Image: At the heart of the French Shore

The picturesque community of Conche is 26 km from Roddickton along Route 434.

In the 18th century, Conche was an important fishing base for both French and English fleets. In 1707, English warships trapped the French fleet, sinking two French ships in Martinique Bay. These underwater shipwrecks are now a designated Provincial Site of Historic Significance.

During the Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815), few French came to Conche, leaving the harbour open to settlers from further south in Newfoundland. These Irish and English Newfoundlanders formed the basis of today’s community.

Neighbouring Cap Rouge (now Crouse) housed the most important French fishing station in the late 19th century on the Great Northern Peninsula. Settlement by Irish and English began late, with the first guardian reported in 1871. Families resided in two locations: Southwest Crouse and Northeast Crouse.

Made up of two large islands, Bell and Groais, the Grey Islands were named after two islands off the coast of Brittany in France. Bell Island was an important French fishing station from the 17th to early 19th century, explaining the many naval shipwrecks, cannons and crosses in the vicinity. Irish and English Newfoundlanders settled the islands in the 19th century. In the 1960s, the Newfoundland government resettled these communities to the mainland.

Family crews in Conche caught cod, salmon, and seal, and a frozen fish plant began operating in the 1970s. Conche’s current economy revolves around services, offshore fishing, sealing, whelk processing and ecotourism.

Self-Guided Walking Tour

A self-guided walking tour of Conche and Crouse takes you to artefacts and historic sites spread throughout the community. Starting by the water in Conche, the stops include:

A French barking pot used to preserve lines and sails.

A traditional harbour lighthouse.

The remains of a World War II Boston BZ277 plane crash.

The Casey Store, a Registered Heritage Structure - one of the oldest fisheries buildings remaining on the French Shore.

Martinique Bay, the site of a 1707 confrontation between English warships and the trapped French fleet – a designated Site of Historic Significance.

Crouse Beach – a half-buried flat pebble beach that was the site of a vast French codfish drying operation in the 19th century. The beach offers a view of picturesque wharves in Southwest Crouse.

Captain Coubelongue Trail – Located in Crouse, a wooden cross marks the beginning of an old French trail that leads to French fishing rooms, currently a Memorial University of Newfoundland archeological dig.

Hiking Trails

The landscape around Conche and Crouse is crisscrossed with about 12 km of rough hiking trails and newer boardwalks. The trails offer spectacular lookouts along high cliffs with broad views of the neighbouring islands and landforms. A trail map is available at the French Shore Interpretation Centre.

Boat Tours

A boat tour can be arranged to visit the dramatic Grey Islands, once the site of an important fishing station for both the French and the English. Little remains of the outport resettled in the 1960s. Northeast Crouse is a resettled community also accessible by boat.

Chaloupe Exhibit

The History of the Chaloupe...

The chaloupe is a vessel of Basque origins. It was used in Newfoundland for whale hunting and cod fishing until the introduction of the dory, a light and handy vessel that revolutionized the cod fishery.

From eight to eight and a half meters in length with a flat stern to facilitate the loading of fish into the vessel, the chaloupe is described in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, as shallop: "A large, partly-decked boat, rigged with lug-sails and used in the cod and seal fisheries".

In Newfoundland, the chaloupe has long since disappeared and nobody remembered how to build it. However, this knowledge is still well in use in the Basque Country. In 2004, through the effort of the 2004 Society, an association of Basque Maritime Heritage, Itsas Begia ( ) from Ciboure, came to Newfoundland and shared its ancestral knowledge with Newfoundlanders.

Three chaloupes were built, here in Conche, in Port au Choix and in La Scie.

For a visit to the chaloupe exhibit in Conche please inquire at the French Shore Interpretation Centre.

Housed in a former Grenfell nursing station in Conche, the French Shore Interpretation Centre highlights authentic French sites scattered throughout the French Shore communities of Conche, Croque and Grandois/St. Julien's. The exhibition takes visitors through the history of the French cod fishery on the northeast coast of the Great Northern Peninsula . From the earliest recorded voyages in the early 1500s until their last trips to tend a cemetery in Croque in the 1970s, the exhibition explores the lives of these French fishermen and the French society that sent them. The exhibition continues at historic sites and visitors' centres in each community.

A second exhibition room tells the story of the Irish and English settlers whose descendents make up today's communities.

Picnic area/public washrooms

Hours of Operation

Monday to Friday
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

(May to Sept)

Saturday and Sunday
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
(June to August)