This summer was ideally suited for exploring our beautiful province. On my side, I took the opportunity to go on an adventure, discovering a region of Quebec that I had already visited mainly in winter, Gaspésie. My plan, I would rather say our plan, since I left with Florence with whom I had discovered Central America, was to take our bike, go to Matane and go east. Two girls, two bikes, two weeks and 763 km were between us and our goal.
Florence and I left Matane one good morning on June 3rd, with the aim of reaching Gaspé a week later. Between us and this magnificent port city there were only 300 km, the Madeleines coastline, and breathtaking landscapes.
The advantage of Gaspésie is that wild camping is allowed, and it is possible to camp for free everywhere on public beaches or in rest areas. Due to COVID19, all rest areas were closed, mainly the toilets!! Lucky that the people of the Gaspésienne Peninsula are welcoming and that it was possible to find charitable souls to fill our water bottle and open gas stations to go to the bathroom!
Day 1 : Matane -> Saint-Anne-des-Monts
Day 2 : Saint-Anne-des Monts -> Rivière Madeleine
Day 3 : Rivière Madeleine -> Grand-Étang
Day 4 : Grand-Étang -> Gaspé
Day 5 : Gaspé
Day 6 : Gaspé -> Douglastown
Day 7 : Douglastown -> Percé
Day 8 : Percé -> Sainte-Thérèse
Day 9 : Sainte-Thérèse de Gaspé -> Shigawake
Day 10 : Shigawake ->Carleton sur mer
Day 11 : Carleton sur mer
Day 12 : Carleton sur mer -> Escumiac
Day 13 : Escumiac -> Sainte-Florence
Day 14 : Sainte-Florence -> Matane
The route between Matane and Gaspé is magnificent, but far from being flat, except before Rivière Madeleine. In addition, this part runs along the river. During this part of the journey, I advise you to leave the 132 whenever there is a secondary road, which will allow you to visit all the heterogeneous villages along the St. Lawrence River. We spent the night at Rivière Madeleine because a series of hills over 18 km awaited us. The Madeleines hills are the biggest challenge of the whole trip. 1300 m of vertical drop over 80 km, with a climb of 290 m of elevation over a little over 6.5 km.
Despite being the most difficult, the trip between Rivière-Madeleine and Percé is the most photogenic. Indeed, at the top of each climb hides a magnificent view of the cliffs that border the river and each descent is home to a village with colorful houses, a white sand beach and anchored boats. People are extremely welcoming and, at their limit, will want to help you or just have a chat. There is no cycle path and pedaling along the 132 can be tiring, due to the constant passage of cars. I advise you to take short days and take the secondary routes as often as possible.
After Percé, we ended up in the Baie des Chaleurs where the road flattens out, the prevailing winds are behind our backs and the temperatures are heating up. Personally, this section is very beautiful, but does not equal the landscapes of the north of Gaspésie. Some villages are worth staying there for several days and my personal crush is Carleton-sur-Mer. It is a village where water sports are an intrinsic part of the culture, by kyting, sailing, paddleboarding or kayaking. In addition, it is the home of the Naufrageur microbrewery which offers summer shows, great food, and beers, each more original than the next.
The last stretch that brings you back to Matane is along the Matapedia, a river famous for salmon fishing and mosquitoes, depending on the time of year. Although the view of the river is magnificent, the first 100 kilometers are a false flat uphill which, with the wind in your face, hurts your legs. Also, plan some food in advance, because between Sainte-Florence and Matapédia, there is not much. Due to the unpleasant presence of mosquitoes, we shortened our stay in this region by doing two long days of + 90km. On the other hand, during the good season, it is worth spending 3-4 days there to enjoy the campsites in nature, the river, and the forest freshness.
The Gaspé is a region that makes more than one dream and after having discovered it in summer, winter, by car or by boat, I can confirm that visiting this region by bike is a must, because it allows you to discover mythical places, to meet a welcoming population and to take pictures worthy of postcards!
1. Stop at convenience stores and buy local beer (≈15 microbreweries)
2. Visit the various pubs which generally produce their own beer
3. Sleep in the rest area just above Percé
4. Watch the sunset in Saint-Anne-des-Monts
5. Learn to sail in Carleton-sur-Mer
6. Bathe in the crystal clear waters of the Matapedia
7. Take a nap on the beach (All over the place)