Even though we are from Canada, since we started travelling we have spent most of our time running south. I think we took for granted the place we came from, maybe it felt less exciting or too familiar, whatever the reason we haven’t dedicated much time at all to exploring this place. Late last summer we were invited by Julien from Go-Van to do a road trip through the Saguenay region of Quebec, a part of the country we had never been to or even registered as a place we’d ever visit.
We had just spent the last few months in our trailer and had gotten pretty used to the space, we had never travelled in a van before. Julien offered us his van for the trip and damnnnnn this thing was NICE. We had never considered a van as an option for ourselves (and don’t get me wrong, we love our trailer) but this thing was serious luxury compared to what we were used to and aside from hitting a basketball hoop within the first hour of driving it, it was pretty smooth sailing (sorry Julien).
The plan was to drive around Saguenay and meet up with a few local contacts and see what shook out. We got absolutely spoiled, this region was full of amazing people and places and everyone was so warm and excited to share the special things they knew about. Sometimes on the road we encounter some serious “locals-only” vibes but this was the exact opposite. Everyone was so proud of this place, and for good reason, it was stunning and felt untouched by mass tourism. We met a man named Alain that ran a local restaurant and after eating with him and trying his homemade maple syrup he had us ripping down the road in the back of his truck on the way to a look out point. These are the kinda things we live for on the road, on the fly excursions with someone who knows a great spot that you might not be able to find on your own. The same thing happened again when we met the owner of a local brewery, we stopped in for some drinks and next thing you know we’re running through his fields and visiting his family farm, getting a behind the scenes tour of this whole operation. He told us about the Veloroute des Bleutes, which was a super long bike path (256 km or 159 miles for the rest of ya) that cruises through multiple towns around Lac-Saint-Jean with crazy views and beaches along the way. The brewery owner had just done a multi day trip on the path with his family but told us about some sections that you could do if you weren’t up to committing to the whole dang thing. We aren’t exactly expert cyclists so this was perfect for us, and we spent the next day biking along the path stopping about every 10 feet to get a photo of the views. This was a reoccurring theme throughout our time in Saguenay, meet someone, and hear about something we just had to see then having our minds absolutely blown by the experience. The region was so beautiful and even without any local input we probably would have found the hiking routes we did and a bunch of other stuff but hearing from others and seeing how excited they were to share their home with you made everything infinitely better.
Julien and the whole crew from Go-Van had a bunch of other insane stuff lined up for us; a hike to a giant Virgin Mary statue overlooking the water, kayaking in the fjord and even a climb up a damn cliffside where we were in charge of keeping our bodies attached to the side via carabiner (in these situations I actually prefer to have my life in someone else's hands but we made it). Jill accidentally tossed her phone off a cliff but our guide was real nice about getting it back (again everyone out there is so nice).
Our time in Saguenay was incredible, it makes me think that maybe we are blowing it and there are secret gems like this everywhere in Canada that need to be seen and shared and we've been too busy romanticizing other places to spend anytime in our own backyard. Or maybe this place is just that special and we should consider ourselves so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time there. Either way, this was one of the most amazing places we hadn't heard of and are so grateful to now know.
Special thanks to Julien, the crew from Obvious C and Quebec Original <3