Our new tour of Eastern Canada takes you from the heartland of French Canada to the mountainous seacoast of the Gaspé Peninsula, at the northern end of the Appalachian Mountains. We’ll pitch our tents in municipal, provincial, and national park campgrounds, and sample fresh seafood and locally raised fare. The route follows quiet roads and pathways, most of which are part of La Route Verte, a 3,000-mile trail network in the province of Québec that tops many lists of the world’s best bicycle routes. So brush up on your French and join us for this extraordinary Canadian excursion.
|Start Date:||Jun 14, 2014||End Date:||Jun 26, 2014|
|Start Location:||Quebec, QC||End Location:||Quebec, QC|
|Total Days:||13||Riding Days:||10|
|Average Daily Mileage:||50.7||Surface:||Paved|
|Riders:||13||Airport:||Québec Intl Airport (YQB)|
|Tour Leader:||Alain Couet||Meals:||Shared cooking|
|Physical Difficulty:||Intermediate+||Level of Support:||Self Contained|
Arrive in Québec City early so you’ll have ample time to explore one of the oldest cities in North America (founded 1608), and the only walled city on the continent north of Mexico. Do a walking tour of the old town and take in the decisively French ambiance of the narrow streets and neighborhood markets. Later on Day 1, we’ll meet at our hostel in Québec City. After an orientation meeting and a kickoff dinner, we’ll divvy up the group gear and rest up for our adventure.
Québec City to Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, 60 miles. After taking the ferry across the St. Lawrence River, we’ll ride downstream, passing through villages dating back to the beginning of French colonization of the St. Lawrence Valley in the late 1600s. Old water mills, woodcarving establishments, small maritime museums, and lighthouses are all parts of the scene. We’ll set up camp alongside the St. Lawrence tonight.
Saint-Jean-Port-Joli to Rivière-du-Loup, 60 miles. After breakfast we’ll continue alongside the river heading north to Rivière-du-Loup. For an afternoon treat, the restored mill in Saint-Pacôme features excellent coffee and fresh-baked pastries. Camp tonight will be just past the city center.
Rivière-du-Loup to Saint-Fabien, 47 miles. It’s yet another beautiful day along the St. Lawrence River, with a relatively short mileage to allow for plenty of sightseeing. Early on, we’ll pass through Cacouna, considered one of the most beautiful villages in Québec, whose residents take special pride in the historical architecture. You may choose to stretch your legs at the L’Isle-Verte Bird Sanctuary, the largest spartina salt marsh in southern Canada. Trois-Pistoles is also worth a visit for its museum focusing on the Basque fisheries of the 16th and 17th centuries.
Saint-Fabien to Matane, 78 miles. Today is the longest riding day of the tour. Time permitting, we can visit the fascinating Pointe-au-Père, for tours of a submarine, a lighthouse, and display of artifacts from the wreckage of the ocean liner RMS Empress of Ireland, which sunk offshore in 1914. The world-famous botanical gardens at Métis-sur-Mer are also well worth a stop.
Matane to Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, 54 miles. Today’s route is mostly flat with a few rolling hills, although you’ll notice around Rimouski that the landscape is turning more rugged. Tonight we’ll stay in the peaceful fishing village of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts.
Sainte-Anne-des-Monts to Saint-Maxime-du-Mont-Louis, 40 miles. A few miles into the ride our route becomes more spectacular than bucolic, as we pedal along the shore of the St. Lawrence at the base of thousand-foot-high cliffs. Our overnight site is at Parc et Mer Mont-Louis, a small, privately run campground perched on a small bluff overlooking the water.
Saint-Maxime-du-Mont-Louis to Grande-Vallée, 40 miles. Today we will pass through the quaint villages of L’Anse-Pleureuse and Manche-d’Épée. We’ll encounter our first big hill just past Rivière-Madeleine, and it’s a dandy — more than two kilometers at a 13-percent grade. The hilliness persists all the way to Grande-Vallée and beyond.
Grande-Vallée to Forillon National Park, 58 miles. Warm up your legs before boarding your bicycle this morning — the hardest day of the tour lies before you, with a procession of challenging ascents as the road alternately follows the shore and climbs inland. Several sweet villages are found along the way, however, inviting us to catch our breath (and maybe grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat), including Cloridorme, L’Anse-a-Fugere, Saint-Maurice-de-l’Échouerie, l’Anse-au-Griffon, and Rivière-au-Renard. Come evening, we’ll spend the first of two nights at the outer tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in Forillon National Park, which marks the Canadian terminus of the international Appalachian Trail.
Layover Day, Forillon National Park. The hard work we put in yesterday pays off, as we’ll have a full day to enjoy the incredible beauty of the national park. You can join the hikers on the Appalachian Trail, explore L’Anse-Blanchette, or lie around camp with a good book.
Forillon National Park to Saint-Georges-de-Malbaie, 58 miles. After leaving Forillon National Park, we’ll spin along the shore to the end of the very long Gaspé Bay. One long hill separates us from the city of Gaspé, which boasts 15,000 residents and a slew of top-notch restaurants and shops. Here we rejoin La Route Verte. We’ll camp at the small Tête d’Indien, a well-kept private campground run by a loquacious American man who has lived there for years. The camp is situated at the edge of some small cliffs near a prominent rock, which is the campground’s namesake.
Saint-Georges-de-Malbaie to Percé, 19 miles. Our last day out is a short one. We’ll reach our destination, the village of Percé, around lunchtime, giving us plenty of time to wander the streets and prepare for the trip home. Be sure not to miss Percé’s famous rock (you’ll learn why it’s famous); should the group decide to go for it, there’s also the option of taking a boat tour to Bonaventure Island.
Percé to Québec City (by train). Enjoy another day exploring Percé. We’ll catch the night train at 4 pm. Once on the train, fall asleep to the rhythm of the rails and dream of your two weeks of cycling delight on this Canadian bicycle adventure.
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"This was an outstanding adventure for me...Our leader was great and the other staff members and other cyclists were congenial."
2008 Tour Participant
"I loved having no responsibilities other than myself and my tent. Just the opportunity to get up every morning with nothing to do but ride my bike!"
2009 Tour Participant
"I don't think anyone could have asked for a better group of fellow cyclists to ride with! Men, women, young, old, experienced and newbies."
2009 Tour Participant
"I most enjoyed the camaraderie of the group. Everyone was so easy going, and it was great to get to know all different kinds of people."
2012 Tour Participant