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The Eastern Townships: the art of living well is just across the border

Abbaye de St-Benoît-du-Lac, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Abbaye de St-Benoît-du-Lac,in the  Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Whenever we want an international vacation experience without spending the time or money to cross an ocean we look to our neighbor to the north, Canada, and head for its largest province, the vast and diverse Québec.

Québec is unique in that French is the predominant language. The language, cuisine, history, and customs combine to offer a European flair without the need to travel far.

There’s a joie de vivre and distinctive art of living. The cuisine is superbe and includes edible souvenirs to enjoy at home, like its cheese, cider, wine, and maple products. To sweeten the deal, the Canadian is dollar now costing Americans around 77 cents, creating a built-in discount.

Vignoble d'Orpailleur, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Vignoble d’Orpailleur, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Although it is polite to learn a few French phrases before you visit, you do not need to be fluent in French. Nearly everyone speaks English in Québec, especially in this bicultural region of the province. It was once part of New France and later divided into British-style townships after control was ceded to the British.

The Eastern Townships is in the southeastern part of the province of Québec, between the St. Lawrence River and the United States border. Montreal is an hour or so drive away.

In the 1600s this was part of New France. Land along the St. Lawrence was divided into long narrow strips that were granted to politically connected seigneurs who collected rent, shares, and taxes from tenant farmers.  The seigneurial system was abolished in 1854.

The 1763 Treaty of Paris ceded control of the region to the British. In 1791 new land was surveyed according to the British Township system and populated with Loyalists and farmers largely from New England and New York. The region has been known as the Eastern Townships since 1860.

British Loyalists who settled here left  a legacy of Victorian architecture in charming villages now known for theaters, art galleries and boutiques. After the Civil War wealthy American Southerners bypassed Yankee territory and came here to escape the summer heat.

 

view of Mount Orford from Manoir des Sables, Orford, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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view of Mount Orford from Manoir des Sables, Orford, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

This is now a vacation destination known for its year round attractions, including ski mountains like Orford, Sutton, Owl’s Head and Bromont.

The Wine Route, La Route des Vins sign, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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The Wine Route, La Route des Vins sign, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Fine food and wine abounds in places like La Route des Vins, a trail of local vineyards, créateurs de saveurs Cantons-de-l’Est, a group of 85 agritourism enterprises, and cafés de village, neighborhood cafés with regional foods.

Créateurs de saveurs Cantons-de-l'Est, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Créateurs de saveurs Cantons-de-l’Est, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec. Canada

We stopped at vergers (orchards), fromageries (cheese shops), vignobles (vineyards), chocolateries (chocolate shops), and laiteries (dairies), a duck farm, a soap maker and an architectural gem of an abbey where cheese is made. With so many outstanding local suppliers it is little wonder that talented chefs are creating an array of top-notch casual and fine dining experiences here. Menus changes with the seasons based on  locally-sourced foods. In winter fresh produce has become increasingly  available thanks to a growing hydroponics industry.

Where to stay

Legacy, luxury and natural serenity: The Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel is nestled amid century-old pines on a twelve acre peninsula in Ayer’s Cliff, just minutes from the United States border and accessible by a bicycle trail from Vermont. It is on Lake Massawippi, Abenaki for “lake of deep waters”. Archie and Elizabeth Stafford opened it as a rustic summer resort featuring sport fishing in 1945 —  back in the days when there were cows on Main Street. Its 450′ depth makes it is one of the deepest lakes in Québec.

Ripplecove, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Ripple cove Lakefront Hotel & Spa, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Seventy years later, it is now the longest running family owned resort in Québec. It has been continuously renovated, expanded, and upgraded to what is now a prestigious and elegant resort with New England and French Canadian charm decorated in period antiques and reproduction furnishings.

Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel & Spa, Ayer’s Cliff, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

bar area, Ripplecove, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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bar area, Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel & Spa, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel & Spa has earned the AAA Four-Diamond Award every year since 1987 and in 2008 received 5 Stars, Québec Tourism’s highest classification.

Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel, Ayer's Cliff, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel & Spa, Ayer’s Cliff, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

guest room, Ripplecove, Ayer's Cliff, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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guest room, Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel & Spa, Ayer’s Cliff, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

It is the only hotel in the Eastern Townships to be rated 5 stars for its cuisine and service by the restaurant guide “Le Voir” and received Wine Spectator’s “Best Award of Excellence” for having one of the world’s most outstanding wine lists. It is a popular choice for romantic getaways, weddings, and conferences.

Ripplecove dining room, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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dining room, Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel & Spa,in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

wine cellar, Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel, Ayer's Cliff, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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wine cellar, Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel & Spa, Ayer’s Cliff, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Massage and aesthetic services as well as weekend yoga and meditation sessions are offered. The full-service spa is certified by the province.

spa area, Ripplecove Ayer's Cliff, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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spa area, Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel & Spa Ayer’s Cliff, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Summer activities include a full-service beach and pool area, canoes, kayaks, fishing, tennis, a nature trail, and popular pontoon rides on Lake Massawippi. Cooking classes are offered

Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel, Ayer's Cliff, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel & Spa, Ayer’s Cliff, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

With fourteen golf courses within a half-hour’s drive,the cost of playing eighteen holes is comparatively low, typically $50 CAD with a cart for 18 holes. There are also parks, museums, antique shops, theaters, concert halls and other attractions nearby. And Mr. Stafford is known to take repeat guests out in his 20’ boat.

Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Owner Jeffrey Stafford and Chef Steeve Rondeau at the Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel & Spa’s Le Riverain Restaurant. A boat built by Mr. Stafford’s parents is in the background.

In winter there’s ice skating, snowshoeing, and sleigh rides. Opt for a private guide or try the complimentary Saturday afternoon ice fishing camp.  For downhill or cross-country skiing or snowboarding Mt. Orford Provincial Park is nearby.

Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel & Spa, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Eggs Benedict, Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel, Ayer's Cliff, in the Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Eggs Benedict, Le Riverain, Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel & Spa, Ayer’s Cliff, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check the website for current special pricing. Recent 2015 promotions have included 70th Anniversary specials, an Autumn Escape with breakfast, dinner, and gratuities and more for $178 CAD. Rates are per person double occupancy.

Through December 31, 2015 complete a brief online questionnaire for one of six chances to win a night in a luxurious room, a $500 CAD value.

The grand resort and conference center: Orford’s sprawling Manoir des Sables Hôtel et Golf , part of the Hotels Villegia group, is a popular spot for weddings, conferences, banquets.

Manoir de Sables exterior from balcony, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Manoir de Sables, Orford, from the balcony of our room in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

It has 117 guest rooms and suites with views of either Mount Orford or the private Ecluse Lake and the 27 hole golf course, one of the top public courses in Québec.

golf course, Manoir des Sables, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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view of golf course from hotel, Manoir des Sables, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

guest suite, Manoir des Sables, Orford, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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guest suite, Manoir des Sables, Orford, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

guest suite, Manoir des Sables, Orford, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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guest suite, Manoir des Sables, Orford, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

There’s a full range of activities year-round— a health centre, spa, saunas, whirlpools, exercise room, indoor & outdoor swimming pools, lit tennis courts, walking pathways, and cycling trails. Mountain bikes, row boats, pedal boats, tennis rackets, snowshoes, cross country skis, skates, and toboggans can be rented on site.

spa area, Manoir des Sables, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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spa area, Manoir des Sables,in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Promotional nightly rates (2015) were available beginning at $106 CAD per person double-occupancy with breakfast and the spa’s Hammam circuit, a six part aquatic experience that includes the hammam (Turkish bath), showers, a salt-water Jacuzzi, alternating cold and hot tubs, and a Finnish sauna.

Manoir des Sables, Orford, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Manoir des Sables, Orford, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

Manoir des Sables, Orford, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Manoir des Sables, Orford, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

Confit Des Bobines trout, citrus fennel remoulade, Champs-Mignons biologic oyster mushrooms) is a popular appetizer at Manoir des Sables in Orford, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Manoir des Sables in Orford, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manoir des Sables, Orford, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Manoir des Sables, Orford, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A $259 CAD per person, double occupancy, Sunday through Friday special includes all this plus breakfast, a three course dinner, a 60 minute massage, a body peel with black Moroccan soap, in-room bathrobe and meal gratuities. Need more? Add a body wrap or facial for $65 CAD. A divine seven-course meal is $88 CAD.

Artsy: Michel Gagné and Bertin Jacques’ Le Pleasant Hotel & Café in the formerly Loyalist village of Sutton, offers a snazzy ambience in a 20th century Victorian house with ten comfortable guest rooms with private bathrooms.

Le Pleasant Hotel & Cafe, Sutton, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Le Pleasant Hotel & Cafe, Sutton, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Le Pleasant guest room, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Le Pleasant guest room, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

It is in a village of boutiques and restaurants and a delightful épicerie, La Rumeur Affamée (the famished rumor), a destination cheese shop with freshly-baked breads, pies, tarts, patés and specialty items.

 La Rumeur Affamée (the famished rumor), a destination épicerie, a specialty grocery store, with freshly-baked breads, pies, tarts, patés and specialty items, in Sutton, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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La Rumeur Affamée (the famished rumor), a destination épicerie, a specialty grocery store, with freshly-baked breads, pies, tarts, patés and specialty items, in Sutton, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

During our stay a Série Après Strand display of works by Bertrand Carrière filled a room. It was inspired by American photographer Paul Strand who captured the essence of the Gaspésie in 1929 and 1936.

Whether a guest here or passing by, you should not miss Chef Nicholas Normandeau’s creative and innovative cuisine cuisine inspired by local producers.

Le Pleasant Hotel & Cafe, Sutton, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Le Pleasant Hotel & Cafe, Sutton, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

Le Pleasant Hotel & Cafe, Sutton, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Le Pleasant Hotel & Cafe, Sutton, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Pleasant Hotel & Cafe, Sutton, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Le Pleasant Hotel & Cafe, Sutton, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

Le Pleasant Hotel & Cafe, Sutton, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Le Pleasant Hotel & Cafe, Sutton, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recent (2015) promotional rates included two nights with breakfast and four course dinners for just $211 CAD per person double occupancy. Other package rates available include skiing, spa, golf, or the wine trail.

Food and Drink

Café de village

We snagged the last available table on the sunny terrace and sipped organic café au lait with locals at the Star Café, a café de village. It is in Lac-Brome’s village of Knowlton, voted one of the prettiest towns in Québec by L’Actualité Magazine.

Star Café, Knowlton, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Star Café, Knowlton, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

A brochure described the history of the surrounding buildings and listed the café as a tannery built in 1843 that was rebuilt in 2009.

sugar pie at Star Cafe in Knowlton, Abbaye de St-Benoît-du-Lac, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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sugar pie at Star Cafe in Knowlton, Abbaye de St-Benoît-du-Lac, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Cassis

Domaine Ives Hill, on the banks of Moe’s River in Compton, farms and transforms black current, a tiny fruit with more vitamin C than in an orange. There’s a full range of blackcurrant products, including aperitifs, syrup, and confits, in the boutique and tastings in the bistro.

black current liqueur, Domaine Ives Hill, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Tamara L. Neeley, Coordinator of Communication & Marketing,  with Domaine Ives Hill black current wine in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

The Pioneer Trail, which has twenty-two historical installations featuring early settlers who shaped the Coaticook region, runs through the field. This one features Ellen Farwell Ives, who lived in what was then the town of Farwell. She is buried nearby in the Ives Hill Cemetery. Five minute recordings in English and French are given by each of the characters along the trail and tell a story of their role in the region.

The Pioneer Trail, Domaine Ives Hill, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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The Pioneer Trail, Domaine Ives Hill, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

A guided tour and tasting is offered daily in July and August.

black currant plants, Domaine Ives Hill, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Tamara L. Neeley with the black currant plants at Domaine Ives Hill, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Cheese

We watched as cheese curds were pressed, cut into squares, and put into molds at Fromagerie La Station in Compton, an agricultural area renowned for its livestock.

cows at La Station, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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cows at La Station, in Compton, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

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Fromagerie La Station, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Fromagerie La Station, in Compton, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Fromageria La Station, Compton, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Fromageria La Station, in Compton, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

washing the rind, La Station, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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washing the rind, La Station, in Compton, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

father and son, Fromagerie La Station, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Pierre and Nicholas Bolduc, Fromagerie La Station, in Compton, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

poster of family, La Station, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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poster of the Bolduc family at La Station, in Compton, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Molded cheeses were being washed with a secret brine in another room. This fourth generation family-owned organic farm makes raw milk thermised cheeses that are distinctively flavored by the pastures where their cows graze and have names like Alfred Le Fermier, named for a grandfather, Hatley, and Comtomme.

cheeses, Fromagerie La Station, Compton, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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cheeses, Fromagerie La Station, Compton, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Samples are offered in a showroom lined with regional, provincial and national awards and other regional farm products. The renowned grilled sandwiches prepared with organic bread and oozing with Hatley cheese should not be missed  ($5). They are best enjoyed at one of the outdoor tables with a view of the farm.

Cheese and quiet

Benedictine monks from France began building Abbaye de St-Benoît-du-Lac, a monastery overlooking Lake Memphremagog in 1912.

Abbaye de St-Benoît-du-Lac partial panorama, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Abbaye de St-Benoît-du-Lac partial panorama, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

We arrived just in time to catch a service in Gregorian chant. The monks pray seven times a day and live according to rules, including silence, written by Saint Benoit.

Frère Jacques, Abbaye de St-Benoît-du-Lac, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Frère Jacques Dulong, Abbaye de St-Benoît-du-Lac, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

To maintain a balance of mind and body monks tend the orchards, cider factory, cheese factory and farm.

cheeses, Abbaye du St-Benoît-du-Lac, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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cheeses, Abbaye du St-Benoît-du-Lac, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Their products are available at the abbey’s store.

boutique, Abbaye De St-Benoît-Du-Lac, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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boutique, Abbaye De St-Benoît-Du-Lac, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Chocolates

The high quality handmade chocolates vary by the season at Chocolats Vanden Eynden in Magog.

Chocolaterie Vanden Eynden, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Chocolaterie Vanden Eynden, Magog, in theEastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Chocolats Vanden Eynden, Magog, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Chocolats Vanden Eynden, Magog, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

There were turtles in tribute to the critters in the nearby pond, violins for the nearby music venue, and over twenty filled chocolates, seasonal specialties, and treats to satisfy the most discriminating sweet tooth.

chocolate violins, Chocolats Vanden Eynden, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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chocolate violins, Chocolats Vanden Eynden, Magog, in the Eastern Townships region of, Québec, Canada

Cider

At Les Vergers de la Colline in Sainte Cécile-de-Milton you can visit orchards that have been in the Lasnier family since 1927, take a tour of the cider house and pressing rooms, taste the four products and take home a tasting glass, all for just $10 CAD.

Marc Antoine is the fourth generation to be running the Lasnier family’s orchard at Les Vergers de la Colline, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Marc Antoine is the fourth generation to be running the Lasnier family’s orchard at Les Vergers de la Colline, in Sainte Cécile-de-Milton in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

 

three ciders, Les Vergers de la Colline, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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three ciders, Les Vergers de la Colline, in Sainte Cécile-de-Milton in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

three ciders, Les Vergers de la Colline, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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three ciders, Les Vergers de la Colline, in Sainte Cécile-de-Milton in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Be sure to make a reservation 48 hours in advance.

bistro, Les Vergers de la Colline, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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bistro, Les Vergers de la Colline, in Sainte Cécile-de-Milton in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

The bistro offers salads, soups, sandwiches and more, many made with the orchard’s apples. The daily special of sweet potato soup with rosé cider, vegetable lasagne, a green salad, and cider was just $12.95 CAD. Gourmet groceries, ciders, cooked and baked goods, fruits, vegetables, and specialty foods. meat or fruit pies, sausages, confits, chocolates, jellies, are sold in the boutique. Check the website for family-friendly special events.

Ice, sparkling, and fire cider

UNION LIBRE cidre & vin on Route 202 in Dunham makes ice, fire, and sparkling ciders.

UNION LIBRE, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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UNION LIBRE, Dunham, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Their elegant full-bodied signature Union Libre fire cider, concentrated by heat and less sweet than conventional ice cider, sets them apart from the rest (375 ml bottle, 11% alcohol,  about $25 CAD).

Union Libre fire cider, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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UNION LIBRE fire cider, Dunham, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

 

UNION LIBRE fire cider pouring, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Anouschka Bouchard, UNION LIBRE fire cider pouring, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Anouschka Bouchard, owner and cider and wine maker, offers tastings paired with cheeses and fine meat products. Note: These alcoholic beverages are sold as wines in the USA but as ciders in Canada.

Duck

On weekends Brome Lake Ducks in Knowlton offers samples of its many products. Established in 1912, it is the oldest and largest duck-breeding farm in Canada.

Canards Lac Brome, Brome Lake Ducks, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Canards Lac Brome, Brome Lake Ducks, Knowlton, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

fois gras, Brome Lake Ducks, Knowlton, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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fois gras, Brome Lake Ducks, Knowlton, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Brome Lake ducks are raised and fattened naturally, not force-fed, and are given a mash of cereals and soy enriched with vitamins and minerals for a more flavorful and less fatty meat.

Ice cream

Laiterie de Coaticook Ltée is a dairy that is one of the largest ice cream manufacturers in Québec.

Laiterie de Coaticook, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Laiterie de Coaticook, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Laiterie de Coaticook, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Laiterie de Coaticook, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Laiterie de Coaticook, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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cheese curds, Laiterie de Coaticook, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

We couldn’t resist the ultra-Canadian tire et pépites d’érable (maple taffy and nuggets), a creamy confection embedded with with Québec maple sugar candy.

Lavender

Bleu Lavande, Fitch Bay, Eastern Townships
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Bleu Lavande, Fitch Bay, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

It’s the scents of Provence at Bleu Lavande in picturesque Fitch Bay. Discover the soothing and therapeutic, medicinal, culinary and aromatherapeutic benefits properties of lavender when you take a tour, visit the distillery or relax in a lavender-infused theater to learn the history of Bleu Lavande.

Dine at a picnic tables or in the bistro, where locally smoked meats and lavender-enhanced salads, quiches, breads, desserts, and teas are served. Bleu Lavande is open mid-May to mid-October.

Soap, sweets, and savories

Savon des Canton and Gourmet par Nature, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Savon des Canton and Gourmet par Nature, Magog, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

There was an array of natural handmade soaps and other skin care products at the factory shop at Savon des Cantons in Magog.

Savon des Cantons in Magog, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Savon des Cantons in Magog, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

soaps, Savons des Cantons, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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soaps, Savons des Cantons, Magog, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Groups can even learn to make their own soap.

owners, Gourmet par Nature, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Laurent Grimon and co-owner France, Gourmet par Nature, in the Eastern Townships region of  Québec, Canada

Gourmet par Natur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Gourmet par Natur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

Gourmet par Natur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Gourmet par Natur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gourmet par Natur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Gourmet par Natur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

Gourmet par Natur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Gourmet par Natur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch at the adjacent Gourmet par Nature includes their products made with highly nutritious sea-buckthorn berries — an array of mustards, confits, and jellies —  and may be enjoyed on the terrace.

buckthorn poster, Savons des Cantons, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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buckthorn poster, Savons des Cantons, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Gourmet par Nature, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Gourmet par Nature, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Packages combine guided tours, hands-on soap-making or demonstrations, lunch and a private visit to the Abbaye de St-Benoît ($5-$39 CAD).

Wine

The view alone is worth a stop at Léon Courville’s Domaine Lac Brome in Ville Lac-Brome, named for the owner who combined his love of wine and nature.

Léon Courville vigneron Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Domaine Les Brome, Léon Courville, vigneron, in Ville Lac Brome in the the Eastern Townships region of, Québec, Canada

 

wine bottles, Léon Courville vigneron
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Domaine Les Brome, Léon Courville, vigneron, in Ville Lac Brome in the the Eastern Townships region of, Québec, Canada

This 350 acre estate with twelve grape varietals and 80,000 vines is on the hillside of Mount Brome with an unobstructed view of Mount Orford, Glenn, Echo, Owls Head and Sutton.

Léon Courville vigneron in Lac-Brome, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Domaine Les Brome, Léon Courville, vigneron, in Ville Lac Brome in the the Eastern Townships region of, Québec, Canada

Warm air from the lake creates a microclimate that extends the growing season for a late fall harvest. Harvesting and sorting is done manually and no insecticides are used.

After a wine tasting of the red, white, rosé and ice wines we chose the Vin de glace Vidal  2013 ($32), well priced for an ice wine, which takes six times as many grapes as other wines.

For those with deeper pocketss, there’s the exceptional Vin de glace Chardonnay 2013 at $100 CAD.

Wine

Vignoble de l’Orpailleur, Québec’s first winery, is across the street from Union Libre in Dunham. It is on the wine route and part of a network of economusées —  businesses that showcase their trade, share their knowledge, and sell products that are made onsite.

Vignoble de l'Orpailleur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Vignoble de l’Orpailleur, Dunham, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Vignoble de l'Orpailleur, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Vignoble de l’Orpailleur, Dunham, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

 

“L’Orpailleur” means goldseeker, a term from the poet Gilles Vigneault.

The vineyard began when Hervé Durand and Charles-Henri de Coussergues, from France collaborated with Frank Furtado and Pierre Rodrigue of Québec create a successful vineyard in this area known for harsh winters.

award-winning ice ciders, Tire-Bouchon, Vignoble de l'Orpailleur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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award-winning ice ciders, Tire-Bouchon, Vignoble de l’Orpailleur, Dunham, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Their wines have won over 130 medals and comprise over forty percent of the SAQ’s Québec wine sales.

Tire-Bouchon restaurant at Vignoble de l'Orpailleur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Tire-Bouchon restaurant at Vignoble de l’Orpailleur, Dunham, in the Eastern Townships region of Québec, Canada

Its seasonal  Tire-Bouchon Restaurant offers a menu ranging from sandwiches ($6.50 and up) to Chef Gérald Loiselle’s Cuisseau de canard, canneberge et vin rouge de l’Orpailleur, Duck cuisseau, cranberry and Orpailleur wine sauce ($24.95)

Tire-Bouchon Restaurant, Vignoble de l'Orpailleur 960x960, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Tire-Bouchon Restaurant, Vignoble de l’Orpailleur 960×960, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

Tire-Bouchon Restaurant,Vignoble de l'Orpailleur, soup, 960x960, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Tire-Bouchon Restaurant,Vignoble de l’Orpailleur, soup, 960×960, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tire-Bouchon Restaurant, Vignoble de l'Orpailleur, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
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Tire-Bouchon Restaurant, Vignoble de l’Orpailleur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

Tire-Bouchon restaurant at Vignoble de l'Orpailleur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada
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Tire-Bouchon restaurant at Vignoble de l’Orpailleur, Eastern Townships, Québec, Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t miss the regional specialty tarte au sirop d’erable de madame Michaud, a maple syrup pie baked by the waitress’ mother.

Want to know more? http://www.easterntownships.org

Prices listed are in Canadian dollars (CAD) are as of September, 2015 and subject to change. The favorable exchange rate means that your cost in American dollars is about 3/4 the price listed. Quite a bargain, eh?

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