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26 May 2023

Beaches, Bikes & Blueberries: Summer In Quebec’s Lac-Saint-Jean

Photo by Frenette, Jean-François c/o Tourism Quebec.

With a shoreline that extends for 210 km — nearly a quarter of which contain sandy beaches — it is little wonder that Quebec’s Lac-Saint-Jean is a top destination for local residents in the summer months.

The region is also home to number of attractions, including a renowned cycling path, that make it a worthwhile destination even for those who need to trek a little out of their way to get here.

We arrived on the shores of this massive lake on the last leg of our incredible trip around the Saguenay fjord in the last days of August. It was quiet here by then as most families had returned home for the start of school (Quebec students head back to the classroom earlier than Ontario’s students, we learned).

We arrived mid-day at the Auberge des Îles Resort, which is located waterfront with expansive views of the lake, to find we had the sandy beach practically to ourselves.

The kids enjoyed the warm freshwater of the clean lake and the sandy shoreline. See this post for a full list of local beaches.

If you’re looking for a trip to the region, we suggest our 14-day Wilderness & Whales itinerary that includes the Saguenay and Lac-Saint-Jean.

Where is Lac-Saint-Jean?

This mostly round large lake is situated in the south-central region of Quebec at the top end of the Saguenay Fjord.

From the St. Lawrence River, it is about a 200 km trip north to get to the lake’s shores. Lac-Saint-Jean can be reached from Quebec City in about 2.5 hours and I’m told that parts of the drive are really spectacular, taking you through the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve and the Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier (along Road 175).

From Montreal, the lake can be reached along Road 155 from Trois-Rivieres. Plan about five hours for the trip.

Our trip back to Quebec City after our stay took a bit of a detour as part of the 175 was closed. We ended up driving on the 381 to Baie-St-Paul and honestly, it was such a lovely drive (going through the Parc national Grand-Jardins and ending with lunch is lovely Baie-St-Paul) that we were happy for the longer detour.

Cycling in Lac-Saint-Jean on the Blueberry Trail:

Photo by Our Wild Abandon c/o Quebec Tourism

One of the most common sights when visiting Lac-Saint-Jean is that of people cycling. The vast lake is surrounded by a 245-km dedicated bike path known as the Véloroute des Bleuets (cycle route of the blueberries).

The route runs along the much of the lake’s shoreline and you’ll find plenty of accommodations that are cyclist-friendly. From mid-June to mid-September you can even opt for luggage service that will deliver your belongings to each accommodation along your itinerary while you enjoy a carefree ride.

The flat and easy cycling route can be done as quickly or as leisurely as you’d like, with suggested itineraries ranging from 3-5 days.

A popular part of the route for families is the Parc national de la Pointe-Taillon, which also offers the sandy beaches and numerous water sport activities for which this region is known.

If you’re looking for a bigger cycling challenge, the Véloroute des Bleuets connects to the more challenging Fjord route that circumnavigates the spectacular Saguenay Fjord. You’ll find full maps and guides here.

What’s with all the blueberries?

Photo by Jean-François Frenette c/o Quebec Tourism

We arrived in late August to find the shops and roadside stands full of delicious wild blueberries. The region is one of the top producers of the antioxidant-rich berries in Canada and the fields surrounding Lac-Saint-Jean are filled with the fruit.

A fire in 1870s destroyed many acres of forest but left behind the perfect environment for the proliferation of wild blueberries. Today, the fruit is so integrated into life in the Lac-Saint-Jean region that local residents refer to themselves as the Bleuets — the Blueberries.

If you’re visiting in mid-to-late summer, prepare to partake not only in fresh blueberries by the bucket but also in local dishes made using the delightfully sweet fruit.

And if you’re coming in the off-season — or want some special blueberry-based products to take home — stop in at the La Maison du Bleuet where you can find blueberries coated in chocolate, wild blueberry jam and an addictive blueberry/chocolate spread, among other divine delicacies.

If you want to make your visit a longer stay, check out these other regional attractions.

And get in touch with us if you’re looking to build out a custom itinerary to the region.

Category: Quebec