Archive for July 12th, 2010

After getting soaked in the rain at Forillon Park, where we were hiking, we got changed into dry clothes and headed down from the town of Gaspé to Percé. The road runs along the coast of the Gaspé peninsula and meanders up and down and around. The final approach to Percé is dramatic. The road hugs the long curve of a red clay and rock cliff. A parking area near the beginning of the curve allows visitors to stop and contemplate the Pic de l’Aurore (the Peak o’ Dawn), about 800 feet high, that marks the west entrance to Percé.

As you reach the end of the long curve and begin the steep descent into town, a panoramic view of Percé lies before you, with Percé rock visible to the left.

It had been raining, sunning, raining, sunning, finally settling into a drizzle as we approached the town. Just as we reached our hotel, the sun won out and our first good look at Percé rock featured a rainbow! What a wonderful welcome.

And here is Bonaventure Island, which is also close by. It boasts a large colony of Northern Gannets on its seaward cliff face. In this view, it looks like it should have a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

We checked into our hotel, one of many that line the main street and outskirts of Percé. We had this view of the rock from the hotel room window.

We hung up our wet clothes to dry!

Then we headed out to see the town and find some supper. Visiting Percé felt like stepping back in time to the days when I visited Niagara Falls with my family on long-ago summer days of my youth. Niagara Falls has become a bit more sophisticated, with organized parking and shuttle buses and bigger, better attractions and modern shops. Percé still features the assortment of small souvenir shops such as once lined the edge of the Falls. There are many little cafés and food stands. The stores stay open late to cater to the tourist crowd that filled the street even on this rainy evening at the cusp of the main tourist season.

In the morning, I went down to the shore to see the sunrise over the rock.

It’s odd, the magnetic pull the rock exerts. It is, after all, just a big chunk of rock, worn down by the sea, and yet there is something mystical and powerful about it. It has been drawing visitors to the area for centuries. There used to be two arches, but the outside arch collapsed on June 17, 1845. The limestone stack is 433 metres (1420 ft) long, 90 metres (296 ft) wide, and 88 metres (289 ft) at its highest point (according to Wikipedia). The remaining arch is 15 metre (50 ft) high.

After breakfast, we drove over to Mont Joli for a close-up view of the rock. Theoretically, you can walk out to the rock via a long sand spit when the tide is out, but this is discouraged as unsafe.

There are other things you can do at Percé. You can take the boat trip out to Bonaventure Island and see the rock and the gannet colony from the sea. You can climb Mont Blanc or Mont Sainte-Anne for panoramic views. There are assorted sea excursions, sea-kayaking and scuba-diving activities, or you can stay in town and check out the boutiques. We were satisfied just to see the famous rock, and with a rainbow and a sunrise, felt that we had enjoyed a full experience. Before leaving the area, we stopped for one last photo session.

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