Every time I’ve been to Quebec, I’ve spent time away from home. Quebec has great cities – Montreal is vibrant and Quebec City is one of my favorite cities – but most of Quebec is a vast wilderness full of lakes, forests and rivers.
In fact, Quebec has over a million lakes, making it perfect for a lake getaway.
For some, the northern lands of Quebec can seem intimidating. Before visiting this Canadian province, I thought so too. I had visions of snowdrifts and howling wind, and that vast wasteland seemed a little too far off the map.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT QUEBEC?
Quebec is a year round destination and I have found that Mother Nature can be experienced and enjoyed here in all forms of her.
Summers in Quebec are great. There are long sunny days and warm, pleasant weather. You can stay out from dawn to dark. In autumn, the forests of Quebec explode with crimson, making for an incredible visual experience.
And that beautiful open desert? Well, that’s one of the many things that make Quebec so special. I experienced this firsthand on a recent trip to Quebec.
WHAT IS THE EXPLORER PATH?
Four friends and I took an epic 975-mile journey on Quebec’s Explorer’s Route, an aptly named route curated by Bonjour Quebec. It is a route for those who want to go off the beaten track to explore the western part of the province of La Belle.
The ride takes you through well-known sights such as the Laurentian Mountains and some of Quebec’s best national parks, but also takes you to beautiful small towns where you feel at home, lakeside locations where you can spend the entire lake. to yourself and the captivating landscapes that haven’t changed in thousands of years.
They are the kind of places where you can walk silently through the forest or sit by a waterfall and listen to the quiet rustle of the wind or be dazzled by the starry sky.
Most of the journey is on excellent roads and highways; occasionally ride a rough dirt road or through a forest.
Our goal was to spend as much time as possible enjoying Mother Nature – and we did. We cycled through the woods and up hills, paddled and paddled, and hit every trail we could find.
We ate wild blueberries picked from under the trees and climbed mountains listening to the birds. It made me feel refreshed, rejuvenated and love Quebec even more.
WHERE QUEBEC’S JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY BEGINS
Our journey started by flying into Montreal. From there, all you have to do is rent a car and hit the road.
Bonjour Quebec suggests making the trip in nine days. Seven of us did it and ended up traveling a total of about 2,400 miles, starting and finishing in Montreal.
There are many kilometers, but the journey is over. As we drove on the highway, a friend of mine introduced us to some Québécois songs – songs by Émile Bilodeau, Fred Pellerin and Jean Leloup – and they were the perfect soundtrack to the breathtaking scenery.
Seven days is a lot to cover in one article, but at least I can tell you the highlights. Read on if you want to follow the explorer’s path yourself.
DAY 1: LAURENTIDES AREA, FROM APPLES TO MONT TREMBLANT
We didn’t have to go far to start our adventure. North of Montreal, we reached the Laurentides region. It is known for the Laurentian Mountains which are some of the oldest mountains in the world.
Even though we were there in early fall, I understood why the Laurentian Mountains are a popular ski destination. The area is also known for its hiking, camping, mountain biking and river trails.
We stopped at Cidrerie Lacroix, a family owned cider house. The Lacroix family have been growing and processing apples here since 1879 and their ciders are highly regarded. Many of the ciders are named after the Lacroix sisters.
Walk in the treetops of the Laurentides
Quebec is a land of forests, and that becomes abundantly clear in the Treetop Walk Laurentides experience. A kilometer long, 40 meter high path leads directly to the treetops. We enjoyed the walk, but spent even more time lounging on the net spread atop the watchtower. Talk about bird’s eye view.
Mont Tremblant National Park
In Mont-Tremblant we stopped at the first national park on our route: Mont-Tremblant National Park. It is the oldest in Quebec and has more than 400 lakes that attract rowers from Canada and beyond.
We hiked along one of the park’s many well-maintained trails, chatting and listening to the sound of our footsteps. Quebec’s forests are lush and green with towering trees and plenty of wildlife. At the end of the route we were rewarded with a beautiful waterfall.
The main attraction of the Mont-Tremblant region is the Mont-Tremblant Ski Area, with its charming mountain village and excellent skiing in the Laurentian Mountains.
We stayed at the elegant Fairmont Tremblant, a luxury ski-in/ski-out hotel in a beautiful alpine setting. My room had a beautiful view of the village. Dinner at the hotel’s Choux Gras was a great success thanks to its warm interior and innovative dishes.
We ended our dinner at Tonga Lumina Tremblant, a 1 mile illuminated night walk just a few minutes’ walk from the resort. Tell a story through light and sensory experience. Being in the woods at night and immersing myself in these visual storytelling was a nice way to end the day.
DAY 2: ELECTRIC BIKE TOUR TO MONT-TREMBLANT AND VENTILONE ACROSS THE ALTE LAURENTIANS
Breakfast was at Hôtel Quintessence, a world-famous hotel on the shores of Lake Tremblant. We loved the location on the lake and the food was excellent.
Fat Tire electric bike with Dtour
We started the day with a guided e-bike tour with Dtour. I’ve never ridden a flat tire e-bike before, but I can tell you it’s the most comfortable bike I’ve ever ridden: big shocks, a wide seat, and it can handle the bumps and rocks of a mountain bike course with ease. .
We drove from downtown Mont-Tremblant and then into the woods. It was pure thrill flying over the mountain trails of Mount Tremblant on a flat tire e-bike. We followed part of Le P’tit Train du Nord, a 230 kilometer long former railway that has been converted into a cycle path.
Seaplane flight with Air Mont-Laurier
Another thrill was the seaplane ride on Air Mont-Laurier. Taking off from the water was thrilling, but flying high above the lakes and forests in the picturesque Hautes-Laurentides region was even better. I wish I had made more videos, but you know what I mean.
DAY 3: ABITIBI-TÉMISCAMINGUE AREA – MOUNTAIN BIKE AND CITIZENS OF VAL-D’OR ORGANIC
After a morning departure and a 4.5 hour journey, we arrived in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. In the small town of Val-d’Or, we stopped for lunch at a local hot spot, Baltazar Café, for an excellent meal, then topped it off with ice cream at Choco Mango, just a few doors down.
With the right equipment, it’s time to mountain bike with Forêt récréative. A recreational community forest near the center of Val-d’Or used for biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, skating and more.
After renting a few bikes from Forêt Recreation, some of our crew rode the more advanced mountain biking trails. My friend Camille and I took the tamer trails, but it was still an adrenaline rush.
DAY 4: ANIMAL VISIT TO PAGEAU REFUGE AND AIGUEBELLE NATIONAL PARK
At the Refuge Pageau in Amos, Quebec, I encountered unusual and even strange animals.
This very special nature reserve takes care of injured animals and those in need of rehabilitation. Those that cannot be released into the wild, such as the blind black bear, find a permanent home at Refuge Pageau.
My favorite animal was Chewbacca, a cute black hedgehog. He seemed to enjoy us as much as we entertained him.
We also saw round deer, owls, gray wolves, otters and many other animals. Finally, we saw the sanctuary’s highly immersive digital experience that highlights the importance of conservation.