Exploring Canada’s French Culture in Eastern Townships, Quebec
Canada has two official languages in the country, which are English and French and if you’d like to experience that true French Canadian style of vacation then the Eastern Townships located in the province of Quebec is the place to visit. Here you’ll be swept away by the quaint towns and villages, incredible gourmet food options, endless activities and sightseeing, as well as the culture itself. The region packs so much into its offerings that it is able to cater to couples, groups, and families with ease. You can even pick a customized package/tour which appeals to all kinds of different interests.
Finding the Right Package
One of the toughest things about traveling to the Eastern Townships or the ‘Cantons-des-l’Est‘, as it’s known by French-speaking inhabitants, is choosing what kind of trip and/or package you want. There are just endless choices so you will need to do some research in advance to be sure you’re able to fit all you want to do into your trip. There are pre-built packages that specialize in cycling, horseback riding, ice fishing, family centric activities, skating, snow-tubing, dog sledding, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowmobiling, gourmet experiences, romantic packages, spa and wellness packages, and plenty more. If a package or tour isn’t your thing there are plenty of activities you can do on your own without an itinerary that has been laid out in advance. Self-guided driving tours are very popular in the region.
Another big offering are packages built around the art, culture, and entertainment found in the region. To top it off the region hosts festivals, events, and other entertainment options all year round. It seems the events calendar is always full. Even Canadians travel to the area looking for that unique flavour of their country that they can’t find elsewhere. Check out Tourism Eastern Townships Official Website for all upcoming events.
What’s really fun about this area is that if you visit in the winter you can experience one type of trip and then you can come back in the summer and have a totally different experience. This keeps the region fresh and exciting and also big on repeat visitors.
Tour the Villages and Towns
The area likes to describe itself as having a New England style about it but with a unique Quebec twist which makes it unique and special. The townships are found along the United States border and are made up of quite a few different towns/villages. The area can be explored by car as mentioned and also by bike, boat, and train. Accommodations vary from luxurious rooms, quaint little inns, character rich bed and breakfasts, and more. Some of the popular hotels in Eastern Townships, as per Tripadvisor ranking, are Manoir Hovey, Studiotel Bromont, Hotel Le Floral, Auberge Le Madrigal and Auberge des Appalaches.
The Gourmet Experience
One would be remiss to mention the Eastern Townships and not point out its incredible gastronomy and wine offerings. Tourists will be treated to village cafes, restaurants with creative chefs, and even a chance to tour and dine at various vineyards. You’ll find that fresh local ingredients are the big stars here so again depending on what time of year you visit the menu will reflect various in-season ingredients. Besides the vineyards there are a number of local brewers, cheese makers, and even chocolatiers who invite you to come and sample their creations. This is definitely not the kind of trip if you’re concerned about watching your weight as there are far too many tempting dishes to try! Try out spread at one or more of the following restaurants during your visit to the area : Antidote FoodLab (Sherbrooke), Steffanos (Dunham), Manoir Hovey Dining Room (North Hatley), Restaurant L’Imperial (Granby) and Bistrot Chez Sirano (Magog)
Relax and Unwind
The Eastern Townships are a great place to relax and unwind and feature a number of spa and wellness packages that will help you do just that. You’ll be able to cater your package to your needs picking out the treatments that are ideal for whatever ails you. You’ll go home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. The packages can be found at a wide range of places so you can also decide what kind of setting you want. Perhaps you’re looking for a luxurious top-of-the-line resort or maybe you want something more low key, remote, and filled with character. There is no shortage of options and a few of the remarkable places you would love to return to are Manoir Des Sables, Hotel Bromont, Hotel Chateau-Bromon, Estrimont Suites & Spa and Spa Eastman.
Must visit places
Sherbrooke – This historic center sits at the confluence of two rivers and is bisected by Rue Wellington and Rue King, the main commercial arteries. Perfect setting for a city where travellers can still enjoy modern conveniences before returning to the Eastern Townships.
Lac Brome (Knowlton) – Knowlton area was first formally settled by Loyalists in 1802 and still retains an upmarket British flair and numerous 19th-century buildings. Stroll around the downtown to find quality boutiques, art galleries, cafes and restaurants. A visit to the Musée Historique du Comté de Brome provides more on local history and culture.
Sutton – Major summer and winter sports destination in Eastern Townships. Surrounded by the Sutton Mountains, Sutton is a major winter sports hub, with 60 trails for plunging down Mont Sutton; the longest run is 2.85km. In summer, Sutton transforms into prime hiking territory, especially in the conservation area Parc d’Environnement Naturel, where trails have been carved through the thickly forested mountains. Backpackers can unfold their tents at three primitive campgrounds during the hike.
Parc du Mont Orford – Surrounded by Mont Chauve and Mont Orford, the park is home to snapping turtles and countless bird species. In winter, the park is a snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and downhill skiing center at the Station de Ski Mont-Orford. Summner activities include hiking, camping, lake swimming and canoe/kayaking. During summer, Orford presents prestigious events like Jeunesses Musicales du Canada music and art festival and Festival Orford, a series of 40 to 50 classical concerts.
Bromont – The town boasts year round ski resort on the slopes of 533m-high Mt Brome. In summer its 100km of marked trails, including 15 thrilling downhill routes, have made it a Mecca for mountain-bike aficionados. In winter, skiers and snowboarders take over the 104 trails, including 50 trails open for night skiing.
Parc du Mont-Mégantic – The park holds great attraction for wildlife lovers as encounters with moose, white-tailed deer, coyote and other wildlife are often guaranteed as you roam the trails of this park. The park’s AstroLab is an astronomy research center and a tour of the observatory at the summit is a delight.
Packing for the Weather
The weather in the Eastern Townships varies greatly from season to season. You’ll find there are four pretty distinct seasons here but at the same time temperatures never seem to get uncomfortably hot or too cold. This makes for excellent outdoor conditions all year round.
A Versatile Location
What makes the Eastern Townships even more attractive to tourists is that it can be reached from so many major locals. It borders the United States, can be reached from Montreal, and can even be a stop on a driving trip from other provinces.