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  • Writer's picturePatrice Gagnon

Quebec Road Trip: 7-Day Photography Adventure to Hidden Gems Beyond Montreal and Quebec City

Quebec is a province filled with diverse landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, making it a perfect destination for travel photography. This seven-day road trip itinerary is designed to take you on a journey through some of Quebec's most scenic and lesser-known spots, bypassing the popular cities of Montreal and Quebec City. From breathtaking coastal views and charming towns to incredible wildlife and stunning geological formations, this adventure promises a wealth of photo opportunities and unforgettable experiences. Join us as we explore Quebec's hidden gems, capturing the beauty and essence of this remarkable region.





This is the best itinerary for a 7 day road trip in the province of Quebec:


Day 1: The Journey to Percé


Percé, Quebec
Percé, Quebec

Morning Departure from your location:

Start your adventure early in the morning from wherever you are in Quebec, aiming for a multi-hour drive to Percé. The journey will span several kilometers and offers some incredible scenic views along Autoroute 20 and Route 132, especially as you drive alongside the St. Lawrence River and through the Bas-Saint-Laurent region.


Scenic Stops:

Make sure to stop at Chute à Philomène. This spot is a must-visit for its thrilling views and unique photography opportunities. Walk out onto the ramp that extends into the valley and experience the breathtaking view of the waterfall from the glass floor beneath your feet. Using a wide-angle lens here can help you capture the entire valley and the waterfall in one expansive shot.


Point-au-Pere:

Another great stop is near Rimouski, where you can find a picturesque lighthouse and an old harbor. Despite any gray skies, this area offers dramatic photo opportunities with its beach and historic structures, providing a timeless and atmospheric feel to your photos.


Arrival in Percé:

Arrive in Percé late in the evening, and prepare for a quieter, more rustic experience as the town has limited street lighting. If you're staying in an Airbnb or similar accommodation, particularly in more remote areas like a farm, navigating might be a bit tricky in the dark. However, the peacefulness and unique setting are well worth it.


Day 2: Exploring Bonaventure Island


Bonaventure Island, Quebec
Bonaventure Island, Quebec

Morning in Percé:

Start your day early and arrive in Percé by 8:30 AM to catch the first boat to Bonaventure Island. Two companies, Batelier de Percé and Croisières Julien Cloutier, offer transport to the island. You can choose either one, as both provide excellent services. They also offer a short, one-hour boat tour en route to the island, which is a great opportunity to capture some stunning marine and coastal shots.


Bonaventure Island Provincial Park:

Once you arrive on Bonaventure Island, you’ll find yourself in a wildlife photographer’s paradise. The island is home to one of the largest colonies of Northern Gannets in the world. With thousands of birds nesting on the cliffs, you’ll have plenty of chances to capture breathtaking images of these majestic birds in their natural habitat.


Hiking and Exploring:

Spend most of the day hiking and exploring the island. There are several trails to choose from, each offering unique views of the landscape. Along the way, you’ll come across old houses, an historic cemetery, and expansive beaches. The island’s coastal beauty is stunning, with rugged cliffs and serene beaches providing endless photo opportunities.


Photography Tips:

  • Bird Photography: Bring a telephoto lens to capture detailed shots of the Northern Gannets and other wildlife.

  • Landscape Shots: Use a wide-angle lens to capture the expansive beaches and dramatic cliffs.

  • Historic Sites: Take your time to explore and photograph the old houses and cemetery, which add a touch of historical intrigue to your shots.


Return to Percé:

In the late afternoon, take the boat back to Percé. The last return is at 4 PM, giving you ample time to capture the evening light over the water and the town.


Day 3: From Percé to Matane


On the road from Percé to Matane
On the road from Percé to Matane

Morning in Percé:

Consider spending a relaxed morning in Percé. If you’re interested in exploring more, you have the option to visit Plage Haldimand and the Flèche de Penouille. Both spots offer fantastic opportunities for beach photography and capturing the unique coastal landscapes of the region.


Percé Geopark:

If you have extra time, Percé Geopark is worth a visit. The park features stunning geological formations and offers various activities, including hiking trails that provide breathtaking views of the area. It’s an excellent spot for both landscape and nature photography.


Lunch in Percé:

Enjoy a leisurely lunch in town. Percé has several charming eateries where you can savor local cuisine and maybe even get a taste of the region’s seafood specialties.


Drive to Matane:

In the afternoon, depart for Matane. The drive takes about four hours, offering some of the most scenic views in all of Quebec as you travel along the coast of the Saint Lawrence River. The highway runs alongside the water, providing numerous opportunities to stop at beautiful, lesser-known beaches. These spots are perfect for capturing the serene beauty of the Saint Lawrence, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot some sea lions.



Seafood Stop:

On your way to Matane, make a stop to buy fresh seafood. Quebec is known for its delicious crab, shrimp, and other seafood delicacies. This is a great opportunity to capture some photos of local markets and the fresh catch of the day.


Evening in Matane:

Once you arrive in Matane, settle into your Airbnb. Use the fresh seafood you purchased to prepare a feast. This can be a relaxing evening to enjoy local flavors and unwind after the day’s journey. Matane is an ideal place to stay because it positions you conveniently for the early morning ferry across the Saint Lawrence River the next day, saving you from a very early wake-up call after a long drive.


Photography Tips:

  • Beach and Landscape Shots: If you visit Plage Haldimand or Flèche de Penouille, use a wide-angle lens to capture the expansive beaches and unique coastal formations.

  • Scenic Highway: Take advantage of the numerous stopping points along the highway for stunning shots of the Saint Lawrence and the surrounding landscape.

  • Seafood Photography: Capture the vibrant colors and textures of the fresh seafood with a macro lens or in close-up shots.

  • Evening Light: Take advantage of the evening light in Matane for some cozy and atmospheric indoor shots of your seafood feast.


Day 4: Ferry to Havre Saint Pierre with a Stop in Sept-Îles


Sept-Iles, Quebec
Sept-Iles, Quebec

Early Morning in Matane:

Start your day early to catch the ferry across the Saint Lawrence River. Arrive at the terminal by 7:15 AM for the 8 AM ferry to ensure you have enough time to prepare for the journey. The ferry ride offers fantastic views of the river, so have your camera ready to capture the early morning light over the water.


Exploring Sept-Îles:

After arriving in Sept-Îles, you’ll have most of the day to explore this charming coastal town. Here are three must-visit spots:


  1. Parc Aylmer-Whittom: This hidden gem is a local favorite where you can meet friendly squirrels and chipmunks. Bring some shelled peanuts, and you'll quickly have these cute critters climbing on you for treats. It's a unique experience that's great for kids and offers plenty of fun photo opportunities.

  2. The Old Wharf (La Vieille Quai): Head to this scenic spot by the water where you can see the seven islands that give Sept-Îles its name. The boardwalk here is perfect for a leisurely stroll, and you'll find several nice restaurants nearby where you can enjoy some fresh seafood. It's a great place to capture photos of the coastline and the islands.

  3. Plage Ferguson: Sept-Îles is renowned for its beautiful beaches, and Plage Ferguson is a standout. It shares its coastline with Plage Monaghan and Plage Moisie, forming a stretch of about 14 kilometers of pristine sand. If the weather is nice, you can spend a wonderful day at the beach. The sand here is as fine as the beaches in Cuba, making it a perfect spot for relaxing and photography.


Optional Activities:

If you have more time to spend in Sept-Îles, consider these additional activities:


  • Boat Tour of the Islands: Take a boat tour to explore the protected islands and spot sea lions and rare birds. This offers incredible opportunities for wildlife photography.


  • Overnight Stay on Île Grande Basque: For a truly unique experience, spend the night on Île Grande Basque. This lush, jungle-like island has beautiful beaches where you can camp in a tent or stay in pre-made accommodations. You'll have the beach to yourself at night, creating a magical atmosphere for evening photography.


Arrival in Havre Saint Pierre:

After spending the day in Sept-Îles, continue your journey to Havre Saint Pierre. This small town is known for its stunning natural beauty, particularly the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, which you can explore the next day.


Photography Tips:

  • Ferry Ride: Use a polarizing filter to reduce glare and enhance the colors of the water and sky during the ferry ride.

  • Wildlife Photography: At Parc Aylmer-Whittom, use a fast shutter speed to capture the lively squirrels and chipmunks in action.

  • Beach Photography: Capture the fine sand and expansive views of Plage Ferguson with a wide-angle lens.

  • Evening Light: In Havre Saint Pierre, take advantage of the evening light to capture the serene coastal landscapes and the town's tranquil atmosphere.


Day 5: Exploring Mingan National Park


Mingan National Park, Quebec
Mingan National Park, Quebec

Morning in Havre Saint Pierre:

Start your day by heading to Mingan National Park Reserve. This stunning park is known for its impressive limestone monoliths and diverse wildlife. You can explore the park from two main access points: Havre Saint Pierre or Mingan. Each offers unique sights and experiences.


Exploring from Havre Saint Pierre:

If you choose to explore from Havre Saint Pierre, you'll have access to Grande Île, where you can see some of the park’s largest monoliths. These towering rock formations make for striking photos, especially with the coastal backdrop.


Exploring from Mingan:

Alternatively, if you decide to visit from Mingan, you can access islands with notable features such as a historic lighthouse and the habitat of the North Atlantic puffin, known locally as the macareux. These rare birds are a delight to photograph and a highlight for any wildlife enthusiast.


Boat Tours and Island Hopping:

To explore the islands, you'll need to book a boat tour with a local company. These tours often include stops where you can disembark and spend time on the islands. If you were to stay longer, you could dedicate one day to each side of the park, but for this trip, choose the side that interests you most.


Photography Tips:

  • Monoliths and Landscapes: Use a wide-angle lens to capture the grandeur of the monoliths and the expansive coastal views.

  • Wildlife: For the North Atlantic puffin and other birds, a telephoto lens is essential to get detailed shots without disturbing the wildlife.

  • Golden Hour: Plan your visit to coincide with the golden hours of sunrise or sunset to get the best lighting for your photos.


Dark-Sky Preserve:

While this itinerary doesn’t include an overnight stay, it's worth noting that Mingan National Park is a designated dark-sky preserve. If you extend your trip, consider camping on one of the islands to experience the stunning night sky. You may even spot bioluminescent plankton during the summer months.


Evening in Havre Saint Pierre:

After a day of exploration, return to Havre Saint Pierre for a relaxing evening. Enjoy a local meal and review the day’s photos, reflecting on the natural beauty you’ve experienced.


Day 6: Journey to Tadoussac


Tadoussac, Quebec
Tadoussac, Quebec

Morning Departure from Havre Saint Pierre:

Begin your day early to embark on the approximately seven-hour drive to Tadoussac. This long drive will primarily be about reaching your destination, but there are a few interesting stops along the way to make the journey more enjoyable.


Seasonal Stops:

If you're traveling during the right season, consider stopping to pick some wild blueberries or raspberries. These berries can be a delicious snack for the road or a special treat to take home. They are also perfect for making pies or jams.


Rivière-aux-Tonnerres:

Make a stop at Rivière-aux-Tonnerres to pick up some Thé de Chicouté, also known as Labrador Tea. This unique tea, which only grows above the 44th parallel, is a wonderful souvenir and a delightful beverage to enjoy later.


Arrival in Tadoussac:

Aim to arrive in Tadoussac in time for dinner. The town is known for its excellent restaurants offering a variety of local dishes. After a long drive, enjoy a hearty meal and take in the charming atmosphere of this coastal village.



Tadoussac Sand Dunes:

If you arrive in Tadoussac with some daylight left, make sure to visit the Tadoussac sand dunes. These sand dunes are built on the side of a mountain and offer an epic view of the Saint Lawrence River and the coast. It's a popular spot for both locals and visitors. You can drive just five minutes into the forest to reach the dunes. The view from the top is perfect for photography, capturing the vast expanse of the river and the reflective, glass-like water.


You can also walk or run down the dunes to the water below. Once there, explore the coastline, which features small holes and caves. It's a fantastic spot for photos and exploration. Consider bringing a picnic to enjoy at the top of the dunes, making the most of this stunning location.


Evening Exploration:

After dinner and visiting the sand dunes, spend the evening exploring Tadoussac. The town is particularly beautiful at night, with its quaint streets and waterfront views. Take a leisurely walk around, and consider stopping by a local tavern for a drink. Tadoussac has a vibrant nightlife, with bars that stay open late, providing a cozy and inviting place to unwind.


Photography Tips:

  • Seasonal Fruits: Capture the vibrant colors and textures of the wild berries you find along the way.

  • Sand Dunes: Use a wide-angle lens to capture the sweeping views from the top of the dunes and the unique reflective water below.

  • Evening Shots: Use a tripod for steady nighttime photography in Tadoussac, capturing the illuminated streets and serene waterfront.

  • Local Culture: Document your experience at the tavern, focusing on the ambiance and interactions to convey the local culture and atmosphere.


Day 7: Whale Watching in Tadoussac


Whale watching in Tadoussac
Whale watching in Tadoussac

Morning Whale Watching Tour:

Start your final day with an unforgettable whale-watching tour in Tadoussac. This area is renowned for its incredible whale-watching opportunities. For the best experience, opt for a smaller boat tour. These smaller vessels allow you to get closer to the whales and offer unobstructed views, making for fantastic photo opportunities. Larger cruise boats are also available, but they tend to be crowded and can't get as close to the whales.


During your tour, you can expect to see several types of whales, including humpback whales, blue whales, and beluga whales. In addition, you might spot sea lions and a variety of bird species. The peak whale-watching season in Tadoussac is from June to September, but whales can be seen from May to October.


Whale Watching Tips:

  • Camera Gear: Bring a telephoto lens to capture detailed shots of the whales.

  • Weather Protection: Dress warmly and consider bringing a waterproof case or cover for your camera, as it can get wet on the smaller boats.

  • Patience: Be patient and ready to shoot quickly, as whales can surface unexpectedly.


Optional Bear Safari:

If you have extra time and want to extend your stay in Tadoussac, consider adding a bear safari to your itinerary. This guided tour takes you into the wilderness to spot bears in their natural habitat. The best times for bear sightings are in the morning and evening. Depending on the season, it can be easier or harder to find bears, but the experience is thrilling and offers another unique photography opportunity.


Afternoon and Drive Home:

After your morning adventures, spend the afternoon exploring Tadoussac a bit more if you have time. Enjoy a leisurely lunch and soak in the charming atmosphere one last time before starting your journey home.


Return Journey:

The drive back home will likely be long, so plan for some rest stops along the way to break up the trip. Reflect on the incredible experiences and photographs you've captured over the past week.


Conclusion


This seven-day road trip through Quebec offers an incredible journey filled with breathtaking landscapes, rich wildlife, and unique cultural experiences. Starting with the drive to Percé, the adventure begins with scenic stops and thrilling photo opportunities. Chute à Philomène and the historic lighthouse near Rimouski set the tone for the days to come.


Exploring Bonaventure Island and its impressive bird colony provides a day of immersion in nature. The drive from Percé to Matane, with its coastal beauty and fresh seafood stops, adds culinary delight to the itinerary. The ferry ride to Havre Saint Pierre and the exploration of Mingan National Park highlight Quebec's natural wonders and offer stunning vistas of monoliths and wildlife.


The journey continues to Tadoussac, where the magnificent sand dunes and vibrant evening atmosphere await. The final day caps off the adventure with an exhilarating whale-watching tour, showcasing humpback, blue, and beluga whales, as well as sea lions and various bird species. For those with extra time, the optional bear safari adds another layer of excitement.

This itinerary not only offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure but also provides ample opportunities for stunning travel photography. From the coastal landscapes to the vibrant wildlife, each day presents unique scenes and experiences that capture the essence of Quebec’s beauty.


Embark on this road trip to discover the diverse and majestic landscapes of Quebec, creating memories and photographs that will last a lifetime.


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About the Author


Patrice Gagnon is a photographer based in Montreal with over ten years of experience in travel photography. His work focuses on capturing the essence of the places he visits, showcasing their natural beauty and unique cultural aspects. Through his blog, Traveling for Photography, Patrice aims to inspire and guide fellow photographers to explore the world and create stunning images.

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