how to get to pei from ontario in three easy steps: the road trip

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.

DSC03949DSC03948_1 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.

DSC03951_1DSC03958Happy? 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.

DSC03968_1In the morning, have a swim with a view of a bridge.

DSC03978_1Then get back on that bridge and back on the Route des Navigateures, because you like back roads. That’s where you find charm.

And indeed, you will find charming hamlets with a few buildings each.

DSC03950_1And trees.

DSC03985And a considerable number of tumbling down barns.

Think about doing a series…

DSC03991 DSC03989 DSC03986Then decide against it.

Discover an abandoned building that gives you the creeps.

DSC03992Residential school? Something about it says maybe… Say tiny prayers for who knows who, just in case.

DSC04002_1Do 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.

DSC04008_1Begin to think about lunch.

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.

DSC04027Go 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.

DSC04015_1 DSC04016 DSC04019_1Beach 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!







11 thoughts on “how to get to pei from ontario in three easy steps: the road trip

  1. it brings back memories of my own trip to NB last summer. I just wish I had taken the Navigateurs instead of the 20. Oh the much fun I could’ve had! You’re definitely invited to my next road trip ;-)

    1. Navigating the Navigateure is the trick. There are stretches that are worth it, others that would be a good place to take a side trip, or even get on the 20 and make a little time. My entire goal for that road was to find a patio with a water view… (as it was in NB; you’d think this would be easy, right? ha!)

  2. I love your road trip pictures – looking forward to the next installment!
    And, I am a huge fan of falling down buildings. My kids think I’m weird, but I like to imagine what they used to be like and who lived in them. Very Anne-like. :)

    1. Me too, I could easily park myself in front of an abandoned house for hours and conjure up all sorts of images of people coming and going through the front door in all seasons and weather… bearing gifts or casseroles… babies coming home for the first time, pets looking out windows, the aunt and uncle from North Bay you hope don’t stay too long and their big dumb yellow Oldsmobile parked in the driveway… We’re kindred spirits! (:

  3. Love the falling down barns and the view from the dreamy hotel. And your travelogues. I’m reminded of Chicago. You’re invited to my next road trip, too.

  4. Hilarious! Makes me almost wish you continue to have mishaps. Ah… not really.
    You took the #132 to avoid the ugly #20. If you ever take it again (which I somehow doubt), take the side roads off it for the charming hamlets. Hamlet inhabitants eschew living on “the highway”. All a question of perspective.

    1. Oh but I will take it again! I loved Kamouraska. Went there on my way back so it comes up in Part Three. (:
      But what we’ll do next trip (to Kamouraska!), is allow more time for just what you say, getting off the beaten track. But this first trip… I wouldn’t have been happy anywhere except on a patio on the water. It was in my head. Really a wee miracle that it appeared out of nowhere the way it did. And at that point I couldn’t have cared less about the food. This was my first view of the St. Lawrence up close. Magnificent all that mud; the tides must be enormous.

  5. You’re right, of course. What was I thinking? The #132 is the very highway that we take to get to our place. It’s the stretch between Mtl and Quebec City via Trois Rivieres that’s sad-ass. Whereas Kamouraska…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s