When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
The industrial and tourist city of Matane is sure to please you with its maritime treasures and the warm welcome of its inhabitants. It is situated at the mouth of the Matane River on the Gaspé Peninsula. The river was first named “Matane” by explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1603, possibly in reference to a Mi’kmaq word meaning "beaver pond." This river long served as a route for indigenous people to reach Baie des Chaleurs. The tourist information centre is housed in the former Matane lighthouse, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. The city is also known for its excellent Nordic shrimp and large wind farm.
Salmon run observation centre
Here you will have the chance to witness the migration of Atlantic salmon returning to their native river to spawn. The migratory route has been enhanced to include two pools with glass windows, through which visitors can observe these fascinating fish. The observation station also features an exhibition on the history of the bridges and dams of the Matane River as well as on sport fishing. Allow an hour for the visit.
Open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., mid-June to late September.
"La Couleur de la Gaspésie" exhibition by Claude Picher
Claude Picher (1927-1998) was a renowned Quebec painter who decided at the end of his career to paint Gaspésie, a part of Québec he particularly appreciated. He donated 100 paintings to the City of Matane and it is these 100 paintings that form the "La Couleur de la Gaspésie" collection currently managed by the Matane History and Genealogy Society. The artist wanted to leave a legacy to his adopted land.
Tours are possible Monday to Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The delicious Nordic shrimp
Matane is world-renowned for its Nordic shrimp, which are much appreciated for their mild flavour and beautiful pink colour. For several decades, this small crustacean has been caught from spring to autumn in the cold waters of the St. Lawrence Estuary. In Matane, about 15 trawlers supply the Eastern Quebec Seafoods Limited plant. You are sure to have several opportunities to sample this shrimp in local restaurants, pubs, cafes, canteens, fishmongers and smokehouses, where it is often featured on the menu.
Mitis River Park
Discover the different ecosystems of the Mitis River Park by exploring the park’s 8 short hiking trails. The visitor centre also houses the "Jewels of the ocean" exhibition, featuring more than 1,500 species of shells and corals from around the world. You will be amazed to see the wide variety of starfish that can be found at the bottom of the St. Lawrence River. In 2019, you can also discover the moths of Quebec through the photographs of Jacques Larivée and Denis Turcotte. In 2018, two rooms were converted into an art gallery to house works by local artists.
The Park is open from mid-June to early September, daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
From 1926 to 1958, Elsie Reford worked on converting her fishing camp near the Métis River into gardens. The Métis Gardens is now a National Historic Site of Canada. You will see nearly 3,000 species of plants, spread over fifteen gardens. There are also exhibitions, some of which can be visited virtually on the website.
Open from early June to early October, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., until 8 p.m. in July and August. Allow between 1.5 and 3 hours for the visit. From mid-June to early October, you can also attend the International Garden Festival, the largest contemporary garden festival in North America. It takes place on a site adjacent to the historic gardens.
Fairy Cave Trails
This former Mi’kmaq site is well known in the region as a secret meeting place and a party site. It is nestled in the heart of an unspoiled forest and provides access to the Blanche River canyon, a waterfall and a rocky cave dating back more than 500 million years. The 4 short Fairy Cave trails, totalling 8 km, provide an opportunity to explore this rich natural site. Interpretive panels will guide you along the way. Admission is free.
Accessible from mid-June to the end of September from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. along a 7-km forest road, at the intersection of Route du Peintre and Route Levasseur.
Matane wildlife reserve
The Matane Wildlife Reserve, which is part of the Sépaq parks network, lies at the beginning of the Chic-Chocs mountain range. The reserve is home to over 4,000 moose! The region’s many mudflats natural mineral springs that gush out of the ground make it an exceptional habitat for moose.
Guided observation activities are available for visitors who would like to find out more about this iconic animal. The park also offers several beautiful hikes. The Mont Blanc Trail and the Appalachian Trail allow hikers to admire incomparable panoramas from mountain peaks almost 1,000 meters high.
MATANE WILDLIFE RESERVE
Season: The reserve is open year-round, but the period during which services are available varies according to sector and season.
Entrance fee: $8.90/adult/day and free for youth aged 17 and under.
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
Fumoirs Raoul Roux ($$)
This family business has been in operation since 1957. Here you'll find some great takeout fare: salmon, cod, shrimp, turbot and salmon mousse, smoked products, marinades, as well as homemade delicacies such as salmon pie and seafood pie. Their famous smoked salmon has been prepared according to the original recipe for several decades and has a very good reputation among the locals. Try it: it's a secret little-known to tourists. Over-the-counter service only.
Open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in summer. Shorter hours in low season.
Le Cargo ($$-$$$)
The restaurant at the Riotel Hotel is an excellent choice when you visit Matane. You'll love its varied menu featuring local produce. You will also like the original décor inspired by the industrial and maritime heritage of the city. The atmosphere is friendly, and you will have a magnificent view of the St. Lawrence River as you dine.
Open Monday-Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. for breakfast and 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner, Saturday-Sunday from 7 a.m. to noon for brunch and 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner.
La Fabrique ($$-$$$)
Conveniently located in old Matane, this artisanal microbrewery is very popular with locals and tourists alike. It offers several beers brewed in-house, including regular and seasonal beers, as well as several others from different Quebec breweries. The atmosphere is lively and the menu offers pub fare such as fish and chips, burgers, sandwiches and salads. The whisky menu is also impressive.
Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. The restaurant closes at 10 p.m.
Centre d’Art Marcel Gagnon Restaurant ($$-$$$)
This is a nice friendly place to stop for a bite to eat or a hearty meal on the way to Matane. Whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the menu is varied and the prices are affordable. The wine list is also interesting. A stone's throw from the shore and with magnificent views of the St. Lawrence River, the restaurant is also a superb art gallery.
Open from early May to the end of September, daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
*** Hours may vary ***
- Very Favourable