Ever since I moved to Montreal, I’ve been trying to make the most of this beautiful summer. So, last weekend, Robin and I decided to explore the west of Montreal with Navette Nature. This fabulous day trip took us to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal and the Parc Nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques, both beautiful natural areas located only one hour drive from the city center of Montreal. In fact, for less than $10 per person, we got to enjoy a hassle-free day trip to nature, which was exactly what we were looking for. Below, I relate our experience of exploring the west of Montreal with Navette nature, including things to do, and how to book the Navette Nature.
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About Navette Nature
Navette Nature is a shuttle bus service that takes you from Montreal to… nature! The shuttle bus, actually a school bus, picks you up in town (Peel Street) in the morning, and takes you to a national park or natural area in the region. It takes you back to Montreal at the end of the afternoon. You are free to do whatever you want during the day, there is no guide with you. Navette Nature only offers transport service.
Navette Nature offers rides to several destinations around Montreal, mostly national parks. The most popular destinations include Mont Tremblant, Oka National Park and the west of Montreal. Their prices are affordable, and honestly, it’s a great option for you if you’re visiting Montreal without a car and would like to take a day trip.
In this post, I’m talking about visiting the west of Montreal with Navette Nature, which costs only $8 per adult ($4 per child). It’s a fantastic opportunity to spend a day away from the city center for less than $10!
Interested? Bookings are mandatory when you take the Navette Nature. Click here to book the Navette Nature.
A day trip to the west of Montreal with Navette Nature
When visiting the west of Montreal with Navette Nature, you have to choose one or two destinations among the three suggested. The destinations are the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue canal, the Ecomuseum Zoo, and the Parc Nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques.
We chose to visit the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue canal in the morning, and the Parc Nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques in the afternoon.
The Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue canal is located west of Montreal and is a national historic site of Canada. Linking Lake Saint Louis and Lake of the Two Mountains, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is the perfect place for a relaxing day trip from Montreal. It is quite a small town, but there is enough to do for 3-4 hours.
There are always many festivals in and around Montreal, so when we went to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, the Garlic Festival was on. We enjoyed looking at the stands and tasting the food at the small market. Then, we decided to go for a walk around the village and browsed the shops on St Anne Street. There aren’t many but we were really impressed by the beautiful three-story store called G D’aoust & Cie. You could easily spend an hour in there! Also, if you’re a hippie at heart, visit La Turquoise, a store with many bohemian outfits, buddhas, and good vibes.
Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is the second busiest canal and locks in Quebec. With its boardwalks, many restaurants and cafes, the place attracts thousands of visitors each year. In fact, taking a stroll along the canal is the main activity in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. Here, you can look at the boats cruising along, enjoy your lunch, or sit on a bench and simply relax by the water.
There are many restaurants facing the beautiful canal, so you’ll find a place to grab lunch easily. In fact, I recommend checking out Ole Tapas for some amazing Spanish food, or Stoolies Coffee House, an eclectic restaurant with a very versatile menu.
After enjoying our time in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, the bus picked us up at 1:30pm and took us to the Parc Nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques. The drive is actually really scenic, as you go through beautiful countryside, and get to see fabulous houses. Honestly, you get to see stunning castle-like mansions on the way to the park.
Parc Nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques
With over 300 hectares of natural habitat, Parc Nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques is the biggest parc of Montreal. It was our second destination for the day, and we spent the whole afternoon exploring this fantastic area. Entry to the park is free unless you are going to the beach area. In this case, the entry fee is $5 per person.
When we first arrived, we decided to head to the beach. Obviously, the beach is by the lake so the water is pretty cold but there weren’t many people there so it was really enjoyable. The beach is quite big, clean and there are lifeguards to keep you safe. It’s a great place to spend a day out with your friends and family.
The parc is quite big, so if you don’t fancy lying on the beach all day, you can hike one of the many trails there. Here is a map of the park where you can see the trails.
We followed the red dotted trail up to the belvédère du havre aux tortues and followed the loop back to the beach. It took us around 45 minutes, and it was a really enjoyable walk in the middle of nature. In fact, we didn’t see a single person on this trail.
Belvédère du havre aux tortues
The belvédère du havre aux tortues (Turtle Haven) is located only 15 minutes walk from the beach. Follow the red dotted trail, which is a red rabbit on the signs, and you’ll end up to a small boardwalk with view on the lake. Here, you can see turtles if you’re lucky. We didn’t have to wait long before seeing a couple of turtles in the water. You can spot them when they go to the surface to breathe.
After our hike, we decided to head to Château Gohier. Built in 1916, the castle is located only a short walk from the beach. Château Gohier was initially built by the mayor of Saint Laurent but is now home to a restaurant. It’s a very well-maintained castle located right in the middle of the woods. You can take beautiful photographs and admire the outside of the building, which is gorgeous. If you go behind the castle, you’ll find tables and benches where you can sit and relax by the lake. You can also spot many birds and butterflies there.
We headed back to the bus stop at 4pm and the shuttle service brought us back to Montreal in one and a half hours. Overall, we really enjoyed our experience in the west of Montreal with Navette Nature, and we would recommend it to anyone looking for a cheap day trip from Montreal. In fact, we are planning to use the Navette Nature again to visit some of the national parks this fall.
Exploring the west of Montreal with Navette Nature was a great experience. And if you’re looking for a low-cost day trip to get away from the hustle of the city, I definitely recommend booking a trip with them. Have you ever been west of Montreal? Let me know in the comments below!
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