Ridden and written by Maryvonne Berthault.

Discovering the south shore of the St-Lawrence River, from Montreal to Rivière-du-Loup on the Route Verte

Day 1: Lachine to Sorel, 105 km on the Route Verte, September 2015

Under a cloudy sky, a nor’easter keeps me cool but my heart warms me today.

Departing Montreal’s urban landscape, I ride along the southern shoreline of the St-Lawrence River in high spirits.

Following the shore most of the time, I ride through Boucherville, Varennes and Verchères on bicycle paths and secondary roads. Near Contrecœur, I am surprised to see low tide on the river as I had always thought that the tides only reached Lac St-Pierre further down river.

The tide is even more evident at Sorel-Tracy, and I shall follow its ebb and flow during the next few days as I cycle along.

Photo de Maryvonne Berthault - Sorel-Tracy

Ferries between Sorel ans St-Ignace-de-Loyola.

In Sorel, « Le 12 George » offers me a warm welcome and an excellent breakfast in an ancestral home. My bicycle got the royal treatment, sleeping on a carpet in the dining room. A well-deserved rest guaranteed!

Day 2: Sorel to Nicolet, 89 km on the Route Verte, September 2015

The sun is warm; the nor’easter is still cool. I follow the St-Lawrence River toward the charming bike path La Sauvagine that meanders through farms and fields. Eventually, I ride alongRoute 132 East on a wide shoulder – there is very little traffic.

At Odanak, I make an interesting stop at the Musée des Abénakis (an Amerindian museum), definitely worth the visit. From Pierreville, the Route Verte goes inland through picturesque farms and fields of corn and soy,with curious cows watching cyclists ride by their pastures.

Photo de Maryvonne Berthault - Nicolet River

Nicolet River

I then follow the banks of the Nicolet River towards the town of Nicolet and the St-Lawrence for a cosy overnight stay at the “Hotel Montfort Nicolet”. The ancestral retreat house of the Montfort Missionaries, now a Bienvenue Cyclistes! lodging, offers a delicious breakfast fit for any bicycle enthusiast.

Day 3: Nicolet to Deschaillons-sur-Saint-Laurent, 72 km on the Route Verte, September 2015

Leaving Nicolet, I follow a small road with access to Lac St-Pierre and the St-Lawrence River by the boardwalk of L’Anse du Port, continuing on the Route Verte and a very nice bicycle path toward the wharf of Sainte-Angèle-de-Laval.

Photo de Maryvonne Berthault - Laviolette bridge

The Laviolette bridge

The Bécancour cycling paths are peaceful and quiet. A stop at the Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets presbytery gardens is a must to enjoy the apple trees in any season, whether the flowers, the shade or the delicious apples.

All day, the St-Lawrence River parallels my route, offering scenery of marsh, cliffs and fields giving way to great panoramas of the opposite shore. A welcomed west wind carries me forward. I enjoy going down the small rolling hills to climb the other side in a couple of pedal strokes.

At the end of a wonderful sunny day, I arrive at “Domaine d’Eschaillon,” a restful locale atop cliffs overlooking the water and the ships. A few steps away, the Côte du Quai leads down to narrow sandy beaches nestled between the cliff and the high tide. The sunset gives way to the rising full moon in a color and light show on the river, trees and boats.

Day 4: Deschaillons-sur-Saint-Laurent to Lévis, 95 km on the Route Verte, September 2015

Under a grey sky, with the wind at my back, I easily ride eastward. The Route Verte is pleasant and diversified; sometimes a small road near the river, at other times a wide shoulder along Route 132 with little traffic.

Photo de Maryvonne Berthault - View of the river

View of the river

Across the St-Lawrence River, the foliage is changing to fall colors on the hills of the north shore.

As I approach Lévis, the Route Verte through Saint-Nicolas is easy to ride along. A bicycle path gives a safe access to the bridge to cross the Chaudière River with a view of the thunderous rapids below. Further along, the Chemin du Fleuve follows the St-Lawrence River through an area of lovely homes all the way to the “Parcours des Anses” bike path to enter Lévis and ride to the Quebec City Ferry Terminal.

I climb the hill into Old Lévis for a charming stay at “La Maison sous l’orme” a beautiful ancestral home with a view towards Quebec City and the Chateau Frontenac. A discovery stroll in the streets of Lévis gives an insight on the architecture of the houses and buildings as well as its churches.

Day 5: Lévis to Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, 95 km on the Route Verte, September 2015

I follow the “Parcours des Anses” east to start a great day along the St-Lawrence River where the tide ebbs and flows, always present, forever changing.

The morning drizzle gives way to marine air – damp and fragrant. A warm west wind pushes me onward.

On the “Route des Navigateurs”, the fields give way to small villages nestled on the shore of the St-Lawrence. I then continue along the “Véloroute des Migrations” where everyone awaits the thousands of snow geese that stop to feed and rest during the spring and fall migrations.

Photo de Maryvonne Berthault - Flats

The river’s flats

I get a warm welcome at the adorable alpaca farm “La Maison de l’Ermitage”. The property stretches to the shore where I enjoy my snack before a torrential rain sends me inside. After a good night sleep, a delicious breakfast energizes me to ride all day again.

Day 6: Saint-Jean-Port-Joli to Rivière-du-Loup, 105 km on the Route Verte, September 2015

The nor’easter is back in full force, buffeting my drive forward.

Riding along the St-Lawrence River through a few scattered villages, an amazing scene with weeds, salt marshes, and fishing nets catches my eye. The low tide leaves wide flats exposed for seagulls, herons and geese to feed.

Photo de Maryvonne Berthault - Fish nets

Fish nets

With every km ridden, the north shore recedes as the river gets even wider. Here, in the Lower St. Lawrence, the locals call it “the sea”.

From Village-des-Aulnaies to Rivière-Ouelle, I ride on “La Route des Doux Pays”, a bicycle path between land and marsh at the water’s edge.

The mountains of Charlevoix are still visible. There is just a slit of an opening below the clouds to catch a glimpse of a blinding sunset reflecting on the surging waves pushed by a strong wind.

From Rivière-du-Loup many options are available to continue this trip:

  • Take the ferry to Saint-Siméon, Tadoussac, to ride the “Véloroute du Fjord du Saguenay” and the “Véloroute des Bleuets” in Lac Saint-Jean;
  • Ride “Le Parc Linéaire Interprovincial Petit Témis” towards Edmunston, New-Brunswick and the Maritime Provinces; or
  • Continue on Route Verte 1 in the Lower St-Lawrence toward the Gaspe Peninsula, as I shall …

Maryvonne Berthault biographie-2Article by Maryvonne Berthault, Route Verte Cycling Collaborator , september 2015.