South St. Lawrence Attractions
The region offers exceptional sights and attractions to suit the most astute of traveller, whether pursuits are leisurely, recreational or for the purpose of uncovering local heritage and culture. A world of wonder awaits visitors of this magical region, outlined below in six main districts and offering an overview of top destinations and their prime attractions.
Nestled half-way between the cities of Montreal and Quebec City along the river shoreline and extending inland to the borders of the Eastern Townships and the Chaudiere region, the Central Quebec region is characterized by its year-round travelling experiences, quaint country villages and a rich, cultural heritage.
Drummondville, one of the larger centres in this district, is home to innovative gallery spaces and the popular Village Quebecois d'Antan, a heritage village that recreates village life as it were in the late 19th century.
History and natural wonder abounds in the town of Victoriaville, home to Canadian Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier, whose life is celebrated at the Musee Laurier, site of his former summer home along the illustrious Rue Laurier west. Just southwest of the town centre sits Mont St-Michel, re-designated as Mont Arthabaska in 2001 and a hub for recreational activities for all seasons, including hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, disc golf, snowshoeing and tobogganing. Its summit observation deck offers inspiring vistas, including views of the town, surrounding villages and valleys.
Long regarded as having some of the most picturesque settings in all of Quebec, the Eastern Townships (Cantons-de-l'Est) sit at the southeastern most point of the province along the United States border and is marked by its undulating hillsides and collections of quaint villages, including Bromont, Brome Lake, Magog, Coaticook (also home to the spectacular Coaticook Gorge) and Cowansville.
Sitting centrally within the region is the bustling city of Sherbrooke, replete with modern amenities and attractions to suit all ages. A burgeoning wine route, highlighted by fruit-producing vineyards in Sutton, Dunham, Brome Lake and Cowansville appeal to those seeking an agrotourism-based getaway, while nature lovers will appreciate the abundance of recreational opportunities available. Lakeside beaches, maple sugar shacks and three impressive national parks—Mont Megantic National Park (home of the ASTROLab astronomy observatory centre), Mont-Orford National Park and Frontenac Provincial Park—all make for inspiring experiences true to Eastern Township form.
Intersected by the Chaudiere River valley and bordered by the St. Lawrence to the north and the Appalachians to the south, the Chaudiere-Appalaches region is characterized by its unique topography and profound historical roots, matched only by the impressive heritage of nearby Quebec City.
Spring and autumn in the Montmagny area come alive with the migration of hundreds of thousands of snow geese, who stop to feed on locally-abundant rhizomes that grow along the southern sandbanks of the St. Lawrence. This unique migratory event is interpreted at the Centre des Migrations, which offers observation areas and exhibits sure to delight all ages.
Inland, the region is dotted with hundreds of hamlets and small villages, including the community of Thetford Mines, where visitors can uncover the science of regional mining processes at the Thetford Mines Mineralogical and Mineral Museum.
Stretching along the St. Lawrence from La Pocatiere north to Rimouski and inland to the border of the province of New Brunswick, the Lower St. Lawrence region (Bas Saint-Laurent) is characterized by a mix of coastal shores, eco-rich islets, a deep maritime heritage, interior highlands and dense backcountry landscapes.
Riviere du-Loup, one of the larger centres within this region and also renowned for its spectacular sunsets, offers a great mix of natural attractions, modern amenities and culture, all available for exploring at regional museums and parks.
Basque culture and fishing traditions thrive in the small coastal community of Trois-Pistoles, while Le Bic National Park, with its awe-inspiring collection of bays, islands, rocky capes, marine bird refuges and conical hills, offers all-season recreation sure to inspire nature enthusiasts.
Rimmed by the Appalachian mountain chain and surrounded by majestic waterways on three sides, the Gaspé Peninsula is a veritable recreational paradise, replete with rugged coastlines, mountainous wilderness and two renowned and vast national parks, including the centrally-located Gaspesie National Park, the archaeologically-rich Miguasha National Park along the southern shores facing northern New Brunswick and the diverse Forillon National Park, situated on the easternmost tip of the peninsula.
Seafaring heritage is apparent along the coastal villages and towns that dot the peninsula and offer the opportunity to explore local museums, interpretive centres and nautically inspired artistic enclaves like Perce, which is known for its sweeping vistas and iconic centrepiece, Percé Rock.
The harbour town of Gaspé, complete with a compact commercial district and essential services, is a good base for exploring the picturesque Forillon Park and the nearby Cap-des-Rosiers lighthouse, erected in 1858 and the tallest of its kind in all of Canada.
Nestled in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence approximately 215 km (134 mi) from the Gaspé Peninsula, the Iles-de-la-Madeleine archipelago is a distinctive part of Quebec's landscape.
Accessible by air from Gaspé and Montreal and by ferry transfer from Montreal, Quebec City and Souris, Prince Edward Island, the isolated island destination is known for its expansive dunes, white sand stretches of beaches, red rock cliffs, quaint fishing villages and strong ties to tradition and Francophone culture.
Six main islands comprise the region, each offering their own distinct sights and attractions, ranging from historic places of worship to interpretive centres that showcase local customs, regional ecology, marine life and longstanding seafaring traditions.