I was recently in Quebec for a bike tour of the region surrounding Quebec City. We drove up to Lévis, a town directly across the St Lawrence River from Quebec City, took a ferry over to Quebec City the next day and then on to Ile d’Orléans, where we spent one night. Later in the week we came back to Quebec City, spent two nights there and then explored the countryside west of the city. We crossed the Pont du Québec, bike around more countryside and then circled back to Lévis.
Here’s a bike tour I’m tentatively planning for the summer of 2019. Three days of biking in eastern Quebec, cross the river by ferry over to Quebec City, spend two days in the city, cross by ferry again and bike back to our cars. There’s also the possibility of biking on the northern side of the St. Lawrence and circling back to Quebec City each day. Points of interest for these two loops days include Montmorency Falls and Ile d’Orléans. This is a work in progress; the map may change, but any changes I make will be reflected on the map on this blog.
The following map covers a bike tour from just across the river from Quebec City all the way up to the Gaspé Peninsula, the very far reaches of eastern Quebec. I’ve only done the part between Montmagny (about 40 miles east of Quebec City) out to Rivière du Loup, which is why this map is more detailed for that leg. Depending on how many miles you can cover in one day and how much time you have you can cover one segment of this map as a one week bike tour or spend all summer covering the entire map. Or cover part of the map each summer over the course of several summers.
For the most part, this map follows Quebec Route Verte 1, a well signed bike route that mostly goes along the nice, wide shoulder of Route 132.
A note of caution: there is no signed bike route between Madeleine-Centre and Rivière-au-Renard at the far edge of the Gaspé Peninsula. I’ve connected these two using Google Maps biking directions, but the official Route Verte website shows this as a gap on the signed bike route. I’m not sure why this is. I have not been up this way. I do not know what the road looks like up here, whether there’s no shoulder or the road is very rough or both. If you’re wiling to risk it, you can circle around the entire Gaspé Peninsula and start heading back towards civilization without retracing your steps.
The big square that starts and ends in Rivière-du-Loup is also not a signed bike route between Matapédia and Degelis (and also crosses over into New Brunswick and back into Quebec).
Montreal is the largest Francophone city this side of the Atlantic Ocean. And if you’re on the east coast of the US, it’s the closest major city that speaks any foreign language. It’s amazing to me how isolated we in the US are from this vibrant metropolis. There are a lot more people going between Paris and London on a daily basis than there are between New York and Montreal. Of course, they’ve got a high speed train…
I spent a few days in Montreal in 2016 after a bike trip in the Laurentian Mountains, on the P’Tit Train du Nord rail-trail and it could be done before or after any of the Quebec bike tours I’ve posted on this blog.
If you go, tour historic Old Montreal by the waterfront, run or walk around Mont-Royal, take a day trip by bike to the southwest suburbs, visit the Jean Talon Market, go shopping for outdoor recreational equipment at Kanuk or Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) and don’t forget to eat plenty of good food from a rich variety of cultural backgrounds.
Here’s a bike tour of the Laurentians that I took in 2016. We stayed mostly on Le P’Tit Train du Nord, a rail-trail, so navigation was easy. You’ll want to get off the rail-trail in a few spots to visit towns that you would otherwise bypass. You may also want to get off the rail-trail in other places because the rail-trail does get to be a bit boring after a while.
The P’Tit Train du Nord also has an official transportation provider for you, your bike and your luggage if you so desire. This makes logistics really easy. One call (or email does it all). They also rent bikes and panniers, so you don’t need to bring your bike if you don’t want to. One friend rented a bike and was provided with a nice Marin hybrid. If you’re using the baggage transfer service, make sure to weigh your bag before you go. They weigh the bags right as you arrive and will charge you if your bag is overweight. (2.2lbs = 1kg).
In 2017 I did this bike tour of Southeastern Quebec with five friends. We biked 253 miles in six days with one day of rest in the middle, when we stayed in the city of Trois-Rivières for two nights. A few of us went kayaking that day.
This map gives you everything you need to duplicate our Quebec Bike Adventure. Also attached here is the route sheet that I created to go along with the map.
If you’d like to shorten the loop a little bit and simplify the logistics, you can skip crossing the river over to Trois-Rivières (which requires a shuttle that is explained in detail in the route sheet) and instead spend a night or two in Bécancour or elsewhere. By doing this you miss out on the cool city of Trois-Rivières, but you also eliminate the need to take the bike shuttle across the Pont LaViolette.
Here are some other helpful sites that go with this map:
Quebec Tourism Info by Region — The two regions you are in for most of this bike tour loop are Montérégie and Centre-du-Quebec and you skirt Eastern Townships and Chaudière-Appalaches. If you cross the St. Lawrence river over to Trois-Rivières you will be in Mauricie and if you bike towards Montreal on the north side of the river you’ll be in Lanaudière. There’s plenty of info on this website, but you can click through to go to websites for each region (where you can request that they mail you even more info, including cycling-specfic maps).
I visited Quebec City in 2015 and again in 2017. It’s a small, but really beautiful city with lots of historical significance and plenty of modern attractions too.
In 2015 I stayed at the Hotel Manoir Victoria and in 2017 I stayed the Monastère des Augustines. I recommend either one. They’re very close together on the northern side of the old city, very well located. The monastery is not ideal if you’re traveling with children as breakfast is taken in silence.
If you like live music in the summer, check out the Edwin Bélanger bandstand at the Plains of Abraham, a little bit west of the old city walls and up above the St Lawrence River. It’s close enough that you can walk out there. Your best bet is to walk out there earlier in the evening, have dinner in the newer section of town and then walk over to the bandstand.
Also not to be missed is Montmorency Falls, about 20km east of town. If you’re arriving by car earlier in the day, consider going there first and then coming back into town.
Other recommendations for restaurants and sites to see can be found within the map.