Step One: get to Trois Rivieres, Quebec.
En route, embrace the OnRoute rest stops, which, by the way, are not for resting. They’re for walking, dancing, jumping about; anything that gets you moving. You don’t need to rest, you’ve been sitting in a car. What you need to do is use the loo.
Also, buy some chips and stroll over to the picnic area. Every OnRoute has one. Not everyone knows this. You’re welcome.
Or keep the chips to eat in Trois Rivieres or, better still, eat them in New Brunswick as you drive the Fundy shore where they will cause you to have an argument with your travel companion, thus stopping the car in a snit at what turns out to be the most extraordinary beach ever.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Did you have the foresight to bring chalk? No? Then hopscotch is out. Just get back in the car. Break time’s over.
Actually, no, it’s lunch. So stop at Kingston because that’s where Pan Chancho’s patio is.
Now put your happy full belly behind the wheel and drive right past Montreal. (That’s is a whole separate trip. Do NOT try and squish it in.)
Instead, go directly to Trois Rivieres. And no, you do NOT want to trundle along Hwy #132, aka Route des Navigateures and take a chance on finding the perfect little place to spend the night. Trust me. You don’t.
Because if you do it will be very late by the time you get anywhere.
Happy? I told you not to take the Navigateures. But did you listen, or did you just have to see for yourself that without a reservation there is nothing on the 132 that is a) available, b) reasonably priced, or c) not weird.
So, across the bridge in the dark to Trois Rivieres. Check into the first hotel you see and ask at the desk where you can have dinner (because the hotel kitchen has closed for the night) and be extremely grateful to be directed to a screened outdoor patio with excellent food. Have a glass of wine. Have two. Who cares that you’re eating dinner at 10 p.m. You’re cosmopolitan now. You’re in la belle province where only the pets eat at 7.
And indeed, you will find charming hamlets with a few buildings each.
Think about doing a series…
Discover an abandoned building that gives you the creeps.
Do NOT take a side trip to Levis, thinking you will find the Tourist Info office and ask what other wonders are not to be missed along this stretch of bucolic roadway. You will only spend over an hour in construction and on one-way streets going the wrong way only to find the Tourist Info office is closed. Ferme. Moved. No one knows where to. Maybe it’s vamooosed entirely. I don’t care. Let’s get the hell out of Levis.
Ignore the gnawing suspicion that because you have so far seen diddly squat in the way of eating establishments on the Route des Navigateures, that there is probably diddly squat in that department. Refuse every instinct toward sanity and the main highway, the 20. Instead, insist there must be a place on the water… a bistro, with music and wandering Mexican minstrels.
By now it’s the cosmopolitan lunch hour of 3:30 p.m.
Before you give in to a burger from a gas station, glance up the road a bit at a place that looks closed.
Go there and walk around back and knock on the falling off screen door and discover that the place is, in fact, open. Shout allo! to get the attention of the guy who is checking his phone while very bad music plays too loudly. Double check that the place is indeed open and don’t bother trying to explain (especially in French) why you are un petit peu surprised to hear the answer is mais oui, just be happy there’s a patio overlooking the St. Lawrence and order a chicken caesar because apart from the fact that the service sucks and the food is awful, this is pretty much the sort of place you’ve been hoping to find all the way along des Navigateures.
Beach walk and briny air clears your senses and you finally get on the main highway where you make the rest of the short drive to Riviere du Loup—a four hour jaunt which so far has only taken you all day.
In Riviere du Loup, thanks to a friend, you have the name of a dreamy hotel.
Enjoy the view.
Then get some Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Next up: what’s with all the white houses? aka… hello, New Brunswick!