VIVE LE QUEBEC! QUEBEC BY BICYCLE!

QUEBEC BY BICYCLE

Michael’s write up of our time spent crossing Quebec by bicycle, during our 7000km cycle trip across Canada in Autumn 2016. Click here to read Kelly’s write up of cycling in Quebec.

VIVE LE QUEBEC! ROLLIN’ FREE LIKE A WHEEL OF CHEESE THROUGH A TASTY LITTLE SLICE OF EUROPE IN CANADA!

Our introduction to this delicious, cycle friendly, French Canadian beauty was an easy 120km day that flew by like a breeze! 72km of which was on the Prescott Russell Recreational trail. Winding through forests and along old railway lines where we finally cracked the magical 5000km mark!

Every single Canadian cycle tourist we had met so far across Canada had been from Quebec. So we were pretty sure it was going to be a good place to be on a bike and we definitely weren’t disappointed!

Global Citizen Festival

We had a few days off the bikes planned in Montreal where Kelly’s brother Michael was meeting us and had hooked us up with some free tickets to the Global Citizen festival that he was helping organize. So instead of being sweaty cycling bums living in a tent, we spent 4 nights camped out in an airB&B apartment drowning in beer and living like rock stars with VIP backstage tickets to a music festival and all the booze we could fit in our bodies!

It was definitely a different experience and quite surreal being backstage at a fancy pants festival and after party, but it was nice to change it up a bit and break the routine of cycling. Also beer is pretty good stuff and tastes even better when free.

After several days exploring Montreal and pretending we were back in Europe. Sipping espresso and munching fresh baked goods at patisseries. It was time to load our food bloated carcasses back onto the bikes!

I was nursing a large hangover from the after party that we attended until 3am. We had to hit the road again at 9am, but my boozy blues were made more bearable by the scenery and excellent roads.

cycling in Montreal quebec
Montreal, Quebec

Quebec by Bicycle

Camping was occasionally tough as all space along the river to Quebec City seemed to be crammed pretty tight with homes on the waterfront, but we got creative sleeping behind a massive garden hedge on one night and outside a B&B on another slightly awkward occasion. The owner had approached us when he saw us eyeing up a nice juicy patch of grass outside the closed tourist info centre in a small town. He asked us in broken English if we wanted to stay at his house. Of course we did! Score!

When we got back to his ‘house’ we realized it was actually a bed and breakfast and he was in fact trying to get us to stay inside as paying guests. Some awkwardness ensued as we spoke with his wife inside, but in the end they turned out to be cool and let us camp in the garden for free instead of paying to stay inside.

Quebec City and Bicycle Trails

We had another little break in Quebec City, staying with a Warmshowers host Maude in her apartment with a huge garden in the courtyard. Maude was an ‘urban gardener’ and had created a huge veggie garden in her courtyard. She also had other projects around town building gardens in office blocks and government buildings. We were happy because we got to munch fresh veg for a few days instead of instant noodles and pasta!

Quebec was a super touristy town, but it was a nice place to chill out for a couple of days and soak up some of the European vibes, and to relax in coffee shops before hitting the awesome cycle trails again. From Quebec City we opted to catch the ferry to the other side of the Saint Lawrence River and rode along the scenic trails whenever possible. Exploring Quebec by bicycle was what I had pictured cycle touring to be before our first trip from France to China a few years ago. Relaxed car free cycle routes winding through forests with free rest areas to camp.

cycling in quebec
Cycling through the streets of Quebec City

La Route Verte

The Route Verte through Quebec was a definite highlight of our trip across Canada. It made the wet and cold weather a little more bearable, as we always knew we’d find a little picnic spot or even a designated cycle camping spot to pitch the tent at the end of the day. The temperature had suddenly dropped significantly as we were approaching the New Brunswick border and on our last night in Quebec we had by far the coldest night of the trip. We woke up to a tent covered in a thick sheet of ice and all our water bottles frozen solid.

camping and cycling in quebec
Awesome camp spot just off the bike trail in Quebec

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, we got to sleep next to an old world war II bomber in a park on the cycle route and had a fantastic sunrise to thaw out our gear and bone marrow!

It was now time to tackle our seventh Canadian province, New Brunswick and try not to freeze our bits off on the bikes!!

Vive Le Quebec, Vive le fromage and route verte cycle path!! I hope you enjoy Quebec by bicycle!

If you’re geeky like Kelly, you can also check out our cycle stats for Canada.

Cycling in Quebec

cycling in quebec

Kelly’s write up of cycling in Quebec during our cross Canada cycle trip in September 2016. Click here to read Michael’s write up about exploring Quebec by bicycle.

We were excited to finally be cycling in Quebec! As soon as we crossed into Quebec the roads seemed more European. The buildings seemed more historic and there were bakeries and cafes everywhere. It was great! What did surprise me was that even though everywhere else in Canada the signs were in both English and French. In Quebec everything was only in French (even the signs in the tourist information booth). Time to brush up on my French!

montreal
montreal

Montreal – our mini holiday!

Overall it was pleasant cycling in Quebec along La Route Verte (Quebec’s designated cycle network) and into Quebec’s largest city, Montreal. We were super excited to be in Montreal! Montreal was our little “holiday” from the cycle trip, where we got to spend 4 nights in an Airbnb in downtown Montreal. The plan was to explore the city, eat lots of food and do touristy stuff.

My brother was also flying into Montreal for the 4 nights we were there. His work (Global Poverty Project) was organising a concert on the weekend, and we got VIP tickets. Woohoo! Cyclist bum turn to VIP! The only problem we had was that we didn’t pack any clothes worthy enough for an event where we would be brushing shoulders with Justin Trudeau, Bill Gates and Usher. I doubt we fitted in with the “posh and trendy crowd,” but hey, we still had fun. And, we were able to shower before the event, so at least we didn’t smell.

GPP concert montreal
GPP concert in montreal

We even got to attend the after party at some trendy at gallery. If only we didn’t have to cycle in the morning, then we could have taken more advantage of the free booze. Unfortunately, we had already delayed our cycle trip to coincide with the event and seeing my brother. So we had to get back on the bikes as soon as possible to make sure we made it across Canada before winter. I barely got the chance to see my brother (if you know him, you’ll also know he’s married to his job). Actually if he didn’t decide to crash at our Airbnb I doubt I would have seen him at all. At least I got to see he was still alive.

Back to “work!”

It was hard getting back on the bikes after have a few days off. Especially after having a late night with lots of drinking. Luckily the sun was out, and we had a cycle path to follow for some of the way. We had decided to take the most direct route to Quebec City, which meant a 3 day cycle along the river (not that we seen much of the river with all the houses and their private beaches). It was still a pleasant and easy cycle, and the roads were much nicer than in Ontario.

Cycling in Quebec City

Cycling into Quebec City was a little confusion. We missed the cycle path signs a few times, but we got there eventually. On the cycle into the city we met several friendly locals. The city vibe was definitely more friendly and welcoming than Montreal.

Quebec City is one of my favourite cities in Canada. It is cycle friendly, has awesome views of the river, plenty of good bakeries and cafes with good coffee, markets and of course the beautiful, old city. Though a bit touristy, I still enjoyed sipping on an espresso and watching the world go by.

We stayed with a girl called, Maude. A warmshowers’ host that had previously cycled through Colombia and Ecuador. So I was keen to hear her stories. It also turned out that she had studied the same thing as me and was working as an urban landscaper. I guess cycle touring tends to attract the same type of person.

After spending a few days exploring the city and feeling like normal human beings, we were ready to hit the road again.

cycling in quebec
cycling in quebec

Cycling in Quebec on La Route Verte

We decided to take the ferry across the Saint Lawrence River to avoid the nasty looking bridge, save 20km, and just because I like ferries. Once across the river, we immediately we got on La Route Verte #1. We followed this route along the river for the rest of the day. It was a stunning cycle, with gorgeous views of the river.

Once we arrived at Rivere-du-Loup, we cut inland towards New Brunswick. The temperature had already dropped by 10 degrees in the past couple of days, so we thought we had better take a more direct route to the Bay of Fundy. We didn’t want to risk getting caught in frost and even snow.

We hopped onto another La Route Verte cycle path. This time the path was a compacted gravel cycle path, which had picnic sites, toilets and even primitive campsites along the way. I had heard mixed things about this cycle path, but after spending two days cycling along it, we thought it was awesome! The trees had just started to change to the Autumn colours. Everything was looking particularly colourful and warm (even though it felt far from being warm).

The route lead us into the next province New Brunswick, where we spent the night sleeping at the province border (next to a small airport). Overall, we loved cycling in Quebec! But, New Brunswick was calling, and it was time to move on.

I’m definitely a bit of a nerd at times, and have been keeping track of our cycle stats and route trip notes – hopefully this information will also be helpful to others! 

cycling in quebec
cycling in quebec