AN IDEA THAT HAS CAUGHT ON
It is the story of two guys who, with a touch of madness that has never left them, a passion for the built heritage and a lot of love, gradually built cottages in their image just a stone’s throw from the Bic national park. Twenty years later, Jean-Luc Leblond and Martin Gagnon are proud to offer you a stay in one of the fifteen cottages and maisonettes of Vieux Loup de Mer with privileged access to the Baie des Roses beach, at Bic National Park.
In 1994, Jean-Luc was the owner of a family business, plumbing and heating, in Rimouski. A young tourism graduate, Martin arrived there from Drummondville for a summer job. He never left after meeting Jean-Luc, who became his spouse and business partner, in September 1999. “In the early days, we bought a cottage from the 1970s which was on the current site of the Vieux Loup de Mer” recalls Martin. Restored, then rearranged inside by Jean-Luc, the new Pic-Bois was rented during the summer of 2000.
Given the success, “we said to ourselves that we could recover old wooden buildings in the region, built piece by piece, dismantle them and rebuild them on our land without touching the beautiful trees and all the vegetation that is growing there”
THE GREAT ADVENTURE IN SMALL STEPS
Thus began the great adventure … The site grew little by little by purchasing or exchanging pieces of land and cliffs with neighbours. Martin and Jean-Luc left their respective jobs to devote themselves to the development of the site, the first to marketing and customer service, the second to the construction and decoration of buildings, at a rate of almost one per year …
“Often people in the community called us because they wanted to demolish an old house to build another, to make a parking space …”
The expansion on the cliff was carried out according to the acquisitions of old buildings. Le Contrebandier, for example, comes from a house that was next to the Bic grocery store; Le Nordet was a derelict farmhouse, Le Navigateur a commercial warehouse in Rimouski.
The first found their place on the top of the cliff, then Jean-Luc and Martin bought a cottage below, on the edge of the Bay of Roses. It became the Chasse-Marée, renovated in 2013. The land also gave them possible access to the shore. A beautiful staircase between the cliff and the shore was then built, allowing tenants of the “upper” cottages to descend to the edge of the bay. The following year, they bought a neighbour of Chasse-Marée, which became Le Doux-Repos. For Jean-Luc and Martin, this “salvaging” work fits perfectly with their idea of rehabilitating the regional built heritage and preserving the environment on the site of the Vieux Loup de Mer.
Each time, the same process is used to give a building a second life: strip it of its exterior and interior cladding on site; detach the corners of the walls; dismantle the pieces of wood and number them all with colors; transport everything to the Vieux Loup de Mer site, then to the new location intended for it … The operation is generally carried out in late summer and during the fall. In winter, Jean-Luc works on interior design. In the spring, he decorates the interior and finalizes the landscaping before the rental in June.
« For Jean-Luc,
this work almost always done alone is not lonely at all; he loves all
of them »
Jean-Luc est aussi un amoureux de brocante et d’antiquités, un collectionneur de beaux objets : meubles, lampes, cuisinières électriques anciennes; poêles à bois, collections de vieux thermos ou de canards de bois… Le garage est plein de ses trouvailles qui auront un jour leur place dans les chalets, pour lesquels il choisit avec Martin différentes thématiques de décoration.
Martin is pursuing his own mission during all this time: “to welcome people so that they have a good time”, to see to the promotion and marketing of the site which can now accommodate up to 48 people per night; involve local partners to improve the offer, offer activity or catering packages; supply the new store with local products at the reception… Martin and Jean-Luc’s small business remains a “work in progress”, driven by the beginning desire to make it an original accommodation concept, respectful of the nature and built heritage, with the flame of pleasure always as the main guide.
“Since the very beginning of this crazy adventure, we have always been keen to offer everyone who crosses the threshold of one of our cottages a memorable experience fuelled by the passion and authenticity that lives in us”