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Introducing Gaspé Peninsula

The isolated promontory, known locally as 'La Gaspésie,' has remnants of a colorful colonial past, which can be seen on a coastline that bulges into the gulf, overlooking rusting shipwrecks and migratory whales. Like the whales, Normans, Bretons, Basques, Portuguese and Channel Islanders were attracted by the rich fishing grounds. English, Scottish and Irish fugitives from upheavals such as the Great Famine and American independence settled on the south shore, leaving isolated anglophone communities. Flags that were erected by the descendents of Acadian settlers flutter above Rte 132.

Between the small communities' colorful farm buildings and silver spires, the landscape is also striking. There's the famous pierced rock in Percé, of course, and there are endless beaches overshadowed by glacier-patterned cliffs. The mountainous, forested hinterlands, home to the breathtaking Parc de la Gaspésie, are crossed by few routes, among them the Matapédia Valley drive, the International Appalachian Trail and Rte 198, one of the province's quietest roads.

The tourist season runs from about June to mid-September. Outside those times, things seriously wind down and, from November to mid-May, the main activity you'll see will be the waves crashing against the rocks.