The Ultimate Guide to Road Trips in Québec

June 22, 2016

Cities, lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, the ocean… Quebec has them all. Planning a great road trip can be a great headache. Lucky for you, I have friends all over the province who’ve done the legwork (and the wheel work) and helped me compile this ultimate list of short and long roads to take. So prepare your music, grab your snacks, make room on your phone for photos and get ready for the best road trip ever!

NATURE AND CITY IN ONE WEEKEND

Suggested stops: Montréal / Mont-Tremblant / Ottawa / Davidson

Perfect road trip for a short getaway, or weekend trip off the hustle and bustle of Montréal.

Mont-Tremblant, is less than two hours away from the city and it’s the perfect spot for outdoor aficionados that want to recharge. Hiking, road and mountain biking, canoeing, Via Ferrata rock climbing…. not to mention skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and even a Spa Scandinave to round up a perfect day, any time of the year.

After an active day, you can either spend the night just outside the mountain or if it’s still light out, embark on the two-hour, panoramic drive through the mountains to Canada’s capital city,  Ottawa . Visit the Parliament, walk along the swirly river, or dive into one of the world class museums. If you dare, sleep the day off inside an old jail cell at HI Ottawa Jail Hostel. 

Cities, lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, the ocean…

The next day, you can follow the Outaouais river all the way to Davidson, for a rafting experience at HI Davidson (Esprit Rafting), followed by a drink (for the non-drivers!) right on the beach bar, where you can watch a sublime sunset. If water is not your thing, you may opt for the Pontiac Pacific Junction bike path, a beautiful 92KM bike or hike trail, built on the old railroad tracks.

THE QUEBEC FEW TOURISTS SEE

Suggested stops: Sherbrooke & Trois-Rivières 

Most road trippers explore the province from east to west. But we all know backpackers are not tourists. So let’s do things differently. Start at Sherbrooke, a dynamic student town and the perfect starting point for discovering the route des vins. Drive through the plaines to charming Trois-Rivières for a night of partying on Forges Street or a day of lite surf on lake Saint-Pierre.

GO BACK IN TIME

Suggested stops: Montréal / Trois-Rivières / Québec (le Chemin du Roy)

The Chemin du Roy (King’s Road), is a portion of what is most commonly known as Highway 138. But it is most uncommon in that it’s the oldest road in the province, dating back to the 1600s. And it is a wonderful alternative to the otherwise monotonous and boring ride between  Quebec and  Montreal. The chemin du Roy will take you along the Saint Lawrence river and via some of the most beautiful towns in the area, like  Trois-Rivières. Your drive will be dotted with mansions, and flowery fields, instead of white highway lines.

THE MOST STUNNING TOUR

Suggested stops: Québec / La Malbaie / Rivière-du-Loup / Sea Shack / Griffon Aventure

If time is not an issue, this is the most beautiful of all road trips. After following the Chemin du Roy from Montréal to Québec, stay on the 138 towards La Malbaie, and into Charlevoix. Along the way, you can stop at the Montmorency falls, Orléans Island and the unbelievably picturesque Baie-Saint-Paul. Get there with a craving for sweets, and taste the bay’s famous ice-cream dipped in sucre à la crème (we are not translating that. You’ll have to try it out!).

Spend a couple nights at La Malbaie. From here you’ll be close to spectacular national parks, like the Grands-Jardins and the Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie. When you are ready, catch the ferry to  Rivière-du-Loup. If you time it right, you may see the whales and a seriously beautiful sunset.

Back in the land, keep driving all along the many roadside towns until you get to the legendary  Sea Shack, at Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, Gaspésie. This place is known as the “party hostel” for a reason. But of course, if you are too tired, you can chill on the hammocks by the beach and people-watch all night long to the rhythm of the ocean waves. The parc national de la Gaspésie and the majestic Chic-Choc mountains are 30 minutes away from the hostel. Also worthy of a mention, is the best poutine in the entire province, near by at the cantine d'Amours à Trois-Pistoles. If instead of eating this local delicacy, you’d rather see dozens of seals sunbathing, head to parc national du Bic (two and a half hours eastward along the water).

The emerald river does her name justice.

When you leave the Sea Shack behind, dry your tears and head to  Griffon Adventure, which will be waiting for you at the tip of the Gaspésie. Keep your cameras handy, this is one of the most dramatic roads in Quebec, snaking all over the mountains. Griffon is at the entrance to Forillon Park. The hostel is like an intimate version of the Sea Shack, with small chalets perched on the cliff, quiet weekdays and party weekends. You will find it to also be the best place for canyoning, or playing in the emerald river water, like children in a pool.

On your way back, go to the Bay of Chaleur for the obliged stop at Percé Rock, and the wonderful drive along all the peaceful fishermen settlements. If you still got gas, drive over to the neighboring province of New Brunswick and spend one last and wonderful trip night at the hostel in Fredericton .

TRAVELING SOLO?

Have a look on Amigo Express for new amigos driving your way.

Before you set off on the road, you may also want to check out our article with Great Canadian Road Trip Tips, or last year’s list of Road Trip Tips Essentials.

Photo Credits: Header (photo1photo2photo3), Block #1 (photo2), Block #2 (photo1photo2), Block #3 (photo1photo2), Block #4 (photo1)

This article is part of the
Issue 2

Roadtrippin'

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