The people under the sea

At low tide in Sainte Flavie in the Gaspé people seem to be walking out of the water. These stone folk are the creation of Marcel Gagnon whose Centre D'Art is based here. Unbelievably they are never washed away and reappear as the Saint Lawrence recedes. The centre has a shop, cafe and a hotel next to Marcel's own unusual house which is decorated in mosaics and looks like....well like the home of an artist. 
Centre D'Art Marcel Gagnon
We drive on two minutes and see stone sheep complete with shepherd and stone sheepdog in a garden, There is a huge artistic community in this region. The Centre is a great spot to stop a while and get the sand between your toes - especially to someone who used to live by the sea.

Like coming home

St-Octave-de-L'Avenir is a ghost town or it would be if there were more left of the village. It once housed over 800 families but all that remains of the community is a church, a presbytery and a schoolhouse. The rest of the homes were burned down after the Government decided it was no longer viable. Residents were paid much less than the value of their homes to move away.

The church remains at St-Octave de l'Avenir
As I photographed the church, while the wind howled around me, I imagined all the folk who used to fill it.  But new people are now coming to visit the location, with its stunning views of the Chic-Choc mountains (on a clear day). It is popular with snowmobilers and snowshoers in the winter and the auberge and cabins here (Village Grande Nature de Chic-Chocs) provide a quiet destination for those who like the wilderness vibe with the promise of moose or lynx viewing on the hiking trails.

Ready chaps - let's swim for it
On the quayside at Sainte-Anne-des-Monts Exploramer is an aquarium with a difference. They are unabashedly happy to talk about eating fish and seafood as well as appreciating it in its live state. Here we learned how to sex a lobster (the female has a larger tail and softer back legs) and could hold our own sea cucumbers, starfish and sea urchins. But they do ask you to think about which fish you eat and the Smarter Seafood programme is encouraging people to try a greater variety of food from the Saint Lawrence River.  A little blue fork on local menus will help you choose those fish and seafood not under threat in Gaspésie.

View from Matane Riotel bedroom last night
As we say goodbye to Gaspésie and Bas-Saint-Larent I will remember eating pickled daisy buds for the first time at Reford Gardens, checking out the sleeping quarters on a submarine in Rimouski , the harbour seals at Bic National Park and coming face to face with a grouse in Gaspésie National Park. But most of all I will recall the colours - the orange mushrooms in the forests, the bright green rivers and the sunsets - which I was told rivaled Hawaii but never really believed until I saw them for myself.

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