small locator map
Locator Map

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sign at boat ramp
on Ch. Quai Nord moonrise over Dune du Sud
moonrise from Ch. Quai Sud, looking across toward Dune du Sud
fox at ile aux loups
"Loups" is the French word for wolves, none of which are found at Pointe-aux-Loups. This fox, frequently seen on the southern approach to the island, is a pleasant substitute.

other information

The majority of photos used in this website were taken in June and July of 2007. We endeavour to replace and update photos as formations change, but cannot always do so. Note that the formations may have changed since these images were taken.

Îles-aux-loups: Tiny island with much to see

Approaching from north or south, Pointe-aux-Loups appears as a rise on the horizon, a mildly interesting mid-point on the drive from Havre-aux-Maisons to Grosse-Île. Tourists may stop at the small artisan's boutique, and perhaps they've heard of the unusual boat ramp.

Unfortunately they're missing one of the true gems in Quebec's Madeleines.

With three dozen dwellings or so, Pointe-aux-Loups is the least populated of the contiguous islands in the chain. There are only a few rental homes available, most of which are on the Chemin Quai Sud.

It is a quiet, get-away-from-it-all kind of place. If you are a tourist who craves "action," Pointe-aux-Loups should be your last choice. (It should be said that if you crave theme parks and attractions, the entire archipeligo is not really for you.) Highlights at this particular island are quiet sunrises and sunsets, quiet evenings at the public fishing pier, and miles of quiet beaches. (Note the emphasis on "quiet") If you can't relax during your time on Pointe-aux-Loups, seek professional help.

Sea Arches & other natural features

Arch #1

Arch #1 in the map above is the only recorded feature on the "south" (actually east) side of Pointe-aux-Loups. It is not a large span, approximately 6.5 feet high, with a span of 4-5 feet. It is a typical sea-arch, and will probably be a relatively long lived arch because the waters of Lagune de la Grand Entree are isolated from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and do not have the same impact on this southeast side of Ile-aux-Loups.
If you continue north past the arch toward the headland, the sandstone formation gives way to shale and other rock; fossils have been found in this area.
Really the only time to visit this arch is at low tide; during high tide it is semi-submerged. Pointe-aux-Loups Arch #1 is located across the bay on the left when you drive down Ch. Quai Sud toward the public fishing pier. When tide is sufficiently low it is very easy to walk across the bay from the fishing pier in what is generally ankle-deep water.
Above, the public fishing pier can be seen in the distance on the extreme left side of the photo.

Public Fishing Pier

looking back up the pier toward Ch. Qu. Sud.

Point-aux-Loups Beaches

looking south, walking back from arch #2 (below) on Plage de la Dune du Nord, which some claim is the nicest beach in Quebec, if not the entire Maritime Provinces.

Arch #2

arch on pointe-aux-loups Walking north on the beach, where the cliffs begin to rise on the "north" (actually the west side) of Pointe-Aux-Loups, this impressive feature is found right on the shoreline. It is actually a double arch, hard to photograph the second opening.
In this photo you can gauge the size of the span. In the right hand side you can see the concrete forms that create the breakwater for the fishing boat harbor and ramp.

Arch #3 & Cave

hidden arch on pointe-aux-loupsThere are a couple of minor and hidden arches on this headland, the arch shown in this photo is not visible from the shore unless you are willing to wade in the water around the small cliffs between arches #2 and #3. This is actually a large arch, but as you can see photo conditions were quite difficult. There is also a tall but shallow sea cave here, you can see the entrance to the left of where the person is standing. All these features are easily visible by boat, but tourist boats do not frequent this coastline.


Arch #4 Sunset Arch "coucher du soleil"

arch coucher du soleil sunset arch on pointe-aux-loupsThis picturesque feature is visible from the fishing boat harbor. The view above shows it from up on the bluff -- remember at all times not to approach the edge of any bluffs; we took an extraordinary (and stupid) risk getting as close as we did to take this photo.
Most of the rock formations on Îles de la Madeleine are not formally named; I've taken the liberty of naming this rock because it can be used to beautifully frame a sunset -- coucher du soleil. It is also an appropriate name because this fully-matured span is definitely in the sunset of its life. It is an extremely delicate feature and is not likely to withstand too many more years of pounding waves and freeze/thaw cycles. If you have a current photo of this formation, please consider sending it to rick(at)ilesmadeleine(dot com) so that we may keep this site informative, accurate, and up-to-date.
The photo at left doesn't give an accurate sense of scale; Ally is probably a dozen feet in front of the rock and therefore it is much larger than it appears. She could easily stand within the opening. The opening was approximately 8' high when this photo was taken.
arch coucher du soleil Looking west past Arch Coucher du Soleil. In the few hundred yards between this formation and the parking area at the fishing boat harbor, there are numerous minor openings in the base of the cliff wall. Most are small, pillar-type arches that are certainly interesting but not really worth photographing. These are indicated by the #9 on the map at the top of the page.

Boat Harbor

fishing boat harbor at Iles-aux-loups The fishing boats at Pointe-aux-Loups are too numerous to fit on the small pier, so they've built an interesting ramp to park the boats on. The captain drives the boat right onto the ramp, and the boat settles with a thump to one side. A system of cables and pulleys are then used to pull the boats all the way up. I've seen as many as six boats parked this way. The hulls of these fishing boats are tough! If you have an opportunity to see this, it's fascinating to watch. Below is a video; click the arrow twice to start it.


walking north from the fishing boat harbor at Iles-aux-loups You can park at the fishing harbor, just be sure to leave your car out of the way, preferably at the "upper" parking lot away from the boat ramp. Hike up the path past the sign, and you'll be on your way to the most dramatic cliffs and arches on Pointe-aux-Loups. Be extremely careful; do not approach the edge of the bluffs. Some have significant overhangs and can give way easily. Remember, like everything else on Les Iles, you do this at your own risk. If you follow this path you'll see that earlier versions of the trail actually disappear at the edge of a void, then resume on a distant cliff directly opposite. That's where the path used to be before it dropped into the sea. Here's a lesson we Americans can learn from Canada -- there's nobody to stop you from being stupid, and nobody to sue if you get hurt doing something stupid. You're responsible for your own actions when you walk along the bluffs. You're free to enjoy it, at your own risk. That's the way it ought to be.

A pair of arches #5

Here are two arches that are close together on Pointe-aux-Loups, just north of the fishing harbor. One is on a prominent cliff, the other is on a large rock adjacent to the cliff. As you can see, the rock is a popular resting ground for guillemots and other seafaring birds. It's impossible to have a sense of scale here, be assured that these are sizable formations. Locals (mostly teenagers) use this area for swimming, with an odd system of ropes for climbing back up the cliffs. We declined the invitation to try it.

Arch #6

Another large sea arch on the prominent bluff. This view is facing north, you can see how the cliff recedes into the beach. The best way to explore this area is obviously from a kayak. There are likely dozens of minor arch formations, caves, pillars and other features that are impossible to see from above.

Arch #7

Arch #7 on the map, shown here from both sides, and from two different angles in the two lower photos. Looking from the beach (the lower photos), this arch has an "elephants trunk" look to it, similar to some of the formations in Utah's Arches National Park. In the background of the top photo you can see the low cliff, location of arch #8.

Arch #8

If you park along Plage de la Dune du Nord (North Dune Beach) just north of the Pointe-aux-Loups and walk south toward the cliffs and beach view of arch #7, you will come upon this small rock feature about halfway. From the north it doesn't even look like an arch, just another fold in the cliff. But if you pass it and turn around, you can see that it is indeed a natural arch. It's a minor arch, no question. We include it here to demonstrate that there are hundreds of these tiny arches around the islands, you just need the patience and persistence to look for them. Although minor arches like this one pale in comparison to the larger features, each has its own unique qualities and geological interest.

Minor Arches, #9

Along the same low cliff face, perhaps 60 yards south of arch #8, this sizable feature can be found. It is considered a double arch, as the small opening exceeds the unofficial minimum 15" width to be classified as an arch. This is a pillar type arch, the same type of formation found in much smaller sizes near the fishing harbor, and indicated on the map at the top of this page. Like arch #8, there are hundreds of these smaller, semi-hidden arches all around these islands.

Possible Arches, #10

This is the only section of Pointe-aux-Loups that I have not explored. There are likely to be arches along the sea cliff, but this is difficult to explore on foot even at low tide, as the approach from the public fishing pier is quite soupy. Inland a bit are a few minor sandstone cliffs; these might be locations for a rare non-sea arch. To date all of the arches known on the Madeleines are sea arches. If you have time to explore this spot, please take photos and forward them to rb(at)slackpacker(dotcom). Be sure to ask permission if you intend to access private property.

Etc.

Sometimes it is hard to come to grips with life in the Maritime Provinces...residents are surrounded by incredible beauty, yet are required to go about the business of a career, maintaining a home, attending school, and all the other mundane tasks we deal with. The difference is, those of us who live in humdrum towns and suburbs don't have to deal with the distraction of sand dunes, cliffs, seas and other wonders that constantly beckon. I know I couldn't do it! An excellent book by Julie Watson called Calling the Maritimes Home: Origins, Attitudes, Quirks, and Curiosities sheds some nice insights on the subject; I heartily recommend it. It's a terrific portrait of life in the Maritimes, and although little is said of the Madelinots, the text is applicable and perfect reading to accompany your visit. A good book should be informative, but more importantly, it should provide some escape from the day-to-day. Watson's tome fits the bill nicely. The link goes to Amazon.com, where you can often find a used copy at a fraction of the price.

-- Rick