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  1. #1
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    Tour in Quebec: Gaspé or Saguenay? Paging Erick L

    Hi all,

    My girlfriend and I are trying to decide on a destination for a one-week tour in Quebec. We'll be taking the train from Toronto, so routes with rail access are a must.

    We've consulted the Route Verte guidebook and have narrowed down the general area to the Gaspé or a trip around Lac-St-Jean and down the Saguenay.

    As far as terrain, we'll be on a fully loaded tandem so hill climbing is a chore and descents can be hairy. But we're still in our 20s so a bit of suffering is worth it if the views are spectacular enough. We average about 14km/h fully loaded.

    What do you think of this route? I've heard that the interior of the Gaspé is beautiful, and that the North shore is a bit hilly but very spectacular. The other choice would be to take the train up to Lac St-Jean, do a loop, descend the Saguenay, then maybe take the ferry from Saint-Simeon to Rivière-du-Loup for the return trip?

    Bonus points if we can shoehorn Quebec City into the week-long trip. So many options!
    Last edited by antonyfhilliard; 06-15-09 at 01:01 PM. Reason: Added second map

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    A lot of the Sagueney is not very accessible from the road. The north side, I think, has fewer towns (ie, fewer amenities). I think the Gaspe beats either for amenities.

    I did the Sagueney in a kayak (I didn't have to worry about hills) and we carried everything we needed.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 06-15-09 at 01:35 PM.

  3. #3
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    The Gaspé is a good route. I did that loop. Highway 299 is very quiet, a long faux-plat until it leaves the river where there were a burned down motel and a small restaurant (operating) and campsite there when I passed. You can camp anywhere on the river.

    The hills on the north side are usually 10-11% and 1km long, save for a couple of longer ones. There's also a long flat stretch with a wiiiide shoulder where the road hugs the St-Lawrence. There's usually a strong tailwind there. Yeah, it's quite a nice ride. :-) Lots of small villages along the way. Make sure you stop at Forillon Nat'l park and take the boat to Bonaventure island in Percé. Gaspésie park is best by foot. For an easy hike to a spectacular view, there's mont Olivine in the morning.

    The train ride is slow, and I think there's transfer in Matapédia. Check viarail.ca about your tandem.



    If you take the train to Roberval and back from Rivière-du-Loup, you won't go through Quebec City at all. It stops in Charny on the south shore or passes north of the city to Roberval.

    You could:
    1- start in Quebec city ride the coast of Charlevoix and inland to Lac St-Jean
    2- start in Quebec city ride inland of Charlevoix and to Lac St-Jean
    3- ride to Rivière-du-Loup and inland to Lac St-Jean
    4- ride to Rivière-du-Loup and back to QC the north shore of Charlevoix.
    5- ride to Rivière-du-Loup and back to QC inland in Charlevoix.
    6- start in rivière-à-Pierre (Roberval train) to QC, across to Lévis and finish in Rimouski (easiest)

    I still prefer Gaspésie. The only downside is the long train ride but the scenery is nice.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

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    Thanks for the advice - if my girlfriend is OK with the Gaspésie hills, I think we'll choose that route and perhaps give up on Quebec City for this trip.

    Erick, do you know if we can/should short-cut through the east side of the Parc du Gaspésie? It looks like there's a route from the Gite du Mont-Albert west to the Jacques-Cartier campground, and on down to the town of Mont St.Pierre.

  5. #5
    Commuting & Touring Guy Doconabike's Avatar
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    Anthony,

    Great choice to take a tour of Gaspé! I did something similar in August of 2008 and loved it. Your route you mapped out looks fun.

    If you haven't been before, you might be interested in this trip description. It's a bit shorter than your proposed route, but a similar idea. There is some overlap of the two routes along the northeast edge of the peninsula.


    trip report for Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec
    http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path...le-Gasp-sienne


    When you come back from your trip, please post a description so we can vicariously enjoy.

    Happy biking,
    - john

  6. #6
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by antonyfhilliard View Post
    Erick, do you know if we can/should short-cut through the east side of the Parc du Gaspésie? It looks like there's a route from the Gite du Mont-Albert west to the Jacques-Cartier campground, and on down to the town of Mont St.Pierre.
    You can but it's a gravel road. I'd stick to the coast. Tourelle to Mont-St-Pierre is nice riding.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

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    OK, this year for real. We've agreed to set aside two weeks for an open-jaw Gaspé loop sometime in mid-July or early August. Rough plan so far:

    • 1st night on VIA train from Toronto -> New Richmond (Gaspé), arrive 7:30AM.
    • 7(?) days cycling this 470km circuit with 5700m vert.
    • 2 days sightseeing / resting somewhere along the way
    • 11th night on VIA train to Charny (Quebec City), arrive 5AM
    • 12 & 13th night in Quebec City
    • Long train ride back to Toronto.


    I've read through travelogues from john , this crazyguyonabike, and of course Erick L. I have a few questions / advice requests:

    1. The first day, I doubt we can climb 520m and make it 90km to Parc de la Gaspésie. Is there a spot we could camp on Rte.299 before the park? Are there any potable water sources on Rte.299?
    2. What accommodation in the park would work for bicyclists (aka. not too much off-piste, but scenic). Mont-Albert site?
    3. Is it realistic to ride 125km from Parc de la Gaspésie to Ste.Madeleine in one day?
    4. Do we have to cross to the south gate of Parc Forillon to check-in for an un-serviced tent site?
    5. Which campsites are the best to reserve at Forillon for cyclo-camping? Best views / fewer loud RVs?
    6. Arriving at Percé, is it worth taking the Route Verte detour inland next to the train tracks, or should we just go over the top on Rte. 132?


    Any auberges, restaurants, or marchés we should be sure to stop at?
    Last edited by antonyfhilliard; 03-04-10 at 06:47 PM.

  8. #8
    DGE
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    Hello Anthony,

    I know the region very very very well, I worked in Gaspesie for three years. I have never biked there though !
    First, i think it's definitely a better region to visit than Saguenay. Second, I would ride along the coast instead of going through the park road from New Richmond to Ste-Anne-des-Monts. It's almost entirely forest. The park itself is nice, but biking all that road just for the park is not worth it over the georgous gaspesian seaside (especially the southern coast of gaspesie)

    Here are a couple of answer to your questions :

    1 - There are no campgrounds on road 299 between New Richmond and the entrance to the park. You will however follow the Cascapedia river for much of the way and can possibly camp on the bank of the river. There are no shops, gas stations or anything until you get to the park though !

    2- The park is very very mountaineous, The trails are all for hiking. You could take a day off and hike some trails there or you could ride the dirt road to "Lac aux Americains" which is spectacular.

    3- If you can't make it to Ste-Madeleine, stop at Mt. St-Pierre ... very charming little town.

    4- You can enter Park Forillon from the north also. There is a gate there too !

    5- I reccommend "Cap Bon-Ami" .... google that !

    6- Dunno ... never biked there ! But, the road from Gaspé to percé is spectacular !


    Get ready for some intense french ! But people are very friendly and will try their best to make something out of you english if you speak slowly !

    Enjoy the most beautiful region of the entire Quebec province !
    BTW ... i live in Quebec City !
    Last edited by DGE; 03-09-10 at 02:14 PM.

  9. #9
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    The first day, I doubt we can climb 520m and make it 90km to Parc de la Gaspésie. Is there a spot we could camp on Rte.299 before the park? Are there any potable water sources on Rte.299?
    There were a restaurant, campsite and burned down motel where the road branches off from the river. Don't know if the motel has been rebuilt. You can camp anywhere on the river. There are many salmon fishing holes. Some are just a roadside parking, some have picnic tables, but no services.

    After the small village at the beginning, highway 299 is one very long faux-plat. The climb begins when it leaves the Cascapedia river. It's mostly downhill to the park's interpretation center and campsites after that.

    What accommodation in the park would work for bicyclists (aka. not too much off-piste, but scenic).
    I prefer "La Rivière" which is across the road from the interpretation center, store and restaurant, but you'll ride by "Mont Albert" so it's better to stop there first in case the other is full, which is very likely at that time of the year. If you don't need the services, mont Albert is just fine, maybe a tad quieter. If you ask me, I'd camp illegally in the woods. I hate the Sepaq. Don't forget quarters if you want a shower. There's a nice little walking trail along the river between the two sites.

    Is it realistic to ride 125km from Parc de la Gaspésie to Ste.Madeleine in one day?
    It's possible but you would start and end your day with some pretty good climbs. If you stop in Mont-St-Pierre, it's quite a stretch to Forillon the next day. The climbs begin in Manche-D'Épée. Personnally, I rode from Ste-Anne-des-Monts to Grande-Vallée and had a hard time the day after, though I wasn't in good shape and had a very heavy bike with heavy photo gear. I remember being just a few km from Forillon and giving a few pedal strokes followed by cruising, until I stopped and ate honey by the spoon on the roadside.

    Do we have to cross to the south gate of Parc Forillon to check-in for an un-serviced tent site?
    There's a welcome center at the northern entrance at the top of a hill near Rivière-au-Renard. They'll tell you what's available. They reserved me the last site in the park on my trip. The northern "gate" is quite deep in the park, just before the campsites.

    Which campsites are the best to reserve at Forillon for cyclo-camping? Best views / fewer loud RVs?
    Although it's bigger, Cap-des-Rosiers would be my choice. Cap-Bon-Ami has no RVs but also little privacy and it's behind a 15% climb. Good if you spend the evening there and watch the sunrise on the cliffs the next morning and/or hike to mont St-Alban (recemmended) but no fun if if want to get in and out in the evening. If you stay at Cap-des-rosiers and the next morning's forecasts are good, take your bike unloaded to the Cap-Bon-Ami viewpoint at sunrise.

    Petit-Gaspé on the south side is nice too, with lots of trees and lots of people. The park's road is great riding in the evening. Keep in mind that the north and south side are separated by one kick-ass hill. If you arrive early at the park, you could ask for a site at Petit-Gaspé, visit the north side during the day and go over the hill in the evening to camp on the south side.

    Arriving at Percé, is it worth taking the Route Verte detour inland next to the train tracks, or should we just go over the top on Rte. 132?
    No question here, go over the top. The Route Verte often avoids hills and busier roads for no reason.

    Any auberges, restaurants, or marchés we should be sure to stop at?
    I stopped at camping "Tête d'Indien" before Percé. Except for the cheezy roadside ads and the lights on until 10pm, it was nice. Best campsite showers I've seen. The owner knows a lot about the region. He even had is homemade guidebook. I followed one of his recommendation to have waffles at "Café Couleur" for next day's breakfast. It was excellent. The Café is full of paintings and service is done by the artists. They only opened at 9am so you can take it easy.
    Last edited by Erick L; 04-11-10 at 11:59 PM.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  10. #10
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    Paul Stockton answered 10 Questions for us on cycling the Gaspe. Maybe it's helpful to give you a flavour of what you're in for.

    We cycled the north bank of the St. Lawrence and loved it. That part of Quebec is just wonderful. Some tough climbs but definitely worth it!
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

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    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    I don't know if this will impact your plans for ViaRail, but it may be worthwhile to review:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...hlight=viarail

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