The beautiful countryside in the rolling Appalachians offers ski hills, history, great food and wine. Only 1 hour away from Montreal, the Eastern Townships are my favourite weekend getaway. The region of Brome-Missisiquoi is filled with small charming villages.
Historically, the townships were an enclave of English loyalists at the end of the 18th century. This legacy is mostly reflected on the Victorian houses, round barns, and over covered bridges scattered through the region.
Dunham, also known as the wine region of Quebec, is a picturesque town with wineries and Victorian style houses. Almost all vineyards are accessible to the public and you can sample their different products either for free or for a small fee. If you are expecting good wine, this trip might disappoint you as the grapes that survive the harsh Quebec winter are not the best.
Little tip: I always stick to the white wine probably the best product throughout the region.
A great way to explore the wineries is to do the wine route biking. What better way to enjoy a nice summer or fall day by discoveries wines? The route has also picnic areas or stops at local restaurants to catch a break from all the biking & drinking. Their website gives you all the directions and which establishments you can visit along the way. http://www.laroutedesvins.ca/en/the-wine-route/
If wine is not your forté, the region also offers ciders, lots of sugar shacks and fresh berries to pick and enjoy. The fresh air of the countryside and the valley scenery will make the trip worth it.
What not to miss
Be sure to visit L’Orpailleur. Their vines stretch as far as the eye could see. The sunset is the most beautiful hour as the vines leafs turn to gold with the sunset colours.
They offer tours and activities and they also have a small museum of how the wine is made.
Their restaurant, le Tire-Bouchon, offers simple French cuisine with local ingredients. It's also the best winery and the biggest wine producer in the region.
On a more personal note, this was the venue for our wedding. The backdrop was perfect for our rustic & vintage style wedding.
Bromont, better known for the ski resort, the mountain is beautiful year round. It offers several hiking, snowshoes, ski and bike paths. The township also has several lakes where you can swim or just go for a picnic near the water in the hot summer days.
After exploring the mountains, you can go relax at the Amerispa for their thermal experience. It's a small but spa with less fuzz, it is less crowded and cheaper than the popular Balena spa.
Where to eat
If you are a foodie, look for the restaurants in the “Chef Createur” network. This organisation of chefs certifies gourmet experiences based only on local ingredients. These restaurants are most of the time linked to an inn or to a hotel. This might make your choice of lodging much easier. Les Quatre Canards restaurant located in the Chateau Bromont is delicious. Plus, it has a beautiful view to the mountain.
However, my favourite restaurant in the region is Le Cellier du Roi. The famous chef, Jerome Ferrer, will surprise you with the unique savours and original presentation of each plate. I highly recommend the wine pairing formula, their wine selection has something for everyone.
Restaurants like Le Macpherson steakhouse or L’Attelier Archibald (located in Granby) are great restaurants if you are on a budget.
Looking for a European bakery for brunch? Caneal has amazing croissants and offers brunches & lunches formulas where you can try all their products.
For the beer lovers
If you are a beer lover then you are not short on choices. The region offers several breweries to entertain your palate.
Farnham Brewery and Dunham Brewery offer similar kind of beers. Both are located in an old house style with red bricks and wooden pillars. Their beers are a part of the new wave of North American brewers with delightful IPA. If you are short in time then, I will suggest visiting Dunham Brewery. Located downtown Dunham, the brewery is easy to access after wandering in the town. Plus, their restaurant only serves locally produced and organic ingredients.
The Edgar Hyper Tavern is a trendy after ski place decorated as a chalet in Bromont. The bar offers great food and local beer from the West Shefford brewery. If you are in the area during hockey season, this is the place to catch a game.
Where to stay
The region is full of B&B and small hotels. I recommend staying in an Airbnb, if you are in luck you can rent a whole barn for your group of friends.
Chateau Bromont is also a good option if you are planning to stay in Bromont. The chateau is where the Quatre Canard restaurant and the Amerispa are located. This way you don’t have to go very far for your activities.
Auberge St Georges is a Bed & Breakfast that only has 9 rooms & has an outdoor jacuzzi. Located in the heart of the old Bromont, the inn is right in the middle of the action.
I highly recommend to have a car to visit the region, the townships are not as close to one another and there are no taxis in every town.