Canada | Travel

A Day Trip to Forillon National Park in Gaspésie, Quebec

July 22, 2015

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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