Every summer, my family takes a 12-hour VIA rail train from Toronto to Matane, QC.
We spend our whole summer vacation on the banks of the St. Laurence breathing in the salty air and eating local goods. I have very great memories of the region, most involving culinary delights and unforgettable family meals.
Just like Quebec, la Gaspésie or the Gaspé Region can be divided into regions and Matane is part of the “La Côte”, the Coast. It’s a picturesque little village with rich heritage. Matane is renowned for its famous Nordic Shrimp, salmon-filled rivers and large game in the nearby nature reserve, Réserve faunique de Matane.
Matane abounds with fisheries, cheese mongers, bakeries, chocolate shops and even vineyards. The locals are very proud of their land and the plentiful restaurants show off the rich terroir. Whether you’re interested in tasting a home-made regional dish, or sampling the finest in haute cuisine, the Gaspé Region doesn’t disappoint with its fresh produce.
In more recent years, my brother and I have started making our annual pilgrimage to Gaspé by car to join family—especially to eat and drink! Don’t miss stopping at a cabane à frites or fry shack to order a large poutine! There’s also a little pastry shop with the most delectable tarte au sucre à l’érable, or maple sugar pie– a Quebecois delicacy! No road trip to Gaspé would be complete of course, without a basket of wild blueberries.
A few of our favourite stops en route to Gaspé:
Carpinteri Vineyard, Saint Ulric
The Carpinteri vineyard is located 40 km from the entrance to Gaspé and roughly 2 km south of Route 132, making it the most northern vineyard in Canada. The founder, Antonio Carpinteri, emigrated from Sicily to Matane when he was 18. He’s recreated a piece of his homeland here in Saint Ulric. The vineyard offers free daily tastings of their wine, olives and other treats. There’s even an Italian villa that offers family style meals accompanied by their special reserve wine, local produce and a visit from Mr. Carpinteri himself!
Belle Plage Hotel, Matane
I’ll admit I’m biased when it comes to hotel recommendations; this hotel has been in my family for decades and is ornately decorated with artifacts from my family’s marine heritage. My grandfather was the captain of a number of ships in the region and was a passionate collector of all things naval. When he passed away, he donated many of his treasures to local museums and the rest now decorate the walls of the Belle Plage Hotel.
The main event at this hotel, however, is its food! My cousin, Jean, carefully selects the best local seafood, hanging it with care in the smokehouse; the meat comes out 15 days later flavoured with the finest Maplewood chips and a special concoction of cognac: a recipe appreciated by the region’s foodies. Sample these house-smoked products in the hotel’s pretty restaurant while watching the sun set on the St. Laurence.
“La Côte” is the natural entrance to the Gaspé Region, but I’ve only begun to describe the gems of this unique and exciting peninsula. Even if you’re not a foodie like me, this region offers magnificent landscapes and activities for every taste.
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|Helene’s passionate about food and travel and joined our super Customer Service team about a year ago. This tried-and-true globetrotter has travelled throughout North America, Central America, the Pacific, Asia, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and she’s lived in four different provinces and Australia.|