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Gaspé trip 2012

Lowe Arthorbit | | Jul 25, 2012 08:43 AM

We just toured the Gaspé peninsula and here are a few highlights of the trip

Quebec's Gaspe peninsula is huge (the complete loop of the peninsula starting/ending in Mont Joli is 1400 kilometres with around 100 villages and towns. Luckily there is a blue fork (forchette bleu) identification scheme to locate restaurants that feature locally-sourced seafood cuisine.

The "Gaspesie Gourmande" food-tourisme magazine was essential to getting the most of the trip.

Low budget delights generally are the casse-croute style fooderies offering shrimp and lobster rolls, called guidilles (guidilles aux Homard (lobster) or Crevettes (shrimp). We liked the ones in the harbours of Riviere au Renard (fishery capital of the gaspesie) and Chloridorme. La Presse newspaper had a Gaspé tourism guide in their travel section in early july and they liked the guidille au homard in Ste-Flavie.

The poissonnerie (fish store) in Riviere au Renard is amazing, and the "cup of shrimp" for $2.25 is one of the bargains of the whole trip. Forchette Blue seafood items were identified. Prices here were very good and the shrimp ultra fresh. And we didn't even have to peel a single shrimp ourselves. One product we found excellent for picnicing/travel food are packages of bite-sized pieces of smoked fish.

Lovers of Atkins seafood products at marché Jean Talon will enjoy the excellent prices at the hometown store of the company in the village of Mont St-Louis. There were several other poissonneries we didn't visit, and Mont-St-Louis has another big one that we didn't visit, having just stocked up at Atkins. .

We had some nice meals at Café de l'Anse in L'Anse au Griffon (our home base for a week) (note: Anse means cove). The best seafood soup of the trip was here. We also did tea-room snacking in the nearby historic Maison Le Boutillier.

In town of Gaspé we ate at Café des Artistes for lunch and and Brise-Bise (famous for their shrimp poutine) for supper.

After Forillion we ate supper at the Auberge International in Cap a l'Os. (Cap=Cape).

Cafeteria cuisine in the 4 national (provincial and federal) provincial parks was ok, and local micro-brew beer is available in the provincial ones.

In Percé we had lunch at restaurant on Ile Bonaventure (part of the national park located here) and an expensive supper at gaspé classique La Maison du Pêcheur.

On the Baie de Chaleur we ate a terroir supper at Ferme paquet in St-Simeon, a farm that is expanding big on the terroir farm-food-in-season movement. They offer a food boutique, transformed products, and a fancy restaurant.

In Cap Chat we ate a nice sunset seafood supper at Le Valmont. This was our first night in the Gaspé and Le Valmont did a nice job of setting a good vibe for the vacation, and is a nice full-day's drive from Montreal.

Les Jardins de Metis (aka Reford Gardens) has a tea room and fancy resto in the original mansion, and a resto in the entrance complex. The garden competition part of the Jardins also has what I think is the worlds biggest picnic table as one of the garden competition entries. Because of time constraints, we only snacked here. This is an essential not-to-be-missed stop on your tour.

In Ste-Flavie we ate supper at the "unique" Centre d'Art Marcel Gagnon which has nice sunset views and will put a big pile of shrimp on any meal for an extra 3.50.

We happened across a agro-artist festival in Shigawake. This was unique with local food and produce (including yak!). The quebec government's official tourism guide for the gaspé (available in english and french) is a good source for many of these local festivals, but keeping your eyes peeled for road side attractions and not being constrained by rigid schedules is your ticket to enjoying these sometimes not widely publicized attractions.

We picnic'ed at a number of fine beaches using assorted fresh and smoked seafood available at the many poissonneries, and useful also was an excellent (and virtually encyclopaedic) guidebook to all the gaspé beaches and shores we picked up. Also, every village had multiple picnic tables, gazebos and parks for roadside/beachside/shoreside picnicing.

Overall we found the entire gaspé region very well-developed for food tourism to go along with the truly spectacular maritime / coastal scenery. This was a great trip, and we probably shouldn't have waited 40 years since our childhood visit before finally returning this summer. It seemed more popular with europeans than the montreal crowd, since we met large numbers of europeans vacationing here. It deserves to be on Montrealers radar - and despite the long drive to arrive in the gaspé region (which officially starts at Mont Joli) it is a great foodie tourism destination.