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If Côte-Nord did not exist, we’d have to invent this extraordinary landscape that’s as big as nature itself. Open your eyes wide, because this is much more than a region of dams and mines – it’s a veritable panoply of
A treasure trove of fauna, flora, islands, beaches and forests, Côte-Nord is a place to explore on foot, by sea kayak and by cruise ship. The coastal towns and villages dotted along the Route des Baleines along the St. Lawrence River just beg you to stop. To get an idea of the grandiose scale of Côte-Nord, go as far as Natashquan, where Quebec’s road network ends, and you’ll feel as if you’ve reached the edge of the world. But the magnificent landscapes don’t end there. Continue by sea, or by snowmobile to the picturesque Basse-Côte-Nord. Now you can really start to daydream!
Add to these riches the Mingan Archipelago, Anticosti Island, and, all through the region, the colourful local residents who delight in telling you about their country. Another reason for coming to Côte-Nord is to see the beautiful marine mammals that hold a fascination for the whole planet. Côte-Nord is one of the five best locations in the world to observe whales, here in large numbers between June and August.
A seductive landscape for the adventurous...
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Flavours of the region
Obviously sea products are at the top of the list, and are generally to be found freshly caught. Something that surprises a lot of visitors is the relative lack of fresh fruit and vegetables. This is due to the region’s isolation and to its too harsh climate for farming. However, this is largely compensated for by the abundance of wonderful fresh produce from the cold waters of the St. Lawrence estuary.
Coldwater shrimp, Princess scallops, sea cucumbers, soft shell crabs and Stimpson’s surf clams therefore abound in this part of the ocean.
Razor-shell clams and whelks, less traditional, are also delicious shellfish.
Apart from the ocean, the forests teem with game to be hunted. Often cooked with salted pork, venison is a typical item on the table in Côte-Nord homes.
Less well known are the seasonal boreal berries that garnish the regional dishes: dwarf red blackberries, lingonberries and northern wild blueberries – but the most popular are bake-apple berries, also known as “cloudberries”. The Duplessis region is the only area where you’ll be able to sample the cloudberries and wild blueberries. They are made into excellent jams and preserves, baked goods and alcoholic beverages.
The humpback whale is without doubt the most acrobatic of the whales, with its impressive leaps out of the water. Its pectoral fins, which can reach 5 m in length, help it to swim and also change direction. Whales can hold their breath for long periods – 120 minutes in the case of the sperm whale. Surprisingly, their lungs are quite small, but this is an advantage, as diving into the depths of the ocean exerts extreme pressure on them and on their rib cage. So they store air in their muscles and their blood, and also save energy by slowing their heart rate and lowering their temperature.
A little history
Côte-Nord has been a meeting point for the Inuit people and Amerindian nations since time immemorial, and was known to Europeans even before Jacques Cartier discovered Canada in 1534. In the 16th century, Basque and Breton fishermen came to hunt these big sea creatures too. Precious whale oil, rendered on the spot in huge ovens, was used for making candles and ointments. Fishing and the fur trade were followed by forestry, and in the 20th century by hydro-electric projects and mining (iron, titanium).
Did you know?
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