St Pierre and Miquelon – France in the New World

French flags - Franch, St-Pierre et Miquelon, Brittany and Normandy - ashore on Ile aux Marins or Dog Island

Saint-Pierre and Miquelon are a small group of islands situated off the south coast of Newfoundland.

They were first settled by the French in the early 17th century.

Like so many islands ownership was hotly contested and fought over and today, the islands represent the sole remaining vestige of France’s once vast North American empire.

Since June 22nd 1816 the islanders have been proudly flying the French Tricolour and more recently embraced using the Euro as its local currency.

blog 18a-2Saint-Pierre is the smaller of the two islands, although it has the principal town with the larger population and remains the centre of activity. The mostly volcanic island with a rugged coastline is home to a small boreal forest and has an area of just 26 km2 and a population of 5,46

With an area of 110 km2, the most volcanic Miquelon is the larger more sparsely populated island. A third island with an area of 91 km2 is called Langlade and is made up of mostly sedimentary grassy slopes rugged countryside with beaches of sand and pebble. Together these two islands have a population of just 614.

The territory figures frequently in North American British-French relations and history.

The island gained notoriety when it profited heavily from US Prohibition, which did not affect this area, because it was then and still remains part of France. Even today alcohol is significantly cheaper here than in neighbouring Canada and reportedly, smuggling remains a profitable enterprise.

Like its northern neighbour, Newfoundland, it is a key fishing centre close to the Grand Banks, some of the world’s richest fishing grounds.

With the depleting fish stocks tourism has become increasingly important to the economy.

As a destination, St-Pierre et Miquelon is a great place to visit for those interested in historical and cultural discovery, and the French language.

The approach to the harbour is safe and the anchorage well protected. A small passenger wharf can be utilised by visiting superyachts by prior arrangement.

Beyond its history, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon is a wonderful destination because of its mild refreshing climate, its beautiful landscapes, the quality of the air and the warmth of its inhabitants.

As a part of France, the area has much in common with Europe, but also with its Canadian and American neighbours.

We are grateful to Destination Canada, Air Canada and ship operators One Ocean Expeditions for kindly hosting us on this trip