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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"

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 kilometres (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"

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"

Dedicated bike path early in the day

"Fields of canola"

Fields of canola

"More fields - oats and canola"

More fields – oats and canola

"A rest stop with water and bathrooms along the route"

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??"

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"

Kids swimming in the big waves of Lac-Saint-Jean

On Day three on the Blueberry Route 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 "

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.

"The waterfall in Val-Jalbert"

The waterfall in Val-Jalbert – Photo credit: Pascal Charest on Flickr

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.

"bikers on the Blueberry Trail"

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"

It’s farm country along much of the route

"Church steeple in the distance"

There always seems to be a church steeple in the distance

"An flat trail heading back towards Alma"

A flat trail heading back towards Alma

"canola in bloom"

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"

Look for these Blueberry Route signs to keep you on the route

"Map of the Blueberry 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:

Leigh McAdam

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*** A big thanks to Equinox Adventure for providing me with a bike and for Tourism Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean for assistance with accommodation.***

Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure – & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project – a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Jennifer says:

    This is such a pretty route! I love blueberries and literally just eat them by the handful. Those blueberry bushes probably would have held me up all day. But I can’t believe no pie!

    • @Jennifer I know there was blueberry pie in Anse Saint-Jean where I went after biking on the Saguenay Fjord – and I was looking but never found blueberry pie. Truly an opportunity if you ask me. And it was a pretty route – and quiet for the most part.

  • Jackie Smith says:

    Oh my word, what a beautiful bike tour you took us on with this post. That scenery is simply spectacular and I love the idea of a dedicated bike route; that should make bikers and motorists happy!

  • Sharlene says:

    Those little blueberries grow all over the place where I grew up in NS. They are wonderful in crumble as well. Wondering about the bike trails: is the route end to end bikes only? In other words, is part of the trail traffic shared?

    • @Sharlene I lived in Nova Scotia for a while as a kid and remember going out on blueberry collection expeditions. I love wild blueberries.

      The Blueberry Route is a mix of dedicated bike trail, roads through quiet neighbourhoods and sharing the highways – BUT having said that I found that all the biking beside the busier road felt entirely safe. You have a huge shoulder and the sections aren’t usually that long – maybe 9 kms max. Drivers were extremely courteous.

  • Gord says:

    Those little blue shelters are for leaf-cutter bees which are pollinators for the canola fields. Great trip and thanks for posting. I am doing research into this area for my own bike trip here some day. I have to find someone to go with now or do you know of clubs to tag along with. Unfortunately, I don’t speak French. Thanks.

    • @Gord Thanks so much for that information. I did this bike ride by myself and although it’s largely French there is enough English that it shouldn’t be a problem. Get in touch with Equinox Adventures in Alma and they should be able to help you. They will also move bags.

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