Twelve islands make up the roughly 100 km long sand archipelago called Îles de la Madeleine. The six largest of these islands are connected by many kilometres of thin sand dunes, peppered with fuzzy tufts of grass. Shaped by wind and waves, the iron-rich red and grey sandstone cliffs amaze with their spectacular forms. The coastline of beaches is dotted with harbours, multi-coloured houses and picturesque bays.
We dock in Cap-aux-Melules, home to more than half of the archipelago’s population. Long before the arrival of Europeans, native people came to the islands to fish and hunt for seal and sea cows. Preceded by Basque fishermen, Jaques Cartier arrived in 1534 and wrote in his logbook the first recorded reference to the islands. By 1765, the islands were inhabited by 22 French-speaking Acadians and their families. The locals who live here today are called Madelinots, and they identify themselves both as Acadians and Québécois. Others are descendants of survivors from the more than 400 shipwrecks on the island. Come ashore and discover this little outpost, where high winds and ocean storms are a part of life. Have a bite to eat at Café la Côte, Pas Perdu, Café d’Chez Nous or something to drink at Bar Le Central to feel the island’s bohemian pulse. If you feel like being active, you can go kayaking or enjoy a hike in this relatively flat terrain.