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One of the best ways to experience Quebec is a road trip. Simply hop in a car and take a stunning drive through winding roads, sloping mountains and alongside beautiful lakes and rivers. This way, you get to see things ay eye level, you’re free to stop and explore, and you decide your own pace.
I’ve always loved road trips, big or small. I’ve driven from Toronto to Calgary and back, from Halifax to Montreal and around Cape Breton Island.
Now, I’m desperate to start exploring La Belle Province while I still live here. I wanted to know what the best road trips were to take around Quebec, whether they were near or far, short or long.
I came across countless tourist routes, and these are the ones that I think can’t be missed if you’re planning to take in the fall foliage this season.
Fall is an ideal time for a road trip because of the temperature, but also because you’ll want to try and get to other regions, sometimes far from where you live, if they’ve peaked already or are about to peak.
Wondering when and where you should take your fall roadie to maximize on those mesmerizing colours? This map will show you exactly.
Length: 278 kilometres
Take route 148 along the Ottawa river all the way from Gatineau to Pontiac. Then, follow the Gatineau River up to the Collines-de-l’Outaouais where you can immerse yourself in the quaint villages that are full of history and culture.
AKA: Border Route
Length: 95 km
This route actually runs along the border of Maine and New Brunswick and provides little history lessons along the way that explain key moment in history for this border territory. Start at the edge of the St. Lawrence in Saint-André and travel along Route 289 down to Rivère-Bleue, where charming towns are engulfed in the natural beauty of the region.
AKA: Path of the Soil
Length: 226 km
Foodies, this is the piste pour vous. There is so much agricultural awesomeness to try in Quebec and this route leads you from the tip of Oka to the top of Saint-Jérome, showing off every winery, cidery, resto, bistro, microbrewery – you name it, or eat it, it’s on this amazing fall drive.
Length: 163 km
Really get off the beaten path and come to appreciate a community that is living and thriving amongst some of the most impressive forests in the province, where maple syrup flows and rolling hills lead to you to the shores of Lac-Témiscouata, Sainte-Luce-sur-Mer and stunning fall foliage.
AKA: The Countryman’s Tour
Length: 194 kilometres
Surrounded by the Adirondacks, see, taste and experience some of the best local produce Southern Quebec has to offer on this epic drive along Rivière Richelieu and Lac Saint-François in southwestern Québec. Want to pick-your-own anything? This is the drive for you.
Le Chemin du Roy
AKA: The King’s Road
Length: 260 km
This historic road was first opened to traffic in 1737 and travels past the adorable homes in Cap-Santé, the tranquility of Lac St-Pierre, and endless epic churches.
Jardins célestes du Témiscouata
Since 2005, various municipalities have come together to create breathtaking botanical gardens, with the first theme being the different planets of the solar system. Plus… there’s also that huge garden called Parc nationale Lac-Témiscouata, right smack in the middle of the route. Nice.
La Route de la Nouvelle-France
AKA: New France Route
Where: Québec City and surrounding area
Length: 57 km
Head up from Québec City towards Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, with the Saint Lawrence and views of the Île-d’Olréans on your right. Old Norman homes dot the Beaupré coast along with historic churches, homesteads, and lively farmers markets.
La Route du Richelieu
Length: 265 km
History buffs, this is the drive for you! Explore villages and landmarks that make up historical fabric of the region. If you want to do the whole thing, be sure to bring your passport, as this route is the first official cross-border tourist route that you can take between Quebec and New York State!
La Route des Sommets
Where: Eastern Townships
Length: 193 km
Bounce around the Eastern Townships, seeing the tallest mountains in southern Quebec, forests painted in the colours of fall, dazzling lakes, and adorable communities along the way. If you decide to stick around til late (or just spend a night in Scotstown), you can take in the stars at the worlds very first Dark Sky Reserve at Parc national du Mont-Mégantic.
La Route du Fjord
Where: Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Manicouagan
Length: 253 km
Cruise around the Saguenay fjord, the only fjord in North American to be inhabited on both shores, it’s fully navigable and one of the longest in the world.
Route du Fleuve
AKA: St. Lawrence Route
Length: 78 km
Explore Charlevoix and travel the St. Lawrence River from Baie-Saint-Paul to La Malbaie, through Les Éboulements and Saint-Irénée. Colourful homes, antique shops, eastern charm and endless adventure await in the stunning region northeast of Québec City.
La Route des Vins
AKA: The Wine Route
Where: Eastern Townships
Length: 165 km
Explore up to four road trips around 20 vineyards (and restos) in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, which lay little more than an hour from Montreal. All of the routes are suggested to take two days,
Route des Navigateurs
AKA: The Navigator’s Route
Where: Bas-Saint-Laurent, Centre-du-Québec, Chaudière-Appalaches
Length: 470 km
Follow the river along Route 132 along moutains and fields, meeting locals and being constantly blown away by the scenery. Climb a lighthouse, hop on a boat, rent a sea kayak and become a local maritimer. Why the hell not?!
Chemin des Cantons
AKA: The Townships Trail
Where: The Eastern Townships
Length: 430 kilometres
Top of the list has to be the Fall Colour Route through the Eastern Townships on the Townships Trail. Drive through Bromont, past Mont Orford and Bishop’s University, along Lac Memphremagog, and into Sherbrooke, the full experience of Les Cantons de L’est
The Whale Route
Where: Manicouagan, Duplessis
Length: 880 km
Travel route 138, which is actually named after the 13 species of whale found here in summer… including Great Blue Whales. Sweet. In the fall you can still appreciate the awe-inspiring eastern coast of Quebec.
Route des Montagnes
AKA: Mountain Road
Length: 121 km
Okay, this one you’re really going to have to get out of the car to fully appreciate… I mean, it is the Route des Montagnes, after all! Plan to at least go on one hike while you’re out here in wonderful Charlevoix, either in the Grands-Jardins or the Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière. Plus, down on the ground, you’ll experience quaint villages and stunning coastal views along the edge of the St. Lawrence.