In September 2013 Barbara and I made a short bicycle tour from northern Vermont to Montreal. We enjoyed cycling two days from North Hero, four days in the city, and two days cycling back.

The Ride North

On September 19, we drove in the morning to Frank Driscoll's home on North Hero and left our car there. We were on the bikes and on our way before 11:00 a.m., and we entered Quebec around noon.

Our plan was to cycle only as far as St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, about 40 miles from the North Hero. In the event, even with a late start, we could have gone farther because the cycling was so easy and pleasant, but we already had a reservation for the night. Living in Vermont for so long, I've learned never to say that a ride is "flat," but this was as close to it as I've ever experienced, never having been to Nebraska on a bike. It was a beautiful day.

Easy cycling through flat countryside!

In St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, our reservation was at L'Auberge Harris, where many of the Vermontrealer cyclists stop on that group ride — but it wasn't much more than a big motel. What distinguishes it is the wonderful staff and the special welcome they give to cyclists. Still...

Auberge Harris Even though it says "Auberge," it's still a motel.   

The first half of the second day's ride was mostly along a cycle path beside the Chambly Canal, which parallels the Richelieu River. At the town of Chambly -- a very attractive place -- the Route Verte continues on quiet roads and then cycle paths resume before Montreal.

Alongside the Chambly Canal
An old bridge, now no longer used  
In Chambly The Route Verte leaves bike path for a while.  

Approaching Montreal, we cycled by a park in St. Hubert. It was a beautiful spot. But from then on, we were often lost -- or thought we might be. We were heading for Longeuill, a suburb directly across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal. The trouble is, the closer we got to the city, the more bike paths there were. In fact, Montreal seems to be such a bike-friendly area that there is an embarrassment of bike paths, and we could get lost without ever having to ride on a busy street!

Above and below: Cycle paths near the park in St. Hubert 


How amazing is this part of the cycle path?

We stopped friendly cyclists and asked for directions. Not everyone spoke English, but that didn't stop many people from trying to help us. We finally met a cheerful woman whose English and knowledge of the bike paths were both excellent.

A friendly cyclist who gave us directions

After finding our way to a meeting place at last, we had time for a break before our Warm Showers host met us and led us to his home. Our first hosts in Montreal were Pierre Lacerte and his girlfriend Paule Baril. We regret terribly that we failed to take photos of Pierre and Paule. They were hospitable, superb cooks, and their home was lovely -- especially their back garden, which was an idyllic world to itself.

Into the City

The next day, our main expedition was cycling into downtown Montreal. It was quite an adventure for people like us who don't know the city! First along a bike path beside the St. Lawrence and over the Victoria Bridge to Île Notre Dame, then to Île St.-Hélene, another bridge to Cite du Havre, across the Canal Lachine, and finally into Old Montreal.

In all, we rode in and out of Montreal three days in a row. On the first two days, the weather was either cloudy, cold, rainy, or all three at once. Our third day was much better. The photos below are taken from all three days.

Riding into town with next Warm Showers hosts -- Claude Lefrançois and Gilles Sabourin

One of the bike paths on Île St. Hélene

The geodesic dome is the Biosphere Museum on Île St. Hélene,
formerly the U.S. Pavillion at the 1967 World's Fair Expo

Held up by a freighter at a drawbridge
over the seaway

Habitat '67, built around the time of the World's Fair, on the way to Old Montreal

Montreal skyline

In Old Montreal. Many of the loaner bikes are out, even on a cloudy, chilly day. Super bike-friendly, Montreal has special traffic lights for cyclists.


Montreal City Hall and, on left, detail of stained glass inside

A pocket park in Old Montreal

Left, a specialty shop. No further comment. Right, Marché Bonsecours is the building with the dome.

After finally arriving in Old Montreal the first day, we cycled to Marché Bonsecours to see an exhibit of prizewinning photojournalism. It was impressive but also depressing. Count on photojournalists to create vivid images of the most tragic places in this sad old world!

Then it was off to the main event of the day -- the exhibit of work by the glass artist Chihuly at the Beaux Arts Museum.