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Day 1: Québec City, to Tadoussac, QC
One of the oldest European settlements in North America, Québec takes its name from the Algonquin word meaning 'where the river narrows.' The city that Champlain founded in 1608 was the capital of New France, and later, of British North America. Today, the proud capital of the province of the same name boasts the old-world charms of Vieux Québec, the world-famous Chateau Frontenac Hotel, and the only remaining intact citadel walls in North America. Cultural riches, superb cuisine, and an incredible view over the river make Québec the perfect place to begin our voyage. A city tour is available for those who are interested in the morning.
Day 2: Saguenay Fjord
The Saguenay drains fresh water from Lac St. Jean, but the greater part of its volume is salt tidal water from the Saint Lawrence Estuary. The result is an ideal habitat for marine mammals including four species of whales - fin, minke, blue, and the famous (and endangered) Saguenay beluga population. Saguenay-Saint Lawrence Marine Park and Saguenay Fjord National Park both protect the region's vast natural riches.
Day 3: Lower Saint Lawrence
Today we will be exploring the south coast of the Lower Saint Lawrence. Our stop is weather-dependent; ideally we will have favourable conditions for an excursion to the famed Reford Gardens. The gardens are home to a sculpture park, art installations, and an array of unique floral walks and enclosures.
Day 4: Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
The spectacular natural sculptures of the Mingan Islands are formed of limestone, shaped by the action of the sea. At 50 degrees N, these islands owe as much to the north as to the east for their character. Atlantic puffins and Arctic eiders vie for the attention of birders, while harp, harbour and gray seals cavort in the waters. Not to be outdone, the flora of the islands is wildly diverse, including 450 plant species, 190 lichens and 300 mosses!
Day 5: Forillon National Park / Gaspé
The Gaspé Peninsula, also known as Gaspésie, separates the mouth of the Saint Lawrence from Baie de Chaleur. Dominated by high cliffs on the north shore, the Gaspé includes the contours of the Appalachian Mountain chain and offers amazing views from its highland regions, which jut above the treeline.
Day 6: Île Bonaventure National Park / Percé
Parc National de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé is the formal name of the park at the eastern tip of the Gaspé Peninsula. But most Canadians are more familiar with its best-known feature, the awe-inspiring Percé Rock. The area's flora and fauna are world-renowned, including famous colonies of northern gannets. The largest of these is on Bonaventure Island and comprises nearly 50,000 pairs.
Day 7: Magdalen Islands, QC
Long frequented by Mi'kmaq people, likely walrus hunters, the Magdalen Islands (les Îles-de-la-Madeleine) in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence were first sighted by Europeans when Jacques Cartier sailed among them in 1534. Today, although closer to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, they form a regional municipality of the province of Québec.
Day 8: Cape Breton Island
Today we call in at picturesque Cape Breton Island, an island comprising rocky shores, rolling farmland, glacial valleys, barren headlands, mountains, woods, and plateaus. A day of memorable hiking and cultural experiences awaits us here.
Day 9: Expedition Stop
Newfoundland's south coast offers many surprises, including vast stretches of virtually uninhabited wilderness. Fjords, cliffs, and islands offer excellent Zodiac cruising territory and terrific birding opportunities. We will be availing ourselves of all the area has to offer and may be stopping in any of several possible destinations depending on conditions.
Day 10: Saint-Pierre, FR
On a trip that traces the history and geography of New France, it's appropriate that we wind up in France. Saint-Pierre remains an official territory of the French Republic, albeit only a few dozen kilometres off the shore of Newfoundland.
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