West of Chicoutimi, the huge, glacial Lac Saint-Jean is fed by most of the rivers of northeastern Québec and – unusually for an area of the rocky Canadian Shield – is bordered by sandy beaches and a lush, green terrain that has been farmed for over a century. It’s a relatively untouched area with tranquil lakeshore villages linked by Hwy-169, the circular route that offers a unique zoo at Saint-Félicien, the strange sight of Val-Jalbert, Québec’s most accessible ghost town and the picturesque shorelines of Parc national de la Pointe-Taillon.

Better still, the Véloroute des Bleuets connects the lake’s towns and is an increasingly popular option for cyclists from Montréal or Québec who pop their bikes on the train or bus for a three- to five-day tour of the lake. Many come as well for the local cuisine, especially the delicious coarse meat pie called a tourtière and the thick blueberry pie. The itinerary outlined below begins at Alma and heads west around the lake.