Biking and Blueberries: Days 2 & 3 Around Lac Saint-Jean
A few weeks ago I took you on the first day of my three day bike ride around Lac Saint-Jean on what is called the Blueberry Route.
Over the next two days I continued cycling around Lac Saint-Jean – and finally found the blueberries I’d been searching for.
Blueberries abound in late July
But first a little bit more about the Blueberry Route.
In 2012 the Blueberry Route (Véloroute des Bleuets in French) hosted an amazing 223,820 cyclists. Of those 63% came from the immediate Saguenay – Lac Saint-Jean region, 30 % visited from other parts of Quebec and 7% came from outside of Quebec. I was obviously in the minority and judging from my experience very few English speaking Canadians know anything about this route – a shame as it and the other Green Routes in Quebec are a fantastic way to see the countryside.
On my second day out I cycled 92 kilometers (57 miles) from Dolbeau-Mistassini to Roberval – fully self-supported with everything in a couple of panniers.
But before I even got on my bike I went back to check out the waterfalls that sat directly across from the hotel I stayed at. The day before the falls had been overrun with people but on an early Sunday morning I had the place to myself.
The rapids in the town of Dolbeau-Mistassini
Under cloudy skies I finally hit the road at about nine o’clock. It felt like it took a while to get out of Dolbeau-Mistassini – a town where the biggest employer is the paper mill. That’s probably because the Blueberry Route takes you on the highway past homes and businesses for some time before reaching sections of dedicated bike trail.
The riding for most of the day was pleasant and easy. A good part of it was through rolling farm country. I passed by bright fields full of yellow canola that called to be photographed, green fields filled with oats and numerous local cheese companies. Some of the cheese companies offered free tastings, tours and even picnic areas. Don’t forget to carry along a sharp knife and some fresh bread so you can enjoy a picnic of your own making along the way.
The bike ride took me through the small towns of Albanel and Normandin – before sending me into Saint-Félicien. There is a zoo in Saint-Félicien - which I didn’t have time to visit – but now wish I had for your role is reversed compared to other zoos. You are behind the bars and the animals are free. My husband still remembers his visit here as a child.
Dedicated bike path early in the day
Fields of canola
More fields – oats and canola
A rest stop with water and bathrooms along the route
I passed fields of blueberries before Saint-Felicien. The area had a huge fire back in 1870 – and thanks to that fire the growing conditions for blueberries are ideal. Around that area I saw blue shelters – rather shaped like a blueberry – though I’m not sure if they’re related to blueberry picking or not.
My one disappointment cycling the Blueberry Route was the lack of blueberry pie. As blueberries were in season I was a little shocked that no business I came across had embraced the idea of pie. Cyclists burn off lots of calories and like to eat so pie and biking seems like a match made in heaven to me.
Blue domes in blueberry country – but for what purpose??
The last part of my second day took me along the shores of Lac Saint-Jean. There was a storm brewing so the waves were crashing into shore – delighting the group of kids I saw in the photo below. I ended the day at the Gîte les deux Soeurs, located right on Lac Saint-Jean.
Kids swimming in the big waves of Lac-Saint-Jean
On Day three I woke to sunshine again and a fabulous breakfast on the porch overlooking the lake.
My breakfast view of a now calm Lac-Saint-Jean
I only had to cycle 70 kms (43 mi) today – something I did with several breaks in four hours. Again the scenery was rolling farmland – though this time there were more views of Lac Saint-Jean.
I had planned to visit the waterfall at Val-Jalbert but somehow missed the turn and then didn’t feel that I had the time to retrace my steps.
I cycled on and was very pleasantly surprised at the route I followed – on dedicated bike paths and quiet roads – into Alma. It was so different – and far more peaceful – than the one I’d driven on just a few days earlier.
Some sections have loads of bikers; on others you can cycle for an hour or two without seeing a soul
It’s farm country along much of the route
There always seems to be a church steeple in the distance
A flat trail heading back towards Alma
I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures of the canola fields
The Blueberry Route is extremely easy to follow. I got turned around twice – once because of a poorly signed detour before Roberval and once because I didn’t pay attention to the signage.
Look for these Blueberry Route signs to keep you on the route
Map of the Blueberry Route
This biking trip is perfect for people of all abilities. The hills are never that big and the route feels very safe for biking. Equinox Adventure – the company that provided me with my bike – can also move your baggage from point to point – making it that much easier.
Other posts about the Saguenay – Lac Saint-Jean area you might enjoy:
*** A big thanks to Equinox Adventure for providing me with a bike and for Tourism Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean for assistance with accommodation.***
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