*By Natalie Taylor*
I always say that there’s so much more to the province of Quebec than the cities of Montreal and Quebec City. The Eastern Townships — a short drive one hour south-east of Montreal — is one of those examples. Comprised of notable towns like Sherbrooke, Eastman/Orford, Bromont, and North Hatley, the Cantons de L’est (the region’s French name) is an ideal weekend escape. Here’s where to stay and play in the Eastern Townships:
Though this cozy boutique property is known as the après–ski destination in the winter, it’s equally as beautiful in the summer and fall.
The rooms are spacious with lofty, high ceilings, and feature a winding staircase and an upstairs loft, either as another bedroom or living area. The bed in my room was one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept on…
In addition to the spa, there are five hot tubs on the terrace at Hôtel Château-Bromont overlooking the mountain. You can take the ski-lift year-round and the picturesque destination is popular for weddings and events. Les Quatre Canards Restaurant is an ambient experience at dinner with live music being played on the piano. (Listening to one of the songs from Amelie was a highlight for me.)
Overlooking Lake Massawippi and in the heart of North Hatley, Quebec, Manoir Hovey is an ideal estate for a retreat that makes you feel like you’re in Cape Cod or the Hamptons…
The luxury Relais & Châteaux property recently attracted celebrities like Bill Clinton and was ranked as one of the best hotels in the world by the readers of Travel + Leisure. It’s easy to see the appeal: cozy rooms with modern features (from flat screen TVs to Nespresso coffee machines); a welcoming library where you can lounge all day; and exciting off-site activities like a lake cruise, seaplane adventure, and VéloVolant (a bicycle trek through the treetops).
In true French fashion, Manoir Hovey’s restaurant, Le Hately, is a traditional fine dining experience featuring foraged ingredients from the region. The highlight for me? A three-tiered cheese cart featuring some of Quebec’s finest cheeses.
Learn about what goes into developing lavender products through a guided tour at Bleu Lavande. You’ll also be able to get that Instagram-worthy photo in the peak months of July and August when the fields are in bloom.
Specializing in hydrotherapy, the hot and cold baths are a draw to visitors coming in for the day. Additionally, you can hike the surrounding trails and participate in one of the many wellness activities on offer. We loved Spa Eastman so much that we wrote about the full experience here.
Abbaye De Saint-Benoît-du-Lac
Saint Benedict Abbey is one of the most impressive buildings I have seen with its vibrantly tiled hallways — photographers, take note!
Known for their Gregorian chant service, Abbaye De Saint-Benoît-du-Lac is home to fifty monks who live there under the rule of Saint Benedict. If you are lucky during your visit, you may also catch one of the world’s most famous organists (also a priest) play. Much of the Abbey’s income is derived from the sale of cheese (which is made onsite by the monks) and their award-winning wine and cider. There’s an apple orchard on premise that would make for a fun day trip (they Abbey is less than an hour away from Sherbrooke) and if you’re looking for budget-friendly accommodations, you can stay here for $65/night — the rate includes three meals!
A smaller town in comparison to Montreal, Sherbrooke has the same cosmopolitan vibe on its main strip, Wellington Street. I was really impressed with the quality of boutiques here including Glori.us and restaurants like Auguste that offer a relaxed vibe and sophisticated dishes. The menu changes often at Auguste, but thumbs up for their locally-sourced meats and vegetables and the juicy scallops!
If you’re looking to get off the beaten path, get out into nature, or to explore the quaint small towns of Quebec, the Eastern Townships is a destination I would highly recommend. It’s worth the road trip! Bon Voyage!
A huge thanks to Tourisme Cantons-de-l’Est for hosting us on this press trip. As always, opinions and reviews are our own. We hope you get a chance to stay and play in the Eastern Townships soon!