You may have already heard of the Cantons de l’Est, the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Coming from New England, the area has its own unique culture and yet is so accessible and relatively affordable. This year I went with my active twin 8 year old boys. Last time I was with my parents and my daughter. We always have good meals, walk around towns and do some great book shopping for my French classroom. This is a great trip for a weekend or three nights in the Fall or Spring.
I love the trip for the opportunities to be active outside and for the artisanal local products that you will enjoy in the restaurants or take home with you. With my sons, we got out for both a bike ride and a walk in the woods at a marsh. We tried Poutine from the kids’ menu at Café de la Brulerie, which was not really our thing, and buckwheat crepes at Belania d’Amour, which we liked much better. At two restaurants we went to there were wood-fired ovens, which is not surprising given the cosiness that the Quebecois seek out in the cold winter months. My boys liked seeing the large machinery at the ice creamery in Coaticook. And, we returned home with honey, Belgian-style chocolate and Duck rillettes all made right where we bought them.
Here are some hints for getting to know small-town Québec near the US border. Using Mont-Orford as a base, all of these places are nearby in the towns of Magog, Granby and Coaticook.
This is a comfortable hotel, even though we stayed in the off-season between snow and summer activities when the dining room is closed. With restaurants nearby, a café and the local supermarket, finding food wasn’t an issue. My boys enjoyed the well-equipped game room and the pool. The rooms are nicely set up and include a refrigerator and a coffee maker.
Steforno Woodfire pizza restaurant and gelato
Belania d’Amour Café with delicious healthy smoothies and buckwheat crêpes
Le Four à Bois d’Orford Wood-fire restaurant for pizza and pasta
Ducs de Montrichard Made-right-there duck rillettes to bring home in jars
La Mie d’Orford Breakfast at a deli-style restaurant with a focus on homemade
C. A. R. T. H. Y. Bike path
A great outdoor activity in this region, after all the snow activities, is biking. The bike path between Granby and Waterloo is beautiful and well maintained. I would highly recommend a half-day ride on the dedicated bike paths, viewing birch trees and reservoirs. Rent bikes in Granby right on the path at Sports aux Puces VéloGare.
Excellent zoo. Really high quality in terms of animals and habitats. A place to return to again and again. I was last there in 2009 and have wanted to go back ever since. Please note that in April, the zoo is only open on the weekend.
Librairie Jeunesse Le Repère
A children’s book store with an extensive collection of French-language books. The staff is extremely helpful. My boys loved that her baby was sleeping right at the store while she helped me. They found that to be so intimate and lovely.
Café de la Brulerie easy to return your bikes and walk over for a coffee or a meal
Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises
A nature center at the marsh with extensive paths for walking. We loved the visitor center even though most of it was in French and my sons don’t speak French.
Chocolats Vanden Eynden Belgian-style chocolates and a window into the factory
Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook
Walk along the deep gorge and dare to walk the long suspension bridge that crosses to the other side.
La Laiterie de Coaticook
Visit the ice creamery to take a look into the factory and have a taste as well.
Miel pur Délice Honey producer and seller