Saint Pierre, France

Sep 15, 2017 - National Geographic Explorer

We started our expedition with excellent sailing conditions. A beautiful day outside, calm seas, and inspiring speakers on board. Our photo team gave us a presentation on expedition photography followed by the very warm, well-known, and admired voice of Robert Siegel.

After lunch, as we landed—although we are more than 2,000 miles away from France—we were greeted with a “Bonjour!” National Geographic Explorer had just arrived at the only remnant of the former colonial empire of New France still under French control, Saint Pierre et Miquelon. These beautiful islands have been very important during the great fishing times of the past.

To reach Île aux Marins we jumped onto Zodiacs and, once ashore, we walked along a beautiful green path. At the start of our walk, a nice gentleman was painting the landscape and the colourful wooden houses. Along the way many local women were collecting berries for their home-made jams. The sky was perfectly blue and the sun was high. There are many stories to tell from sea adventures and hundreds of shipwrecks between the islands. Île aux Marins has been so well preserved that we felt like we were walking in the past when the fisherman’s lifestyle was still active. Today, the old school house holds an intriguing museum with many treasures from all these stories. It is a true voyage in time.

Some of us opted to visit the city, its very colourful houses, and magnificent views of the ocean. This piece of New France is also famous for its crucial role as a former stopover to take alcohol to the United States during prohibition. Enjoying the scenic views of these almost flat islands facing the rough Atlantic Ocean and very strong winds, one can’t help but to think, “What can survive these conditions? How can life flourish in such conditions?” The wind is so powerful here that trees barely grow, and the ones that survive the cold and snow are short and bent. A fascinating natural environment to explore on a hike.

It’s a beautiful place on a gorgeous day! We are looking forward to our next adventures. 

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About the Author

Madalena Patacho


Madalena was born and raised in Portugal. Her childhood was spent in Belem, surrounded by Portuguese maritime monuments and history, always dreaming about exploring the oceans. Her love for nature has led her to study biology and later a Master’s in management of natural resources, specialized in ecotourism. She has lived on Príncipe Island, off the west coast of Africa, working with local communities on a responsible tourism project. She is inspired by the principles of ecotourism and is always looking for the best ways to contribute and leave a positive footprint everywhere.

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