UNESCO Percé Global Geopark: From Sacred Sites to Outdoor Mecca
Today, Mount Sainte-Anne (340 metres) and Mount Blanc (330 metres) are visited by many hiking, snowshoeing and skiing enthusiasts, who are delighted to experience the dizzying attractions available on these mountainsides. At the same time, both of these summits located in Percé have long be considered sacred sites.
Mi’kmaq sacred sites
The summits of Mount Sainte-Anne and Mount Blanc, as well as several grottoes found in these mountains, have been considered sacred sites by local Indigenous people for centuries. Archaeological digs have uncovered artefacts dating back some 7000 years that belonged to the Mi’kmaq. Traditional sacred ceremonies celebrating births, unions, hunting or fishing were held on these mountains.
The cross and statue erected at the top of Mount Sainte-Anne bear witness to the long history of Catholic pilgrimages to Percé. Benches and a wooden hotel are still found on this mountain. Just below the statue of St. Anne, on the other side of the mountain, is another important site, called the Grotto, a place with impressive geological features where you will find a waterfall and two statues, one of St. Bernadette and the other of the Virgin Mary.
The most popular annual pilgrimage, on July 26, St. Anne’s Feast Day, takes place every year, when many believers walk the trails of Mount Sainte-Anne to reflect and pay their respects to the saint.
Stunning views and exceptional vegetation
Throughout the years and still today, these mountains give visitors the opportunity to admire stunning views of the sea, legendary Percé Rock and Bonaventure Island, which was inhabited until 1971. The diversity of plants and wildlife found in this area has also drawn visitors to these two mountains for a long time.
Covered by a forest of Eastern white birch and balsam fir and surrounded by impressive cedar stands, the summit of Mount Sainte-Anne is also home to several arctic-alpine plants that are generally found in the tundra of northern Québec. Their presence in this area of southern Québec means these plants are considered rare or exceptional.
Mount Blanc, which is right next to Mount Sainte-Anne, is slightly higher. The vegetation on this mountain varies according to altitude. A cedar forest is found at the base of the mountain, while a spruce forest covers the summit. As on Mount Sainte-Anne, the mountain is also home to arctic-alpine plants.
Interestingly, in the 17th century, sailors off the coast of Percé used the summit of Mount Sainte-Anne, which they called Roland’s Table (Table à Roland), as a landmark. In this context, the word table refers to the fact that the mountain’s summit is a plateau. As for Roland, local legend claims he was a gambler.
UNESCO designation, hiking, suspended platform and zipline
Inaugurated in 2016, the UNESCO Percé Global Geopark includes, among other things, the trails and natural attractions found on Mount Sainte-Anne and Mount Blanc. This area was designated a UNESCO Global Geopark as a result of its rich geological heritage, which includes features created during several different geological periods as a result of various phenomena that affected the earth.
The Percé Geopark covers 500 million years of history, since most of the sedimentary rocks found here were formed hundreds of millions of years ago. The geopark features 23 geosites that allow visitors to observe a variety of geological phenomena. A waterfall, cave and underground cavity are some of the hidden treasures awaiting you in the geopark.
The geopark also offers free access to 18 km of mostly intermediate trails at the heart of the Appalachians. All are marked and dotted with benches and lookouts that allow you to observe the view in complete safety. You can also opt for a hike with an accredited guide to learn more about the history and geology of the area.
Since 2017, the Percé Geopark has also offered access to a glass platform suspended from the side of Mount Sainte-Anne. Located at an altitude of 200 metres, it provides a spectacular view of the sea, Percé Rock and Bonaventure Island. The platform site also includes a lookout, which is the starting point for a zipline. Reaching a maximum height of 100 metres, the zipline allows you to launch yourself into the void for 230 metres, during which you can admire a truly breathtaking view of Percé and the surrounding area!
At the foot of the mountain, you can enjoy the Tektonik indoor multimedia show, an exciting interactive geological adventure. There is also an indoor play area with nets and walls for climbing, a slide, and hammocks that give you the opportunity to admire the starry ceiling. Finally, you can also stay at Camping Baie de Percé, in the heart of the village, which is where the hiking trails begin.
To be in the loop and find out more about the Percé UNESCO Global Geopark, visit tourisme-gaspesie.com and plan your trip today! #gaspesie
Source: Percé UNESCO Global Geopark
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