GETTING THERE: Canada requires that you bring proof of citizenship (passport, birth certificate or voter's registration card), a driver's license and a copy of your automobile insurance policy (or a Canadian insurance card, available through your insurance company). Pets must be vaccinated within six months of entry (certificates required).
Daily flights to the Iles de la Madeleine are available from Montreal and Quebec on Quebecair and and CP Air, but the most popular link is by ferry. The M.V. Lucy Maud Montgomery, which holds 80 automobiles and 300 passengers, makes daily crossings at 2 p.m. from Souris on Prince Edward Island. There are no reservations for the five-hour trip from Souris, although reservations are recommended for the return trip from Cap-aux-Meules in summer (418-986-2214 or 418-986-4264). One-way tickets are $18 for adults, $10 for children 5 to 12 and free for children under 5. The fee for automobiles is $35 each way.
A regular two-day freight trip from Montreal operates once a week. There's only room for 15 passengers, and reservations are required, usually two months in advance (in Montreal, 514-871-1686; Quebec City, 418-651-9610; Cap-aux-Meules, 418-986-4224). GETTING AROUND: If you left the car behind in Souris (the ferry fee is high and delays can be exasperating if you insist on taking a car) you can hire another in the village of Cap-aux-Meules. Or rent a bike ($6 to $8 a day).
A ferry boat travels to Entry Island from Amherst Island's Havre-Aubert at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday and returns around 4 p.m. WHAT TO DO: The proximity of the Gulf Stream ensures warm summer bathing on the Magdalens' superb cream and pink beaches, with average summer temperatures around 75 degrees F. There are also fishing trips out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence ($15 for three hours), pedallo boats for two at the northern end of Cap-aux-Meules, a nine-hole golf course and a drive-in cinema in Fatima.
Festivals are scheduled throughout the summer, including a lobster festival July 3-5 and a fisherman's festival July 15-20. ACCOMMODATIONS: The Magdalens' dozen or so hotels and motels are found mainly in Havre-du-Mais and Cap-aux-Meules. Among the best in Cap-aux-Meules are Auberge La Jetee ($35 to $45 double), Chateau Madelinot ($35 to $45 double) and the Motel Bellevue ($40 double). Chalets, tourist homes and camping sites are also available throughout the islands. Reservations are advisable. RESTAURANTS: In addition to a scattering of roadside snack bars and modest seafood restaurants, the island possesses three notable establishments. In each case, dinner for two with wine ranges between $45 and $60. The Maison de la Couline, overlooking the ocean at Bassin, is best known for its famous Acadian pot-en-pot dinners -- layers of seafood separated by sliced potatoes and onions, cooked casserole-style and topped with a pastry crust. The Auberge de la Jete'e, near the ferry terminal in Cap-aux-Meules, offers a wider range of simply prepared seafood creations in a setting of Victorian elegance. At La Table des Roy, in La Vernie`re, Chef Francine Roy supervises the preparation of her delicate hors d'oeuvres of petoncles marines (scallops marinated in lemon juice and served in thin raw slices with flower-patterned garnishes), fresh mussels in white wine, prawns in white sauce with puff pastry, and bouillabaise, full of lobsters and complete with fiery rouille and croutons. Light-as-a-cloud maple souffle' ends a memorable dinner here. INFORMATION: For more information on the Magdalens, and for a complete list of all accommodations, contact the Association Touristique des Iles de la Madeleine, P.O. Box 1028, Cap-aux-Meules, Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec, (418) 986-2245. Or visit the seasonal office near the ferry pier in Cap-aux-Meules on arrival. In the U.S., call the Quebec Tourist Office, (800) 443-7000.