Québec is unquestionably a bike province.
With its quintessentially French outlook, it combines cyclists flock here for uninterrupted rides through alpine meadows and windswept vistas of the Laurentian mountain range. But nothing thrills two-wheelers more than the Route Verte (Green Route), a 2.485 mile (4,000 km) ride which connects all major cities and trails within Québec. It’s an ideal getaway for day-trippers and adventurers alike.
So how great is it? The best.
According to National Geographic’s Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips, the Route Verde ranked as the number one bike route in the route, based on scenery, length and excitement. Whether you’re cycling along the St. Lawrence River shoreline or struggling up fierce inclines through the Laurentian Mountains, the Route Verte truly has something for everyone.
But in a land known for cycling, perhaps none is more exciting than the popular P’tit Train du Nord. It’s strategically located in the center of the Laurentian region and follows an old 20th century train route appropriately named “Le P’tit Train du Nord”. Overall, it’s a long, winding, impossibly beautiful journey along rivers and lakes. You can get food, accommodations and bike repairs at renovated railway stations spread along the trail.
Credit: Normand Patry
Oh, did we mention? It’s 100% free. And there are plenty of biker-friendly hotels and B&Bs along the way. Visit the official Laurentides website for a complete list of accommodations which display the BIENVENUE CYCLISTES! sticker (despite the exclamation, these guys mean business; accredited providers are required to offer overnight bike storage, high carb meals, bike pumps and a list of local bike repair shops).
For those interested in a shorter cycling t0ur, the Eastern Townships is an ideal three day route. Seriously. And for those with dreams bigger than quadriceps… consider the velo taxi. This truly excellent service swoops you up from anywhere along the trail and drops you off where you wish.
If only everything in life played out so beautifully.
When To Go
The Laurentians are beautiful year round, but the dramatic and rich colors of autumn are a must see in September and October.
The following temperatures are taken from Montreal as a general guide.
In September, the average high temperatures are 67.6°F (19.8°C), low temperatures are 48.7°F (9.3°C), and precipitation is 3.5 inches (86.5mm).
In October, the average high temperatures are 55.4°F (13°C), low temperatures are 38.5°F (3.6°C), and precipitation is 3.1 inches (75.4mm).
Getting There & Around
The Laurentians are located just north of Montreal.
Montreal International Airport is the largest airport to the city center which is roughly 45 to 60 minutes away.
From Montreal there are two options to get to the Laurentians; highway 15 a faster and more direct route or highway 17 a slower route that offers some antique shopping along the way.
You can either rent a car to get there or take the bus through Limocar Laurentides.
- Mid-range accommodations: $150
- Meals: $20-25
- Bottle of beer: $4
- Bicycle the Le P’tit Train du Nord a former railway line that now is a popular bicycle route in the warmer months and cross country ski route in the colder months. Access the route from St-Jerome or Mont-Laurier for $5 per day.
- Listen to the autumn concert series that is offered every weekend.
- Skip visiting Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, the largest resort in the area that’s been over commercialized in recent years.
- Stay in a hotel. Instead opt for a bed and breakfast for a more cozy feel out in the woods.
- Miss the live music and inexpensive french food at Le Grand Pa, a restaurant in Val-David.
- The highest point in the Laurentians is Mont Raoul Blachard at 3,825 feet (1166 meters).
- The Laurentians extend south into the U.S. state of New York which are sometime confused with the Appalachian Mountains.
- The Laurentian mountains are some of the oldest in the world dating back to 540 million years ago.
Feature Image Credit: Dylan Passmore