The St Lawrence River was the lifeline of the wilderness beyond Tadoussac until the 1960s, when Highway 138 was constructed along the Côte-Nord to Havre-Saint-Pierre, 625km away, and later Natashquan, another 145km distant. The road sweeps from high vistas down to the rugged shoreline through the vast regions of Manicouagan and Duplessis. Traditional sightseeing diversions are thin on the ground in the villages and towns en route, but there is plenty to reward a journey to this remote region, not least the strong aboriginal heritage and the panorama of spruce-covered mountains, the vast sky and the mighty St Lawrence. It is the river that holds much of what is most alluring in the Côte-Nord, from the striking beauty of the Mingan Archipelago to gazing at the Northern Lights aboard the Nordik Express.
The Intercar bus from Québec City to Tadoussac serves the Côte-Nord as far as Baie-Comeau, from where another travels to Sept-Îles, where you have no choice but to spend the night before continuing on to Havre-Saint-Pierre. There is presently no public transport to Natashquan; check with Intercar for the latest developments. At Natashquan the highway gives out altogether and the only onward transport is by snowmobile, plane or the supply ship from Rimouski, which serves the wildlife haven of Île d’Anticosti and undertakes a breathtaking journey along the inlets of the windswept coastline of the Basse Côte-Nord (Lower North Shore).