Little known to outsiders until recently, the Chemin du Terroir winds through small towns and communities in Quebec’s Lower Laurentians region. Along the 226-kilometre, signposted tangle of country roads, travellers can sample the region’s agricultural bounty in the form of baked goods, jams and jellies, wine, cider, craft beer, cheeses and Quebec’s famed maple syrup. As well, at a number of restaurants close to the trail, road-trippers can also savour Quebecois cuisine prepared with local ingredients.
Cheese: Magasin de l’Abbaye d’Oka
Make a pilgrimage to Oka, for the famed cheese of the same name that has been made here for 124 years. Pick up a round of this semi-soft cheese at Magasin de l’Abbaye d’Oka, located just off the official trail.
Apples: Verger Lacroix & Cidrerie
This apple orchard and cidery in Saint-Joseph-du-Lac offers tours of its orchards that include 11 apple varieties. Visit the gift shop for jams, jellies and sauces and to sample the sparkling, ice or fire ciders before you buy.
Take an apiary tour at Intermiel in Mirabel. View bees at work inside an active hive, enjoy a lesson on honey making and tastings of the honey products made here: creamy honey with citrus, ice cider and mead.
Travel tip: Most Canadian-made cheeses and condiments can be taken across the U.S. border, as long they don’t contain meat. One litre of alcohol is allowed per person.
Restaurants in Saint-Sauveur
About 20 minutes from the official trail, the town of Saint-Sauveur is a good base camp for exploring the Chemin du Terroir.
Brunch gets a creative twist at this inviting bistro. Local eggs are poached and artfully served on thick, brioche bread with sides of foie gras, pork shoulder or oyster mushrooms. Omelettes are stuffed with savories such as ratatouille and regional cheeses.
Eating at this homey spot on Saint-Sauveur’s main street is like visiting the home of an old friend who cooks exceptionally well and keeps a stellar wine cellar. The braised rabbit and beef in shallot sauce are soul-satisfying.
Hand-select a bottle from Le Sauvignon‘s impressive wine cellar and indulge in classic French cuisine. Try frog legs sautéed in parsley and garlic or duck breast in maple sauce. For dessert, try the chocolate cake with ganache or lemon sorbet with vodka.
Quebec produces nearly three-quarters of the world’s maple syrup and this delicious “liquid gold” is incorporated into dozens of products available at the region’s sugar shacks (cabanes à sucre), from hard taffy to sugar pies.
Stop by this spot in Mirabel for taffy and a wagon ride through the forest to see where the maple sap is collected.
Also in Mirabel, go here for maple popcorn, maple candy and maple cones.
A little off the trail in Saint Eustache, try the maple syrup-drizzled pancakes or sugar pie.
Set on a vineyard in Saint-Eustache Vignoble Rivière du Chêne’s Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Vidal and Marechal Foch grapevines stretch on for kilometres. The cedar-and-stone tasting room is the place to sip its wines, like a big spicy red (Phénix Red), or its tart and crisp rose (Le Rosé Gabrielle). Try the maple port or an ice wine, as well.
La Roche des Brises in Saint-Joseph-du-Lac offers an hour-long guided tour through the vineyard followed by a wine-tasting session. The on-site restaurant is known for dishes that feature local ingredients prepared with wine-infused sauces like the salmon with citrus fruit in a white wine lemon sauce.
Take a seat on the terrace at Vignoble et Microbrasserie Les Vents d’Ange in Saint-Joseph-du-Lac and enjoy a vineyard view, seasonal country food and craft brews such as the pumpkin-based La 31 or wine produced with hand-harvested grapes.
Getting there: WestJet flies to Montreal 19 times a day from five Canadian, two U.S. and three international cities.