Day 15 |
Sep 11, 2009

Iles De La Madeleine Quebec, Canada

By Claudia Holgate, Ornithologist

Co-ordinates: 47° 22’ 42” N 61° 51’ 19”W

Weather: Warm and sunny

Air Temperature: 15C (59F)

Pressure: 1009hPa

Wind: 70km/h NE

Today we had a morning at sea, which meant that everyone could sleep in and relax after yesterday’s wonderful but exhausting day at Gros Morne National Park. The morning consisted of a talk by the onboard Cruise Consultant, Kinga, who chatted about the other Silversea ships in the fleet and their itineraries, as well as where the Prince Albert II would be going. Our Expedition Leader, Robin, also added in a bit about the Polar itineraries and what times were best to visit the Arctic and Antarctic regions, depending on what you wanted to see.

A briefing on tomorrow’s landing at Louisburg followed as we were only going to return from today’s adventure late in the evening so there would not be time for a briefing before dinner. Lunch was a hurried affair and way too close to breakfast as we were due to come alongside at 12pm, so we all ate a small lunch at 11am, enough to last us for the rest of the afternoon.

After clearing the ship into the Iles de la Madeleine, where we docked, we split up into our three groups to go on a tour of this beautiful little island. Our group started with a visit to the smokehouse (Fumoir d’antan), which is where they traditionally used to smoke herring. Although most of the smokehouses closed down due to a drop in the Herring stocks, this one has remained open and active. Going into the timber building where they had been smoking fish for 60 years was a sensory experience of note as the fragrant smoky smell had infiltrated the very fabric of the building. We also had the opportunity to taste smoked and marinated herring.

On we went to the cheese factory (Fromagerie Pied de Vent), where they create two exceptional raw milk cheeses, called the “Pied de Vent” and the “Tommes Des Demoiselle”, which take 6 months to mature and which, if left sealed will last up to 12 years. They also produce a curiosity of chocolate covered cheese, which I didn’t taste for fear of becoming addicted.

Our next visit was to the Belle Anse, which took us past the South Dune beach, which is a beautiful expanse of 22 km of yellow-sand beaches. The steep cliffs of Belle Anse are a stunning deep red sandstone buffeted by the sea, creating archways and a sculpted cliff face. This is a problem for residents as it is eroding away at a rate of 60cm per annum, but for visitors it is a spectacular sight.

Our next few stops were of a retail nature, the first being “La Cote”, a lovely bay area where we could look at some of the local art and have a cup of coffee while soaking in the atmosphere of this little island.

Our next stop was a longer stop at the historical site of “La Grave” where there was a museum and aquarium as well as an abundance of souvenir shops with some local handiwork and art. The group split up and people went shopping or to the local coffee house where we tried out the local cuisine and cappuccino.

On to our penultimate stop which was the Artisans du stable, where they create amazing artwork out of sand. For those in need of retail therapy there was something for everyone, from small magnets made out of sand, to beautiful carvings. A really magical place to visit!

Our last stop was a very brief stop at the cathedral, which is a magnificent white building, standing out from all the others in town. We didn’t stay here long as it was time to head back to the ship, where we were greeted by the hotel staff with welcome back signs.

What a wonderful day on a beautiful little island that most of us thought had a magical quality and where we would definitely like to come back to and spend a bit more time exploring the different facets which I think makes this the gem of Quebec.