– by George Dyke
September presented such perfect weather, I decided to take my Mom on a week long holiday trip to Gaspé. She and Dad went there a few times when Dad was alive, and I thought it would be nice for her see the region again. Since we were going to Montreal for the Méchoui meet, and I was driving my GS, I figured why not go further east in the province of Québec and enjoy a nice coastal drive?
I had never been to Gaspé peninsula and I must say I was very impressed. After the Méchoui meet near Beloeil, we headed east on the main highway toward Quebec City for about 60kms and then made our way north to Gentilly. We traveled to Québec City from Gentilly along the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, staying for the night in Levis, across the river from Québec City.
We continued along the south shore to Riviere-du-Loup and onto Rimouski. Just east of the town is the Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site, an interesting stop that presents the history of the Empress of Ireland, which sank in 1914 during the worst maritime disaster in Canadian history. There is a lighthouse, one of the tallest in the country, and the Onondaga, the only submarine open to the public in Canada. At Rimouski the St. Lawrence River widens to become the Gulf of St. Lawrence. this is where the scenery takes on a look of the noth coast region of France. We traveled completely around the coast road to Gaspé over-nighting at Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts. The shore road east is mountainous but the GS tackled it like a champ.
Of course once in the Gaspé area the thing to see is Percé Rock, a small island off shore that has a natural arch cut in it. We over-nighted at the local village and saw both the spectacular sunset and sunrise at Percé.
From Percé we continued on the coast road around the southern part of the Gaspé peninsula to New Richmond. From there we cut back across the peninsula on a lovely mountain road that returned us to Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts. We traveled west, doubling back along the shore road to Matane, where we took a ferry across the St. Lawrence River to Baie-Comeau and spent the night.
We dove west along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. While a bit more rural than the south shore, the trip was quite pleasant. Stopping in Tadoussac we had some fun. Tadoussac, at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Saguenay rivers, is a destination for tour buses coming from Quebec City for the day. Tadoussac was France’s first trading post on the mainland of New France and an important trading post in the seventeenth century, making it the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in Canada, and the oldest surviving French settlement in the Americas. As we pulled into the parking lot of the Tadoussac Hotel, all of a sudden a bunch of tourists piled off a bus and surrounded the GS. They were from France and had commented to the guide that they had not seen any Citroëns over here. The guide told them that Citroëns are not sold in North America and then added that if they saw one he would give them $50. Needless to say spotting a classic GS was the payoff for the group. And many of them knew Citroëns very well and appreciated that a mint 1971 GS was sight to behold not just here but in France! They asked a number of questions and took many pictures with the car.
After Tadoussac we continued west to Baie-Saint-Paul where we stopped at a beautiful motel high on a hill overlooking the St. Lawrence River. We had a delicious dinner and the next morning headed for Québec City. We drove through Quebec City marveling at the imposing Chateau Frontenac Hotel and the other quaint buildings that have survived for hundreds of years. And we were awed by a large cruise ship that had docked there for the day.
After Québec City we headed back along the north shore road to Montreal, staying overnight before the final leg of our trip back to Toronto.
The trip was absolutely fantastic. The scenery was gorgeous, the people friendly and the GS was a pleasure to drive. We had wonderful weather and racked up 3,600 kms on a route that I would do again in a heartbeat.
Anybody up for another Citroën driving tour of the Gaspé region?