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One lake, seven villages

California has its Lake Tahoe; Switzerland, its Lake Geneva; and the Cantons-de-l’Est, its Brome Lake. The region is a paradise for foodies and nature lovers. People come here to play on the water, sample a fine wine or pedal to their heart’s delight. Everywhere you look, the art and culture scene is thriving. To really get to know Brome Lake, there’s nothing like taking a road trip to explore the region’s seven villages. This year, they’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of their merger, so come join the fun!

 

Knowlton. Foster. Fulford. Bondville. Iron Hill. West Brome. East Hill. Many of the village names have a decidedly Anglo-Saxon ring to them, and for good reason. The Cantons-de-l’Est are also known as the Eastern Townships, and for many years, the region’s inhabitants have lived together in harmony, regardless of their mother tongue.

Circling the lake (about 20 km) is a great way to discover the area’s seven villages and can be done by car, bike or motorcycle. No matter what mode of transportation you choose, the country roads offer plenty to see!

 


© David Chapman

 

Knowlton and surroundings

Blessed with stately Victorian homes, Knowlton knows how to highlight its built heritage. Founded in 1849, Auberge Knowlton—a former stagecoach stop—is the oldest hotel in the area. To learn more about county life in the 19th century, a visit to Brome County Historical Society Museum is a must.

There’s lots to see in the village. Along with its small Italian grocery store, artisan bakery, ice cream parlour (cyclists welcome!), antique stores and artist workshops open to the public, Knowlton has lots of friendly little cafés and restaurants.

If it’s a warm day, why not soak up a few rays on a patio before cooling off out on the water? While kitesurfers take to the skies, kayakers and anglers play on the waves. Then it’s time to get moving. Between downtown Knowlton and the village of Foster, there are wonderful hiking and cycling paths, including long stretches that follow the shoreline or cross wetlands on splendid boardwalks.

It’s just a few minutes by car to either the Sugar Hill (Knowlton) or Léon Courville (Fulford) vineyards. If you decide to spend the night, the region has lots of options to choose from, ranging from the lakeside inn to the village B&B, with lots of tourist rentals on tap.

 

On the way to Bondville/West Brome

Leaving the village, you can stock up on a few delicacies at the Brome Lake Ducks store. Did you know that the little Indian restaurant Chez Moi Chez Toi in Bondville is one of the Coups de Food TV show’s top picks? From here, it’s easy to take a small detour to the fields of Les Argousiers du Lac Brome to enjoy a very healthy antioxidant juice and put some pep in your step! Another small detour will bring you to the roads of Iron Hill with their stunning vistas.

En route to West Brome, you might want to stop at Vitalité Sureau, an idyllic spot devoted to a little berry with big nutritional benefits. Philippe and Andrea make products that are both healthy and delicious with the fruit’s nectar. Their renovated barn is also a warm and relaxed setting to enjoy a meal right in the orchard!

From Brome to Knowlton, heading toward East Hill, we recommend completing the loop by taking Stagecoach Road, where the bucolic landscapes never fail to impress. Did you know that Brome Lake (Knowlton) is one of the picturesque villages designated as “coeurs villageois”? All it takes is one visit, and you’ll see why.

 

 Diane Laberge 

The art of living holds no secrets for this wandering soul. Curious by nature, she loves the arts as much as the gourmet addresses and unusual destinations in the Brome-Missisquoi region where she recently settled. For the past 10 years, she has been blogging about her favorite places, here and elsewhere.