I mentioned before that I am enjoying the planning of a summer road trip to Quebec for my youngest daughter and I. Back then the planning had got us only as far as the Saint Lawrence River, five days from home (four of them in the Parc national de la Gaspésie). Finally – three weeks on – I’ve taken the next step.
I called the company that operates the ferry across the river from the town of Matane on the south shore to the village of Godbout on the north. I had to psyche myself up to make the call, expecting to muddle through in bad French. And it didn’t get off to a promising start – a bad line, a long recorded message in French, and a snatch of English I didn’t catch. I hung up and called again. After a series of recordings – partly in English, mostly in French – a woman picked up. I launched into my prepared “Je ne parle pas Français très bien, mais je voudrais ___ ”
“Would you like to speak in English?” she asked.
You bet! Anyway, the upshot is that we are now booked on the two hours and 15 minutes crossing to Godbout. But where should we go when we get there?
Godbout is in the vast, empty Côte Nord, a region as big as Michigan but with only 96,000 people. We could drive east towards Labrador, but the road would run out long before we got there. I like the description of this option in Lonely Planet:
“The farther east you go, the greater the distance between villages, the fewer people, the deeper the isolation and the wilder the nature.”
My kind of place. But one of the raisons d’être of this trip is to help my daughter with her school French (with words like raisons d’être in fact), and I can’t help thinking that people and villages will help with this. So, right now, I am leaning towards heading west, into the relatively more populated region of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. It’s time to hit Lonely Planet again.