Top Tips for a Visit to Saint-Pierre and MiquelonBy Newfoundland & Labrador
A trip to the French islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon is a must for anyone planning travel in eastern Newfoundland. With a piece of Europe just 20 km from the province’s southern coast, why wouldn’t you plan an international trip? That being said, a visit to the archipelago does require some preparation. Here are five things to keep in mind before you hop on board the ferry to France.
1. Enjoy the journey
If you’re driving to Fortune to take the ferry, plan to make the voyage part of your adventure. The ferry terminal is located in Fortune, at the bottom of the Burin Peninsula, or “The Boot,” as locals like to call it. This region is known for its fishing heritage and idyllic landscapes, so make sure you budget some time to take it all in along the way. A night in Marystown or Fortune will give you time to explore the region and meet some of the colourful characters who call this place home.
2. Take your time
It may be tempting to plan a quick day trip across the water in the midst of your visit to Newfoundland, but a longer visit is key to seeing all the islands have to offer. If time allows, plan to stay at least two nights on Saint-Pierre and one night on Miquelon, and longer if you can. This will give you time to take in the unique mix of European and Canadian architecture, enjoy a delicious meal of French cuisine, practise your French in colourful shops, and explore all three of the archipelago’s islands, each with its own unique flavour. One thing is for certain: no matter how many days you decide to stay, you’ll always leave wishing you had at least one more!
3. You’re going to Europe… be prepared!
Saint-Pierre isn’t like France; it is France! It has its own time zone (half an hour ahead of Newfoundland time), its own culture, and its own way of life, different from what you’ll find in Newfoundland. Consider it a truly European experience: shops close every day between 12 and 2 p.m. (and most are closed on Sundays), restaurants begin serving dinner later than you’d expect, and folks line up outside the bakeries each morning to carry home fresh bread and pastries for the day. While the official currency is the Euro, most businesses will accept Canadian dollars, and you’ll be able to get by without a strong knowledge of the official language – which is, of course, French – but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared and try out a few simple phrases. Bring a power adapter for your electronics, and keep in mind that Canadian cell phones will incur international charges. Now that you know what to expect, get ready to immerse yourself in a truly unique culture and enjoy the novelty of visiting a little piece of France right here in North America.
4. Explore every alley
Just like in Europe, the winding narrow streets of Saint-Pierre are filled with vibrant shops and must-try restaurants – the key is finding them all! The town of Saint-Pierre isn’t zoned out like many cities in Canada, meaning that you may find the perfect souvenir in a tiny shop tucked among houses on a seemingly residential street. Saint-Pierre’s size makes it easy to explore by foot, so be sure to put on your walking shoes and meander down every possible street. You never know what you’re going to find around the next corner!
5. Book in advance
The archipelago is a relatively small region that hosts a fair number of tourists each season. As a result, accommodations are limited, and it can even be a challenge to find supper during the height of summer, if you're not prepared! Plan your trip as far in advance as possible, and book accommodations, excursions, and dinner reservations as soon as you’ve decided on dates. Getting the logistics sorted out early means you'll be able to experience everything you want to, without worry.
How to plan your trip
• Visit spm-tourisme.fr to find accommodations, excursions, and restaurants in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon
• Book your ferry at www.spm-ferries.fr
• Find accommodations and things to do on the Burin Peninsula by checking out http://www.theheritagerun.com/ and the “Eastern” section of the Newfoundland Traveler’s Guide
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