Friday, July 13, 2007

The New York Times visits Le P'tit Train du Nord

The New York Times newspaper has a travel feature today on a three-day cycling trip on the Laurentian's bike path Le P'Tit Train du Nord. The piece was written by Julia Lawlor.

The P'Tit Train du Nord is a 200 kilometre long "rail-to-trail" bike path through the Laurentian mountains just north of Montreal. This is a very scenic bike trail. And with it's 200 km length, it is almost purpose-built for a two or three day leisurely ride. Overnights are at trailside B&Bs and there are transportation services to move your luggage from place to place. There is no suffering involved!

Ms Lawlor seems to like it:
...the scenery was glorious. We rolled past lumber mills, cows grazing in pastures, houses with steeply pitched metal roofs, meadows sidling up against the eroded peaks of the Laurentians to the east. An electric blue lake seemed to greet us around every other corner. Kayakers dipped their paddles into the whitewater of rivers as people picnicked along the banks. A procession of wildflowers — white, yellow, purple — lined both sides of the path. The dazzling sunlight was periodically broken by a cooling stretch of pungent pine forest, a reminder that this was the north country.

... Each station has been renovated, some with restaurants attached. One, in Labelle, has a small museum and a bed-and-breakfast. Part of the trail is paved in asphalt; the remainder is packed earth ("rock-dust"). Between stations are well-maintained dry pit toilets in small wooden sheds.

...At 6 p.m., after 36 miles of riding, we jumped off our bikes at our first B&B, Villa Bellerive, on the shore of beautiful Lac Nominingue. Our bags were sitting in the lobby. Later that night, over rabbit in dijonnaise sauce and raspberry-chocolate cake in the inn’s dining room, we watched the sun set over the lake.

...I realized that I might never find another trail as perfect as this. Unless, of course, it is all downhill.


THE Laurentians tourism office (450-224-7007) provides information and maps of the P’tit Train du Nord and will help you organize your trip and make reservations at bed-and-breakfasts. You can also find information and maps of the trail at (click on “Linear Parks”).

Transport du Parc Linéaire Le P’tit Train du Nord in St.-Jérôme (450-569-5596; charges 40 Canadian dollars a person (about $37 at 1.07 Canadian dollars to the U.S. dollar) for the trip from St.-Jérôme to Mont-Laurier. Luggage transport costs 12 dollars daily per piece. The company also sells trail passes — 5 Canadian dollars for a day or 15 dollars for a season — and will arrange for bicycle rentals (56 Canadian dollars for three days for a hybrid).

Villa Bellerive (1596 Chemin Bellerive-sur-le-Lac, Nominingue; 819-278-3802; has rooms for two at 80 to 140 dollars, not including meals. With breakfast and dinner, rooms are 138 to 198 Canadian dollars for two.

Gite La Bonne Adresse (1196 Rue de la Pisciculture, St.-Faustin-Lac-Carre; 819-688-6422; has double rooms from 100 to 125 Canadian dollars, including breakfast.


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