One of Canada’s oldest villages, TADOUSSAC is beautifully situated at the neck of the Fjord du Saguenay and its confluence with the St Lawrence River, beneath rounded hills that gave the place its name; the Algonquian word tatoushak means “breasts”. Basque whalers were the first Europeans to live here and by the time Samuel de Champlain arrived in 1603 it was a thriving trading post. The mid-nineteenth century saw Tadoussac evolve into a popular summer resort for the anglophone bourgeoisie, but today it’s the best place in Québec, along with Les Bergeronnes and Les Escoumins just north along the coast, for whale-watching. Mid- to late June is a good time to be here, when traditional Québécois folk singers, jazz pianists and rock guitarists all play a part in the popular Festival de la Chanson (w chansontadoussac.com).
The waterfront rue du Bord-de-l’Eau is dominated by the red roof and green lawns of the Hôtel Tadoussac, a landmark since 1864 and the focus of the historic quarter. Across the road is the oldest wooden church in Canada, the tiny Chapelle de Tadoussac, built in 1747; visits are possible out of season by reservation.
Centre d’Interprétation des Mammifères Marins
Following the waterfront towards the harbour brings you to the modern Centre d’Interprétation des Mammifères Marins, run by the nonprofit Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals. This is highly recommended if you intend to go whale-watching; its excellent documentary films and displays explain the life cycles of the whales and the efforts being made to save their ever-diminishing numbers.