Canada Forums

Start a new topic Change Forum
Advanced search

St. Pierre and Miquelon

Jump to last reply

Looking for any info I can get, no matter how trivial it may seem on these French Islands off the coast of Newfoundland. Has anyone been out to them? If not, maybe you know something about them. What I'm most interested in is whether or not there is anything worth seeing (Maybe something historical or some pretty little town). In short, are they worth two days out of my seven-day vacation?

  • Report Abuse

    We visited St. Oierre two years ago at this time of year. It is a very interesting island and well worth the trip. It is like visiting a small French (European ) town. They us the french currency, but Canadian/Americian money is also used. The accomodation is limited but there are some really nice restaurants. The town itself is very picturesque and interesting.

  • Report Abuse

    I'm from there, it's a rather unique place. Go to http://209.205.50.224/spmweb
    You'll find a picture gallery there along with some travel info, most of it is in french though!
    If you need extra information feel free to send me an e-mail.

  • Report Abuse

    We are going to be in St. John's Nfld. for a week the beginning of August and would really like to travel over to St. Pierre & Miquelon for a visti. It appears that if we want to visit both we need to stay for two nights. Can anyone advise where they stayed. We would like a room with a private bath. I guess we will take the ferry over and then make arrangements to travel to Miquelon on the second day. Any info that you can provide would be greatly appreciated. We are quite excited to visit both Newfoundland and St. Pierre & Miquelon.

  • Report Abuse

    Sprig, my husband and I are going to St. Pierre the first weekend in June and I will get back to you after we return. If you type in "The French Islands" in the search this forum box above and select Newfoundland in the topics section, you will find a post by Klam Chowder that will be of interest to you..... especially with regards to transport to the islands.

  • Report Abuse

    Sprig, here are four links that you may or may not have already discovered in your research on the French Islands.
    Official Website: http://www2.st-pierre-et-miquelon.info/
    Accommodations:http://www.spmnet.com/ds_pages/dir1/cat_19.html
    Encyclopedia link: http://www.grandcolombier.com/english/index.html

    I would recommend taking the SPM ferry over to the islands. Although it is the more expensive of the two ferry options, I believe that you will find that this large CAT will give you a smoother ride and because of the number of people it transports, this company will not leave you stranded at the dock in Fortune as happened to Klam Chowder last summer when she used the other company.

    The closest accommodations as you exit the Customs House are the Ile de France and the Hotel Robert. Both establishments would meet your needs, although if you require a sound night's sleep, be forewarned that the Ile de France's rooms are located directly above the bar & restaurant areas, something that I had not considered when I booked the reservations. There are other accommodation options listed on the official website link that require a bit of a walk up the hill, but they can be had for considerably less. Whatever one you choose, I'd advise you to make your reservations soon as accommodations are rather limited and you will be traveling during prime tourist season.

    We had limited restaurant options open the first weekend in June.... tried the Hotel Robert the first evening and Hotel Ile de France the last. Both facilities offered a variety of French cuisine starting at 14 euros and up. I found the house white wine at Hotel Robert to be an excellent choice. We ate lunch the first day at Pizzeria Chez Alain which would also provide a less expensive evening meal option.

    As we did not go to Miquelon due to the limited ferry schedule, I have no advise to offer regarding this island.

  • Report Abuse

    Hi KC...
    Yes, we enjoyed our time in St. Pierre and thanks again for all of your friendly help and advise this past spring when we were planning our trip! Unfortunately the Basque restaurant hadn't opened yet as was true for many of the smaller establishments on the island. We did enjoy walking the streets, taking in the ambient neighborhoods, and practicing our fractured French on the locals. Took in a Sunday morning worship service at the Cathedral and enjoyed the wonderful acoustics therein. We also toured the small local museum whose name escapes me at the moment. The rum running exhibit from the American prohibition era was of most interest to us.... those folks on the French Islands have been making money off Americans now for well over 80 years, LOL!

    Like you, we saw no icebergs during our 15 days on the Rock. I understand that there was one ashore near St. Anthony, but that area wasn't on the itinerary this trip and accommodations were booked in advance from Rocky Harbour to Twillingate with not enough 'flex' to venture up there for a day. We really enjoyed the birds along Cape St. Mary's and Witless Bay and despite Jerry's unsolicited comment in a previous post, a couple of humpbacks had returned to that region by June 7th.

    Our biggest disappointment of the trip was that the Trout Valley boat tour which was scheduled to begin service on 5/19 still wasn't operating on 5/24 when we arrived at Gros Morne NP as they were still painting the boat. While I understand the need for such maintenance, it's frustrating that folks operating out of a National Park site don't seem to recognize that tourists schedule their itineraries according to times published in the Travel Guide.... On the other hand, that relaxed lifestyle is what makes Newfoundland so special and it was nice to get away from our hectic, overly schedules lives. We definately came away from our adventures feeling that we need to return at least one more time to Newfoundland to ferry along its southern coast and explore Labrador. Perhaps we'll reurn some September after most of the tourists have left and other people's children are back in the classroom. It was truly delightful to walk out to Bird Rock on Cape St. Mary's and have the place to ourselves, to hike around Trinity Bay and not encounter another soul, etc... what a wonderful time to explore Newfoundland!

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Retired_teacher,

    Wonderful to hear you had a good trip. Reading your recap brings back how The Rock is indeed a special place.

    If you ever get to Labrador, pls post a trip report. With so much else to see, I'm torn btwn going there or not!

    And thx a mint for the emoticons link - they were a mystery to me and I've since had fun using them! Take care.

    Enjoy-la!

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Retired Teacher
    Glad to here you had a nice time. I didn't know that there was more than one ferry. Should we prebook the SPM ferry. We were hoping to take the one in the afternoon. I am not sure which one that is. We are going to stay for two nights and have booked our rooms at Auberge St. Pierre. Not sure why we chose them bu twe did. We are driving down from St. John's the day before and spending the night at Thorndykes i Grand Bank. We hoped to have the morning to poke around there before taking the ferry across.
    I understand there is a day trip to Miquelon and Langlade that we thought we would take the next day. The brochure says you can book the day before. I hope so. I tried to contact them but they wouldn't answer me. The first time I wrote in English and they asked me to write in French as they didn't understand. When I wrote in French they didn't reply. I guess that is why we chose our hotel. The man there was very friendly in his email, in either language but of course he preferred French.
    If you have any info on the ferry please advise as I want to take the one that will not leave us stranded.
    Glad you had a good trip. We are excited and looking foward to ours in a few weeks. Thanks for the info.

  • Report Abuse

    Welcome back, Sprig! We also stayed at the Thorndyke Hotel and B&B in Grand Bank... What a charming old home! Due to the extended cancelation policy at this facility, you've already committed yourself somewhat, I'd go ahead and book the ferry crossing with SPM Express http://www.spmexpress.net/english/index.php There's a quaint little 'tea room' within walking distance of the B&B with w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l deserts that will work for dinner that evening in Grand Bank and you should also consider touring the Seaman's Museum there before you depart for St. Pierre. If time allows, you might want to drive the bottom of the peninsula.... St. Lawrence is an interesting community that came to the aid of the crews of two US destroyers when they were swept into the rocks near that community during a storm back in 1943.

    Be sure to fill up your tank before starting down the Burin Peninsula as your fill up options will be limited along the way! Also, the French Islands are 1/2 hour ahead of Newfie time, so remember to reset your watches while in St. Pierre/ Miquelon.

  • Report Abuse

    Sorry I thought I posted a "thankyou" reply. Ferry is booked and we are ready to roll. Only two weeks to go now and loving all of your suggestions. If you think of anything else be sure to let us know.
    Sorry again to have been so rude and not post an answer. I have received so much help from the folks on this site.

  • Report Abuse

    Hey Sprig, you're forgiven! I remember how hectic life could get when one had to go to work each day. Actually I'm not the old fuddy-duddy teacher type you may envision as I'm still under 60. I probably made a mistake when I selected my screen name, but I was just so excited to be retired back in the fall of '02 when I first discovered Fodors, live and learn....

    You'll love St. John's. My husband and I stayed at the Bluestone Inn in '00, but didn't allow enough time for an overnight this past May. Be sure to go out to Cape Spear. I can remember watching the whales dodging the whale watching boats from the point going up to the lighthouse that July, LOL! Those whales actually seemed to play with the boats, diving and surfacing to keep just out of reach... You might also want to go down to Petty Harbour which is under a half hours drive south from downtown St. John's and experience an authentic Newfie fishing town. Petty Harbour is mentioned in Mark Kulanski's book, Cod: The Diary of a Fish that Changed the World. If you can get it before you leave, I'd recommend bringing it along for a trip 'read'. It's will give you a background on the Cod Moratorium as well as a good feel for the impact of the codfish on the European settlement of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and the New England colonies. Incidently, did you know that St. Pierre and Miquelon were given to the French by treaty at the end of the Seven Years War in 1763 as France demanded fishing rights in the Grand Banks as well as shoreline to dry their catch (cod). Okay, maybe now I am starting to sound too much like a teacher!

    Enjoy your trip in Newfoundland and please report back after your return!

  • Report Abuse

    Back from Newfoundland and had a very nice trip. I am going to try to do a trip report on the entire trip under a dfferent post but thought I would drop in a little about the St. Pierre & Miquelon part here.
    We left St. John's, which by the way is a beautiful little city, in the morning and headed out to the Northwest side of the Avalon before we started the long trip down the Burin. We had lunch in Brigus, which is a very picturesque little town and had lunch there. There is a little gift shop in town with a small restaurant in the back which is "the place" to stop for lunch. I guess they are listed in "where to eat in Canada". I apologize that the name escapes me now but it is a small town and you can't miss it.
    After lunch we headed down the Burin peninsula and despite the rainy weather found it to be a very pretty drive. They called it "the barrens" in one Newfoundland guidebook due to the vegetation but it was still quite pretty as there are quite a few lakes on the way. We arrived in Grand Bank in the late afternoon and made our way to the Thorndyke. It is a beautiful old Sea Captains house built in the early 1900's by Captain John Thornhill. I had happened to buy a book about another sea captain, his cousin Arch Thornhill, called exploring the Grand Banks which was a journal and described the life in the villages in that part of the world back in the late 1800's and so staying in this house right on the water was a really special experience.
    At the Thorndyke they serve dinner if you are there in time and we were not. We were advised by our hosts and other guests that apparently the only place in town to eat was the coffee shop, which I heard was quite good. But we were on holidays and had driven the entire day and were hoping for a glass of wine with dinner. We did fine another restaurant in town, Audreys which had a huge menu including fish, seafood, steak, ribs and roast beef. It was very clean and is licenced so we ended up having a very acceptable meal. I must say that when I mentioned to our hosts the next day that we had eaten there they did not seem pleased. Perhaps due to the limited tourist season in Grand Bank it is to there advantage to have their guests believe there is no full service restaurant in town so they make the choice to eat at The Thorndyke. The problem with that is that they could one meal and that is what you get which might not work for picky eaters even though we heard that the dinners are very nice.
    We took the walking tour of the town. They have footprints painted on the road which you can follow past all of the old buildings in town. I could almost feel the history of the Grand Branks as we walked around town but for an FYI there is not much in town to see.

    After dinner we donned our heavy waterproof jackets and sat on the veranda outside our room and drank some wine and looked out at the sea. It was very cold and the wind was whistling but it was pretty neat especially after reading about the early fishing families on the Grand Banks. They endured a lot of weather and a lot of shipwrecks and we could truly imagine it that night.

    The next morning they shooed us out of The Thorndyke very early after a hot breakfast, not quite to our taste. Forgive me if in my trip report we don't seem like true B&B people. This is the first trip where we chose this type of accomodation and though the choices turned out well I must admit it is not exactly our "cup of tea". I know many of you love it but when checking out of our busy lives for travel we prefer the more anonymous type of accomodation that we experience when staying in a hotrel. We did leave my now finished copy of Exploring the Grand Banks at the Thornydke as it seemed fitting for the book which I had read to "Come Home".
    We did tour the Maritime Museum in Grand Bank and found it really interesting. It is not that big but we managed to spend about an hour and a half there which left us still several hours to kill on a cold and rainy day before it was time to catch our 2:45 ferry. We checked in early at the ferry office. There is a rule that you have to check in one hour ahead to pick p your actual tickets.There was a shuttle bus to drive you back from the parking lot where the cars were left and as the people gathered it became quite busy. It was pouring rain and there is no place to stand with your bags inside in Fortune, no ferry station or covered waiting area. People were huddled outside the tourist information but the people there were not that friendly and did not offer us the opportunity to wait inside. We had eaten lunch at a small coffee shop away from the ferry but there is another there near where the ferry stops and you could perhaps stay inside one with your bags having a coffee or lunch while you waited. We chose the bar nearby with all of our bags in tow and had a nice visit with the lady at the bar and her visiting daughter and soninlaw. It was a couple of hours well spent as they gave us tips of what to see on St. Pierre and had no problem with people waiting inside even if they didn't buy a thing. They were very hospitable.

    We were traveling to St. Pierre on the Atlantic Jet, which is the fast ferry. It was a cold stormy day and the ride was rocky to say the least. I had taken a Gravol and we were OK but all around us people were getting very sick. The crew was amazing. They were actually running from sick person to sick person offering wet papertowels for dizzy heads and replacing sick bags for the many very ill passengers. It was a long journey.

    St. Pierre is a very European French type village. It was hard to believe that an Island so far from France could keep its European character and bear so little resemblance to the Newfoundand so close by. The only resemblance was the harbour and the bright coloured houses. It was a very interesting place to spend a day. We however were staying for two nights which proved a little long. Our B&B, Auberge St. Pierre, was listed as 5 minutes from the centre of town which it was if you had a car. We of course did not and it proved to be a 15 minute walk uphill from the ferry station dragging our bags. This didn't hurt us but an older couple may have found this difficult. There appeared to be very few taxis on St. Pierre. The B&B had advertised an Ocean view which I believe you must have to stand on the roof to see. Our room was small and very basic, European style. It was however impeccably clean and our hosts were very nice people.
    We took the bus tour of the Island of St. Pierre that evening and must say that in an hour on the bus you could really see the entire town. It was amazing after leaving a small basic town like Grand Bank way out on the Burin Peninsula, to see how many facilities the Government of France has provided on this little Island so far from the motherland. There are schools and a hospital and a beautiful new airport with only a few flights in and out every week. It is very impressive and helps us to understand how they have kep the population so "French". Many teennagers from St. Pierre wanting further education after high school go to France for their education and this is subsidized by the French Government. Alas many of them do not return expecially now with the fishery there almost closed. Part of the reason the kids don't return is that there is no work and of course after a taste of the world St. Pierre seems so small.
    There are quite a few restaurant and shops in town and a few bars and dance places as well. Things are quite expensive which is natural for a little Island where all supplies come in by boat.

    The next day we lucked out and the weather was beautiful. I think it probably hit 22 C that day. We tooked the morning boat over to Miquelon and Langlade for a tour of those Islands. The tour is apparently quite popular but perhaps after diffcult ferry ride the day before we were the only people taking the tour of the Island that day. There are 700 permanent residents on Miquelon and only summer homes on Langelade. The boatride in the morning was a little rocky but the afternoon one was like riding on glass. Our tour guide and driver on the Islands were lovely people and enjoyed talking about their changing lives on Miquelon. The young lady was another French student home for the summer and the driver was the maintenance person for the windmills which create the electricity for the Islands. We had a nice day with them and a delicious lunch but in fairness we must warn that you could probably see absolutely everything on Miquelon in an hour and we were there for almost 10. Finally in frustration our tour guide, after walking almost every street in Michelon to put in time, gave us two hours free time and we walked some more but there is really very little to see. It was delightful talking to them and hearing about their life. The end of the day we were back to St. Pierre for one more night. We were again scooted out of our B&B very early and luckily found out that our bags could be left at the Vistors Centre for the several hours until the ferry left. There was only one very small gift shop and not even a grocery store to help pass the time.

    We enjoyed our time but if we had it to do over we probably would not have spent the night in Grand Bank but would have left St. John's very early in the morning and driven down the Burin. We would have had lots of time to visit the museum and walk the town before the 2:45 ferry. One night in St. Pierre would have been more than enough in our minds and we would definitely advise passing on the Miquelon & Langelade tour. I must admit I believe that little bit of tourism is very valuable to the people there.

    Again we had a lovely trip but basically sacrificed four days to the two nights on St. Pierre and believe that we would have enjoyed our time more staying in St. John's and making day trips to some of the points on the north west Avalong instead. Not being negative but always want to help others planning their trips and much as you all helped in planning ours.

  • Report Abuse

    Wow, that's quite a trip report Sprig, thanks! Although my husband and I weren't able to ferry over to Miquelon and Langlade when we were there the first week in June, it sounds as though we didn't miss all that much. As we're really into history, I would have enjoyed visiting those two islands to check out the terrain and view the harbours. France has certainly continued to support those outposts which were so critical to the cod industry until recent years.

    I would agree that the back country is not for everyone, but it offers a respite from the daily gridlock that we deal with in the burbs........ I'm already starting to put together a ferry trip along the southern coast of Newfoundland someday.

  • Report Abuse

    Retired Teacher - Although we weren't inspired by everything we saw, we had a pretty good time seeing it....sometimes that is enough. Thanks again for your help in planning our little St. Pierre jaunt...the people we met there were so nice. We hope to go back to Newfoundland in search of Icebergs and Gros Morne..We belive that every experience is one more than you had before and even if it is not the most exciting it is something you take with you. We had a great time but it is always good to provide some info so others can plan their trips wisely as well. Thanks again. By the way have you ever been to Cambodia??? Vietnam?? Whitehorse??? I am working on these...don't know if our family (me+1) have reached a consensus yet. thanks.

  • Report Abuse

    Cambodia, no... Vietnam, no... and Whitehorse, not yet, although all three are included on our 'someday list'. Add Machu Picchu, the Amazon, and a journey on the Trans-Siberian Express to our list of trips under consideration. We are currently in a holding pattern as my husband's parents are failing and we've decided that we need to stay closer to home for the foreseeable future. The other challenge we face is that I am not as physically strong as my husband so hiking the Inca trail and crossing the ____ (sorry, but the name excapes me at the moment) Pass near Whitehorse are no longer options for me, so we need to find groups tours which offer alternative activities during those times.

    Please keep us updated as to your next adventure.....
    RT

  • Report Abuse

    Hey there retired teacher: Traveling is cool and only if you enjoy the "not perfect" experiences almost as much as the great ones. My hubby and I were talking the other day and noting that being "lost in Rome in the pouring rain" or "sitting on on balcony in Grand Bank" while not our most perfect memories were our most poignant memory. Some of those although not perfect would be the ones we would least like to give up...strange isn't it. We loved our trip but like to share honest memories. Thanks again for all your help. Will let you know where we travel next.

20 Replies |Back to top

| Add a Reply

Sign in to comment.

Recent Activity

  • Announcement:
  • Fodor's 100 Hotel Award Winners Announced
    by Emily_D Fodor's Editor | Posted on Sep 17, 14 at 01:05 PM
View all Canada activity »
  1. 1 Trip Report Long-overdue Trip report for Ontario, Albert and British Columbia.
  2. 2 Canada in winter
  3. 3 Trip Report Trip Report - Banff & Jasper - Early Agust 2014
  4. 4 Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland in 7-9 days?
  5. 5 Relaxing Honeymoon
  6. 6 What do you think of Boston to Ottawa trip?
  7. 7 7 Days in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
  8. 8 Victoria Dining
  9. 9 Northern Lights
  10. 10 Transportation Montreal to Quebec City. Bus or train?
  11. 11 Are plug adaptors needed?
  12. 12 Canadian Rockies Trip: Hiking priority
  13. 13 Fall Montreal weekend with 11-year-old daughter
  14. 14 Lake Huron Circle Tour
  15. 15 Mackenzie/Prince George BC - Safety & Car info needed
  16. 16 Trip Report The Canadian - Toronto to Vancouver by Train - Part 1
  17. 17 Searching for the `Northern Lights`
  18. 18 Looking for custom wine tour from Vernon, BC
  19. 19 Trip Report how to search for owls in winter
  20. 20 Vancouver, Canada - General information about organic food
  21. 21 Help us see Vancouver island
  22. 22 Moraine lake / larch valley / sentinal pass vs plain of six glaciers
  23. 23 Looking for gallery wine events in Vancouver.
  24. 24 Lodging in Lake Louise
  25. 25 Montreal Hop on hopoff bus
View next 25 » Back to the top