St. Pierre & Miquelon is a fascinating place. It is a slice of France off the continent of North America. More precisely, it is an archipelago (a group of islands), about 20 km off the southern coast of Newfoundland. St. Pierre is the smaller, more densely populated island, while Miquelon and Langlade are larger, more sparsely populated islands. St. Pierre and Miquelon can be reached by plane or ferry. When you arrive on the islands, particularly if you’re coming from Newfoundland, it won’t look that different. The architecture is similar and the rocky, jagged coastline is identical.
Part of the archipelago is L’Île-aux-Marins. Roughly translated to Mariner’s Island, L’Île-aux-Marins is a tiny island that was once inhabited by over 600 people. Today, the only inhabitants left are people with summer homes and cabins who visit the island from St. Pierre or elsewhere. On the island, you’ll find the immaculate remains of this community which have been transformed into interactive exhibits where visitors can roam free in and out of the buildings. It’ll honestly blow you away. It is so worth the trip and I highly recommend grabbing the little ferry out to the island if you ever find yourself in St. Pierre.
The small ferry leaves from St. Pierre (right next to the ferry terminal) several times per day and only costs a couple of dollars. Get there about half hour early to get yourself at the front of the line as sometimes they have to make two trips across if there are a lot of people.
When the ferry docks, you’ll see several buildings and paths. My suggestion is to choose a path that intrigues you and start walking. It’s a small island so you won’t miss anything and you won’t get lost. When standing on the wharf facing the island, to the right is the majority of the community that is now turned into heritage exhibits; to the left is mostly private summer homes and cabins, but there are a couple of sights down there you won’t want to miss, such as an old store house with an excellent collection of antiques and the remains of the shipwrecked Transpacific.
This place is honestly so fascinating. It was a commune until 1945 and had virtually no population by 1965. Now, it is essentially a ghost town that is FREE for you to wander. No worries of trespassing or getting caught. They want you to stroll the island, explore the buildings, and learn about
The School / Archipélitude Museum
The Church — This was my favourite part. It was so eerie and desolate. We were blown away by the incredible European architecture and intricate religious items plopped on this tiny, ragged island in the North Atlantic Ocean. It was so unexpected.
The Shop / Fisherman’s Home
The Jézéquel House is an old home that has been transformed into a sweet café with desserts and hot and cold drinks. Unfortunately we didn’t get to enjoy any sweets as we had to catch the ferry. Hopefully you’ll have more time to check it out!
On Airbnb or the St. Pierre tourism website, you can also find overnight accommodations on L’Île-aux-Marins in one of two old homes. We wish we had known this was an option before we planned our trip because staying on L’Île-aux-Marins would be such a cool experience! Let us know if you decide to stay out there all night– we’d love to hear your story.
Have you been to L’Île-aux-Marins? Did you like it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or by reaching out on social media, @twowildtides! We love hearing from our awesome readers.