TheTravelEditor.com welcomes back guest blogger Maggie from Freewheeling Adventures, a cool active holiday company based in Nova Scotia.
When pondering travel in Quebec we often think about the rural countryside and isolated inlets of the Gaspésie peninsula or the vibrant multicultural atmosphere of Montreal. Both of these extremes, modest and modern, co-exist in this French speaking province of Canada. Rural residents pride themselves on a stout adherence to French customs while their cosmopolitan counterparts embrace and blend new traditions into a very unique culture. For those interested in both ends of the spectrum there is a place in Quebec where these different philosophies merge. The Eastern Townships is a region in south-eastern Quebec, lying between the Saint Lawrence River and the United States border. A veritable country paradise of panoramic mountains and valleys, the Eastern Townships is an exceptional travel destination, combining urban benefits with rural landscapes. Whether you’re looking for outdoor activities, world famous cuisine, local crafts, or luxurious spas, this part of Quebec will satisfy all of your needs. And it’s closer than you think!
The town of Sutton is only a half day’s drive from major cities like New York and Boston and the quiet pace is a welcomed reprise. Sutton is a great base for visiting Quebec’s designated wine route. The 132km trail, La Route des Vins, links 17 vineyards, the first of which started production over 35 years ago in the nearby Dunham Valley. Along the way you will find local produce, picnic spots and neighbourhood curiosities like a 12 sided barn in the town of Mystic and Canada’s oldest covered bridge in Saint Armand.
Magog, a hamlet located near Sherbrooke, is another great place to stage your getaway and explore surrounding areas. With Lake Memphremagog in the background, and surrounded by mountains that stretch over 44km to the Vermont border, it’s easy to understand why Magog is called the “Treasure Chest of the Townships.” The post-war era saw an expansion here that drew businesses and a four-season tourist trade that continues to flourish. Such an early foothold in the industry means that this tiny city knows how to show visitors a good time. A boat cruise will let you appreciate Lake Memphremagog’s true size; just keep an eye out for Memphré, the legendary lake creature that has been making waves for over 200 years!
Nearby you will be tempted to visit the Mont Orford National Park where a mature sugar maple forest carpets hill and dale. Whether it’s hiking along a trail, climbing to the summit of Mont Orford, or listening to the symphony at the Centre d’Arts Orford, you’ll enjoy exploring this park!
Also close to Magog is another jewel of the Townships, North Hatley. The charm of the place first made it attractive to tourists, and in 1880, the construction of a rail line consolidated its reputation as a resort destination. Over the years, luxurious and century-old residences have been converted into charming hotels, bed and breakfasts and artists’ studios. Other buildings have become art galleries, shops, cafés and restaurants, all of which illustrate the welcoming quality that makes this village a choice vacation spot.
Accessing these hidden gems is as easy as riding a bike. Freewheeling Adventures, an adventure travel company in business since 1987, highlights many of these destinations in their Eastern Townships cycling holiday. The trip also features great add-ons like zip line adventures and golfing. With a knack for small groups and custom itineraries, Freewheeling promises healthy, delicious meals and inns of exceptional charm as you explore Quebec and other destinations around the world.