Le déchaîné
- Jour 7

Once you’ve done one Grand Tour, you’ll want to do another

If it is true that the human body can remember smells, you will leave Lac Saint-Jean with a lifetime supply of memories of the most amazing smells: the fragrance of the flowers, the scent of the woods, and all the fruity, humid, and earthy aromas that anointed us during Thursday’s ride. From field to forest, it was an unforgettable aromatic journey.

The Véloroute des Bleuets is an absolute gift when it comes to our sense of smell. And then there’s what it can do for the taste buds, as a few of our cyclists discovered when they made a quick stop – well okay, perhaps not that quick a stop – at the very welcoming Microbrasserie de Saint-Gédéon. The monitors had to issue an ultimatum to Brigitte and her friends: they gave them a maximum of 15 minutes (and not a minute longer) for their last round, after which they were able to close the course.

The Grand Tour Desjardins brings together cyclists from all over! About 60 Americans are participating, including Jim, Emily, and Debbie from Minnesota, all three on their first Tour. Before arriving in Chicoutimi, they had no idea where the Saguenay was. At first, they unnecessarily insisted on converting kilometres to miles, but they soon gave that up. They learned a few French phrases during the week: “Arrêtez!” (Stop!), “Allez-y!” (You can do it!), “Bravo” (well, that one’s pretty universal). Even so, Jim would have liked to learn a few more words, if only to express his gratitude, especially during the stop at the microbrewery.

Jim and Laurie from Iowa are on their sixth Grand Tour Desjardins. They have also taken part in 25 RAGBRAIs, a joyfully chaotic gathering of 10,000 cyclists. They came to know about the Grand Tour Desjardins through a mention in their cycling club’s newsletter 19 years ago. The couple has only good things to say about the kindness of the Quebecers they’ve met, who went out of their way to speak to them in English, and about the food and the organization of the event. They enlisted Jack and Carole, also from Iowa, who learned what “à gauche” and “à droite” (to the left and to the right, respectively) mean. Especially à gauche! There were no linguistic worries for this group, especially since the monitors quickly figured out when there was a look of doubt on someone’s face, and translated as needed.
Jim, Laurie, Jack, and Carole are now devoted fans of the crazy DJ from Alma, the inimitable Jello. Maybe he should think about launching a career south of the border…
It’s time to think about heading homeward, first to Chicoutimi and then home. Just a few dozen more kilometres on your bike and then back to your regular life.
Don’t be surprised if in a few days or weeks, you find yourself standing under the shower suddenly remembering one of the tunes that made you want to drop your soap and charge out of the shower trailer on to the dance floor. Or maybe you’ll stand in line when entering your kitchen or consider taking either the regular route or an optional route to the grocery store or the office. You may also find yourself looking for a signal from a monitor while out on a bike path or from a support vehicle a few kilometres from home, or waiting patiently for DJ Jello’s signal before breaking into “O Holy Night” at your next holiday party, or “We are the Champions” on Superbowl Sunday.
Keep calm. It’s completely normal.
Once you’ve done one Grand Tour Desjardins, we know you’ll be back for another!
Your (favourite) reporter is looking forward to seeing you again next year in… Oh, it’s going to be magnificent, the 27th Grand Tour Desjardins in…
You didn’t think I’d tell you where it is going to be held and spoil the surprise, did you? Of course not! I wouldn’t want to disturb you while you bask in your memories of Lac Saint-Jean and the Saguenay.
In the meantime, enjoy those memories and hang on to them while you head in to the last few lazy days of summer. They are more precious than you may think.

L'album photo


When you arrive in Saguenay
Due to the configuration of the site, you will not be able to bring your car to the luggage and bike unloading zones. A valet service will be available if you wish to have your luggage transported ($2 per bag) to your car in the parking area. Thank you for your cooperation.

Optional shuttle from Saguenay to Saint-Lambert
If you reserved an optional return shuttle from Saguenay, Friday, August 9, it is scheduled at 4 p.m. Bring your bike identified and without accessories in the truck provided for transportation from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The trip from Saguenay to Saint-Lambert takes 5 hours (+ break for supper). Have in hand your boarding coupons (for yourself and your bike).

Grand Tour Desjardins Questionnaire
In the coming days, you will be emailed a questionnaire regarding your GTD experience. Please help us serve you better by sending us your comments!

Next event:
Eastern Townships Challenge

Bike between 50 and 150 km on Saturday, September 7, from Bromont, montagne d’expériences. You could win a VIP experience at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde. Find out more at

At Vélo Québec Voyages, summer never ends...
In November-December in Cuba (Holguín or Varadero in Loops)! Consult our travel advisors. To find out more, go to
L'album photo


Regular route (90 km)
At the beginning of the day, you will cross a construction zone where there is gravel on the road. Be careful! On your way to Bégin, you will climb several slopes, cross many blueberry fields and enjoy a quiet road. To reach Jonquière, you will cross the Saguenay River via the aluminum bridge of Arvida, recognized as a heritage building. Built in 1949 and 1950, it is the first bridge in the world built entirely of aluminum.
Ten kilometers before arrival, take 5 minutes to see Petite maison blanche de Saguenay, a must-see attraction that, since the floods of summer 1996, symbolizes the courage, tenacity and determination of the people of Chicoutimi and the surroundings. This little visit will give you a dose of energy to measure yourself on the last hill of your Grand Tour Desjardins. Construction: at km 66, on Saint-Léonard Road, the bridge is under construction. There will be alternating traffic. Be careful! Bathroom stop: at km 25, Labrecque marina; at km 40, at the Bégin Community Center.
Lunch stop, at km 55: at the socio-cultural complex of Saint-Ambroise, the municipality welcomes us for a well-deserved dinner.
Option 1 (- 21 km)
This course is ideal if you want to cut a few kilometers to your day. This shortcut with shoulder on Highway 172, offers an undulating path through the fields and forest.
Option 2 (+ 25 km) Accessible until 10 a.m.
Even if the road is bumpy, you will ride safely through fields and farms. Construction: you will cross 100 meters of dirt road on the Grande-Ligne road.
Option 3 (+ 25 km) Accessible until 2 p.m.
Very nice option in the mountains where you will cross the municipalities of Saint-David-de-Falardeau and Saint-Honoré. After the blueberry fields, you ride in the forest, then finish the optional by a curvy descent of 16% followed by a stop at the bottom of the slope in Chicoutimi. Be careful! Construction: at km 88, construction is in progress. Alternating traffic.


In Alma

Stra-t-gik coffee booth: from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Bistro

INFO Desjardins booth: 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
If you have any question, come see us! 

In Saguenay (Chicoutimi)

INFO Desjardins booth: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
We recover all lost items and return them to their owners!

Thank you!

Preparations for the Grand Tour Desjardins required the participation of the entire Vélo Québec team.

As this year’s event draws to a close, we would like to extend a special thanks to Vélo Québec personnel, the cycling escorts, the medical team’s first-aiders, as well as the team of volunteer drivers along the route. Our valuable collaborators include the massage therapy team, our sports therapist, the QRB mechanics team, the EMC motor cyclist team, the Stra-T-Gik team at the Festidouche and the Bistro, those in charge of the conference entertainment and yoga sessions, photography, as well as the writing and translation of the daily newsletter Le Déchaîné; Marianne St-Gelais.

We would like to thank our partners and associates, mainly Desjardins, our official sponsor, as well as Tourisme Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Les Producteurs de lait du Québec, Le porc du Québec, Amaro, Univins and Brio Optic.

We would also like to acknowledge our public partners, notably the 33 municipalities along our route and the 15 municipalities and establishments that accommodated the lunch stops, rest stops and Villages.

It was a pleasure riding with you this week and we thank you for participating. You have made this GTD a very special event!