Found approximately six hours from Montreal, and three hours north east of Quebec City, is Lac Saint Jean and the Véloroute des Bleuets (Blueberry bike path). This loop around Lac Saint Jean covers 256km and is clearly marked, with plenty of accommodations along the way. Depending on how much time you have available, and how quickly you ride, you can complete this route in as little as two to three days, or take your time and take a week to complete this loop.
If you are a beginner bike tourer, this is a good route to begin with. There are plenty of services available to have your luggage shuttled from B & B to B & B for you, so that all you bring with you is what you need for the day. Be sure to bring lots of water and food, in case you find yourself in one of the longer stretches without much by way of facilities.You should also get yourself a titanium bike lock for when you’re motels that don’t let you place the bike inside. I found the best bike lock reviews by Chooserly.com – if you don’t have a good bike lock crossed off your to-do list yet. However, don’t underestimate the challenges along the way. There are some hills and stretches along the road – which can be quite busy if you are riding on it during a busy long weekend along side many RVs and cars of people speeding to the relaxation of their summer cottage, or on their return to the busy city life.
If you are looking to drive to your starting point, there are many parking lots throughout the route which allow you to drop your car off for a few days while you complete the loop. You could also take Via Rail train to Jonquiere, and extend your route by 60km each way.
There is no shortage of accommodations along the route; from B&Bs, to Hotels and Chalets, you will find many options. There are also many campgrounds if you don’t mind carrying more gear on the back of your bike. However, the camp grounds are not too close to one another, and may result in biking longer distances if you intend to ride from campground to campground. On our four day trip of this route, we wild camped twice in the forested area off the route, as we didn’t find a camp ground in a convenient enough location.
If you are camping, try to plan for one night at Parc National de la Pointe-Taillon. We cycled through this park (must pay for the park entrance fee), and it has many camp sites right on the lake. You can even book a campsite on the beach. Since we went on Labour Day weekend (first weekend of September), the park was empty and we only saw one other group of campers. Unfortunately, we wound up here early in the morning after leaving the campground at Auberge Ile du Repos – which also has campsites on the lake, but without nearly the same level of privacy, so we couldn’t spend a night here.
You can see all the available accommodations by using this map.
When to go
To get the full benefits of the Véloroute des Bleuets, it is best to go during the peak of summer, in July or August. By Labour Day weekend, many facilities were shut down, which is quite disappointing when you see a sign indicating washrooms and a water fountain which turned out to be closed!
Facilities along the way
We were highly impressed with the attention to detail along the way. This route was definitely designed with bicycle tourists in mind. There are a number of covered picnic tables, additional water fountains, and washrooms available. Some were seasonal however and were closed.
Description of our trip
To have an idea of how to fit this trip into a four day weekend, you can see our notes below.
Driving day, Friday September 3rd, 2010:
Leaving Montreal late afternoon, we drove to La Touque where we got the last hotel room in town, at the Motel 9 in the meeting room, which had a drop down bed. We drove into town for late night Poutine, then headed back to the motel ready to get an early start the next day.
Saturday, September 4th:
We drove from La Toque to our starting point of Chambord. We easily found the Veloroute des Bleuets parking spots, loaded up our bikes, jumped on the bike path and got on our way just after noon.
Our first day we rode 65km, when we saw the sign for camping at Chute à l’ours de Normandin, and headed down the road towards the campground. At the end of the road to the campground was a covered picnic table with water and a toilet. We filled up our water bottles, and set off to find the campground. After a bit of riding, we decided to just find a spot in the forested area, since we didn’t see any sign of the campground ahead. First night of wild camping was a success!
Sunday, September 5th:
We woke up to rain. A lot of rain. We packed up quickly, knowing there was a covered shelter at the end of the road. We set off to the picnic table, cooked up pancakes, refilled our water bottles, put on every item of clothing we had, all our rain gear, and set off for the day. Within the first 10 minutes of putting on my rain pants, they ripped. And they ripped again. They were the cheapest ones I could find, and no major financial loss, but riding around with duct tape covered rain pants was not the best of fashion statements. After a long rainy morning, we stopped at a Metro grocery store to refuel for lunch. During the afternoon we biked through a forested area for quite a while. Although there were some shelters along the path, there was nothing else, and no indication of when this pathway would end and we would reach a populated area again. Eventually this forested pathway ended, but without enough water to stealth camp, we had to continue on for a total of a 95km day. We stopped at the campground Auberge Ile du Repos, which was fairly quiet and had nice camp sites on the water.
Monday, September 6th:
We woke up at 7, packed up and had a leisurely breakfast, leaving the campsite at 9:30am. We followed the bike path into the Sepaq park of Parc National de la Pointe-Taillon. The riding through the park was some of the nicest riding along the route. It was disappointing to reach the park so early in the day, without having the time to stop there to camp or at least a picnic lunch. We did stop a few times to relax and enjoy the view. Continuing on for a total of 71km, we wild camped again just past the third dam, prior to reaching the camp ground at Dame-en-Terre.
Tuesday, September 7th:
Our final day, we got an early start and headed on our way. This final stretch seemed to be along the road far more then previous stretches. As well, it seemed as though everyone was relocating their giant RVs and driving home at the end of summer. The roads were very busy and quite narrow at times.
We arrived back at the car just past noon, packed everything in, and headed back to the city.
Visit the official Veloroute des Bleuets website for more extensive details on the route, accommodations, and just about any other information you might need.