The Véloroute des Bleuets is a 256 km paved cycling circuit around Saint-Jean Lake, approximately 2 hours north of Quebec City. The well-established route offers a gentle ride through farmland, forest, small towns, lovely beaches and many small tourist attractions. Relatively short days of cycling allow you to truly discover the region with its warm hospitality and to indulge in the route's namesake - blueberries - which grow wild and are farmed throughout the area. You'll find them sold by the basket, in pies, chocolates and even combined with local game meat for a real local delicacy. Also along the route are fantastic microbreweries (microbrasseries), cheese shops and plenty of opportunities to sample Quebec's most famous dish - Poutine. The lake itself drains east into the Saguenay River fjord which in turn drains into the mighty St. Lawrence River. The entire tourist region is known as 'Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean'.
Introductory. The Veloroute Des Bleuets is an easy, mostly flat, and paved 256 km cycling network of bike paths, paved shoulders, and designated low-traffic road surfaces. Distances each day are short, so this itinerary is suitable for even the most beginner cyclists, including active children 7 years and older.
*Optional cycle route extension of up to 130km to La Baie on the Saguenay River is much more hilly and would be graded 'moderate' - for more experienced cyclists. Please contact us for details.
Please make your way to the joining hotel in Alma and enjoy its convenient location in the centre of town, near restaurants, shops, and the waterfront. Located on the southeast shore of Lac St Jean (pronunciation is closer to 'John' than 'Jean') where the lake flows into the Saguenay River, Alma was formed in 1962 as an important industrial center due to the construction of a hydro-electrical dam on the Grande-Décharge River, a paper mill, and an aluminum smelting plant, during the 1920s and 1930s. All of which are still in activity today.
This morning, you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the bicycle shop where you will pick up your bikes, make adjustments, and have a briefing to over the maps and ask any last minute questions before cycling off from the shop, which is directly on the Véloroute des Bleuets. This first day of cycling will include the crossing of a hydro-electric station, a ferry crossing, forest-lined roads and bike paths, bridge crossings, residential areas, and plenty of farmland. Before arriving in St. Monique, our route takes you through beautiful Pointe-Taillon National Park, which has its own trail system and beautiful beaches. Overnight St. Monique on the Peribonka River.
After a delicious breakfast, the first half of your bike route is mainly along the edge of the Peribonka River until it veers north, away from the waterway and into the heart of the countryside. Although most widely known for its blueberry production, there are approximately 1000 farms in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region, growing everything from potatoes and green vegetables, to canola and fruit. Dairy and beef are the two main animal products to come from the region, with agrotourism and 'microfromageries' (cheese makers) contributing to the local culture. Overnight in Dolbeau-Mistassini, next to the pretty Mistassibi River.
After breakfast at your accommodation, it's back on the bike route for the longest day of the tour through long stretches of peaceful farmland, alternating between the paved shoulder of route 169, and paved bicycle path. There is an option to add another 44km to your route today on the partner network called 'Au Fils Des Rivieres' which takes you along a stone dust trail from the plains to the boreal forest, past a series of waterfalls, and along the Mistassini River where blueberries are ripe for the tasting. Paved backroads take you back to the main route at Albanel. From here, you continue through the town of Normandin, then along the Ashuapmushuan River to Saint-Félicien and your return to the shores of Lac St. Jean. The town of Saint-Félicien was founded in 1864 when the first settlers arrived from Charlevoix and Chicoutimi, drawn by it's location where ecologically-rich land met with the lake and the confluence of multiple rivers. Today, the town is best known as the centre for conservation of boreal biodiversity, but also enjoys a rich tourism industry with restaurants serving 100% local, organic produce, and a microbrewery where you can sample local beers.
Another delicious breakfast today before a beautiful day along the shore of the lake. The south side of the lake is certainly offers the most detours and local attractions, so today's distance is short, allowing you to explore as much or as little as you desire. Highlights today include the town of Saint Prime and its 'fromagerie' (cheese shop and museum), the First Nations reserve of Mashteuiatsh with its interesting Amerindian Museum, and the historic village of Val-Jalbert, an authentic 'company town' of the 1920's. You could easily spend hours exploring the grounds with its charming original buildings, including an incredibly well-preserved schoolhouse, a restored general store, and an old mill situated at the base of a waterfall higher than Niagara Falls. Take the cable car to the top of the falls, or hike there via its canyon trails. Overnight in Chambord.
Back on your bicycle after breakfast and on your way to the completion of your grand circuit! This section offers more incredible lake views and is almost completely along rolling, smooth, and twisting bicycle path. The terrain and the views make for a very enjoyable ride. In the town of Desbiens, adrenaline junkies will have a chance to go canyoning, riverboarding, or rafting with a local expedition company (booked in advance); or possibly turn 'off route' to the Parc de la Caverne Trou de la Fée, where you can enter an underground cave system and enjoy above-ground trails, waterfalls, and the ruins of a hydroelectric plant. (15km out and back detour along a paved, hilly back road) Highlights along the route include the gorgeous beaches at Métabetchouan and Saint-Gédéon (and the latter's microbrewery), and the quiet, designated roads and paths leading you back to your starting point across from the beach at Dam en Terre, just outside of Alma. The tour ends at the bicycle shop, but we are happy to arrange transfers to your next destination and/or add additional nights for you in Alma.
Per Person, Twin Share