Tadoussac is one of my favorite, if not my favorite town in the whole province of Quebec. Unfortunately, or fortunately for me, it is often overlooked by visitors, but the small harbor town has so much charm and so much to offer that I don't think it will take much convincing before you add it to your list of future destinations.
How to get there
From Quebec City, it takes about 3 hours to reach the town by following highway 138 and hopping on board the free, 15-minute ferry. There are also ferries from the Gaspe peninsula that will take you to nearby towns. I would recommend having a car, but there are also busses from Quebec or Montreal to the town center, where you can easily walk to wherever you need to go.
Why i love it so much
I think part of it is that my extended family lives in Port-Cartier, 8 hours North of Quebec, and Tadoussac was the place we used to stop at for lunch on the way to visit them. We would bring food from home and have a picnic on the rocks while looking out for whales.
But I think most of it comes from the fact that it is the closest place from Quebec where the St-Laurence river feels like the ocean. So whenever I'm in need of some vitamin sea, this is the closest place where I can go. There is also a lot of places where you can sit and look out at the water and just relax without being disturbed by people every two minutes. I guess it's my happy place.
what to do
One of my favorite things to do in Tadoussac is sit on the rocks of Pointe de l'Islet and wait for the whales to come out and play. I bring a book and relax in the sunshine. I could easily spend hours there. But for people hoping for activities, there is plenty to do and see.
Like I said, Tadoussac is one of the best places for whale observation, so there are cruises going out multiple times a day where you can see these huge animals from up close. You can also go kayaking or visit the Whale Interpretation Center.
For those looking for a hike, the Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park is pretty close by and offers many different trails ranging from 1 or 2 hours to multiple-day expeditions. You can also hike to Baie Ste-Marguerite where the beluga whales come in to rest.
Another place to see on your visit is the Dunes. When you turn into the village from the highway, just keep driving on the main road until you find a parking lot. That's where you'll find the Tadoussac Dunes, huge sand dunes where you can have fun on dirt bikes. For those not equipped with bikes, it is still a good view on the St-Laurence and if you go down the dunes to the beach, you'll find a small bay where you can go swimming, kayaking or paddle boarding. Just make sure you are able to come back up the dune with everything you brought down. I'm in pretty good shape and just with my backpack it was a workout!
where to eat
In the village, you will find plenty of small restaurants, pubs and breweries, all of them good. Honestly, the hardest part is choosing which one to go to. There is also an ice cream shop by the Whale Interpretation Center and a chocolate shop right by the beach.
If you are looking for a fancier meal, Hotel Tadoussac has a restaurant called Le Coverdale that I haven't tried yet, but is definitely on my list.
when to go
The whole summer is a good time to visit Tadoussac, but it really depends what you are looking for. In June, you'll practically have the village to yourself, but most everything will already be open for the season, especially on weekends. But if you really want to see whales, try to wait a little later in the season as you'll have a better chance to see them starting in mid-July. By then, the village will be pretty crowded, but you'll still be able to find a spot on the beach or at Pointe de l'Islet. Parking spaces are hard to come by in the village though and I recommend parking at the parking lot on your right when you exist the ferry before even coming in the village.
what if i want to stay longer than a day?
Although you might have to make reservations way in advance, there are plenty of options to spend a night in Tadoussac. There are multiple campgrounds and bed and breakfasts and there is always Hotel Tadoussac if you want to stay in a historic building. Like I said though, the sumer months get pretty crowded, and don't expect to find a room or a campground on the day of. If you find one, you'll want to thank your lucky star!
Tadoussac is slowly getting more recognition outside of the province, but it is still a hidden gem known mostly by local Quebec (province) residents. I'm happy more people are discovering it's beauty and appreciating its rugged nature. I'm just hopping locals and tourists alike keep being respectful to its residents and make an effort for it to stay the clean and beautiful town that it is.
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