Tasty bike trip to Quebec full of treats, views

“Boulangerie,” or French bakery, was one of the first French words our 12-year-old learned on our multi-day Quebec bike trip. Days began with baked goods and my wife, Gillian, dubbed our trip the “tour de croissant .”

Our ride linked two separate bike trails — the “Corridor Aerobique” with “Le Petit Train du Nord.” Stretching from St. Jerome to Mont Laurier, the P’tit Train is a model bike path for families or road-adverse cyclists. Because the route was a rail line, the grades are moderate and dotted with former train stations converted into cafes, bike shops, and visitors’ centers. A shuttle will bring riders and their bikes from St. Jerome to Mont Launier to begin their journey.

The Corridor Aerobique is a different creature. Slightly more rugged and not as polished or as well-known as the “P’tit Train,” the Aerobique offers a remote feel with more solitude.

We began our trip in the Gray Valley near the western end of the Aerobique. Our first visual feast was crossing the Riviere Rouge and riding its eastern bank to the tiny town of Arundel, where, yes, there is a nice boulangerie.

With a mix of gravel path, pavement and double-track, the Aerobique led us past lupine-strewn fields, plentiful lakes and curious farm reindeer with the low-slung Laurentian Mountains in the background.

Our stops in the small towns, with stumbling French interactions, made the experience. Paris or Provence would have been nice, but to show a child this world with a few-hour drive instead of a plane ticket is one of the many bounties of upstate New York living.

The eastern end of the Aerobique ends in Morin Heights and I unwittingly booked a glamping cabin at the top of a mountain. After a 32-mile day, we pushed loaded bikes uphill to the Chemo Refuge as my popularity plummeted. However, the refuge was worth the climb. It was rustic and simple — we spread sleeping bags on bare mattresses — but nearly every inch of the place sang with a thoughtful, zany charm.

I sipped wine at a picnic table and watched sunset paint the Laurentians, unaware the show was a double bill. When the sun left, more light came as waves of fireflies illuminated a nearby meadow.


The Corridor Aerobique and P’tit Train du Nord are close but don’t actually meet so we had road miles the next morning.

“I want to move here and eat these every day,” the child said as we ate chocolate croissants outside a Saint Sauveur boulangerie on a sunny morning. It was hard to disagree.

Our road riding was over when our bike tires met the crushed stone of the P’tit Train du Nord. The P’tit Train was busy with other touring cyclists, day trippers, and serious-looking riders in racing kits.

Our days followed a happy rhythm of croissant eating and riding. We were even able to forget our sleeping bags and stay in hotels with sheets and showers and all the comforts. We ventured into towns and got mildly lost. In a place where “everyone speaks English,” we found people who didn’t and laughingly ordered ice cream with a combination of pointing and poor French.

“My legs are tired,” the child would occasionally offer as we rode.

Le Petit Train du Nord is a 144-mile bike trail from St. Jerome to Mont Laurier, Quebec. Their website is chock full of trail description, maps and other goodies. https://ptittraindunord.com/en/

Parc du Corridor Aerobique is a 36-mile multi-use trail from Morin Heights to Amherst, Quebec. https://corridoraerobique.ca/en/

Autobus Le Petit Train du Nord – shuttles riders and bikes from St. Jerome to the northern end of Le Petit Train du Nord in Mont Laurier or other towns along the route. Spots fill quickly so book early, https://www.autobuslepetittraindunord.com/en/


“Maybe you need a present,” Gillian would offer back.

The two of them would sprint up the trail. When the sprint was done, the winner would stand on their pedals and shake their bike shorts from side to side in front of the loser. This was the “present.” I don’t know how it started but it’s how we sophisticated Americans travel. There was so much booty shaking, it’s amazing the Canadians didn’t close the border.

You could forget that both cars and time exist along the P’tit Train as we rode beside the Nord River and ate lunch in green spaces surrounded by other cyclists. Near the St. Adele section of the trail, a small, handmade sign read “saute” and “chante” — jump and sing. It could have been a description of what frogs do, or it could have been philosophy. As smiles became our default facial positions and we watched the child greet other riders with “bonjour” and sprinkled our trailside interactions with “merci,” it felt like philosophy.

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