Everyone has heard of Montreal and Quebec City, and if you live in the Northeast, it’s likely you have made the trip to one of these beautiful cities, not far from our borders. I have made several visits to Montreal, but until a few weeks ago, I never gave any thought to the countryside in the province of Quebec. I received an email from Tourism Canada regarding their road trip itineraries for the Eastern Townships (Cantons de l‘Est) of Quebec, and I was immediately interested in exploring the region.
They very generously invited us to be their guests on a road trip to the Eastern Townships, and since we had never even thought to visit the area, we were more than excited to start exploring.
The drive from Boston through New Hampshires mountains, into Vermont, and across the border into Quebec was absolutely breathtaking. I have not made this drive before, and I just don’t know why. We live in a stunning part of the world!
The Eastern Townships border the US, making them a quick 4-5 hour drive from Boston. But the feeling you get when you are there, is like you are worlds away from the city, and that is just what we were hoping for. Everything is more relaxed in a setting like this, and with a warm welcome from our Québécois hosts.
We learned that the Eastern Townships are a prime location for outdoors activities, year round. Cyclists by the hundreds filled the shoulders of the country roads, braving steep hills to take in the vistas. Clean, sparkling lakes and rivers made ideal places for boating, swimming, fishing, and kayaking. And in the winter, of course, there is skiing, snow-shoeing, skating, and raw natural beauty of snowy mountains dotted by inns. And of course maple everything.
Quebec’s Eastern Townships’ natural beauty makes its way into the cuisine of the region as well, making it a gourmet destination. An emphasis on fresh, local food is prevalent and is evident as you drive through the beautiful country passing orchards, honey stands, cideries, and various types of farms. One must-visit location in the sleepy, charming town of Sutton brings all of these things together in one place. Once a general store, La Rumeur Affamée now focuses on food, and only the best food at that.
The outside of the store, on a warm summer day with blue skies, was akin to a farmers’ market with local produce in abundance.
Inside, a cheese case stretched for ten feet or more and was stocked with local cheeses as well as cheese from France, Italy, Switzerland, and even Ireland. Meats, jams, spreads, olive oils, vinegars, and pates round out half of the store.
The other half of the store, was of course, devoted to gorgeous breads and baked goods. La Rumeur Affamée is the perfect place to grab a picnic to bring along for a wander in the Eastern Townships’ countryside and more importantly, the Wine Route.
The Vignobles of the Eastern Townships make quality wine, served in rustic settings in the countryside. Places like Vignobles Les Trois Clochers are sprinkled along the Route du Vins serving locally grown and made wines that are a delightful surprise to the palate.
We tasted several wines at Les Trois Clochers and enjoyed them all but fell completely in love with their Métis, a Rosé made with Chambourcin, Sabrevois, and Seyval Noir. This wine is dry and peppery with a definite kick from the spice in the Chambourcin.
I loved how rural the wine region of the Eastern Townships is. Again, it added to the feeling of relaxation and the people’s connection to their natural surroundings.
The people of the Eastern Townships are living life to its fullest, and they invite all of us to join them!