Road Trip to Tadoussac, QC

Route 138 to Tadoussac. Magnificent view on the Saint-Laurent

Route 138. Wonderful view on the Saint-Laurent.

     A road trip to Tadoussac, this was our plan to celebrate my first week-end in the New World. We were so anxious to leave that we didn’t even waste time creating a detailed itinerary. We had heard about the famous scenic route 138, also known as the King’s Way, that starts in Montreal and runs up to Sept-Iles, the northernmost town in Quebec and the last stop before the real Canadian wilderness. The King’s Way passes through Tadoussac, a small town halfway between Quebec City and Sept-Iles, perfectly located for a 2 day escape from Montreal.We left Montreal on a Saturday morning. The weather was perfect. We followed a country road along the Saint-Laurent, reaching Trois-Rivières and then Quebec City. I was impressed and excited about everything. The houses, the farms, the trucks, the cars, the trees, advertising, the roads… everything’s different from what you see in Europe, and that’s exactly what I was looking for. Besides, everyone seemed to enjoy life. People were either taking care of their gardens, washing their cars, or relaxing in comfortable rocking chairs. There were a lot of bikers and travelers on the road. I felt really far from the  seriousness and gravity of France.

Quebec City

Quebec City

Once in the suburbs of Quebec, I understood that architectural beauty is definitely not a North American thing. The road was surrounded by the ugliest motels, fast food restaurants, local Wallmarts and insanely huge Canadian Tires. “These are the suburbs”, I thought, “nothing to be surprised of”. And to be honest, I liked that. But when we passed the waterfalls of Montmorency, I was now like, “what the heck!?” Let me describe it: these are huge falls, probably more than 80 meters high, really impressive and beautiful. But why the damn did they have to build such an ugly bridge above them? Why did they surround the place with a concrete fence to hide the falls from the highway, and yet build this insane concrete path just at the bottom? That, I can’t explain. I can just say it’s an environmental disaster.

The route between Quebec and La Malbaie was lovely. The landscape had changed from plains to woody hills. At some point, we had a break around Port-au-Saumon. We explored the area and discovered two small beautiful islets. My brother and my friend thought it’d be fun to swim to the closest one. I didn’t dare do it, and I don’t regret that. The water was so cold! I thought one of them would die of hypothermia on the way back.

Main street, Tadoussac

Main street, Tadoussac

We eventually reached Baie-Sainte-Catherine, on the South side of the Savenay Fjord. We had to take a ferry to cross the river. Fortunately, it was a free service. Once on the other side, we visited Tadoussac for a little bit. It’s a very small town that probably survives thanks to whale watching. There’s a small and lovely harbor, one weird-looking church, some hotels, restaurants, and one local store. We went to the hostel to see if we could sleep there. The place was a typical Canadian house, and I was looking forward to relaxing in one of the many armchairs of the living room. But when we saw the dorms, we thought we’d better save our money and changed our plan last minute. We decided we’d go camping somewhere outside of the town.

So, we left Tadoussac, following a small road that led us to a giant sand dune near the Moulin-à-Baude Bay. Even though it isn’t far from the town, it was already wild. We parked the car and explored the area. A small path going through a firtree forest took us to the top of a big rock, from which we had a wonderful view of the dune. At that point, I realized how big Canada was: we were obviously in a touristy place, but we were strangely alone. That would hardly happen in Europe.

Around 8, the mosquitoes became seriously aggressive, and we had to find shelter in my tent. I didn’t have a good night, but I succeeded in getting some rest. In the morning, I had dozens of mosquito bites everywhere.

Moulin à Baude River

Moulin à Baude River

We left Tadoussac around 11am. So far, we’d been lucky with the weather. But it was changing and around 2pm, we had scary, dark clouds just above us. I got the opportunity to drive all the way from La Malbaie to Quebec, and I really liked it. Driving in North America was a fun experience. When we arrived in Quebec, I thought I’d rather stay there for 1 or 2 days instead of going back to Montreal straight away. I visited some of Quebec with my brother and our friend, and then they left me to go back to Montreal.

This trip was really fun. I was able to see a bit of the Canadian countryside. I tasted some local food, saw unique places, discovered more about the history of the country and learned how to drive an automatic car… but the awesome memories I made on this two days trip are just a taste of the wonderful experiences I’ve had in North America.

Leaving Montreal

Leaving Montreal

Route 138

Route 138, aka The King’s Way, Quebec

An Canadian farm

An Canadian farm

A church in Canada

A church in Canada

Route 138 near Trois-Rivières

Route 138 near Trois-Rivières

Funny bridge near Trois-Rivières

Funny bridge near Trois-Rivières

An American truck

An American truck

La Malbaie Bay

La Malbaie Bay

Route 138, aka The King's Way, Quebec

Route 138, aka The King’s Way, Quebec

Near Port-au-Saumon

Sabere islet and Camarine islet in the distance

Sabere islet and Camarine islet in the distance

Sabere islet, near Port-au-Saumon

Sabere islet, near Port-au-Saumon

The yellow line

The yellow line

A rest area on Route 138

View from a rest area on Route 138.

Ferry service to Tadoussac from Baie-Sainte-Catherine

Ferry service to Tadoussac from Baie-Sainte-Catherine

Ferry service to Tadoussac

Ferry service to Tadoussac (Route 138)

An American motorhome

An American RV, we’ve seen some of these dragging their own car behind.

16 km/h

16 km/h, because they love accuracy

Lovely wooden house

Lovely wooden house in Tadoussac

A massive sand dune, Saguenay National Park

A massive sand dune, Saguenay National Park

Moulin à Baude Bay

Moulin à Baude Bay

Moulin à Baude River, Saguenay National Park

Moulin à Baude River, Saguenay National Park

Parking problem?

Parking problem?

Trees and more trees

Trees and more trees, Saguenay National Park

Wild life

Canadian wildlife

Saguenay National Park

Saguenay National Park

Sunset in the Tadoussac area

Sunset in the Tadoussac area

Improvised campsite in the Saguenay National Park

Improvised campsite in the Saguenay National Park

Heat storm building up

Heat storm building up

Some of the photos have been taken by my bro and Loïc. Hope you like them :)

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17 Responses to Road Trip to Tadoussac, QC

  1. Nunya says:

    Interesting read on how a European guest views North America. The yellow lline on the road indicates a no passing zone. Yes our massive motorbikes do pull cars behind them that actually roll, they’re not being dragged as you described.

  2. katinimages says:

    Great post! Love Tadoussac! Been there twice now.

  3. maximegousse says:

    Thank you for visiting my home land and speaking of it in such good words. If I may, you speak of “Canadian Churches” and I would like to say that it is not quite accurate for two reasons: architecture and religion. Québec’s population is mostly Catholic while Canada’s is mostly Anglican, furthermore, churches is Québec were built by the French and elsewhere by the English. But as a traveler you are excused :-). As for the 16Km/h, Anita points to the exact reason why. We still see a few signs that were literary “ported” from the Imperial system to the Metric one without being “adapted”.

    Thank you for liking my Québec City funicular picture of December :-)

    • Orel Di Angelo says:

      Hi Maxime,

      Thanks for your comment. I didn’t mean to ignore the cultural differences between the different provinces of Canada, and especially not Quebec. I just used the term Canadian here, because everything was already so different from Europe so far, that distinguishing between provinces was from my point of view (as an European) not important at the time.

      For the 16km/h. I just wanted to add some humor in the caption, because when we saw it, our first reaction was : “Why???” :P That’s funny that they didn’t adapt it.

  4. Anita Mac says:

    Awesome post! Interesting to see how others see home. Loved that you had to learn to drive an automatic car! When I travel to Europe, I am unable to drive as I am unable to drive a manual car – it is something I need to work on. Luckily I mostly cycle so my inability to drive doesn’t slow me down (and my partner drives manual, so he drives!) Love the road sign for 16km/hr – that most likely is due to the fact that the American’s use a different system to Canada: 16km/hr would equal 10 miles/hour. Happy trails….

    • Orel Di Angelo says:

      Hi Anita! Driving in Canada was awesome. It’s such a different experience than driving in Europe! I wanted to write a post about it. I guess cycling in Canada is different from cycling in France? Have you tried cycling in the UK? It’s insane ahah!

  5. This is a nice post! That’s an area I haven’t explored yet.

  6. apollorose says:

    Some people leave the city to go to the country to “escape”. The country has its own distinctiveness. You know that you’re there by looking, touching, listening, tasting, and yes, feeling, The five senses come alive.

    And vice versa. Some also leave the country to go to the city to” escape”. You can also tell when you’re in a city.

    Good improvisation.

  7. Great stuff Orel! And hope all things are going great with ya.

  8. As an American, I found this post funny. It’s very interesting to see you as a European looking at Canada and seeing how different it is from Europe. It’s funny to me because in America everybody talks about how Quebec is MORE like Europe than anyplace else in the U.S. or Canada! Maybe in Quebec City it might be true (in the post above you don’t say you stopped in Quebec City?) but the countryside is something else.

    I’ve traveled to many Canadian cities and I really love Canada. I think it’s like you said above, you have to find the right spot and then you can be alone with nature. If you are interested, check out my Shutterfly site and I have some of my photos from trips to Montreal, Victoria British Columbia and elsewhere which you might enjoy. http://cdeminskiphotos.shutterfly.com.

    AND – when you are ready to visit some U.S. National Parks, I will definitely have some opinions to share!

    All the best,
    Carol

    P.S. Thanks for “liking” my Little Critters of the National Parks blog post!

    • Orel Engel says:

      Hi Carol! Yes I’ve been to Quebec City, but I just wanted to focus on this road trip in this post. I know it’s seen as European from America but I think people don’t realize how Europe is even much more different :D It’s only the historical center that looks like in Europe. Boston is very similar to what we got here too. I need to write more about Canada and the US to explain my vision of it all, but I don’t have the time :(
      Hopefully I’ll find a job in America and explore as many parks as I can. I want to see the wildlife you captured on your blog for real!

  9. 6ks5 says:

    Great pictures! I love Trois-Rivieres and Quebec (did you hear people call it “a European-style city”?), but I just missed seeing the falls last time I was nearby. It’s interesting hearing an outside perspective on Canada. Anyway, thanks for stopping by my blog!

    • Orel Engel says:

      Hello! Yes I’ve heard people call it a European-style city, and it actually has something special to me. It’s not the only city that reminded me of Europe. Boston is very European too and the official buildings of Ottawa are definitely English. But besides the architecture and the streets, there are a bunch of things that are really different with Europe. But even in Europe, not all the cities fit the stereotype. I’ve been to Oslo with American friends from Seattle and they went crazy because they said it was the exact same type of buildings and atmosphere.

      Your blog is very interesting! I wish I had more time to browse it as many others but my classes keep me very busy.

  10. adventures says:

    Beautiful pictures of the port, bay, and country side :-)

  11. aliturek says:

    it’s wonderful to follow a journey, with all these photos…

  12. Loïc says:

    I guess you’re right about hypothermia! Antonin almost died that day :p

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