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Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec

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Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, Canada


The Îles-de-la-Madeleine, or 'Magdalen Islands', form a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence with a land area of 79.36 square miles (205.53 square kilometres). Though closer to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, the islands form part of the Canadian province of Quebec. Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine encompass eight major islands: Havre-Aubert, Grande Entrée, Cap aux Meules, Grosse-Île, Havre aux Maisons, Pointe-Aux-Loups, Île d'Entrée and Brion. All except Brion are inhabited. Several other tiny islands are also considered part of the archipelago: Rocher aux Oiseaux; Île aux Loups-marins; Île Paquet; and Rocher du Corps Mort.


Although Europeans first arrived on the islands in the mid-1600s, Mi'kmaq Indians had been visiting the islands for hundreds of years, and numerous archaeological sites have been excavated on the archipelago. By the mid-18th century, the islands were inhabited by French-speaking Acadians, and administered as part of the colony of Newfoundland from 1763-1774, when they were annexed to Quebec by the Quebec Act. A segment of the population are English descendants from survivors of the over 400 shipwrecks on the islands. The construction of lighthouses eventually reduced the number of shipwrecks, but many old hulks remain on the beaches and under the waters. Until the 20th century, the islands were completely isolated during the winter months due to the pack ice that made the trip to the mainland impassable by boat. However, a new wireless telegraph station provided Magdalens with year-round communication with the outside world.


In recent years, the pristine natural beauty of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, along with the archipelago's strategic geographic location in the heart of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, has made tourism an important part of the local economy. The well-preserved natural heritage, extraordinarily beautiful marine landscapes and exceptional coastline of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine offer visitors a unique opportunity to explore the area's natural splendour. The panoramic archipelago features dramatic red cliffs, rolling green hills, brightly-coloured houses, intimate inlets, hidden coves, and over 180 miles (290 kilometres) of honey-coloured and white-sand beaches; half of the archipelago's islands are linked by sand dunes. The Îles-de-la-Madeleine are also home to a wealth of diverse marine life, bird species, and flora and fauna to discover.


The Îles-de-la-Madeleine offer a truly distinctive blend of Acadian, Madelinot, French and English cultures, traditions and communities that make this breath-taking archipelago a truly unforgettable destination. You can explore the people and history of the islands during visits to the many wonderful museums and interpretation centres, public areas and historical sites, art galleries, artisan workshops, archival centres, performing arts and theatres, industrial facilities, culinary and wine shops, charming boutiques, and cultural and gourmet festivals and events.


The exquisite natural and coastal splendour of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine include a host of incredibly scenic and memorable sightseeing venues. Land-based excursions include picturesque nature hikes, walking trails, bicycling, bird-watching, horseback riding, golfing at the Club de golf des Iles, kite-flying, and flightseeing. The teeming coastal waters are ideally-suited for seal- and whale-watching, mariculture, canoeing, sea-kayaking, surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, fishing, boating, sailing and Zodiac tours, snorkelling, scuba diving, and more.


Going Ashore in Îles-de-la-Madeleine


Pier Information


The ship may be at anchor. Guests will tender ashore to the Cap-aux-Meules Pier. The town centre can be reached via a 437-yard (400-metre) walk on-foot.


Shopping


Shopping opportunities in the Magdalen Islands include an outstanding and diverse selection of local food, wine, spirits, artwork, and artisanal handicrafts throughout the archipelago. Local crafts can be found at the Site Historique de la Grave, and a wide array of locally-produced items at Centre d'achats Place des Îles, a large shopping centre on Cap aux Meules Island. The local currency is the Canadian Dollar.


Cuisine


The Îles-de-la-Madeleine are home to many producers, growers and artisans of local products, and renowned for their wonderful seafood dishes and products, meats, cheeses, crafted beers, local wines, berries, jams, preserves, and seasonings. Popular restaurants in-and-around the Îles-de-la-Madeleine include La Table des Roy, La Moulière (Domaine du Vieux Couvent), Resto-Bistro les Pas Perdus, and Le Café de la Grave, Le Flâneur, La Poissonière, Boulangerie Madelon, Café la Côte, Resto Bistro Italien des Iles, and La Patio.


Other Sights


City Centre

The Îles-de-la-Madeleine's city centre is easily-accessible on-foot or by taxi. In addition to local landmarks and shopping and dining venues, the city centre offers stunning vistas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, offshore islands of the archipelago, pristine beaches, intimate coves, hidden inlets, fishing boats, and more.


Museums

The Îles-de-la-Madeleine features an eclectic selection of museums and interpretation centres that explore the local culture, art and history of the archipelago. Explore unique artwork and disguises at the Mi-Carême Eco-Museum; sand sculptures at the Économusêe du Sable; interactive exhibits and a film about the history, science and ecology of seals at the Centre d'Interprétation du Phoque; exhibits and information about lobstering at La Shed à Jean-Guy; salt industry exhibits at the Mines Seleine's interpretation Centre; farming and fishing equipment, memorabilia and photographs at the Entry Island Heritage Museum; cheese-making at the Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent; the history of the archipelago at the Musée de la Mer; the veterans park and little red schoolhouse at the Musée des Vétérans et Parc Commémoratif; and the culture of the Magdalen Islanders and Acadian lifestyle at Le Site d'Autrefois.


La Grave Historical Site

With its traditional character and architecture, this unique historical site is a fascinating testimonial to the islands' past. Extending over and around its pebble beach, La Grave was the sight of the islands' first settlement, and beginning of the archipelago's fishery. Today, it features restaurants, cafés, shops, an aquarium, museums, a marina, theatre, and different events.


Churches

Discover the religious heritage of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine at the Church of Saint-Pierre in Lavernière, the second-largest wooden church in North America, Church of Holy Trinity in Grosse-Île with its splendid stained glass windows depicting scenes of local life, and Church Notre-Dame du Rosaire of Fatima, whose design is representative of a seashell.


Arts & Crafts

The Îles-de-la-Madeleine boast a plethora of skilled artisans producing unique artwork and handicrafts using a wide array of diverse methods and materials. Venues include Limaçon, Galerie-Boutique Le Flâneur, Économusêe du Sable, Jaspe Rouge, Boutique d'Art Tendance, La Maison du Potier, Bijoux Belle et Nathan, La Maison du Héron, La Pierre des Îles, La Poterie du Cap Blanc, Créations Huguette Joncas, and many more.

Lighthouses

Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, Canada


The Îles-de-la-Madeleine, or 'Magdalen Islands', form a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence with a land area of 79.36 square miles (205.53 square kilometres). Though closer to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, the islands form part of the Canadian province of Quebec. Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine encompass eight major islands: Havre-Aubert, Grande Entrée, Cap aux Meules, Grosse-Île, Havre aux Maisons, Pointe-Aux-Loups, Île d'Entrée and Brion. All except Brion are inhabited. Several other tiny islands are also considered part of the archipelago: Rocher aux Oiseaux; Île aux Loups-marins; Île Paquet; and Rocher du Corps Mort.


Although Europeans first arrived on the islands in the mid-1600s, Mi'kmaq Indians had been visiting the islands for hundreds of years, and numerous archaeological sites have been excavated on the archipelago. By the mid-18th century, the islands were inhabited by French-speaking Acadians, and administered as part of the colony of Newfoundland from 1763-1774, when they were annexed to Quebec by the Quebec Act. A segment of the population are English descendants from survivors of the over 400 shipwrecks on the islands. The construction of lighthouses eventually reduced the number of shipwrecks, but many old hulks remain on the beaches and under the waters. Until the 20th century, the islands were completely isolated during the winter months due to the pack ice that made the trip to the mainland impassable by boat. However, a new wireless telegraph station provided Magdalens with year-round communication with the outside world.


In recent years, the pristine natural beauty of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, along with the archipelago's strategic geographic location in the heart of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, has made tourism an important part of the local economy. The well-preserved natural heritage, extraordinarily beautiful marine landscapes and exceptional coastline of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine offer visitors a unique opportunity to explore the area's natural splendour. The panoramic archipelago features dramatic red cliffs, rolling green hills, brightly-coloured houses, intimate inlets, hidden coves, and over 180 miles (290 kilometres) of honey-coloured and white-sand beaches; half of the archipelago's islands are linked by sand dunes. The Îles-de-la-Madeleine are also home to a wealth of diverse marine life, bird species, and flora and fauna to discover.


The Îles-de-la-Madeleine offer a truly distinctive blend of Acadian, Madelinot, French and English cultures, traditions and communities that make this breath-taking archipelago a truly unforgettable destination. You can explore the people and history of the islands during visits to the many wonderful museums and interpretation centres, public areas and historical sites, art galleries, artisan workshops, archival centres, performing arts and theatres, industrial facilities, culinary and wine shops, charming boutiques, and cultural and gourmet festivals and events.


The exquisite natural and coastal splendour of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine include a host of incredibly scenic and memorable sightseeing venues. Land-based excursions include picturesque nature hikes, walking trails, bicycling, bird-watching, horseback riding, golfing at the Club de golf des Iles, kite-flying, and flightseeing. The teeming coastal waters are ideally-suited for seal- and whale-watching, mariculture, canoeing, sea-kayaking, surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, fishing, boating, sailing and Zodiac tours, snorkelling, scuba diving, and more.


Going Ashore in Îles-de-la-Madeleine


Pier Information


The ship may be at anchor. Guests will tender ashore to the Cap-aux-Meules Pier. The town centre can be reached via a 437-yard (400-metre) walk on-foot.


Shopping


Shopping opportunities in the Magdalen Islands include an outstanding and diverse selection of local food, wine, spirits, artwork, and artisanal handicrafts throughout the archipelago. Local crafts can be found at the Site Historique de la Grave, and a wide array of locally-produced items at Centre d'achats Place des Îles, a large shopping centre on Cap aux Meules Island. The local currency is the Canadian Dollar.


Cuisine


The Îles-de-la-Madeleine are home to many producers, growers and artisans of local products, and renowned for their wonderful seafood dishes and products, meats, cheeses, crafted beers, local wines, berries, jams, preserves, and seasonings. Popular restaurants in-and-around the Îles-de-la-Madeleine include La Table des Roy, La Moulière (Domaine du Vieux Couvent), Resto-Bistro les Pas Perdus, and Le Café de la Grave, Le Flâneur, La Poissonière, Boulangerie Madelon, Café la Côte, Resto Bistro Italien des Iles, and La Patio.


Other Sights


City Centre

The Îles-de-la-Madeleine's city centre is easily-accessible on-foot or by taxi. In addition to local landmarks and shopping and dining venues, the city centre offers stunning vistas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, offshore islands of the archipelago, pristine beaches, intimate coves, hidden inlets, fishing boats, and more.


Museums

The Îles-de-la-Madeleine features an eclectic selection of museums and interpretation centres that explore the local culture, art and history of the archipelago. Explore unique artwork and disguises at the Mi-Carême Eco-Museum; sand sculptures at the Économusêe du Sable; interactive exhibits and a film about the history, science and ecology of seals at the Centre d'Interprétation du Phoque; exhibits and information about lobstering at La Shed à Jean-Guy; salt industry exhibits at the Mines Seleine's interpretation Centre; farming and fishing equipment, memorabilia and photographs at the Entry Island Heritage Museum; cheese-making at the Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent; the history of the archipelago at the Musée de la Mer; the veterans park and little red schoolhouse at the Musée des Vétérans et Parc Commémoratif; and the culture of the Magdalen Islanders and Acadian lifestyle at Le Site d'Autrefois.


La Grave Historical Site

With its traditional character and architecture, this unique historical site is a fascinating testimonial to the islands' past. Extending over and around its pebble beach, La Grave was the sight of the islands' first settlement, and beginning of the archipelago's fishery. Today, it features restaurants, cafés, shops, an aquarium, museums, a marina, theatre, and different events.


Churches

Discover the religious heritage of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine at the Church of Saint-Pierre in Lavernière, the second-largest wooden church in North America, Church of Holy Trinity in Grosse-Île with its splendid stained glass windows depicting scenes of local life, and Church Notre-Dame du Rosaire of Fatima, whose design is representative of a seashell.


Arts & Crafts

The Îles-de-la-Madeleine boast a plethora of skilled artisans producing unique artwork and handicrafts using a wide array of diverse methods and materials. Venues include Limaçon, Galerie-Boutique Le Flâneur, Économusêe du Sable, Jaspe Rouge, Boutique d'Art Tendance, La Maison du Potier, Bijoux Belle et Nathan, La Maison du Héron, La Pierre des Îles, La Poterie du Cap Blanc, Créations Huguette Joncas, and many more.


Lighthouses

Lighthouses are iconic features of Les Îles de la Madeleine, and possess a considerable heritage value. There are six working lighthouses on Les Îles, including the Anse-à-la-Cabane Lighthouse, Borgot Lighthouse, Cap Alright Lighthouse, Île Brion Lighthouse, Île d'Entrée Lighthouse, Rocher aux Oiseaux (Bird Rock) Lighthouse. Except for those on Brion Island and Rocher aux Oiseaux, they are all easily accessible.


Outdoor Activities

The pristine natural beauty and diverse islands of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine combine to create a wonderful array of outdoor activities, including nature hikes, walking trails, bicycling, bird-watching, horseback riding, golfing at the Club de Golf des Iles, kite-flying, and flight-seeing. The teeming coastal waters are ideally-suited for seal- and whale-watching, mariculture, canoeing, sea-kayaking, surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, fishing, boating, sailing, Zodiac tours, and snorkelling, scuba diving and other water activities at the Centre Nautique l'Istorlet.


Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.

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Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec