Holidays To Saint-pierre And Miquelon
I always wanted a French Holiday and that too on an island. Hence, on our first anniversary which falls on a Valentine’s Day, my husband discovered a very unique and uncommon holiday destination which had all what I wanted. He had learnt about two tiny islands ‘Saint-Pierre and Miquelon’ which are perfect holiday destinations away from the hustle-bustle of the city. These islands have some rich historic background together with natural beauty and landscapes and are a perfect holiday destination.
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon are small French islands situated in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean near Canada. They are called as little piece of France in North America. These islands were discovered in the 15th century by the Portuguese explorer Joa Alvarez Fagundes and are territories of France which were claimed by the French in the early 17th century. These two islands are the only remnants of the French possession on this continent.
Both these islands enjoy a mild climate, hence one can witness green landscapes which are mainly scenic during the summer season. The locals have an authentic French accent and usually are comfortable speaking in French an d English.
After a 33 hour grueling and tiring flight, we reached St. Johns International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada.
We booked a private car from St. Johns International Airport to a place called Fortune. Fortune is a very small and secluded fishing settlement in the Southeast corner of Newfoundland in Canada. Both these islands are situated at the entrance of Fortune Bay, which spreads into the southern coast of Newfoundland, adjacent to the Banks. We met our tour guide in Fortune who welcomed us with a bright smile and we took a ferry called Le Cabestan run by the local Government which took an hour and a half to reach Saint- Pierre.
After arriving in Saint-Pierre, we checked in a hotel, took some time to refresh and then headed out to discover Saint-Pierre in a bus which was arranged by the tour operator. We visited the Art Museum of Paul Gauguin. This museum is dedicated to the life and art of French artist Paul Gauguin who was a very impressive and well-known personality in art history. The museum displays his paintings, sketches, sculptures and other works on paper. The museum also has a lot of books on the artist and other notes on his life. Next in line was L’Arche museum. This museum traces the history of both the islands from the early history to the era of the industrial fishery and gives you an insight of the life in the olden days, a time which frequently witnessed tragedies which was evident by the presence of a guillotine. Overall, it was a beautiful and knowledge rich museum.
Then we proceeded towards a very remarkable landmark of both these islands, the red and white lighthouse of the Point aux Canons which proudly makes its presence felt by standing tall at the end of a jetty. We got a very vibrant and colorful view of the town from the lighthouse. Close to the lighthouse, the cannons—remnants of the 19th century—remind us that the islands witnessed the sight of conflicts with the English for a long time. Just a few feet from the Pointe aux Canons lighthouse, we saw the Fishing Stations or Les Salines. These were constructed by the Government of Saint-Pierre & Miquelon. We got to see all the massive equipment which were used by the inshore fishermen and could say volumes about the fishing culture.
We then visited the General Charles de Gaulle Square which is near the inner harbor of Saint-Pierre. This is where the French Tricolor is raised on Bastille Day.
General Charles de Gaulle Square is the center of celebration on Bastille Day with music, dance, games, food and wine.
We were almost at the end of our tour when the bus took us through a small downtown area, up to one of the highest points on the island for a panoramic and dramatic view of the area, and back down through the tiny city airport and city cemetery. The Saint-Pierre Cemetery is a unique cemetery which is situated on a gentle slope. Thousands of monuments are built above ground in a style unique in North America. This Cemetery contains more than 600 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 82 from the Second World War.
After an eventful day, we returned back to our hotel for an overnight stay. The restaurant in the hotel was quite warm and cozy with lots of brass, wood architecture with marble-topped tables giving it a particularly Gallic feel - as one expects in France!
The dinner was primarily French cuisine. We had some nice authentic French food like steak au poivre which is steak with black pepper and coq au vin which is red wine rooster. The next day was dedicated to the 2nd island - Miquelon. We had some lovely poached eggs over grilled ham on English muffins for breakfast and then headed toward the boat which took us to Miquelon in 1 hour. Miquelon is a small town of about 700 inhabitants and the guide told us that the history and beliefs of this island is entangled with that of Acadia. Soon after the Acadian exile of 1755, most of the Acadian families sought refuge in Miquelon. The people of Miquelon are extremely proud of its tradition, natural landmarks and history.
Our tour to this island started from visiting Notre Dame des Marins, a church which was built between 1862 and 1865, replacing the first church in the archipelago since the first church was in poor condition. The church is named in the honor of father Ardilliers and a sister in Saumur , who advanced part of the money which was required needed to build the first church of Miquelon.
Then we saw a 2nd lighthouse situated on the western side of Miquelon and a cemetery which was much older than the cemetery at Saint-Puerre
Post lunch, we headed towards the northern most point of the island, known as the Cap. This point is absolutely scenic and the scenery was incredible. We spent sometime in the arms of nature and also saw some wild animals and birds.
We then headed towards south of Miquelon to see the Grand Barachois. The guide told us that is unique and natural lagoon is studied by many scientists from Canada & France for its rich wildlife comprising of the, wild horses, artic sterns and different types of seals. This lagoon is exceptional because of its size and because of the variety of wildlife present. . In order to explore wildlife in its natural setting, this lagoon is a must see.
After exploring Miquelon, we headed towards our hotel at Saint-Pierre, dived into some yummy dinner and a romantic chocolate cake for dessert. The hotel was a decent one with a very friendly staff and the hotel owner had 2 lovely and well-mannered dogs to guard the guests. The next morning, after a heavy breakfast, we took a scenic walk around the town by the sea to view the beauty of the island for the last time before our departure.
We took the afternoon ferry from St. Pierre back to Fortune, Newfoundland.
The local flavor and extraordinary beauty of Saint-Pierre & Miquelon together with the exceptional and unique landscape of the surrounding islands are a great place to visit in order soak up in the lifestyle of the Archipelago and take time to wander around, to de-stress and rejuvenate yourself.