.
She is also the publisher and editor of Travel with a Challenge Web magazine, www.