Biking – and Eating – Around Hazlenut Island
L'Isle-aux-Coudres – Hazlenut Island – is in the St. Lawrence river in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, Canada. Explorer Jacques Cartier named the place in recognition of the nut trees growing there. You can reach the island on a free ferry from the mainland; it takes about 15 minutes. Summertime weather is brief, so when it’s warm, islanders are outside, sitting on their front lawns, running or biking. Biking this island is, indeed, an excellent way to get a sense for the place – and the place to rent your bikes is Vélo-Coudres (they have many styles – singles, tandems, surreys – some motorized). Biking the approximately 25-kilometer island-encircling road takes around three hours, depending upon how often you stop, and there are some excellent places to stop. Boulangerie Bouchard makes bread, meat pies and other baked goods using island-grown wheat (carbo-load here!). At the island’s old mill, buy local grains, ground and ready to use (we brought home a kilo of sarassin, a local buckwheat that went into excellent crepes). The Pedneault ciderie serves up some very fine, food-friendly apple cider; relatively low-alcohol and subtly flavored, it can be a refreshing end to your bike tour. Experienced bikers may not feel the need to stop – there is so much natural beauty, your eyes may be so satisfied you won’t think too much about your stomach – but a bike tour of L'Isle-aux-Coudres can definitely prove good exercise for legs and belly.
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