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Vive le Nord; A Roadie's Cycling Tour

Vive le Nord; A Roadie's Cycling Tour

Discover this 178 km self-guided smooth road ride celebrating the Francophone history and culture of the West Nipissing and French River area.

The Vive le Nord loop is a 178 km self-guided smooth road ride celebrating the Francophone history and culture of the West Nipissing and French River area. With bridges over tiny inlets, the water is never far from view. Riding along quiet country roads (few cars!) and meadows of corn fields, horses and sunflowers, it’s a place to recharge.

Riding country roads near Cache Bay   Photo: Discovery Routes

Get a strong tailwind, and you can road cycle the first 75 km stretch in a morning. Know that some sections have jagged shoulders so bring a spare tire or patch kit. Or, if you really get stuck, there are multiple bike fixing stations: Noëlville, Sturgeon Falls, St. Charles and Lavigne!  From a cycling perspective, there are a mix of elevations with false flats and sweeping hills.

Cycle around the downtown Sturgeon Falls to see colourful community art murals (over a dozen located on King and Main St). If you want to know more about them, the Balado Découverte tells the stories of each artist and their inspiration.

Colourful Murals in Sturgeon Falls  Photo: Discovery Routes

The ride through Cache Bay is full of thriving farmsteads lush with corn and wheat. Keep an eye out for barns bearing the symbol of a Quilt--it means it’s one of the dozens of barns that make up the Barn Quilt Trail

Further up the road, around some elegant swoopy bends in the road, the town of Lavigne has barbeques in the park, and the largest food selection on the route. Bring your own picnic (coal barbeques) to cook on top of the hill, or, buy local cheese curds, pepperettes and poutine at Chez Courchesne. The Lavigne Tavern serves up local ale.

The famous Lavigne Tavern in Lavigne    Photo: Discovery Routes

Highway 64 meanders alongside the western edge of Lake Nipissing. The quiet highway with wide shoulders traverses beautiful bridges with expansive views of the lake, deciduous forests, as well as boating and fishing life. The lake is renowned for its walleye, pike and bass. Many of the farms and homes still use wood burning fireplaces so expect fresh earthy wafts of wood smoke everywhere you ride.

Secondary highways with little traffic   Photo: Discovery Routes

Mashkinonje Provincial Park is a gorgeous (non-operating), outdoor oasis with 30 km of hiking trails through marshes, bogs, swamps, ferns and ponds spread through giant granite ridges along the West Arm of Lake Nipissing. 

Hiking trails at Mashkinonje Provincial Park at a wonderful stop along the ride   Photo: Discovery Routes

Need to caffeinate or grab a quick bite to eat? Café Caravan in Noëlville is the place for baked goods and homemade soup! CJ’s Pies N More in Warren has tons of sweet and savoury treats baked fresh each day to grab and go.

Caffeinating in Noelville  photo: @TheSpokedTraveller

Visit the Riverview Market in the village of Field to check out local arts and crafts. Refuelling with anything from their menu will have you feeling nothing but ready to get back on your bike and continue your ride through these charming towns. 

The Riv in Sturgeon Falls   Photo: Discovery Routes

Back to the beginning. Sturgeon Falls’ chip stands are also famous. The Globe and Mail newspaper wrote about the healthy rivalry that began with Larry’s, family owned and run since 1953; then came The Riv after the restaurant burnt down (circa 1973) followed by newcomer, Monique’s. Eat pogo sticks and poutine from all three and decide which reigns supreme. 

But the best is saved for the last - Minnehaha Bay Municipal Marina is located on a tiny bay on the Sturgeon River —Twiggs Café is a northern institution is on site and has been roasting beans since 1995. Sitting on the dock of the bay, sipping a fine cup of Joe is a zen way to end this glorious tranquil and unique road ride.

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