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Kayaks, Craft Beer, and Sand Dunes: the Best of My Magdalen Voyage

Red Cliffs of the Magdalen Islands
As the small plane dropped in altitude in preparation for landing, my mind was racing. Will we land safely? I wonder if they’ll speak much English. Seriously – is this plane going to land in one piece? I don’t agree with the science of flight! I wonder what C is thinking; he’s never been this far east in Canada before. Why haven’t we landed yet? Could someone get me a good, stiff drink, please?

Pouring Beer at Microbrasserie À l'abri de la Tempête
Finally, I mustered up the courage to sneak a peek out of the window. Oh, wow. It’s beautiful. My mind calmed at the sight of the islands; the wisps of green and sandy hues that make up the tiny little archipelago were sprawling out delicately in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. We landed safely in Îles de la Madeleine; modern aviation proved me wrong yet again.

Jumping in the Sand Dunes of the Magdalen Islands
The Îles de la Madeleine, or Magdalen Islands in English, are a stunning group of islands on Canada’s east coast – just northeast of Prince Edward Island – and are part of Quebec. While they are, in fact, French, they’re also technically in the Maritimes, making for an interesting, truly one-of-a-kind place to visit {picture the culture of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI, add a nice helping of Quebecois flair, and a dash of French – as in, from France – je ne sais quoi. That’s the Magdalen Islands}.

Sunset in La Grave in the Magdalen Islands
When we went there, we had one goal in mind: to experience the islands to the fullest. Okay, maybe two goals; we also wanted to eat and drink everything in sight {gluttony at its finest}.

Lighthouse in the Distance in the Highlands of the Magdalen Islands
In less than five days, we did just that. We kayaked along the red cliffs of Gros-Cap and through sea-carved caves. We sampled craft beers at Microbrasserie À l’abri de la Tempête, and they were so delicious I’m sure that even the biggest beer snobs would ask for seconds. We frolicked {yes, frolicked} in sand dunes. We listened to quintessentially Acadian music in one of the most unique little communities we’d ever been to: La Grave. We walked along white-sand beaches and checked out lobster traps to see what we could find. We ate snow crab in more dishes than we thought possible at Château Madelinot as part of Le Bon Goût Frais {which is, essentially, a celebration of the region’s deliciousness}. We slept in a convent.

Tresor Des Iles Sign in La Grave - Magdalen Islands
Without so much as stepping out of the country, we managed to experience a culture unlike any other; so seemingly foreign to us, yet distinctly Canadian in a place that few people have even heard about. I’d say it’s about time that people get to know the Magdalens, wouldn’t you?

Looking off the Dock at the Marina in La Grave
Now you tell me: have you ever been to the Magdalen Islands? If not, would you go? If so, what was your favourite part of your trip?

More information: Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine
Get there: via plane or ferry
Stay: Domaine du Vieux Couvent or Château Madelinot

Red Cliffs and the Beach in the Magdalen Islands

Coming up on Global Dish: 5 Must-Eat Dishes in the Magdalen Islands.
Want more from the Magdalen Islands? Check out this Top 10 Snapshot over at Toque & Canoe.


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