With its route that stretches all along the St. Lawrence River, the Route des Navigateurs is an ideal road trip for people who love the van life.
Photos by: Karolina Krupa | Written by: Justine Belzile | Originally posted on go-van.com
Its course , which allows you to discover three of the most beautiful regions of Quebec , is a must for those who wish to take advantage of the salty air while tasting the best products that the coast has to offer. Whether for a solo or couple vacation, here is our itinerary to discover the most beautiful places on a road trip on the Route des Navigateurs.
Anse-du-Port eco-maritime park
Starting point of our adventure, the eco-maritime park of Anse-du-Port in Nicolet is really the ideal place to reconnect with nature. Located on the shores of the St. Lawrence, its wooden footbridge on stilts allows you to observe the fauna and flora in a privileged way and to finish your walk by the river. If you are there at the end of the day, take the opportunity to have a picnic and enjoy the most beautiful sunset in all of Nicolet!
Located in Bécancour in a former bank, the Distillerie du quai offers high quality spirits, developed and designed without compromise in Quebec. Fan of gin and music, owner Jeff has developed a unique experience to combine his two passions.
Each batch is distilled to the sound of a specially created playlist, which you can then listen to during your tasting. All the elements come together to experience a truly unique moment. On your way back, stop by Roulotte à Patates de Gentilly to taste their famous fried cheese curds and satisfy yourself with the best road snack!
When we arrived in Bécancour, we let ourselves be charmed by the Maison de Bibi , an artisanal, family-run soap factory that offers products made on site using natural ingredients. The place also has its own gourmet shop that showcases local products in the preparation of meals or small treats to take away. Sweet tooth advice: their fudge is honestly one of the best in Quebec, it's absolutely worth the detour!
When you follow the Route des Navigateurs, you have to stop at the Moulin Michel . Built in 1783, this monument dates from the time of the seigneurial regimes and at the time served the seigneury of Gentilly. 250 years later, it has become a meeting place for residents and visitors who travel along the edge of the St. Lawrence River with its outdoor amphitheater and picnic areas.
Their guided tours, given by animators in period costume, allow visitors to visit the mill and watch the working of the milling mechanisms. A perfect activity for the whole family, to end with their delicious buckwheat pancakes.
Blueberries and Co.
To make a change from traditional campsites, we decided to stop for the night at Bleuets et cie . This producer offers pick-your-own berries and allowed us to have an aperitif with a view of the river to end our first day in style.
Domaine Joly de Lotbiniere
We hit the road again early the next morning to meet Madame Hélène at Domaine Joly . A real living museum, this natural site offers hiking trails and access to the unique and intimate river. Their huge gardens filled with gigantic trees and flowers are reminiscent of the royal courtyards of the castles of yesteryear. Whether you want to walk the 10 km of trails while watching birds or take one of their guided tours through their 12 historic buildings, their activities are designed to accommodate the whole family.
Any road trip along the river must be complemented by an outing on the water! We stopped at Berthier-sur-Mer to board one of the Lachance family boats. After more than 175 years of navigating the river, they are true experts of the region and offer tours to Grosse-Île and L'Isle-aux-Grues .
Thanks to the captains and guide, we were able to observe the particular phenomenon of the crossing between salt water and white water in addition to discovering the legends and the history that forged this archipelago. When you return from your cruise, take a trip to Théo BBQ to eat in this beer garden with a view of the river. If you ever feel like staying there to sleep, it is possible to park your van in the parking lot just behind for $25 a night.
Maritime Museum of Quebec
Obviously, the Route des Navigateurs is aptly named. This route on the 132 brings together many elements of Quebec's maritime history, which you can learn more about thanks to passionate and welcoming guides. Arriving in L'Islet, you can visit the Musée Maritime du Québec with its exhibitions which present events and key figures from this "homeland of sailors" . With museum ship tours and immersive experiences, it really is a perfect stop for families.
We took the road to Saint-Jean-Port-Joli to see this magnificent coastal village that runs along the St. Lawrence. While stopping at the Vivoir , we had the chance to meet the wood sculptor André Bourgault who presented his latest work to us. The building combines both an exhibition hall and glass studios that allow you to immerse yourself in the work of the best artists in the region. The place is truly inspiring and allows you to discover a host of local talent. For antique lovers, the flea markets of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli are full of incredible discoveries, you will certainly find a small souvenir to add to your collection.
Bakery Bread…That's all!
At the heart of the Seigneurie des Aulnaies is an artisan bakery that makes breads and pastries with organic, seasonal and local products. Charles, the owner and artisan baker, loves to share his passion and knowledge with visitors on site. You can visit the nearby mill and discover the process of transforming grain into flour and then into bread. Take the opportunity to bring some of their products back with you on the road!
For our second night on a road trip on the Route des Navigateurs, we stopped at the Demi-Lieue campsite to enjoy the shores of the St. Lawrence River. If you are looking for a place to relax after a day full of activities, this is the perfect place to take the time to have dinner with your loved one or with your family. To ensure you have the most beautiful view of the water, choose the sites with 1 or without service at the very bottom on the way to the eel!
Village of Kamouraska
Continuing the road towards the East, a stop is obviously necessary in Kamouraska . The village is really a must on the Route des Navigateurs with its landscapes between sea and mountains. We always take the opportunity to stock up on local products from local artisans and for those who like outdoor climbing, the cliffs with a view of the river are a must to try.
What road trip on the Route des Navigateurs would be complete without seeing some marine animals! In Rivière-du-Loup, the Société Duvetnor offers a host of educational and ecotourism activities to discover the river in all its facets. In addition to navigating with visitors to meet seals, whales or belugas, the society's mission is to educate and preserve the nature and heritage of the islands of the Bas-Saint-Laurent that it visits regularly.
If you wish to stay there for a few days, it is possible to reserve a cabin or a wilderness campground directly on Île aux lièvres. It is the perfect place to get away from the crowds and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the place.
Bic National Park
Located a little before Rimouski, Parc national du Bic is a real jewel of Quebec. Whether you spend the day or even the night there, you will be surrounded by nature with some of the most beautiful Gaspé landscapes. We decided to rent bikes there to ride the trails and get to Pointe aux Épinettes, an experience we recommend to everyone!
Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site
One of our favorite places to stop for a picnic on the Route des Navigateurs is certainly the historic maritime site of Pointe-au-Père . On site, you can visit the Onondaga, the first submarine accessible to the public in Canada. It is an extraordinary experience to be able to cross the control room and discover the daily life of the sailors who once lived there for months.
Finishing our journey in the colorful village of Sainte-Luce-sur-Mer , cooking dinner on the beach, really made us realize how lucky we were to be able to travel such beautiful roads in Quebec. The residents of Centre-du-Québec, Chaudière-Appalaches and Bas-Saint-Laurent are so welcoming that it makes you want to come back again and again. We confirm it to you, the Route des Navigateurs is really an incredible route for your next road trip in Quebec.