You don’t have to travel far to feel like you are a long way from home. Earlier this summer my husband suggested we take a weekend to explore the Magog region at the northernmost point of Lake Memphremagog.
Previous summers found us boating on the lake, crossing the border and cruising as far as Georgeville and exploring Fitch Bay, but we had never been to Magog.
I booked a room for us at The Manoir des Sables in Orford, about four miles north of Magog.
It proved to be the ideal spot. It had all the things we enjoy – proximity to the Lake; bike trails; hiking at nearby Mont Orford; an outdoor swimming pool; a small lake with kayaks, canoes and paddle boats; a spa with indoor pool, hot tub and various other Nordic type spas; a golf course (actually two); and a gourmet restaurant on site.
As we traveled from Jay Peak, where we spent the first night of this long weekend, we went through Newport in the midst of ground breaking news and got some shots of the devastation from moments before.
Traveling north around the eastern side of Lake Memphremagog, passing over Fitch Bay, we viewed this ‘castle’ from afar and vowed to learn more about it before returning home.
After a grueling day of traveling across foreign borders and driving for over an HOUR we checked in and headed for the pool to relax.
Ahh, such relaxation!
That night we splurged on a lovely dinner at the hotel restaurant, Les Jardins. It was scrumptious.
Our room looked over the small lake in the back and gorgeous sunrises.
The next morning we biked into the city of Magog. We went in on the main route, 141, and headed for the nearest information center. There we discovered there were extensive cycling trails in the area and we could access them all the way back to Manoir des Sables. We explored the city of Magog a bit, planning to come back in the evening for dinner. In my mind I’d been expecting Magog to be a quaint french village, but it felt more like a Hampton Beach to me. I did enjoy the park area built along the lake for walkers and cyclists, with it’s scenic places to sit and enjoy the peacefulness of the lake.
We ended up going into Magog twice more during our stay. Friday night we ate at The Liquor Store, downtown. I picked it because I liked the classic rock music the live band was playing. There was no wait because this place has ‘getting them in and out fast’ down to a fine art. Dave had a nice salmon dinner and I enjoyed a spicy honey chicken breast sandwich. It was good, but too noisy for us to talk.
Saturday night we dined at L’Ancrage on the terrace. It is located on the Route Verte cyling trail overlooking the lake. I was thrilled to see mussels on the menu, so that’s what I ordered, provençale. They were DELICIOUS! Our meal was served with a full basket of bread, including herb bread sliced thin and baked to a yummy crunchiness, which was perfect to dip in the musselly provençale juices.
At the hotel there are actually two golf courses. A little par 3 where you can play as much as you want for $7.00 and the 18 hole professional course, which was busy, busy, busy.
One day we visited the public beach in Magog. The view of Owls Head more than 20 miles away was perfect.
The beach – not so much. The ‘sand’ was dirty, the water milfoily, and the bottom mucky, mucky, mucky. The swimming area is roped off, only allowing you to go to a depth waist-high.
Another day we traveled to Parc National du Mont-Orford. It cost us $22.00 to enter the park where we could swim at a small beach that was part of the campground there. We did access the bike trails, covering about 7 km. One stop was La Sarracenie, a cabin where hikers can spend a night. The cabin was complete with multiple bunk beds, a gas stove, kerosene lanterns, running water and an outhouse.
Oh, and this peaceful setting.
We left Sunday, traveling toward Owls Head to check out the ski area and golf courses there. Along the way we did stop at that ‘castle’ seen earlier from the other side of the Lake.
It isn’t actually a castle, but the Abbey of Saint Benoit du Lac.
Being Sunday the monks were in the midst of mass. We were allowed to stroll through and observe. It was a peaceful visit.
Owls Head was our last stop. The ski area was totally abandoned with no available information for hiking in the area. We stopped briefly at the golf course for information. It’s another gorgeous northeast course.
Soon we were over the border and home again. All this done in about 200 miles, round trip. Though we were so close to home it felt like, well, like being in a foreign country.
Okay, we were in a foreign country. One where I think we’ll spend more time in the future.
Bonjour, por maintenant!