Get Out is a monthly column in Bangor Metro magazine featuring a unique vacation spot each time that’s easily accessible from Bangor. This month, we visit Quebec’s Eastern Townships.
I do love a great springtime street trip. And whenever you stay in Maine, nearly any compass point you choose to comply with for a number of hours is going to steer someplace nice.
On this case, let’s journey west to go east.
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More to the point, a four-hour drive west of Bangor takes you over the Maine-Quebec border and smack into Quebec’s Eastern Townships, a region full of lakes, agriculture, farmers markets, gourmand eating places, quaint inns, spa resorts, live shows, vineyards, art and some of the friendliest people you will meet west of Maine. There’s a lot to see, do and style for an extended weekend escape or weeklong vacation.
So, let’s break it down.
Sherbrooke: Quebec’s Queen City
For an extended weekend, one of one of the best Eastern Township destinations is Sherbrooke, which is situated in the center of the region. For those who don’t have quite a bit of time to spend in the Townships, Sherbrooke is an ideal representation of the region. It has all the thrill of an urban area, the cultural opportunities of a heritage middle and the actions out there in a stunning pure setting.
It was the natural outside choices — alright, and the meals — that drew me to the world, so as soon as I checked into The Grand Occasions Lodge Sherbrooke [1 rue Belvédère Sud, grandtimeshotel.com] I turned into biking clothes, grabbed my bike off my automotive rack and went off to take a look at some of the 60 miles of dedicated bicycling paths in and around the metropolis.
It was a perfect early summer time day for pedaling. Warm however not scorching, sunny, clear and gently rolling trails. For my inaugural journey in Sherbrooke, I opted for a loop that took me around Lac de Nations for about 3 miles. From there I adopted paved routes that took me along the Magog and Saint-Francois rivers and ultimately again to my lodge. All in all, I spent about two hours and coated about 15 miles, with lots of stops for cool drinks and photograph ops.
The web website bikemap.internet has some great routes mapped out to experience each on pavement and filth in Sherbrooke.
Julia Bayly | BDN
Taste of the Townships
There’s nothing like time spent on a bike to work up an appetite and no place fairly like Sherbrooke to satisfy that appetite.
Taking the advice from the type people at the entrance desk at my lodge, I walked the brief distance to Marche de la Gare de Sherbrooke [720 place de la Gare, marchedelagare.com].
It might not have been the wisest option to go in there as hungry as I used to be.
Simply put, it’s the type of place you possibly can eat your approach by means of a region without ever leaving a building. Properly, except in summer time, once you need to step outdoors to check out the overflow of vendors and craftspeople providing the most effective of japanese Quebec food, wine, beer and handmade items.
These seasonal vendors come and go relying on the time of the yr — mid- to late-summer is the perfect time to catch the greatest selection — but Marche de la Gare all the time has something to supply because of its permanent residents.
At Fromagerie de la Gare [fromageriedelagare.com] I was capable of pattern from amongst greater than 150 varieties of local, nationwide and international cheeses. In the long run, I fortunately left with a package deal of recent Louis d’Or, a Quebec cheese which has been named Canadian Cheese of the Yr several years operating.
At William J. Walter Saucissier [williamjwalter.com], I shifted my consideration from cheese to meat. There they’ve been upping the Quebec sausage recreation for greater than three many years.
Now, I do love good sausage, and what I noticed at William J. Walter blew my thoughts. Among the many 60 or so varieties have been bison, darkish chocolate and port; duck with orange peel; turkey, pear and brie cheese; pork, figs and rosemary; pork, goat cheese and mangos; rabbit and hazelnuts; and my private favourite of wild boar with blueberries and ice cider.
With a recent baguette from a nearby bakery I had the makings for an ideal post-bike experience afternoon rapaste.
Oh, and for dessert? Marche de la Gare had me coated at Savoroso [savoroso.com] the place the recent mango gelato was a refreshing final touch.
For dinner I headed over to Restaurant La Desk du Chef [11 rue Victoria, latableduchef.ca]. Situated in a former presbytery, this is yet one more dining choice that pays homage to the foods of the area. Chef Alain Labrie together with his wife Joelle Beaupre use that native fare to create French-inspired cuisine. I discovered the environment cozy, relaxed and welcoming.
As for the roasted elk medallions served in a black tea sauce with roasted greens? Chic.
Julia Bayly | BDN
Strolling with locals
For my second day in Sherbrooke, I made a decision to take advantage of the town’s “volunteer greeters.” These are residents who know Sherbrooke and the encompassing space just like the again of their palms. In truth, they solely factor they love more than their metropolis is displaying it off to visitors.
Greeters are personal tour guides and have to be booked at the least 48 hours in advance by means of sherbrookgreeters.com where you possibly can select your greeter based mostly on areas of expertise together with food, historical past, artwork, music, religion, sports or night time life.
So, brilliant and early on a Saturday morning I used to be grabbing a cup of coffee and getting to know my personal greeters Karine and Marcel, a retired couple with a shared fondness of meals, microbrew beer, nature and metropolis life.
After we acquired to know a bit about one another, we headed out on foot to explore the town. Alongside the best way we made a bit of a recreation seeing if I might spot any of the 16 large murals that remember Sherbrooke’s historical past and tradition [murales-sherbrooke.com], to not point out turn neighborhoods into fantastic road museums.
I’m proud to say I discovered about half the murals during our four-hour stroll.
Alongside the best way Karine and Marcel chatted with me concerning the metropolis’s history and indulged my want for a return trip — cooler in hand — to Marche de la Gare, the place I purchased extra cheese, sausage and bread to convey house with me.
Marcel even carried the loaded cooler again to my lodge for me. Speak about a greeter who went the extra mile.
Luxury meets rest
After saying goodbye to my new associates, I packed up my bike and automotive and drove a half-hour south to Ayers Cliff, Quebec, and Ripplecove Lakefront Lodge and Spa [700 chemin Ripplecove, ripplecove.com].
Situated down a windy personal street and hugging the shore of Lake Massawippi, Ripplecove Lakefront Lodge and Spa is the type of place that manages to strike that good stability of rustic and luxurious, attention to detail and relaxed environment. I used to be smitten the second I walked in to the foyer that appeared like something out of an 18th century searching lodge. There was gorgeously crafted picket furniture, bookshelves jammed with an eclectic choice of reading supplies, oil work on the wall, decorative sculpted animal heads wanting down from a number of corners and large home windows overlooking the lake.
The very first thing I did upon arrival was schedule a massage because, you already know, luxury.
The spa is situated down on a decrease degree and furnished with the type of crafted rustic chairs, lamps and tables you discover at many upscale Maine sporting camps. Tons of wood, cozy cushions and partitions paneled in knotty pine.
The masseuse Vincent ushered me into a personal room where the window was open to let in the smells and sounds of the lake — lapping water, rustling leaves and birdsong.
It’s not a stretch to say I was asleep before any muscle was massaged and all too quickly my 60-minutes have been up.
Wrapped in a fluffy robe and sipping herbal tea on the patio simply outdoors the spa I feel my post-massage classification could possibly be listed as liquid.
Afterward I walked around the inn’s 12-acre grounds the place, if I needed, I might have borrowed any of the canoes, row-boats, kayaks or bicycles out there for friends.
As an alternative, I headed back to my peaceable room for a nap.
That night, feeling refreshed and remarkably hungry given my lack of physical exercise, I headed to the inn’s Le Riverain Restaurant, where I was joined by owner and innkeeper Jefferey Stafford who gave me a history of the inn. He stated it started in 1945 as a seasonal sporting camp for fishermen coming in from New York City and Montreal to fish the lakes and escape the heat of the cities.
Lately Ripplecove Lakefront Lodge and Spa continues to be a well-liked vacation spot for many who wish to fish. The truth is, in response to Stafford it’s nonetheless potential to tug 25-pound gray trout of Lake Massawippi. And the chef will prepare that catch, if you would like.
The inn can also be now open year-round and presents a full spectrum of winter activities from snowmobiling options to ice fishing to skiing or snowshoeing with days ending wrapped in Hudson Bay Blankets in entrance of a bonfire sipping scorching chocolate.
In the summer there’s climbing, cycling, water actions and merely sitting on the dock next to the lake taking it all in.
“People who come here want to escape and disconnect from their daily lives,” Stafford stated. “We mostly get couples who want to recharge.”
Ripplecove Lakefront Lodge and Spa doesn’t discourage visitors with youngsters, but Stafford careworn any youngsters are expected to be properly behaved and underneath the entire management of their mother and father at all times.
And if not?
“Our staff is trained to deal with kids,” Stafford stated with amusing. “But really, we are not a family resort.”
Somewhat, he describes his inn as “12 acres of some of the most idyllic settings you will ever experience.”
I consider him. The night time I slept at Ripplecove was one of one of the best nights of sleep I had gotten in some time.
Then there’s the dining, which pulls closely from the world’s local meats, produce and other seasonal edibles.
While there I had the Ripplecove smoked salmon with citrus crème fraiche for an appetizer earlier than my dinner of arctic char with almond and candy pepper crust, roasted nuts, basil oil and celeriac purée. Each course was accompanied by a wine from the inn’s 5,000-bottle cellar featuring a variety of 500 totally different wines.
As full as I used to be from dinner, I used to be amazed how hungry I was for breakfast the subsequent morning.
Hungry sufficient for the inn’s eggs benedict on an English muffin with lobster, spinach and Mornay sauce — and a very, really good cup of espresso.
Then it was time to say goodbye to Mr. Stafford and Ripplecove. However I vowed to return. Among the many things I did not have an opportunity to do was a 22-mile bike experience that might take me from Quebec into Vermont. How enjoyable would that be?
Poutine U for me
On the best way house I took a bit of a aspect journey to Drummondville, Quebec, for one cause and one cause solely: poutine. That scorching, gooey mix of layered French-fried potatoes, gravy and recent cheese curds referred to as to me.
Drummondville lays claim to being the birthplace of poutine, which is considerably debatable. What just isn’t debatable is that the town can also be house to what’s informally referred to as “Poutine University” in the previous School d’affaires Ellis.
There, the proprietor of the restaurant chain Planete Poutine has developed a training facility for potential Planete Poutine franchise house owners to get schooled in all things poutine.
This I needed to see and sample.
The in depth menu had the standard fries-cheese-gravy choice together with signature versions made with sausage and bacon or scorching sauce and excessive “prestige” choices, including poutine topped with smoked meat, pulled pork or a whole green salad.
Then it was on to residence, a cooler packed to the brim with edible goodies, a digital camera full of pictures and my thoughts already full of plans for a return journey.
Know earlier than you go:
— You need a legitimate passport or passport card to cross in and out of Canada. In case you are a Maine resident or resident of any US-Canada border state, you might also use your legitimate passport card.
— In case you are purchasing, particularly for food or alcoholic beverages to deliver house, examine what you and can’t cross back into the U.S. by wanting at the U.S. Customs and Border Safety online website underneath “Travelers bringing food into the U.S. for personal use.” [cbp.gov]
— Quebec’s individuals are very proud of their French language and heritage. But don’t fear about being understood or talking to individuals. Nearly everyone in the province is French-English bilingual, and they love sharing info.
— Detailed info on touring to and in The Eastern Townships may be found on-line at easterntownships.org
This story was initially revealed in Bangor Metro’s Might 2019 situation. To subscribe to the magazine, click on right here.