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Opinions and ideas for Canada trip wanted

bagsværd
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Opinions and ideas for Canada trip wanted

Hi,

We are three freinds, visiting Canada for the first time. We are flying from Denmark to Montreal and plan to spend Thursday and Friday night in Mondreal.

Any good suggestions for places to go out? We like music, e.g. Indie rock or folk.

Saturday, we are picking up an RV. Our current plan is to drive to Forillon National Park and back again. We plan to return to Montreal again the following Friday- so in total we are on the road for max 7 days.

Is this a good trip in an RV? – or are there any other options we should consider? We like some great views and a bit of hiking. Ideas for cultural urban stuff is also welcome.

Any opinions and suggestions are very much appreciated.

Br,

Martin

Montreal, Canada
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1. Re: Opinions and ideas for Canada trip wanted

Hello Martinbuhl and welcome on Trip Advisor

First let me mention that you are on the Province of Québec at large page of forums

To get more precise suggestions I suggest that you jump to a more specific forum. In the case of indie, etc in Montréal, on that matter and then either Perce and/or Gaspe for places in the Gaspé Penunsula.

Now about your intended trip over the Peninsula. I am not sure that you understand the distances well. From Montréal to Forillon National Park is a 12 hours + drive almost nonstop. And you will certainly want to make some stops on your way.

But many Montrealers with a one week summer vacation do the whole Gaspé loop in that time. But that means just a few stops on the way to Percé. And it is really a beautiful area that needs more time to be appreciated. Since you are new to Canada it would also be a shame if you don’t spend more time visiting Québec City and other places. Anyways here is the link to the Ministry of Tourism website www.bounjourquebec.com . Note that beside Montréal and Québec the two regions in your itinerary will be Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie.

Another important aspect is that, even if it is a Québec Park and not a Canadian one Rocher Parcé and Bonaventure Island are as neat as for Forillon for a visit and if the town of Percé is very touristy, consequently,it has much more to offer for restaurants and things to do and they are not all tourist traps.

So the usual round trip to go there would be to make a loop on Autoroute 20 and then on road 132 that does the loop all around the Peninsula. Start by the Gulf of Saint-Laurent side and come back by the Baie des Chaleurs one as the scenery is more breathtaking on the Gulf side so you can come back faster by the Chaleurs side although it is very picuturesque too. So starting in Mtl plan an overnight somewhere in Bas-Saint-Laurent or early in the Gaspé Peninsula (Sat). Then one full day to drive to Forillon with stops en route.2 nights in the Park or nearby (Sun, Mon) then 3 nights in Percé (Tue, Wed, Thurs) and then one directly back to Montreal by the Chaleurs side or plan to sleep somewhere ne route on Friday and arrive in Mtl on Sat.

bagsværd
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2. Re: Opinions and ideas for Canada trip wanted

Thanks a lot - this really helps a lot. The round trip sounds like a really good option. Is it by the way legal to stop and sleep at public places or do we have to find designated camp sites? And can you recommend any specific guide books covering camp sites?

Rimouski (Québec)
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3. Re: Opinions and ideas for Canada trip wanted

Hello,

Overnight stops with RVs outside campgrounds are usually not allowed except in parking lots of some shopping centres and large stores such as Wallmart. However some towns have by-laws prohibiting overnight stops on shopping centres parking lots. Even the public rest areas along the highways do not allow stops for more than four hours.

I suggest you rent a car instead of an RV. The rental cost and the fuel consumption is much less. You could still camp within Quebec and Canada national parks by renting "ready to camp" accommodations within the parks and be able to use the car to visit surrounding areas without having to pick your things and secure them in your RV whenever you wish to drive off your camp site to visit the surrounding area or when you want to drive to nearby hiking trails. And you will find it much easier to find a urban parking spot in the towns and cities along your itinerary. With an RV, a camp site within a national park will cost you in the vicinity of $30 per night while a “ready-to-camp” will cost you a little more than 100$ per night total.

A “ready-to-camp” is fully equipped for a comfort including real beds, space heater, lighting, fridge and stove, pots, pans and dishes, tables and chairs. The only exception would be the bedding. Bring along a sleeping bag although some parks rent bedding equipment. Check with them first.

You have to understand what we mean by national parks. There are two networks in Québec. The first one is the Québec National Parks run by the Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (Sepaq):

www.sepaq.com/pq/index.dot?language_id=1

The second network includes the federal national parks and is run by Park Canada (Forillon belongs to this category):

www.pc.gc.ca/eng/progs/pn-np/index.aspx

On the first day you could drive to Bic near Rimouski (approx 525 km mostly autoroute or freeway) and stay overnight at the Parc national du Bic. There are two campgrounds. Avoid the main one by the park entrance as it is too close to the main highway with lots of traffic noise. Choose Camping Rioux located well inside the park boundaries where you can find a spot for a small RV or rent a "ready-to-camp" Huttopia tent:

http://www.sepaq.com/pq/bic/

sepaq.com/hebergement/…

The following day you could spend a couple of hours hiking the park’s trails along the shore before driving to the Parc national de la Gaspésie near Ste-Anne-des-Monts (235 km, 3.5 hr drive) This park offers a large selection of trails of various lengths and difficulties leading to some of the most spectacular scenery and some of the highest mountain peaks of Eastern Canada. The International Appalachian Trail which follows the mountain chain of the same name from Florida to Forillon runs through the park. The park is home to the only herd of Woodland Caribou south of the St. Lawrence. I would spend two nights at the Mont-Albert campground which is close to the visitors centre as well as the Gîte du Mont-Albert. This campground accepts RVs and offers “Ready-to-Camp” Huttopia tents:

http://www.sepaq.com/pq/gas/

From Parc de la Gaspésie you would drive to Parc national Forillon some 245 km away (3.5 hours):

www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/qc/forillon/index.aspx

This federal park also offers “ready-to-camp” lodgings in a yurt or in a tent-trailer at various campgrounds. Whether you travel with an RV or choose a “ready-to-camp” I would recommend the Petit Gaspé campground which offers more services including access to a beach (a short car ride away) and which is also within walking distance to the International Appalachian Trail and its ultimate arrival point at the tip of Cap Gaspé.

After spending two nights in Forillon, drive to Percé (120 km) which is close enough for you to arrive early and taking the boat to and around Bonaventure Island the Percé Rock on arrival:

www.sepaq.com/pq/bon/index.dot?language_id=1

You could spend the night at the Camping of the Baie-de-Percé in the center of the village. It is run by Sepaq and offers “ready-to-camp” Hékipia tents within the camp ground:

http://www.sepaq.com/ct/bdp/

www.sepaq.com/hebergement/camping-hekipia/

The only drawback to this itinerary is the return Percé to Montreal portion which will require you to drive 12 to 13 hours to make it back by Friday night. If it is possible to get back to Montreal on Saturday, you could get a motel half way through.

Some may suggest cutting Parc de la Gaspésie. Personally I think this park offers the most spectacular scenery of all parks along with the possibility to observe moose and caribou and fully deserves two nights there.

To conclude, another advantage of a car versus an RV will be speed. You will not be able to drive as fast in an RV and given the distance and the limited number of days you have it will make a difference.

Whether you choose an RV or “ready-to-camp”, you will always be better off by selecting your camp grounds in the national parks. They provide more space between camp sites (therefore more intimacy) and their facilities (toilets, showers, common areas) are always spotless. And contrary to Europe each campsite in Canada is provided with a fire pit for camp fire.

Robert

Montreal, Canada
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4. Re: Opinions and ideas for Canada trip wanted

I have not included Parc de la Gaspésie because of your time constrains but also because the road from the parc to Gaspé will be inland and you will miss the most spectacular part of the Gulf Coast.

But Robeli was right about not renting a RV, you pay for the rental, the gas and the parking spaces not to say anything on the fact that you have to drive slower on the hilly turning and twisting Gaspé roads.. Worth it for a large family with more time but for 3 guys in 7 days is is not really so. Beside ready to camp accomodation in parks I also remember that lodging in the Gaspé Peninsula is often less expensive than in other parts of the Province, in Charlevoix (northeast of Québec City) for example. Accomodations are often in old cabins/motel but are really OK. Only Percé is really more expensive with also the hotels run by SEPAQ at Mont-Albert and Fort Prével. If you start looking for motels now you wil find a lot of very affordable accomodations but make reservations in advance as the whole Peninsula is really busy in summer.

If you can finally manage to have two days for the return trip I would suggest that you skip the Parc du Bic on your way to the Peninsula but have accomodations there or nearby for your overnight on your way back to Mtl. That way you will be able to visit some attractions on the Chaleurs side of the Peninsula and drive at a more leisurely pace. Next day visit Le Bic in the morning and early afternoon and then it will be an easy 6 hours drive (mostly on highway) to get back to Mtl.

Rimouski (Québec)
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5. Re: Opinions and ideas for Canada trip wanted

Hello,

RickB, you are right if the OP was to travel the inland road through Murdochville. However as the distance between Ste-Anne-des-Monts on the coast and the Mont-Albert campground in the Park de la Gaspésie is only 39 km the traveller could double back to the coast and then proceed to Gaspé without missing anything.

Robert

bagsværd
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6. Re: Opinions and ideas for Canada trip wanted

Robert and RickB,

Thank you so much for all this great information. We have gone from knowing nothing to having a pretty good outline of our trip in no time, thanks to your help.

About the RV. Since we are flying to Montreal already this Thursday, we have put down the full payment already at CanadaDream. I get your point about the benefits of a small car. Should properly have asked here before deciding on the RV.

I will start studying links and maps.

Thanks,

Martin

Rimouski (Québec)
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7. Re: Opinions and ideas for Canada trip wanted

This coming Thursday???

I am really sorry. I did not think you were coming so soon. Forget the campgrounds in the national parks. None will be open - at least in the Gaspe peninsula. Forget hiking trails in mountain areas such as Gaspésie national park. They will not be accessible unless you have snowshoes or cross country skis. In Rimouski yesterday we got snow. A total of 20 cm of fresh snow.

It may be a good idea to change your itineray and go for the Eastern Townships area east of Montreal close to the US border or go towards the Thousand Island area of Ontario in the St. Lawrence west of Montreal.

Robert

Montreal, Canada
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8. Re: Opinions and ideas for Canada trip wanted

Whaaaaaaaatttt?

You are coming this week-end!

Everything is closed in the Gaspé Peninsula at this time of the year.

And all the Province is under a nasty spring storm at the moment. Going to school this morning the bus was at 40 kms per hours at the max. And it is supposed to be much worst in the Lower Saint-Lawrence and Gaspé areas than around Montréal.

bagsværd
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9. Re: Opinions and ideas for Canada trip wanted

Just in time research at its worst!

At least we found out the Gaspésie trip is properly a bad idea. We just had a talk about the situation and are now considering to go west to Ottawa and further on to Algonquin Provincial Park to do a bit of hiking there. After that we could drive south to Niagara Falls.

We were also talking about going to Québec to see the city and to visit some of the parks north west of the city – either before going west to Algonquin or after coming back from Niagara.

Any comments on this plan are very much appreciated – also suggestions for alternative routes and parks where we will have a better chance of mild weather and more places to sleep in the RV are welcome. We are of course still hoping for some great nature. Plus seeing a bit of your nice cities.

We checked out some of the camping sites, and you are right that quite a few of them are closed until mid-May, so that will be another challenge. Do any of the parks have more low-fi parking lots, where you can park and sleep all year round or does it have to be are real camping sites with all the bells and whistles?

Thanks a lot for your help

Martin

bagsværd
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10. Re: Opinions and ideas for Canada trip wanted

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Edited: 24 April 2012, 06:38