Mt. Orford — Other activities
The Eastern Townships Association puts out a terrific tourist guide, so make sure to pick one up. Here are just a few of the things to do besides skiing and riding:
There’s tubing and an ice skating rink at the base of Owl’s Head. Au Diable Vert (888-779-9090; 450-538-5639) in Glen Sutton provides guided snowshoeing, backcountry skiing and dogsledding. Les Randonnèes Jacques Robidas (888-677-8767; 819-563-0166; above) in North Hatley has horse-drawn sleigh rides and dogsledding, by reservation only. Book a half-day or more for dogsledding and learn how to mush your own team.
Local entrepreneur J. Armand Bombardier invented the snowmobile, so there’s plenty of snowmobiling trails: The most popular is a 466-mile circuit (750 km.) of trails called J.-A.-Bombardier Tour. There’s a total of 1,243 miles (2,000 km.) of trails in the Townships. You must pay for an access pass to the trails, ask your lodging for information on where to purchase one. If snowmobile races give you a thrill, ask about the dates of the Valcourt Snowmobile Grand Prix and adjust your vacation dates accordingly. You’ll probably also appreciate the Musée J. Armand Bombardier (450-532-5300) in Valcourt, a museum dedicated to Bombardier’s life and the sport’s history. On weekdays you can make reservations to tour the adjacent Bombardier factory.
Visit the breathtakingly beautiful Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey (819-843-4080; below), overlooking Lake Memphremagog, where Benedictine monks have lived a contemplative religious life since 1912. There’s a gift shop where you can purchase Abbey-made products such as cheese and apple cider, as well as religious items. Eucharist is celebrated daily at 11 a.m. in Gregorian chant; Vespers start at 5 p.m. (except Thursday, when they start at 7 p.m.). Appropriate attire (dress or trousers) is required in the Abbey. Hours for November to May are Monday–Friday, 9–10:45 a.m. and 1:30–4:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 9–10:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
The Townships are filled with museums for everything from the art of chocolate to the art of communications. You’ll need to check to see which ones have winter hours. Several local vineyards are open for tastings and guided tours (some have only French-speaking tours); call ahead to inquire about winter hours. You can definitely shop till you drop here. We found wonderful boutique shops selling everything from antiques to handcrafted items. One of our favorites is René Henquin’s Chocolaterie on Principale South in Sutton