La Côte d’Azure à la Gatineau

The Côte d’Azure, or French Riviera, is a beautiful hilly region overlooking the Mediterranean sea. There is an area of La Ville de Gatineau with streets named after popular spots along the Côte d’Azure (Rue de Cannes, Rue de Monte Carlo, Rue de Roquebrune, etc). It’s hilly too, and looks out over its own body of water, the Gatineau River. That’s where the similarities end. It’s a fine residential area of Gatineau to bike through. You can do a little bit of switch back climbing while taking in a few interesting house designs.

To get there I biked along Boulevard St Joseph, which isn’t too bad at 6:30 am, but I suggest the much more pleasant route hi-lited in green. Mostly along bike paths, it follows Boulevard de la Carriere for a bit, as a section of the Gatineau River Pathway is closed this summer for rapid transit construction.

Here’s an interesting house I spotted on the Gatineau Riviera.

Try to find the front door...
Try to spot the front door…

I followed this short path at the top of the hill through Parc Saint-Exupéry, named after the author of Le Petit Prince.

Parc Saint-Exupéry
Parc Saint-Exupéry

Here’s another interesting house looking out across to the Gatineau hills.

House along the Gatineau Riviera
House along the Gatineau Riviera

The path along the Ottawa River just west of the Lady Aberdeen Bridge is partially flooded out, but there’s a beaten path you can follow to get around it. The rest is clear sailing.

Spring flooding
Spring flooding

Riding along the Ruisseau-de-la-brasserie Pathway on a David Jackson Sound Cloud

David Jackson is an amazing multi-faceted local musician and one of the founding members of the Northern Sound Electrical System, ‘an open member project whose purpose is to explore the fringes of drone, electronics, noise and sound through guitars, software, percussion, field recordings, and whatever else anyone wants to bring to the show.’ David posted a great recording of one of their performances at Le Temporaire in Gatineau earlier this year. I had the urge to explore the pathway along the Ruisseau-de-la-brasserie located close to Le Temporaire, while listening to the recorded session, so as the sun came up I set my iPhone SoundCloud app to David C Jackson, North Sound Electrical System Live at Le Temporaire, and headed off. It was incredible. UPDATE Summer 2018: It is now illegal to wear headphones while biking in Québec.

Here’s the route, and some photos taken along the way.

Rue Montcalm bridge
Rue Montcalm bridge

The path dips under a number of major bridges with lots of commuter traffic, the sounds of which lend themselves well to the recording.

Under Autoroute de la Gatineau
Under Autoroute de la Gatineau

The path splits just beyond Autoroute de la Gatineau. Left continues along the Ruisseau de la Brasserie Pathway towards Leamy Lake, but it’s worth continuing along the right hand path for a bit, at least as far as the bridges that connect the two autoroutes. Here’s some of what what you’ll see.

Under the autoroute connectors
Under the autoroute connectors

There are two great interpretive exhibits on the shores of Leamy Lake that delve into the history of the area. Conflict of interest warning – Carla designed them.

Leamy Lake interpretive display
Leamy Lake interpretive display

If the breeze is up you can feel the coolness of the melting ice off the lake, as was the case at this spot along the shore.

Leamy Lake
Leamy Lake

Rich Little Drive

Rich Little is an Ottawa born impersonator who made it big on American TV in the 60’s and 70’s. He now lives in Vegas where he has been performing in his one man play Jimmy Stewart & Friends. There’s a street named in his honour close to the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club so I went for a ride and checked it out. Blue line is how I got there, green is my route back, orange hi-lites are sections that are a bit treacherous to bike along.

Riverside Drive south of Walkley has raised paved shoulders separate from the sidewalk, like so.

Raised paved shoulder along Riverside Drive
Raised Paved Shoulders, or Bike Path Wannabes

There are sections where these paved shoulders disappear, as I’ve hi-lited in orange on the above map. These are Biker Beware zones, i.e. four lanes, fast cars, and minimal shoulder space.

Rich Little Drive is a pleasant little street, lined with houses all very generous in proportion to their lots. The street must have been developed at a time when multiple garages were a coveted feature, judging by the predominance they occupy in all of the front elevations.

Houses along Rich Little Drive
Houses along Rich Little Drive

A bit further east along Fox Hunt Ave this very well preserved Sea Ranch style house stands apart.

Sea Ranch Style
Sea Ranch Style

All of the paved paths were clear of snow including these along Mooney’s Bay. Yeah Spring!

Path along Mooney's Bay
Path along Mooney’s Bay
Rideau River in the Spring
Rideau River in the Spring