• Photo: Gremi357Wikimedia Commons

Peugeots, Renaults and Citroëns drive down the road. ATMs spit out euros. The French flag snaps crisply in a strong west-Atlantic Ocean breeze. And it’s all just 25 kilometres from Newfoundland. Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, a self-governing territorial overseas collectivity of France, offers a real taste of Europe in North America, yet many Canadians likely never consider it a tourist destination.

This year marks the islands’ bicentennial of French rule (for centuries before Britain handed possession of the islands to France for good in 1816, the two countries battled for ownership), making it no better time to get more familiar with some of the sights of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. Here are eight things to know before you go.

  1. No passport required. Canadian citizens visiting the islands need only an official government-issued photo ID.
  2. Locals speak European French, though many are also fluent in English.
  3. The euro is used on the island, although Canadian currency is accepted by most businesses. Expect change in euros. There is no tax.
  4. Most businesses close between noon and 1:30 p.m. daily, and most shops are closed on Saturday afternoons and Sundays.
  5. Reservations are recommended at restaurants.
  6. Saint-Pierre and Miquelon are part of UTC-3 time zone, meaning they are 30 minutes ahead of Newfoundland, two hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
  7. Electrical outlets on the island are 220 volts. Canadians should bring adaptors for their electronic devices.
  8. There are no car rentals available on the islands.

For more information on Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, visit tourisme-saint-pierre-et-miquelon.com or st-pierre-et-miquelon.com.