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Saint Pierre and Miquelon
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Saint-Pierre was a site for settlement by the French in the early 17th century, later abandoned under the Treaty of Utrecht, and returned to France in 1763 at the end of the Seven Years War. As well, the islands became a place of refuge for Acadian deportees from Nova Scotia. Saint-Pierre figures frequently in North American British-French relations. As well, it profited heavily from North American Prohibition, which did not affect this area technically part of France. It was depopulation and repopulated frequently, and now remains the last vestige of Imperial France within North America.
Like its northern neighbour Newfoundland, it is a key fishing centre close to the Grand Banks, some of the world's richest fishing grounds. However, like Newfoundland, the decline in cod stocks have seriously affected the fishery. As a result, tourism is becoming increasinly important to the economy. As a travel destination, St-Pierre et Miquelon is ideal for those interested in historical and cultural discovery, eco-tourism and the French language. 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 the European Union, the area has much in common with Europe, but also with its Canadian and American neighbours.
Despite being part of the European Union, immigration procedures are different. Canadians will need picture identification (Driver's Licence for example) and proof of citizenship (Birth Certificate), Europeans will need passports (on account of needing to pass through Canada), and all other nationalities will need passports and/or visas. Check with your local French Consulate or Embassy. Most travelers are only given a cursory inspection when entering St. Pierre.
Air service to Saint-Pierre is available through:
As the island of Newfoundland is home to a moose population of over 100,000, do drive slowly and cautiously, especially when driving at night. Remember that hitting a moose is not like hitting a deer--a moose is a tall beast, and your car will hit its legs, knocking the brunt of its weight into the windshield and you. This is the last thing you want to have happen.
If you are going through Newfoundland via Port aux Basques, DRL Coachlines Ltd. offers daily scheduled passenger coach services between St. John's & Port Aux Basques on the island. DRL's head office is in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, but they can be reached toll-free at 1-888-738-8091. If you wish to reach their office in St. John's, call 1-709-738-8088.
Another bus service from Port Aux Basques to St. John's is Newhook's Transportation. Call them at 1-709-726-4876.
In either case, you'll need to get off the bus a short time after Clarenville to head southwest towards Fortune and the ferry to Saint-Pierre.
Marine Atlantic ferry service runs from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador (on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland) throughout the year, and to Argentia, Newfoundland and Labrador (about 90km from St. John's) during the summer. The duration of the ride depends on the weather and water conditions, so patience is of the essence. It is advisable to call Marine Atlantic ahead of time to make a reservation (call 1-800-341-7981). If you are bringing a U-haul or something other than a passenger vehicle, you will likely be considered a Commercial Vehicle. Commercial Vehicles can only make reservations by doubling the usual fare. It is cheaper to simply take your number, wait in line and hope for the best.
In general, Marine Atlantic Ferries cater to your every whim, carrying food, alcohol, gift shops, cinemas and sleeping accommodations. There will be lots for you to do.
Once in Newfoundland, drive or take a bus to Fortune (see By car & By bus). From here, you'll leave your car and take the ferry to Saint-Pierre.
Given the fact the islands are quite small, the best way to get around each islands is either on foot, or by renting scooters. For longer distances, many taxis and a couple of tour buses are available.
The French spoken in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon is very similar to that spoken in Normandy, Brittany and Paris. The islanders are quite proud of their linguistic heritage. The islands also have a Francophone Institute named the FrancoForum.
Like France, the official currency is the Euro, but in Saint-Pierre, it is also common for Canadian & American dollars to be accepted by merchants. Also like France, you will find that nearly everything is on the expensive side. Also like France, wine and cigarettes are very cheap.
French cuisine is ever so present in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. But those who love seafood should look into the Seafood Festival that is held every year in mid-August in the small town of Miquelon.
There is very little crime in Saint-Pierre et Miquelon and this destination should be considered one of the safest possible in North America.
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