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Gaspé Peninsula

There's nowhere quite like La Gaspésie, a peninsula of pine forests and looming cliffs that pokes into the chilly Gulf of St Lawrence. Somewhere on the road east of Matane, the landscape becomes wilder, the cottages more colorful and precariously positioned along rockier promontories, the winds sharper and more scented with salt, and you realize you have entered, effectively, a Francophone version of the maritime provinces.

A crazy amount of fantastic landscape is packed into this relatively small landmass. There's the famous pierced rock in Percé and endless beaches backed by glacier-patterned cliffs. The mountainous, forested hinterlands, home to the breathtaking Parc National 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.

Outside tourist season (June to mid-September), things seriously wind down, and many attractions, accommodations and restaurants close for the winter.