Like last year, we again tested the metro-bus formula from Montreal to get to the starting point of the circuit, in Laval-Ouest. The operation went like a charm, especially since cyclists are now welcome in the metro at all times, except during major events in the city, until August 20. As for Laval buses, they are all equipped with a rack for two bicycles that can be deployed easily. Thus, we spare ourselves large urban segments that are not always pink and we keep our energy for the essentials. So here we are dropped off, all fresh, at the foot of our first stage, to stock up on food.

There are signs that don’t lie: to see the twenty sheep grazing in a vast field, you know that the farmer’s market of the Agneaux de Laval is close. In fact, a hundred sheep are raised in these places, just as many laying hens, on the sidelines of barley and soybean crops. The owner, Donald Beaulieu, is also very attentive to the quality of the food for his animals, organic, and eco-responsible practices. We find the fruit of these efforts in a nice shop, with farm or local products, some being cooked on site.

The great novelty of the year is the installation of three isolated pavilions in the nearby fields where you can be served a choice of four pretty picnic menus. “We wanted to offer a relaxing environment, especially for urban customers, good products and an affordable price,” said Mr. Beaulieu and his daughter Catherine. The gazebos can accommodate up to 15 people, lunch or dinner, who can take their time and stay for several hours if they wish. After an egg and bacon sandwich, tasty salads, onion confit and a delicious chocolate mousse, here we are with a full stomach for the afternoon.

We won’t be pedaling very long, since a few hundred meters away, we stop at the foot of Serres Cléroux, the largest producer of annual flowers in the province. The places are gigantic, like a plant maze teeming with hundreds of varieties of tropical and local plants, including autumn chrysanthemums and poinsettias, in season. In total, the greenhouses cover one million square feet, part of which is at Mirabel. Those welcoming customers are dizzying and have nothing to envy to the botanical gardens of this world. What sells the most? “Rieger begonias, New Guinea impatiens, cannas, hanging geraniums, among others,” says assistant manager Stéphane Carrière. If we have space in our bicycle baskets, we catch a small plant on the way, or we promise to come back later to choose a beautiful specimen.

After a short stretch of road through quiet residential areas, you come to the beach of the Berge aux Quatre-Vents, recently laid out over a kilometer and a half. On hot days, the atmosphere is at its best! Bathing, supervised, is now authorized there until August 28, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dip and towel have never been so welcome.

At the entrance to the premises, a strange trunk welcomes you: it is a wood sculpture made on a dead ash tree, the work of Serge Roy and Richard Lamothe, two volunteers who combined their skills in 2019 to represent a interlacing of motifs from all horizons in relief. The latter was present on site to present the work to us: “We find everything there, a king who has become Neptune, Buddha, Maya, a Freemason symbol, with, at the top, our latest addition, an androgyne”, he details. There are also two carved benches, one of which depicts Quetzalcóatl, the “feathered serpent” god of Mesoamerica. Poetic!

After soaking up the sun, you can go get some shade at Orée-des-Bois, a few kilometers to the northeast, a natural area with a mesh of woods and wetlands, overlooking the Rivière des Mille Îles. .

We go back down to the south to reach the hundred-year-old Marineau farm, one of the oldest in Laval. Managed by Louis and his family, it offers a host of activities, in addition to U-pick (strawberries, blueberries, pumpkins and more), such as games for children, picnic tables, a shop… This summer, the owners inaugurate a festival in a convivial area under a country marquee with singers, and a vast maze mixed corn-sunflowers dotted with enigmas of agroglyphs (crop circles) to solve. “We’re the only ones with this type of maze,” says owner Louis Marineau. We also find our floral common thread with the possibility of picking dahlias, immortelles, delphiniums, sunflowers of various colors, statices and many others, with instructions for constituting a dried bouquet.

For sugar lovers, stop at the creamery truck set up on site by Roxanne and her cousin Matis Marineau, offering gelatos, sorbets, soft drinks and slush, which include farm berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, haskaps). “We bought a food truck and repainted it in our colors,” explains Roxanne, Louis’ niece. We consulted a lot of people for the manufacturing method, including Mario, an Italian gentleman who knows it perfectly and recommended a machine imported from Italy. “It’s the best ice cream…um…in Canada,” his uncle Louis mischievously exaggerates. We melted for the gelatos and sorbets, as well as “The Sailboat”, a composition with two Tahitian vanilla soft drinks, a raspberry sorbet with coulis, supported by a slice of cake and topped with red berries. Yum !

A little further south, everything, everything, everything, you will know everything about one of the most beautiful flowers in the world, stopping off at Orchid Paradise, where greenhouses harbor 30,000 specimens and hundreds of varieties with colors and amazing shapes. The owner, Laurent Leblond, a fervent defender of biological control production (we use predators to reduce the presence of pests), is inexhaustible about these lovely plants. “With some plants, after a while, you don’t learn much. But with orchids, there is always something to learn. There is also this specificity: sometimes, for a specific species, a single insect or bird will pollinate it,” he explains, showing us, for example, an orchid from Madagascar whose only ally is a specific moth. Nature at its best!

Our route ends at Rivière-des-Mille-Îles Park, which will require a good half-hour of slightly more urban pedaling, until you reach the largest protected wildlife area in the greater metropolitan area. You can treat yourself to a break and a coffee before swapping your bike for a kayak, a paddle board or a canoe and embarking on new navigation adventures, following self-guided circuits or hiking trails. The sanctuary is home to two-thirds of Quebec’s vertebrate fauna, as well as 92 species at risk or at risk. It is almost with regret that we head to the Montmorency station to complete the loop of this flowery circuit, back to pure and hard urbanity.