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Le Boreal Travel Journal - Boston to Montreal 10-Day Cruise

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7 of 15

Day 5 - Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec - Afternoon Tour
Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec

Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec

Iles de la Madeleine (c) Linda Garrison
Our guide Susan and driver Stephan also did the afternoon English tour in the Iles de la Madeleine. We had 14 this time, with about half of us from the morning tour. It was so nice to have such a small tour group, one of the advantages of being in the English-speaking minority on Le Boreal. Whereas the morning tour focused on the history and culture of the archipelago, the afternoon tour was more about the natural beauty and geological heritage. These islands date back over 70,000 years ago, and are mainly formed by long sand dunes resulting from the constant erosion of magnificent red sandstone cliffs. We drove for about an hour to the furthest northeast point of the islands at Ile de la Grande Entree, which meant that those of us on both tours had traveled the entire length of the drivable archipelago. We drove across the mostly English island of Ile de Grosse, passing by the salt mine and stopping in Grande Entree on the island of the same name. Grand Entree is the "lobster capital of Quebec", with 125 lobster fishermen (of the 325 on the island) living there. We had about 30 minutes to look around at the boats, the beach, and the small boutique shops.

Leaving Grande Entree, we stopped at one of the tall cliffs overlooking a lovely beach on the island. It was near the town of Old Harry, which was the site of the walrus hunts of the 17th and 18th centuries. These hunts brought the first Basques to the islands. The huge walruses would pile up on the rocky banks and use their giant tusks to climb the rocks. The walruses were slaughtered for their oil and meat, and by 1799 the whole herd had been destroyed. No walruses exist in the islands today. I couldn't help but wonder if all of the strict lobster fishing regulations are in place because of what happened with the walruses.

The bus took us back along Route 199 to South Dune Beach on Havre aux Maisons island. This sandy beach was easily accessible and was lined with picturesque, dramatic red limestone cliffs. Many of the cliffs had caves carved into them, and you could walk about about 20 feet or more. The sea oats lining the dunes were spectacular, and the beach was quiet and perfect for walking. It was weird to have these dunes that look brownish-green from far away. Leaving this beach area, we drove along a gravel road to a lighthouse with a view of nearby Ile d'Entree (Entry Island), which is the only inhabited island not connected to the rest of the island chain. It has 100 residents, mostly of Scottish and Irish heritage.

Our last stop was at Belle Anse on Cap-aux-Meules. It also had wonderful red cliffs and great views. These cliffs have been subject to slides, so we couldn't get too close.

We got back to Le Boreal at 6:30, just in time to clean up a little before drinks and dinner. I had a tomato basil soup, salad, and pasta with veggies and a light tomato sauce. Yummy. A poached pear for dessert was the perfect ending to an excellent meal. The two singers and onboard pianists were the headliners in the cabaret theater, but I was too tired to attend. Others said they did a good job.

We would be in Perce, Quebec the next, and I have an afternoon tour to Bonaventure Island, home of 250,000 gannets.

Le Boreal New England and Atlantic Canada Cruise Travel Journal

  1. Overview and Embarkation
  2. Bar Harbor, Maine
  3. Halifax, Nova Scotia
  4. Halifax - Peggy's Cove
  5. Louisbourg, Nova Scotia
  6. Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec (Magdalen Islands) - Morning Tour
  7. Iles de la Madeleine - Afternoon Tour
  8. Perce, Quebec
  9. Perce - Bonaventure Island
  10. Havre St. Pierre, Quebec - Niapiskau Island
  11. Havre St. Pierre, Quebec - Quarry Island
  12. Tadoussac, Quebec
  13. Saguenay, Quebec
  14. Quebec City
  15. Montreal and Disembarkation

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