We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Les Iles de la Madeleine and are really glad we made the trip. It is a very unique spot and a popular summer travel destination. We spent the bulk of our time anchored in Havre Aubert in the protecteted cove adjacent to the popular sandbar known as La Grave. La Grave is probably one of the the most popular spots for visitors to the island and was a great place to explore. We were treated to a few sunny days with beautiful sunsets and all but one of the overcast days cleared just enough to reveal the sun setting on the horizon.
We wandered up the hill on the east side of the La Grave sandbar where we had a great view of what used to be buildings for the fishing industry. They have all since been converted to shops or restaurants which is what makes this a popular spot to visit, even for the locals. The shops are full of local artisans creations and clothing, and had we not been travelling by boat we we likely would have picked up a couple of items. The workmanship and quality was far above what we’ve seen in among some of the sunny south destinations.
We enjoyed two dinners out, one at the restaurant below. We enjoyed a hearty meal and Chrissy found out the owners used to be Cirque to Soleil performers/musicians. The evening we were there, the owner was playing the violin for the band. At one point in the evening he took a at the table of 4 next to us giving a front row seat. When the skies started to part revealing a beautiful sunset and a rainbow when you turned to the south, he invited everyone to leave their tables and enjoy the sunset on the patio. The lady at the table next to us was a local and told Chrissy that they hadn’t had much of a summer yet this year and that after the middle of August the weather starts its rapid descent towards winter. I suspect she wasn’t lying as our waiter must have been the last one to return from watching the sunset and spent several minutes standing on a table taking photos of the horizon with his phone.
Feeling the need for some exercise one afternoon Magnus and I headed off for a hike. We climbed up the hills that form cliffs along the waterfront. Here is the view back towards La Grave with Altera anchored somewhere between the sandbars.
Looking in the opposite direction, the actual town of Havre Aubert lies in the distance. I figured it would only be 2 or 3 miles, so off we went. Unfortunately as we reached the town it became apparent that everything is fairly spread out. So I found the gas station, and the smallest Home Hardware I’ve seen. Realizing that we could walk for several more miles and likely only see spread out houses we retraced our steps. I’m sure Magnus was glad by the time we finally made it back to the dinghy.
With the prevailing south west winds finally setting in we decided to head to the major town in the island chain being Cap Aux Meules. We determined that unfortunately it was not going to be pleasant to stay anchored along the shoreline, so we took the dinghy into yacht club, which shares the small harbour with the local fishing fleet. Our luck was with us and we found someone that told us they had a vacant slip and that the depths were deep enough to make the entrance.
The guide book suggests that Cap Aux Meules is rather utilitarian and lacks ambiance, but we are still glad we came. While the town itself is not overly exciting it had the essentials, a few restaurants, groceries and hardware. They also have a nice waterfront trail running above the red cliffs. The ferry runs from PEI into Cap Aux Meules, but there is also a small cruise ship (in the background above) that comes down the St. Lawrence if you want to visit that way.
While we were in town Chrissy picked up a few groceries while Magnus and I waited outside. As we had enjoyed the local craft beer at the restaurant in La Grave, she also picked up this pair to try. They certainly were strong!
On our first night we climbed the big hill next to the harbour to the look out so we could catch the sunset. We missed it by a few minutes, but the view of the horizon was still refreshing.
Looking out over the commerical harbour, with Ile du Havre-Aux-Maisons in the background.
And the small harbour for the fishing fleet and the yacht club.
Les Iles de la Madeleine are also known for their red cliffs and their pink sandy beaches so we went for a several mile dinghy tour along the shoreline.
We stopped to play fetch with Magnus on a little beach bordered by cliffs on either side making it only accessible from the water.
They also have kayak rentals along the beach so we explored a few caves in the dinghy along with some kayakers.
Here is one of the tunnels we passed through and I’ll post a video sometime when I have better internet. Magnus seems to enjoy it.
Unfortunately we didn’t realize that we had a big smudge on the lens of the point and click camera and it couldn’t cope with the dim lighting in the grotto, so Magnus and I returned on a second excursion with the SLR. Not the best shot, but you’ll have to give me a bit of break. Taking a ‘selfie’ while navigating through the surge in the tunnel with a heavy SLR is not the easiest task.
Here is one of the other tunnels with a ledge above. Very cool to see. They also run tours on larger inflatables for those that don’t have a dinghy with them.
Here is a shot out from the grotto.
And the shot of the skylight inside the grotto.
We really enjoyed our stay here but summer seems to be flying by now and we are tentatively heading back to Cape Breton tomorrow.