This weekend, we are again renting a car from Avis (link, 40$CA per day) to visit the surroundings of Montreal, namely the Eastern Townships, which are very close to the border with the United States.
Part 1: Travel Diary Part
2: Practical Tips
Part 1: Travel Diary
Wave to Guy
This wave isn’t in the Eastern Townships but since it is on the way, we take advantage of having the car to get there. On Google maps, the road that passes in front of it is a Boulevard, but in reality, it is a nice little road and we can park there without any problem (during the week anyway).
There are 2 stationary waves on the St. Lawrence River in Montreal, yes yes, in Montreal itself, and we chose to go see the Wave at Guy, south of Montreal. It is very impressive because an experienced surfer can surf for hours, because this wave is eternal. It’s also a very good place to learn how to surf. However, the current is very strong, if you fall, you will have to rely on the strength of your little arms to come back – otherwise you risk drifting to the polar circle (I exaggerate…) 😀
The surroundings are very beautiful too. At the moment, everything is green green like that in Quebec. The pictures aren’t retouched! I take the opportunity to cuddle a tree ( tree-hugging, very trendy at the moment), seems that it’s distressing and does a lot of good. But above all, I saw a lot of insects leaving the tree, in a hurry, as soon as I touch it ahahahahaha
Note: tree hugging is a pejorative word for environmentalists, who would cling to trees so that they wouldn’t be cut down
Abbey of Saint-Benoît du Lac
Finally, we are in the Eastern Townships, after an hour and a half drive (easy, without too much traffic). Created by 2 monks coming from France, the abbey of Saint-Benoît du Lac has developed a lot and counts about 40 monks at the moment.
We only have access to the main corridor, the chapel and the church. And a multitude of posters explain monastic life, how to become a monk, and the history of the abbey. From the end of June, we can pay for a private visit (twice a day) and have access to more things. In the basement there is a store where they sell cheese and compotes made by the monks themselves.
There are several high points of view around the abbey but we found only one.
On the way
Bistro 4 seasons
We stop at the “Bistro 4 Saisons” for lunch because it’s close to the Parc national du Mont-Orford
Mont-Orford National Park
Access to the park is subject to a fee ($8.75 CAD/person). There is a booth where we can pay the access fee. There are several trails and campgrounds in the park, and we choose to do one end of these trails, leading to the lake and the 1st pond.
There is apparently a family of beavers in this pond but they have not been seen.
The ride is really pleasant, the roads are paved, you can even come by bike. In spite of catastrophic metrological forecasts, we were able to avoid the rain in extremis and even had some clearings.
It took us 45 minutes to get to Hovey Manor, the former home of an American writer, a carbon copy of a George Washington house. The manor has become a luxury hotel (Booking link, within 400$CA per night). Not having so much money to spend in a hotel, we just enjoy its bar (and its garden), with a view on the lake next door, for a modest sum of 8$CA.
A few minutes away is the center of North Hatley, a very charming city made up of villas built in the 20s by Americans (I remind you that we are very close to the Canada – USA border). It won’t be difficult to find a villa near the lake, or a villa at all, and enjoy its many restaurants, tea/coffee rooms that are more beautiful one after the other. We stayed there for 30 minutes but there is enough to spend the whole day there.
Foresta Lumina is an illuminated night-time route. Every year, between mid-June and mid-October, you can discover the park of the Coaticook Gorge in a different way. At night. There are several schedules and as it was the first day of the event, we could only find places for 10pm.
So we quickly go to our Motel La Source(Booking link, 10mn drive from the park), time to rest and have a quick dinner, before taking the car back to Foresta Lumina. In spite of the small rain, there are about thirty people in our group.
It’s pretty well done, and the darkness makes you pay more attention to noise, music, the environment. However, I find that some passages aren’t sufficiently lit (you have to be very careful because there are tree roots that can make you stumble). Crossing the suspension bridge at 41m in the middle of the night is a fun experience. There are also holograms, interactive sounds… in short it is pleasant for a small course of 2,5km approximately, but I disadvise the children.
Coaticook Gorge Park
The next day, we come back to exactly the same place to discover the park in daylight. The suspension bridge that we crossed last night is more impressive by day. It is the longest suspension bridge in North America. It is only 41m from the ground but the view is very satisfying. We repeat exactly the same route as last evening (Foresta Lumina). There is an extra trail to do, along the mountain but we have a lot of things to do today so we zapped it.
I strongly recommend you stop by Coaticook Dairy Ltd. for a – very good – homemade ice cream. They also sell other dairy products (cheese, milk…)
On the way…
It is the ideal country to plant fir trees, and we will see everywhere mini-fir trees like this, too cute!
We’re on our way to Sherbrooke, of which I’ve seen some pictures on the Internet. This nice city offers a very nice (and free) tour of the 17 murals, a little bit everywhere in the city. Type “Sherbrooke’s mural tour” on Google Maps to find the two murals we took pictures of below. The precise address of the murals can be found here
There is a panel in front of the big murals, and the game consists in finding the small details: a mouse, a baby etc. It’s very nice and playful. On the way to the nearest gas station, we saw 3 more.
We have lunch at OMG. The restaurant looks like a church. I validate their salmon tartar:
The trails of the Eastern Townships
They link the border of the United States and the village of Richmond, passing by a dozen peaks including the Sutton and Orford Mountains. To keep these trails open (they pass through many private properties), long negotiations with the owners were necessary. The maintenance of the trails is done with the help of the owners but also thanks to the association at the origin of these negotiations. Access to the trails is paid for, with the option of a day pass or a year-round pass.
We took a little bit of this trail from the Marais Réal D.-Carbonneau north of Sherbrooke. The trail from this Marsh is only 2.5 km long. All trails & hiking maps are available here
All this green makes me feel good, and it’s very calm, fresh, I like it a lot!
On the way…
Life is too hard! Too many flowers, pfff 😀
It’s not yet lavender season but we take advantage of being in the area to go to Bleu Lavande. In the middle of the season, it must be very beautiful (and smell very good). For the moment, it’s all green, but their garden is beautiful! If you are looking for an exceptional place for your wedding, look no further!
There are many thermal water spas in the area, but we opted for the Bolton Spa, after much hesitation. Because it is right in front of a (beautiful) waterfall and you can swim in the river below the falls. The spa is composed of several hot baths, cold baths, saunas (heated with wood fire!) and hammams of all kinds. The baths are small but as there are several of them, one does not feel cramped. It is quite crowded (it rains a bit, ideal for relaxing in hot water), but it isn’t noisy and there are rest rooms heated by wood fire. I recommend it! If you go there after 5pm, the entrance will cost much less.
This is how our day ends. Since we plan to go to the other side of Montreal (to Mont-Tremblant park) the next day, we save a night in a hotel by simply coming back to sleep in our airbnb in Montreal. I will tell you about this 3rd day of roadtrip in a separate article.
Part 2: Practical Tips
If you want to do the same thing as us (but in a more logical order – because we didn’t take the shortest route ), click here to access the Google Maps route. You may not come back to Montreal like we did, but continue to Quebec City.
Note: we couldn’t drive fast because of many stop signs. The average speed on these roads is 65km/h.
- Car rental: 40$CA/day at Avis, excluding insurance (JB has insurance thanks to his American Express card , see his review here)
- Gasoline : 50$CA
- Motel La Source: Booking link 107$CA per double room, close to Foresta Lumina
- How to get there
- Foresta Lumina + Coaticook Park combo ticket: $25.3 CAD/person
- Access to Mont-Orford Park: $8.75 CAD/person :
- Day pass to the Eastern Townships trails: 5$CA/person
- Bolton Spa: 47$CA/person (towel included)
- Access to Bleu Lavande: free at this time
- Ice cream at Laiterie de Coaticook: 4$CA/unit
- Lunch at Bistro 4 Saisons: 20$CA/person, tips included
- Meals at OMG in Sherbrooke: about 33$CA/person, tips included
- Meals prepared at the IGA supermarket: 7$CA/person
- Drinks at Manoir hovey: $8.00 Cdn for two