Every couple with kids needs to get away for at least one weekend every year – without the kids. (I hear the French do it every month!) When we got a chance to escape last weekend (thanks to my parents who agreed to babysit) we headed (but of course!) to the French speaking region of Quebec, Canada. Nobody wants to waste half the “away” time on driving, but 4.5 hours each way to Magog, Canada (just over the Canadian border, in southeastern Quebec) from our Boston suburb was doable over the 2 night/3 day long weekend.
SO WHY MAGOG?
They speak French!
The city of Magog in Eastern Townships region of Quebec is predominately French speaking, so those of us who long for more frequent European escapes get some of our wishes – without crossing the Atlantic!
They Know Spas!
We love “relaxation by water” spas and try to spend a few hours (if not more) at these spas on every trip we take. There are a number of traditional Nordic spas in Quebec region and Magog has several of them. On this most recent getaway we were quests of the Spa Nordic Station. It is a year-round day spa offering traditional heat/cold treatment areas integrated into the outdoors. When the ambiance is right, I get transported many miles away from the daily routine within the first minutes of the relaxation “cycle”. Spa Nordic Station passed the test!
I don’t know how it would feel in the winter, but on the hot late spring day last weekend a rustic woodsy “look and feel” of the spa Nordic Station was just right! Most of the relaxation areas and hot/cold pools are outside, but the shadows from the trees and mist from the river protect from the heat. I might have been to the spas with more variety of heat treatments, but you cannot deny the unique ambience of Nordic Station and its immediate relaxation effect.
In the Nordic bath traditions, you start the ritual with heat (at Nordic Station there are Finnish saunas and Russian banya, as well as eucalyptus steam room and California style hot tubs), follow with cold (there is natural river and several cold pools), then finish the cycle with a relaxation time in one of the inside relaxation rooms or on the outside terrace (heat-cold-relax-repeat!)
There are also several massage huts in the woods to add to the cycle (we did not have a chance to try them this time). We visited on a Saturday afternoon and it was not crowded (they are open until 10pm most days, $45 per person ($30 after 5pm) with towels included, but robe rental is extra). Kids under 16 are not allowed (which further promotes the spirit of relaxation), and most areas are marked with the “silence, please” signs.
They have Lake Memphremagog
The 30-mile long lake runs from Vermont and has some mountains on its Western side making for a pretty view. We were lucky to be surrounded by 180 degrees water views onto the Lake from our rental apartment in Condos Memphrémagog.
There is a beach and a promenade by the lake in the center of town, as well as a designated lake bike path.
There are also gourmet dinner cruises and daily 2-hour cruises. Day cruises are another frequent activity on our travel agenda and we plan to give these a chance in Magog on one of the future visits (and we will be back- there are more spas to experience!)
They Make Their Own Cheese
Technically, a cheese making factory belongs to the 50-person community of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac that comprises the factory and the 1912 abbey. You cannot access the abbey grounds (marked as private), but a church with an impressive organ as well as boutique store (with offerings of locally made cheese, jams and honey) are open to the public.
You Can Day Trip to Montreal
The big city bustle of Montreal is 75 miles away (less than 1.5 hour drive) from Magog. After our spa relaxation on day 1 of our trip, we were ready for a big city escape on the afternoon of day 2.
We enjoyed pretty country roads (stopped at the Abbey on our way) before immersing ourselves for a couple of hours into city life.
Once in the city, we parked near the Old Town and then spent a couple of hours just walking around in the Old Port area along St. Lawrence river.
(Apparently, one of us longed for more excitement, so He went on a zip lining ride which afforded an opportunity for this shot of the Old Town:)
The central Place Jacque Cartier is bustling with locals and tourists watching the impromptu artist acts.
For a quiet walk away from the crowds follow the river boardwalk to the Horloge (“Clock”) Tower.
There is an interesting looking “Clock Tower Beach” right by the Clock Tower:
Montreal is known for a variety of its night time offerings but when we get to visit without the kids, we usually indulge in a 3-hour gourmet culinary experience. There are a couple of “bring your own wine” small French restaurants of this kind in Montreal where menu changes daily, you are not rushed, and every course delights your senses (and the bill does not break your budget!). On our most recent visit we dined in “Quartier General” on Rue Gilford in the residential district Le Plateau and were not disappointed!
They Have Beautiful Seasons
In winter, Magog is a popular destination for cross-country skiing. National Park Oxford Mountain is beautiful in summer and fall. The annual September festival Fête des Vendanges Magog-Orford (right by the Lake) hosts local farmers and winemakers and is a delight for everyone who enjoys good wine and food (we were lucky to participate during one of our visits several years ago).
Have you gone on an adult weekend getaway recently? Where did you go?
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