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Places to Visit in Canada: The Saguenay-Lac Saint Jean Area, QC

One of the places to visit in Canada for adventure is Quebec’s Saguenay – Lac. St. Jean area. I’ve never been but from everything I hear and read, it’s chock a block full of wonderful things to do – and adventures that belong in my book.

Have you heard of the Blueberry Route (Véloroute des Bluets)?

It’s part of Quebec’s fabulous Green Route – a cycling network linking some of the most beautiful regions of Quebec. I’ve cycled the Green Route through the Eastern Townships and on the Iles de la Madeleine.

But this one will be new to me. It’s a 256 kilometre cycling route that takes you around Lac St. Jean through 15 small communities where you can find B&B’s, motels and camping spots. We’ll rent bikes in Alma and then take three days to complete the route.

"Cycling through the Parc National de la Pointe-Taillon"

Cycling through the Parc National de la Pointe-Taillon (Photo credit: Yves Ouellet)

"The canola fields around Lac St. Jean"

The canola fields around Lac St. Jean (Photo credit: Gilles Lapointe)

But if I had more time this is what I’d do in the Saguenay area

I’d cycle the Horst de Kenogami – a 72 kilometre extension linking Lac St. Jean to the Saguenay River in Jonquière. From there I’d hop on the Maritime Shuttle. It’s like a water bus. You can move between villages on the Saguenay River with your bike – and they have guaranteed departure times in the summer. On the advice of a very helpful woman at Tourism Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean I’d get off in L’Anse Saint-Jean.

Then I’d switch gears and get into a kayak for three days. 

There are a couple of kayak companies that run tours in the Saguenay Fjord – which just happens to be one of Canada’s National Parks.

Fjord-en-Kayak offers a three day tour which takes you down to Tadoussac at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River – where with luck you’ll see beluga whales. They return by boat to L’Anse Saint-Jean. Organisaction also offers a variety of kayaking trips plus the option of moving your car around.

It’s also possible to kayak in the St. Lawrence River. If you want to see whales then this is the trip to take. Check out Mer et Monde for more information.

I haven’t even touched on the hiking possibilities which are plentiful. Or the fact that if you aren’t a cyclist, you can still drive the Blueberry Route and visit one of the numerous locally owned cheese factories.

"Saguenay Fjord at sunset"

Saguenay Fjord at sunset (Photo credit: Yves Ouellet)

"Kayaking the Saguenay Fjord"

Kayaking the Saguenay Fjord (Photo credit: Charles David Robitaille)

"Saguenay Fjord National Park"

Saguenay Fjord National Park (Photo credit: Luc Rousseau)

I’m very much looking forward to exploring this area – and eating squeaky cheese curds followed by slices of blueberry pie. It’s a good thing I’ll be active.

How about you – have you ever visited the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area of Quebec? What would you recommend doing?

Leigh McAdam

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Photo Credit: All courtesy of Tourism Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean unless otherwise noted.

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 20 Comments

  • Look forward to the book. You are definitely an expert on the subject. I love the idea of the biking – kayaking combo adventure.

  • Ken Aiken says:

    I’m a consultant who is working with tourism in the Mauricie (Trois-Rivieres); Saguenay/Lac-St-Jean; Quebec Maritime; and Charlevoix regions. Can I be of assistance?

  • John says:

    I grew up in Chibougamau and as a kid passed through St. Felicien, took the train from Chambord, played hockey in Chicoutimi and went to a track meet in Alma. Problem is that was over 40 years ago so hardly remember it all. So am very excited and lucky to be going back to see the Lac St. Jean area. Am even more lucky that my darling is organizing it all.

    John or maybe Jean when I get there.

  • Steve says:

    Umm…I’m worn out and all I’ve done is read about this trip. It sounds like fun (although I’d probably take at least a month to accomplish the same thing you’re planning to do in a week), but I’m slightly confused. Is the blueberry trail really populated by cheese stores?

    • @Steve The Blueberry Trail is indeed populated by small cheese operations – and there’s nothing I like better than squeaky curds. I wish we had more time to take the area at a leisurely pace but this summer that’s just not possible. I figure I’ll have to return for a more in-depth look one day.

  • jill says:

    Ooooh, I’m going to be in Quebec after Tbex in June so I’m gathering as much info as possible. I’ll be checkin out the Eastern Township but this area looks wonderful as well (wonder if I can squeeze it into my trip). Who would’ve thought that Quebec region offers so much in terms of outdoor activities. Can’t wait!!

    • @Jill Quebec has the most amazing bike network – The Green Route and they are incredibly well organized. There are innumerable lakes to paddle, fantastic kayking and I’ll be checking out the hiking in the Chic Chocs though that might be a tad far for you to go from Toronto.

  • Graham says:

    Sounds like a wonderful book idea…can’t wait to give it a read. Sadly, I’m not sure how many of your adventure recommendations I’ll be able to try, as I pretty much get my fill on a daily basis right HERE in the Saguenay region! I came for a visit about 10 years ago, and ended up moving to L’Anse-Saint-Jean, one of several small villages along the Saguenay Fjord. I now have a dream job at the Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay, and help visitors plan exciting outdoor vacations. This place is adventure paradise! I’m glad you’re doing the Lac-St-Jean “véloroute”, so you’ll discover that half of the region, but you’re missing out on the Fjord section, which is sinful! …please do come back for a visit, summer or winter, and have yourself a Fjord Adventure! Enjoy the blueberries and the squeaky cheese!

    • Good news Graham. I probably worded my blog incorrectly as I don’t have time to cycle the 72 kms to catch the boat ferry. But I have allotted three days in the area for kayaking. I’m just trying to decide if it should be L’Anse-Saint-Jean to Tadoussac or one day in the fjord and a day or two out in the St. Lawrence. Thoughts??

      • Graham says:

        Well that is good news! Kayaking the fjord is a MUST experience, for sure, and I think two days would be a minimum, if not three. Despite the fact that you’ll be paddling further out the St. Lawrence later on your trip, it would also be a shame to miss out on the Estuary, and the many marine mammals who spend their summers enjoying the all-you-can-eat buffet it offers. You’ll see wildlife in the Fjord as well; seals, belugas, and the odd minke whale, especially in the lower third towards Tadoussac. Being 100 km long, you can’t do the entire Fjord in 2 days (a 5-day trip would be ideal for this distance). With varying weather conditions, 10 to 15 km per day will allow you to take your time, whereas 15-20 km is also possible, especially if the wind and tides are in your favour. For a three-day, you can’t go wrong with Anse-Saint-Jean to Tadoussac…you get to see a beautiful section of the fjord (around 47 km). For a two-day, I would suggest either a put-in at Anse-St-Jean and take-out at Anse-St-Étienne on the south shore (27 km), OR put-in at Anse-de-Roche and paddle right to Tadoussac (22 km). You’ll want one of our new marine maps of the Fjord, contact me for details! After that, a day on the St. Lawrence somewhere near Les Escoumins is your best bet for discovering the estuary and maybe having some close encounters with curious cetaceans! If you need guiding services, try one of the park’s parteners listed on our website, all AEQ certified (Aventure Écotourisme Québec) to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Happy paddling, and come back for some on-land adventures!

      • @Graham Thanks for all your helpful comments. We’re strong paddlers – and have done 44 kms with the right tides in one day. We will use an outfitter just because time is of the essence. Sounds to me like you have a great job and you know the area intimately. I’ll be in touch as I get closer to the dates.

  • We had a wonderful day-cruise on the Saguenay when we accidentally ended up in Chicoutimi years ago. It was the only thing we could find to do and what a serendipitous occurrence that was. The only Americans on a boat full of partying Canadians was an interesting experiences. The views on this fjorded river (I think I remember they said it was the only one like in in NA) were spectacular. It’s one of those special days that has stayed in our memory for years.

  • The scenes and description are really inviting. There are many beautiful places in Canada (and we’ve only seen a few.) Hope you find the time to do the whole trip.

  • Thanks for this post, Leigh. I’m planning a side trip to Quebec after TBEX and was looking into the Saguenay-Lac St Jean area. I’ve taken notes. Thanks again!

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