Road Trip Across the Townships: Cycling, an Open-air Museum, a Farm Visit, and Plenty of Cider!

Published on Jun 10, 2021

Although I’ve passed through Granby quite often, I have to admit I never gave this city the attention it deserves! I flirted with the city from time to time, as well as with its renowned zoo, and attended a few shows during their highly reputed Festival international de la Chanson de Granby. Therefore, when I was offered to spend a few days here, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to rectify the situation.

By Ariane Arpin-Delorme

Accompanied by my good friend Émilie, I took up residence for a couple of days at the chic Saint-Christophe, Hôtel Boutique et Spa. To our great delight, we were able to try some of the cares offered at the hotel spa. Our recommendations? The NeuroSpa lounging chair, with its vibrating massage system synchronized to music; the Psio, a combination of light therapy and guided meditation along with the hotel’s newest acquisition, the Slim Wave, an electronic system procuring the same exercise impacts felt when performing sit-ups or squats, for example.

Our Cocooning Highlight:

We ended the day sitting in the outdoor jacuzzi, before going to our balcony overlooking Lake Boivin to enjoy our hearty salads from the Café de la Brûlerie.

Riding on one of Québec’s best cycling networks

Because our hotel is located by Lake Boivin, we have direct access to the Estriade bike path, Québec’s first closed-circuit cycling network. Now this is a true innovative project: Restoring an old railway and transforming it into a multiple-use system, offering cyclists to enjoy the region’s attractions from a different perspective. We opted for the 54 km loop circuit along this third-best network according to the requirements of Pistescyclables.ca. I must say, I didn’t expect to discover so many beautiful natural landscapes! All these incredible views overlooking rivers and lakes, pedalling on perfectly maintained forest paths! The route has only a few elevations (a maximum of 2%)—just enough to give us the impression we’re getting a little more out of our work out—but still accessible to everyone. Émilie couldn’t stop saying: “Wow, it’s really very nice here! Although it’s not far at all from where I live, I never knew that such a great environment existed right here!” Having prepared a picnic, we ate on our way on one of the many tables set all along the route, often by the water.

We rode through the town of Waterloo with which I’m already familiar, but which I was glad to revisit from the perspective of a bicycle ride. From this moment on, we continued the route on the Campagnarde bike path that takes us to the Parc National de la Yamaska, by way of Warden. Being large scale protected territory, this park is a perfect example of a typical Appalachian Lowlands forest valley. I remember spending some time in the summer on the very long beach set on the shores of the Choinière Reservoir. I noticed that today we can still rent bicycles, canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats.

Our Personal Favourite Cultural Attraction:

During our long bicycle outing, we enjoyed stopping here and there to admire not only the landscape but also the Artria exhibition sculptures spread throughout the bike path. This impressive open-air museum exhibits more than sixty works of art in the middle of nature, all created over time, during five international symposiums.

On the Réseau des Haltes Gourmandes

We head out in the destination of an orchard, but we first stopped by the café-boutique Caféine & Co on the Rue Principale in Granby. What a find! When we arrive at the Verger Champêtre gîte & compagnie, accompanied by Sheldon, we were immediatly invited to take a long walk across the vast landscaped property. They’ve thought of everything to offer a totally different experience: farm animals, a Christmas tree plantation, a gigantic vegetable garden, medicinal plant gardens, an aviary, etc. We were served a lunch fit for a king on the terrace before we raided their boutique which showcases their homemade terroir and processed products. During autumn, it is THE place to go for self-picking fruits and vegetables. Throughout our stay, Émilie, who’s always thinking of ways to organize family events, often tells me: “Another place to put on my list to (re) discover with my kids. Perfect also for an outdoor activity day with my grandparents.” Without a doubt, this agritourism activity promises to be a lot of fun for both small and tall!

Then, as we continue on the Réseau des Haltes Gourmandes, on our discovery and artisan encounter day we visit another not-to-be-missed venue, the Cidrerie Milton, established since 2004 in Sainte-Cécile-de-Milton. Before this visit of the third largest cidery of Québec, I must admit I felt a little reluctance about the taste of cider in general. A guided tour through the dwarf and miniature apple trees, the pressing centre and some tastings won me over. Thanks also to Charles-Olivier who, in the cidery’s vast gourmet boutique, took the time to have us savour the fruits of their labour. We savoured a selection of 6 of their more than 25 artisanal products recognized around the world for their refinement.

Our favourite Artisan Moment:

The warm welcome offered by the team at the Cidrerie Milton, who passed on to us their passion for their work. A special thanks to Éric, R&D winemaker, and previously a historian, who knew how to immediatly capture our attention. Did you know that apples (Alma in Kazakh) is a word originating from Kazakhstan in Central Asia? Éric also explained to us how the apple industry evolved since the Nouvelle-France period and about the introduction of the Mckintoch species. We spent a good while in his experimental cellar—filled with trade secrets—where ciders are fermented in barrels. Have you ever had the good fortune of tasting a cider with aromas of rum or tequila? —Quite surprising indeed!

In fact, the same can be said of our entire stay here!

The next time I’m in the area, I won’t miss (re) discovering…

  • The Zoo de Granby
  • Granby’s public market
  • Granby’s Rue Principale, its businesses and parks
  • The other Haltes Gourmandes of the Haute-Yamaska network
  • The Centre d’interprétation de la nature du lac Boivin
  • The Café Madame Hortense

Ariane Arpin-Delorme

Author of 5 books, travel columnist and consultant, CEGEP Tourism Techniques Program teacher and speaker, Ariane Arpin-Delorme is truly passionate about all her endeavours. Having travelled to more than 75 countries, she has collected a ton of experiences within the tourism industry. She founded the Parfums d’Asie tourism agency a couple of years ago, then Esprit d’Aventure in 2013. What drives her? Travelling, writing, being introduced to different cultures, rambling and hiking up high peaks, diving and sailing! In 2019, she completed Megantic’s Mini-Compostelle Route, and right away felt the need to return to the Townships to enjoy more adventures here.
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