The Gaspé peninsula, or ‘La Gaspésie’, extends along the south shore of the St Lawrence river, east of Quebec City, and out into the Gulf of St Lawrence. With a number of attractions and an area the size of Belgium, the region is best explored on a self-drive holiday. The small town of Matane is often the first stop for those exploring the Gaspé peninsula, well worth a visit for its art galleries and maritime museum, and to sample locally caught shrimps. To the east is the Gaspésie National Park, popular with walkers for its unique mountain environment and numerous trails. The tundra landscape is home to a herd of woodland caribou, the last representatives of this species south of the St Lawrence river, and the mountain slopes are home to more than 150 species of birds and Arctic-alpine flora. The town of Gaspé, located at the top of the peninsula, is the site where Jacques Cartier took possession of New France (now Canada) in the name of Francois I of France in 1534. Further east lies one of Canada’s most beautiful national parks – Percé Rock National Park, home to a colony of more than 110,000 northern gannets.