Windows on the Wild

Pavillon du St. Jean

Apr 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

418-368-2324 >>

Take the 7 p.m. Chaleur from Montreal, an overnight luxury train that delivers you to the town of Gaspe the next afternoon (888-842-7245; The Pavillon season runs from June 10 to September 30. All-inclusive packages (meals, guided fishing, and transportation from the airport) cost $346-$490 per night.

It can be easy bein' green: the emerald waters of the St. Jean River

QUEBEC'S GASPE Peninsula is known primarily for its coastline, where the Appalachian Mountains drop dramatically into the sea. But a 45-minute drive from the coastal town of Gaspe reveals the peninsula's hidden heart—its mountainous interior of old-growth spruce, cedar, and poplar that's the Pavillon du St. Jean's backyard. The handsome, no-frills lodge is located on perhaps the best dry-fly salmon river in the world, the St. Jean, whose pools are so brilliantly emerald you'd think the water should taste like mint. Fifteen-pound Atlantic salmon make heart-stopping rises to your fly on the 25 miles of river, on which only eight rods are allowed daily. Head guide Austin Clark, a 54-year-old with a disobedient wisp of white hair, will dance a jig when you catch your first one.
AT THE LODGE Founded in 1958, the Pavillon comprises a main lodge and four cabins; each cabin has two bedrooms, a living room with a wood stove, a private bathroom, and a porch perfect for listening to the gurgle of the river while sipping the local (9 percent) beer, Le Fin du Monde. There's a convivial main room in the lodge, with reading chairs, a grand stone fireplace, a pool table, and a dining table for 14. Dinner is a four-course affair that might include Gaspesie favorites like ginger-and-carrot consomme, lamb, and lobster, all specialties of the lodge's renowned Quebecois chefs.
THE SPORTS In addition to fishing, there is excellent hiking in the nearby Chic-Choc Mountains. A short drive from the town of Gaspe will take you to Forillon National Park, where you can hike six miles along the Mont Saint-Alban trail, which provides spectacular views of cliffs that drop vertiginously into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Try sea kayaking along the park's jagged coastline in Gaspe Bay (for park information, call 800-463-6769; for kayak rentals, call Cap-Aventure at 418-892-5055), or take a whale-watching cruise to see blues, humpbacks, and minkes (Croisieres Baie de Gaspe, 418-892-5500).
BACKCOUNTRY FOREY Drive 140 miles to Le Pluvier L'Hirondelle, in the center of the Chic-Choc Mountains. There you can access the newly christened International Appalachian Trail and hike south for five days and 60 miles. Along the way, you'll ascend 3,770-foot Mount Logan, home to the last caribou herd south of the St. Lawrence River. Then descend to the Cap-Chat River and take a prearranged shuttle back to civilization. (For shelter reservations in Parc de la GaspEsie, call 866-727-2427; for shuttle information, call IAT Quebec at 418-562-1240, ext. 2299.)

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