A Day Trip to Forillon National Park in Gaspésie, Quebec

I’m a big fan of national parks. Doesn’t matter where they are or which country they belong to. If there is one within a driving distance from where I am, I’m so there! Naturally I had to pay Forillon National Park (Quebec’s first national park) a visit while we were in Gaspé Peninsula even though it would take us about 90 minutes of driving to get there from where we were staying in Percé. When you live in a country as big as Canada, 90 minutes of driving is nothing. :-)

Before we left Percé, we stopped by Boulangerie Le Fournand, a local bakery, to pick up some tasty pastries for the trip. We ate some on our drive up to Gaspé and saved the rest for a little picnic in the park. We decided to have brunch at Restaurant Cafe Des Artistes in Gaspé to refuel before we headed into the park because we all know that hungry Firda is hangry Firda! :-D I had the shrimp panini sandwich. It was simple but tasty and also quite filling.

Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Canada.
Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Canada.

We didn’t really know what to expect going into the park. We knew there would be some interesting hiking trails we could take, but after the grueling hike we took the day before at Île Bonaventure, we didn’t really feel like doing another strenuous hike, and especially not in a hot weather like we had that day. So what we did was basically just drove along the coast inside the park and made a stop here and there to quickly investigate places that looked interesting. You might think it wouldn’t take us long to explore the park that way, but the park has many interesting things to see and is also quite big it actually took us longer to explore than anticipated.

Cap Bon Ami lookout with Land's End in the background.
Cap Bon Ami lookout with Land’s End in the background.

Cap Bon Ami is my favourite part of the park. It’s got everything: a nice lookout with a telescope, a lovely beach, interesting geological features, small waterfalls, beautiful cliffs teeming with wildlife in the form of birds, and a great view of of Land’s End, which is the place where the continental Appalachian mountain range ends and seems to cascade into the sea. We even saw a seal from the lookout.

Imagine climbing up that staircase with sore legs. I did it anyway.
Cap Bon Ami as seen from the far end of the beach.

It’s also the start of the trail to the Mont St-Alban Tower, from which you can get a beautiful panoramic view of the park and the ocean, but it is quite a climb to get there and we just weren’t up for it, so we decided to save it for another visit. We actually saw the tower from the beach and had to admit, there’s no way we’d be able to make it up there with our poor, sore legs.

La Chute is French for waterfall.
La Chute is French for waterfall.

Another notable stop was La Chute, a waterfall. My husband was braver than me. He wasn’t afraid of the climb back up to the parking lot so he made it down to the waterfall and got some nice pictures, not only of the falls but also of himself sitting on one of those elusive Parks Canada red chairs. I was so jealous of him. Being a wimp, I had to be happy with viewing the waterfall from a lookout not far from the parking lot. No red chairs there, sadly.

The elusive Parks Canada red chairs.
The elusive Parks Canada red chairs.

But I wasn’t completely out of luck in my quest for the red chairs. On our last round of driving along the coast in the park just before we left, I saw them! And I got to sit on them! The location might not be as pretty as the waterfall but at that point, I’d take whatever I could get.

One of the two black bears we saw.
One of the two black bears we saw.

As far as the wildlife sightings go, other than birds and a seal, we saw a couple of black bears and a couple of porcupines in separate occasions. I found the porcupine sightings more exciting because I had only ever seen a porcupine once before. If you think that porcupines are cute and cuddly, you must be thinking of a hedgehog. Porcupines are big and they look rather prehistoric with their spiny spikes. They also seem a bit like someone’s grumpy uncle, at least to me.

The grumpy-looking porcupine.
The grumpy-looking porcupine.

But the most amazing wildlife sighting of all for me was of this HUGE flock of seagulls near the end of the Cap Bon Ami beach. Their fluid movements reminded me of a murmuration of starlings. So beautiful and quite a treat for the eye. I could watch it for hours! Of course I had to make a video of it.

All in all, Forillon National Park is a beautiful park with a lot to see, but if I may give you one advice, don’t go there with sore legs because you need them all springy and well-rested in order to take on the hiking trails the park has to offer and fully experience it. I feel like I was missing out a lot by not taking any of the hikes. If I ever find myself in Forillon National Park again, you can be sure that I’ll be taking one of the challenging hikes because I won’t make the silly mistake of going there with tired legs again!

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