Magnifique, merveilleux, formidable, tous les mots en français that describe the splendor of Langlade and Miquelon, two islands that along with St. Pierre make up this French outpost. Organized by the Office de Tourism, a day trip allows for the exploration of both islands 39 kilometers from St. Pierre. However, it isn’t all smooth sailing. In order to disembark on Langlade where the tour begins, one must get off the boat and onto what is called “The Zodiac,” which resembles a large whitewater raft. Not only are passengers transported to the shore, but also dogs, cats, shovels, food, and lots of luggage.
We were five on the tour including the two tour guides, two meteorologists from St. John’s, Newfoundland, and me. As we drove from Langland to Miquelon, most of the conversation consisted of “Oohs” and “Ahhs:” the scenery’s dramatic beauty knocked the wind out of us. Large grass covered dunes dominate a sparse landscape surrounded by the Atlantic. We stopped to climb a promontory overlooking the isthmus that separates Miquelon from Langland. Wild Irises and small fruits such as dwarf raspberries and the elusive cloudberries or baked apples, as they are known in Newfoundland, grow close to the ground. Each ripe orange berry grows on one stem. As I popped one in my mouth, I tasted a delicious perfume.
We crossed the isthmus and made our way to Miquelon inhabited year round by 600 souls. Our young guides, still college students in Paris, are from Miquelon. In order to complete secondary school, they had to live in St. Pierre during the week. I imagined the thrill and loneliness of living apart from your parents at the age of 14. We had two hours or more to have lunch and explore the small town. After a lunch of local scallops at Salle Entre-Nous, we parted ways.
I wandered towards the most southern part of town where a dory, the local fishing boat, ghostly and beautiful had been abandoned. For almost an hour, I sat on the rocky beach, allowing my eyes to fill with the sea. Then, I made my way to La Maison de la Nature et de l’Environment an impressive building filled with rooms that inform and honor the eco systems of this archipelago. The exhibits were interactive; I could actually smell the local flora.
Eight hours later, we were back on St. Pierre. As I had on the isle of Rum in Scotland from where I could see the Isle of Skye, I closed my eyes and tried to burn images of Langland and Miquelon on to my brain to return to whenever I choose. I don’t think it worked. An abundance of riches crowded each one out.
Once back to St. Pierre, I went to dinner at Feu aux Braise but they didn’t have my reservation. No matter how many ways they reconfigured my name, it wasn’t there. Tired and frustrated, I asked if I could order a pizza which I would take back to my room. After a 10 minute wait, I was in luck. Someone had cancelled and I could stay. When I finished a dinner of duck in raspberry sauce, I made reservations for every night of the remainder of my visit. I became a regular, always a hope in my travels.