- “…Saint-Pierre and the neighboring island of Miquelon may be small but they are a fully developed part of France and have been for most of the last 400 years. …This makes these two islands worthy of generous French investment in airport, port and roads. And now that you can actually bring your vehicle on the ferry, the roads are a pleasure to drive…There are direct flights from Atlantic Canada and Montreal, and even direct flights from Paris in the summer”
You can now drive from Canada to France, so we took a road trip
December 17, 2021
The new car ferry began operating in August between the southern Newfoundland community and the last remnants of the once vast North American colony of France.
It doesn’t take long to drive around this little French region of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, but it takes like forever to get here.
The new car ferry between the southern Newfoundland community and the last remnant of the once vast North American colony of France began operations in August, six years after it was first commissioned. Earlier, there was only one ferry for pedestrians and freight. If any of the islands’ 6,000 residents want to drive their cars to the rest of North America, they must ship them as cargo or, more commonly, keep a locally registered car in 25 kilometers of water at the small port in Fortune. . Newfoundland.
Everything is a little different here, so I came to see it myself. This is a road trip directly from Canada to France.
There are direct flights from Atlantic Canada and Montreal, and even direct flights from Paris in the summer, but I went down to St. John. It takes about four hours to reach Fortune, half of it on the languid Trans-Canada Highway and the other half on the more interesting Burin Peninsula via Marystown. I was driving a 2021 Chevy Silverado, the upscale High Country Edition, and the truck was seen everywhere.
…On the highway, I felt a lot of urban cowboy with my luggage in the back seat of the crew cab and nothing under a ton of truck beds….“This is my dream truck,” said the Saint-Pierre resident. “I would love to buy a basic Silverado, but here, I have to pay at least an extra 10,000 euros for import duties. That’s a lot of tax.”
Saint-Pierre and the neighboring island of Miquelon may be small but they are a fully developed part of France and have been for most of the last 400 years. They are considered a “territorial collective”, which differs slightly from other regions such as Réunion and French Guiana because most of the income from taxes resides on the islands. In return, they provide French ships with a deep-water fishing port in the Grand Banks and give France the right to ocean resources that stretch 320 kilometers to the south.
This makes these two islands worthy of generous French investment in airport, port and roads. And now that you can actually bring your vehicle on the ferry, the roads are a pleasure to drive.
Most of the residents live on the island of Saint-Pierre, with another 600 or so on the larger island of Miquelon. The main city has steep hills and narrow streets that sometimes make it a challenge to fit a large Silverado, but there are some full-size pickups here. Although more common are compact Peugeot and Renault brought in from Europe, as well as smaller Canadian-sourced vehicles. All are equipped with inlaid tires in winter.
Saint-Pierre has perhaps 25 km of non-urban roads, mostly narrow and paved, and is very well maintained outside the city with a blanket speed limit of 70 km/h. I met a trio of local motorcyclists who were making the most of the unseasonably hot weather in November to ride their bikes, and they told me they follow a 45-kilometer route that includes some dead-ends; One ends on the south shore and the other rises high in the center of the island, where boardwalks and hiking trails continue across the gusts of wind.
…I headed to the South Shore to experience a spectacular sunset. It may be France but the landscape is pure Newfoundland, with small tuckmore trees, tall peat grass and lots of rocks. There are horses everywhere and at first they seem wild, but they are privately owned and brought inside for the harsh winter. In the summer, many people are taken to Miquelon where they roam freely in the open fields.
I did not travel to Miquelon because I had run out of time. In the long off-season, a 15-car ferry runs only three times a week between Fortune and Saint-Pierre, and on other days the French stays underwater until Miquelon. However, in the summer, there are two car ferries that run daily from Fortune, and are direct to each island.Tourists come here for the fine French cuisine and natural beauty. Some people buy French wine and cheeses that are not available in Canada, and now they can easily take it back in their vehicles. Many people visit the restored fishing village on the island opposite the city. They can also row in restored cords: a local group of traditionalists called Les Zigotos have rebuilt some of the string boats that their fathers used for fishing. They charge $50 for a water tour with lunch, but it’s free if you help out with the rowing.
I covered about 200 kilometers on Saint-Pierre in a day and a half. Some of that was getting lost in the city, which has a European atmosphere in its narrow streets despite the familiarity of Newfoundland’s colorful wooden houses. Much of it was exploring coast roads and reaching hiking trails….
Categories: ...'Go East Young Man'