"La France en L'amérique du Nord" Top 5 Page for this destination Saint Pierre and Miquelon by DesertRat

Saint Pierre and Miquelon Travel Guide: 66 reviews and 168 photos

The tiny islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon are a startling anomaly to most everyone with any experience of North America. Although situated a mere 1 ½ hours by ferry off the southern coast of Canada’s province of Newfoundland, these foggy, rocky isles are French through and through. So just how did this come about?

French and Basque fishermen began using the islands as a safe anchorage during fishing forays into the cod-rich waters of the Grand Banks as early as the early 1500s, but real settlement didn’t begin until the early years of the 17th century. Over the next hundred years or so, jurisdiction over them bounced back and forth between France and Britain, their French populations having been deported en masse several times during those tumultuous years. Indeed, the British attacked the island once in retaliation for French support of the American Revolution. Eventually, however, the islands reverted back to France in 1816 and remain so to this day.

Today, St Pierre and Miquelon survive on fishing, tourism, and heavy subsidies from the French state. Except for seeing large numbers of North American automobiles on the roads, everything else is thoroughly and authentically French, from the cozy brasseries with utterly authentic crocque monsieurs on the menu to the rather comical sight of a French flic (cop) riding a bike, cape fluttering in the wind and funny, round, flat-topped cap with patent leather bill on his head.

Getting to St. Pierre & Miquelon

It takes a bit of determination to get to St. Pierre because there aren't a lot of transport alternatives. The fastest way is, of course, to fly, but that is a bit on the expensive side because there's very little traffic and only one airline, Air St Pierre, which has routes between St. Pierre and St. John's (NF) Can$261, Halifax (NS) Can$492, Moncton (NB) Can$492, Sydney (NS) Can$362 and Montreal (QB ) Can$989. Fares are round-trip.

Oddly, there is only one ferry connection between St. Pierre and Fortune (NF). You'd think there'd be one to Sydney (NS), but there isn't. Neither is there one to Charlottetown (PEI).

If you opt for the ferry from Fortune, you still have to get there... and that's a 3 1/2 hour drive from St. John's over what is for the most part a relatively narrow two-way blacktop highway that has seen a few too many semis, so it's not the smoothest road you'll experience. The first/last 80 or so kilometers on Trans Canada 1 out of St. John's are superb, of course, but the rest... On the other hand, there's very little traffic and there are only a few settlements along the way. Actually, if you like lonely roads -- as I do -- it's a joy. But for others who don't like the wide-open spaces that much, it could be a little off-putting. You're well out of cellphone range, too, so a breakdown might be a bit of a pain...

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:cool, calm, laid-back, and very, very French -- overall, a "cheap" trip to Europe!
  • Cons:expensive and a trifle difficult to get to
  • In a nutshell:Definitely a "must" if you get to Newfoundland, but probably not worth the effort as a single destination.
  • Last visit to Saint Pierre and Miquelon: Jul 2004
  • Intro Updated Feb 9, 2005
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Reviews (8)

Comments (2)

  • Apr 19, 2009 at 10:20 AM

    What a GREAT find of a page - well done, Sir!! ..and what a tempting destination... Mind you crossing the ocean to get to mainland France would still be so much easier... Best regards, Marina!

  • XenoHumph's Profile Photo
    Oct 25, 2004 at 1:59 PM

    A little piece of France lost at the edge of Canada, what an interesting destination to gravel to! Great page!

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