This post is also available in: FR
This year, with our foreign travel plans in disarray, the Côte Nord was the place to be as we have already been to Gaspé, Bas-St-Laurent and Charlevoix several times. We left from Sherbrooke on July 11th in a Slingshot for an exotic road trip!
Right off the bat, I have to say thatyou have to be prepared and book everywhere, especially in this COVID context. Lodging is limited in Côte Nord, and when the hotels and lodging were “open”, I quickly understood that we had to act quickly because all the B&Bs and cottages were already full for the season after two days of opening. But I’ll come back to that later.
First of all, road 138 is absolutely superb, both for the quality of the asphalt (you won’t believe you’re in Quebec) and for the splendour of the landscape. At the turn of a curve, sometimes the sight of a small bay, sometimes the immensity of the taiga, the road is beautiful… but long.
The vastness of Quebec’s territory becomes apparent as you cross Côte Nord. In total we will have driven more than 3,100 km including three days under the intense rain… in a vehicle like the Slingshot, it is exhausting!
Here is our initial itinerary and the hotels where we stayed:
|Sherbrooke – La Malbaie
|La Malbaie – Baie-Comeau
|Petit Manoir du Casino Hotel
|Baie-Comeau – Manic 5 tour
|Hotel Le Manoir
|Baie-Comeau – Havre St-Pierre
|Vieux Townside Motel
|Havre St-Pierre – Round-trip to the end of route 138
|Vieux Townside Motel
|Havre St-Pierre – Sept-îles – Archipelago Tour
|Sept-Îles – Tadoussac
|Hotel Le Beluga
|Tadoussac – Lévis
|Four Points Levis
|Quebec – Trois-Rivières
|Trois-Rivières – Sherbrooke by ferry
Details of our visits
Passing through Baie-Comeau, we went to visit the Manic 5 hydroelectric plant. It was great!
Route 389 is spectacular in its own right, every motorcyclist has to go there at least once but it takes at least three hours to get there.
The free tour lasts 2 hours and you must book your spot. I recommend you do it by email, it’s quick and easy. Places are now limited to 8 people per visit – so you will have a VIP visit under high sanitary measures. You will be required to wear a mask and will be provided with a hard hat, goggles, headphones and an employee will clean the handles and handrails along the way. It could hardly be safer.
So three hours to get there, two hours to visit, another three hours on the way back, it’s a good day. The Saint-Pancrace microbrewery, in the bay of the same name, offers free guided tours of its facilities and the beer is excellent. It can be found everywhere in the region.
Havre Saint-Pierre is without a doubt our favourite and we should have stayed there for three nights instead of two in order to take full advantage of the place.
The people are welcoming and happy to show us the region… and what can I say about the accent: a mix of Acadian and Îles-de-la-Madeleine! A pleasure to hear.
Finally, in Havre Saint-Pierre, if you love fish and seafood, you must go and eat at Chez Julie.
Forget the trendy restaurant and the background music. The place looks more like an old-fashioned diner but the plate is generous (too much so), it’s fresh and it’s succulent. The short walk back to the motel helped us digest our gargantuan seafood platter!
You must book in advance (at least two weeks before) for an excursion to the islands of the Mingan Archipelago. Because of COVID, the number of spots on the boats is limited.
Excursions to the islands are offered from Havre Saint-Pierre or Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, located about 50 km from Havre Saint-Pierre. There are several islands to visit and the scenery is different from one island to another but equally spectacular.
We had also planned to go to the end of route 138 and visit Natashquan but fatigue (two days of rain before) got the better of us. We made our way to the charming little village of Baie-Johann-Beetz. A beautiful moment.
On the way back to Havre Saint-Pîerre, you should definitely stop at the lookout point, which offers a splendid view of the bay.
The beaches are beautiful all along the coast. Whether in Baie Trinité, Sept-Îles or Havre Saint-Pierre, you will discover miles of golden sand beaches. Moreover, you should not hesitate to leave the 138 to get lost (not really) in small villages nestled between the cliffs or bordering a beautiful bay or cove.
Let’s face it, most of the hotels could use a little refresh, but all were very decent. In Baie Comeau and Sept-Îles, there are Comfort Inns and Travelodges, but in all these cases, they are located on a commercial artery without interest.
We wanted to be as close to the river as possible and stayed atLe Manoir in Baie Comeau and Château Arnaud in Sept-Iles. In Baie Comeau, the Manoir lives up to its name with a manor style that gives it an old-fashioned charm. The rooms are small but the hotel has a splendid terrace overlooking the bay where we ate very well.
The points in all this?
I had planned to use AIR MILES miles to “pay” for hotels, but when I calculated the value, I realized that in most cases I was only getting 10 cents in value.
I used AIR MILES miles only for the hotel Le Manoir in Baie-Comeau where we stayed for two nights.
I also applied Membership Rewards from my American Express Business™ Platinum card on the expense of two hotels.
I have a lot of Aeroplan points (enough for an MRW and a trip in North America), so I decided to use Membership Rewards points.
I also used the American Express™ Gold Rewards Card for all gas expenses to earn 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar.
In total, we saved about $1,000 considering the Shop Small promotion credits and points applied.
For the grandiose landscapes, the wilderness and the taiga, the beautiful roads and the warm welcome of the locals, we really liked the Côte Nord. A beautiful region to discover.
Itinerary of our Road Trip on the North Coast
This post is also available in: FRCome to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!