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Posts Tagged ‘day trips montréal’

The holiday season is fast approaching and soon it will be time to decorate our houses with lots of Christmas decorations. If you’d like to go somewhere really special to select your favourite baubles, why not drive over the border to Burlington in Vermont? It’s just under two hours drive from Montréal.

Burlington itself is a nice small university town with one street of shops, a small mall and a few restaurants. It makes a nice day trip out from Montréal if you fancy a bit of shopping in the USA. Why not combine a trip to Burlington with a visit to the Chrismas Loft?

Located in Shelburne just south of Burlington, the Chrismas Loftis a large building just full of Christmas decorations and what’s more, they have a Christmas village in the centre of the store. The choice of baubles and decorations is amazing and the prices are correct. It’s a chic store, not bargin basement at all, without being extorsionately expensive.

Hint: if you’re driving to Burlington from Montréal, ignore your sat nav and take the autoroute 15-S towards New York State. Once over the border, leave the highway at exit 43 direction Champlain and then follow road signs towards Burlington. It takes about 5 minutes longer, but it’s a much more senic drive.

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Knowlton is the largest village in the town of Lac Brome in the Eastern Townships. It’s very much a tourist destination with pretty Victorian villas and various cafés and restaurants. Situated on the edge of Lac Brome, Knowlton is a wonderful destination for a weekend away from Montréal or even for a Sunday lunch out. The village was founded by loyalist settlers that left the US after its declaration of independence from the crown.

There are a lot of nice shops to mooch around, although quite a few less than Magog. Knowlton is very much a village. The Knowlton Station shop is worth a look, they make great sandwiches and cake so worth popping in for afternoon tea too.

Knowlton has also a small museum which is worth a look with articles from the wars and the settlement of the area.

One of the nicer restaurants to eat in is “Le Relais” a old staging inn that is still operating as both an inn and a restaurant. If you’d like to eat here at the weekend it’s imperative to reserve in advance on + 1 450-242-2232.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the area that is reasonably priced, it’s worthwhile looking at Le Cyprès motel. Its small but clean rooms are around $100 + tax which includes a good continental breakfast. Reservations on: 1.866.243.0363

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Cherry Lake in Mont Orford national park

Cherry Lake in Mont Orford national park

Mont Orford is the highest peak and the largest national park in the Eastern Townships. It’s run by the Sépaq so has all the standard facilites including parking, a visitor centre, camp sites and trails.

 

In addition to the national park, the mountain also has an area reserved for alpine skiing, and when there is no snow, gondola rides in the cable car.

The national park has several walking trails of different difficulty, although there is not a vast choice compared to other parks. I have the feeling that this park really comes to life during the winter when there are several cross-country skiing and racket trails.

At this moment in time, the change in the colour of leaves is absolutely spectacular throughout the park and in the surrounding area.

Just outside the Sépaq park is the Ski Centre Orford which is set up for skiing on Mont Orford, but during the summer offers hiking trails up to the summet of the mountain. The easy trail is about 4km long. There is also the gondola cable car which will take you up to the top for the modest fee of $6.50 plus tax.

The nearest town is Orford, but Magog is near by too and has many more hotels, restaurants and shops so makes a good base for exploring the mountain and indeed the rest of the Eastern Townships.

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Pier at North Hatley

Pier at North Hatley

North Hatley is a small village in the Eastern Townships on the north end of Lake Massawippi. It has a population of around 800 people and is one of the prettiest villages in this part of Québec. 

Originally founded by loyalists fleeing an independent America, it is made up essentially of pretty villas overlooking the lake. There is really one road that runs through the village with a few cafés and restaurants and a few tourist oriented shops. There is a good sized car park behind the Pilsner Pub.

Next to the car park there is a children’s play area, a few picnic tables and an unmanned tourist centre. Pop into this centre to pick up a walking tour leaflet for a bit of history of the villas in the village.

North Hatley is a nice place to spend a few quiet and calm hours. Why not come for lunch looking over the lake or afternoon tea?

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Philippe Quesnel   © Sépaq

Walk in Mont Saint Bruno Park - Credit: Philippe Quesnel © Sépaq

Only 40km from Montréal, Mont-Saint-Bruno park is a wooded delight. It’s managed by Parks Québec and thus is part of the Sépaq network.

 

The park consists of a lot of forest, some grassland, five ponds/lakes and some historical buildings. We took the kids on a 3.5km walk through the forest which was really nice. It was very flat so was pretty easy going, although the paths are earth so it takes some effort to push a stroller. We heard the sounds of birds you usually don’t get to hear in Montréal. The trees are generally quite young, so again it’s a different kind of atmosphere from most of the Sépaq parks. For the kids, the big reward at the end is the nice new playground which is handily surrounded by picnic tables so you can have lunch or afternoon tea while the kids play.

It’s also possible to pick your own apples from the orchard, visit a historic mill and of course have some food at the park’s restaurant. At the time of writing, the restaurant had moved to its winter menu and was only serving chicken soup and banana cake so think to bring a picnic. During the winter time there are lots of cross-country skiing trails and even a ski-school to get you started or improve your technique.

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Oka park is just 40km from Montréal and offers a mix of a beach and forest trails. It’s part of the Sépaq network of national parks in Québec.

The beach area is one of the prettiest that I’ve seen in Québec. There is a magnificient and clean sandy beach on the Lac des deux montagnes. There is a service centre here with a restaurant and a shop, although it’s probably better to bring your own food as the quality is quite poor. It’s very much junk food oriented and there is little for vegetarians.

The car park is just next to the service centre and the beach – a row of mature trees seperates it so once on the beach you don’t know it’s there. The car park is big, but on a hot July day I can imagine that it gets pretty busy.

 

The Service Centre at Oka Park Beach

The Service Centre at Oka Park Beach

 

 

 

Oka park has lots of hiking trails too. If you’re a casual walker, you probably want to do the 3km Grande Baie trail. To get to the start you’ll have to take your car and drive to another service centre (see the map). The Grande Baie is a large marsh land lake with beautiful views of reeds and trees and Canada geese flying overhead.

The trail is marked as easy and it is quite so. There are three or four steepish hills so it’s not totally flat, but otherwise it’s as described. We went around with an umbrella buggy/stroller and found the going okay until the last 500m where there were a lot of rocks and we had to push hard.

 

A swamp at the Grande Baie trail, Oka Park

A swamp at the Grande Baie trail, Oka Park

 

 

The reward at the end of the trail is the observation tower which gives fantastic views and photo opportunities over the bay.

 

The view from the Observation Tower, Oka Park

The view from the Observation Tower, Oka Park

 

 

In addition, there is a jetty that goes out into the lake. First you walk through the reeds and then suddenly you’re walking just a few centimetres above the water. It’s truely amazing and awe-inspiring. Canada’s natual landscape is breathtaking! All of this just 40km from Montréal. Wow!

Oka park is an excellent destination for a day trip from Montréal with the family. As well as hiking you can also take your bikes (or rent one from the service centre) to visit one of the many trails. There are also canoes and pedalos for hire on the beach.

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It’s the Labour Day holiday here in Canada and that marks the beginning of the apple picking season. For a great day out, you can drive down to the south west of Québec and visit one of the many orchards on the Route de la Pomme / Apple Route.

We visited Arthur’s Orchard which specialises in apples and maple syrup. Arthur’s has a “U-pik” area in between maple trees and corn fields where you can pick your own apples in a quiet country environment. The rows of trees are all labelled with the different varieties of apples that are offered by Arthur’s Orchard.

Then you can visit the cafe and shop, pick up a homemade soup or a sandwich and then take a slice of great freshly made pie. When we were there,  three soups and two kinds of sandwiches were available. Of course, as the sandwiches are freshly made, you can choose what you’d like on them.

 

The huge lawn is a wonderful place to sit and relax in beautiful surroundings whilst the kids play in the play area.  There is a pretty pond with a small covered walkway from the ample car park to the cafe and lawn. All in all it’s a great afternoon out on the Route de la Pomme and a very child-friendly one too!

Vergers Arthur’s Orchard

2157 Route 202

Rockburn

J0S 1A0

 

Arthur’s Orchard will welcome you from the beginning of September through till the end of August.

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