Summer in Québec 2024

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How the Québec City region became a world-class mountain biking mecca BY BERNE BROUDY


Exploring the colorful transformation of Montréal’s once-gritty Griffintown BY ALICE DODGE


A new First Nations-run whale-watching site in Québec melds science and Indigenous culture BY DIANE SELKIRK


A local’s guide to dining in Québec City, from old-school to new BY JORDAN BARRY


A new UNESCO geopark in Québec is a paleontology wonderland — but almost no one visits BY JEN ROSE SMITH


How the Eastern Townships became a bright-star beacon BY FIONA TAPP

is issue is part of a travel series on Québec. e province’s destination marketing organization, Bonjour Québec, is a financial underwriter of the project but has no influence over story selection or content. Find the complete series plus more travel tips at


49 reasons to visit Québec this summer BY PAULA ROUTLY


A summer travel guide to Vermont’s other favorite airport BY JEN ROSE SMITH

2024 SEVEN DAYS QUÉBEC GUIDE 2 500 Matane Gaspé N.H. Maine Mass. Por t- Menier Blanc- Sablon Fermont Kegaska Natashquan Havre-Saint-Pierre Sept-Îles Por t- Car tier G odbout Cacouna B aie - Comeau Les Escoumins Tadoussac Sherbrooke Coaticook Chambly Orford Ayer’s Cliff Trois- Rivières Mont-Tremblant B aie - Saint- Paul Saguenay La Tuque G atineau Ottawa Laval New York Chibougamau Matagami Rivière - du- Loup NEWFOUNDLAND PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND NEW BRUNSWICK ON T A R I O NOVASCOTIA St.LawrenceRiver 112 116 175 73 173 117 117 167 169 138 132 132 185 289 170 170 381 138 138 167 109 155 101 105 148 113 15 15 50 30 55 55 40 20 20 10 35 73 11 11 11 12 400 401 416 417 69 11 17 7 87 95 93 89 89 91 201 90 90 90 90 81 95 1 101 8 2 2 104 Matane S ouris Frederic ton New Hamp shire Maine Vermont Massachuset ts Conne cticut Île s de la M ade lain e Île d Anticos ti Por t- Menier St Barbe Kegaska Natashquan Havre - Saint- Pierre S ep t- Île s Por t- Car tier G odbout G aspé Rim ouski Baie - Comeau Les Escoumins Tadoussac Monc ton For t Kent Por tland Sherbrooke Trois- Rivières Drummonville M ont r éal Chambly B aie - Saint- Paul Q uéb e c S aguenay La Tuque G atineau O t tawa Laval Tor onto N ew York New York B o s ton Chibougamau Matagami Lévis Edmunds ton Rivière - du- Loup Halifax B R U N S W IC K ON T A R I O
É C O SS E Ve r s R a dis s o n Ve r s R a dis s o n FleuveSaint-Laurent
M o nt r é al Vermont Q uéb e c City
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Each time I drive to Montréal, I watch for the big block letters of my favorite sign. When I spot “FARINE FIVE ROSES,” glowing in midcentury red atop a former flour mill on the riverfront, I know I’m nearly downtown. I’m drawn to the sign’s factory-chic hulk, its faded charisma, and that mashup of French and English words — farine means “flour.” As Montréal cartoonist Gabrielle Drolet once tweeted, franglais might be my love language.

In the years I’ve spent exploring Québec since moving to Vermont in 2009, however, my first impression of the Montréal landmark has resolved into something more nuanced. The Five Roses sign hints at the industrial history of a city whose factories and silos have ceded ground, year by year, to condos. A few such spaces have become creative hubs instead: pop-up bars, theater venues and galleries like onetime foundry Fonderie Darling, as Seven Days’ new visual art editor, Alice Dodge, a native Montréaler, reports in this issue.

While Montréal was my first taste of Québécois culture, today I understand it as the literal and figurative island it is — the compact, cosmopolitan hub of an overwhelmingly rural province. Follow the map far enough to the north, and you hit polar bear country. Natural beauty, from big skies to belugas, is within easy road-tripping distance from Burlington. For this year’s Québec

Guide, our writers cover those places, too, some we already love and others we can’t wait to explore.

Berne Broudy recounted rides along some of her favorite trails in the Québec City area; after a decade of development, the region has transformed into one of North America’s most vibrant mountain biking meccas. Fiona Tapp visited the world’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, which has made the Eastern Townships an astrotourism hot spot, and came back with ideas for exploring its magnificent stargazing even as some of us are still riding high on eclipse awe.

A few destinations are newly on the tourism map. Starting next month in the riverside community of Cacouna, Diane Selkirk reports, an observation deck run by the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation will offer fresh opportunities to watch beluga whales, and their marshmallow-colored calves, in some of the St. Lawrence River Estuary’s most sheltered waters.

Longer journeys offer commensurate rewards. I covered faraway Anticosti Island, whose extraordinary landscape of fossils earned UNESCO World Heritage recognition in 2023. I’ve never been to see its trilobites, shipwrecks and windswept beaches; few people have. But it tugs at my imagination, a not-so-faraway reminder of just how big and wild our corner of the world can feel.

It’s not all so untamed, of course. The

Eastern Townships might have dark skies at night, but sunrise reveals pretty villages, farm-to-table cafés and tidy vineyards — the cozy landscape of Louise Penny murder mysteries. (“It’s so French!” Americans often say of that region. The Québécois, just as charmed, tend to enthuse: “It’s just like New England!”)

And, of course, there’s Québec City, a place I relish from the steeply pitched rooflines of its UNESCO-listed historic center to the Inuit artwork in the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec. Seven Days food writer Jordan Barry quizzed a local foodie on the best places to savor the city’s culinary culture, old and new. Her story is a reminder of just how much there is to discover in the 415-year-old provincial capital.

We crowdsourced other Vermonters’ favorite spots in Québec, too, and their recs include digital art, vegan sushi and spas.

We also rounded up summer events from fireworks shows to jazz and compiled a user’s guide to Montréal’s busy airport.

If you’re looking north as summer’s travel season kicks off, read on — we’ve got ideas of where, and how, to explore Québec, whether it’s your first or 100th cross-border trip. Bon voyage.


Smith, a travel writer living in Richmond, Vt., curated and guest-edited this guide.

Amazing vegan sushi — creative food I could never make myself. I’ve never had a bad bite there. Could order anything and it would surprise and delight. Kids love it, too. Lisa Morris, Jericho

Ohana Sushi Vegan, Montréal


Peering over the handlebars of my mountain bike, I checked out rock work and wooden bridges while climbing the Tourbillon trail through dense Québécois forest. The name translates to “eddy,” which fits: It crosses the creek it follows over and over. Mist swallowed me, but just for a moment, as I pedaled through a dip, then along the next rocky spine toward a wooden pavilion at the cusp of the Slab City trail — a spot to catch my breath before a big, black-diamond descent.

Slab City, in the Maelstrom sector of Lac-Beauport’s SENTIERS DU MOULIN trail network, is a narrow and grippy strip of moss-edged granite that steps and drops its way downhill. It’s popular: According to my Trailforks app, more than 48,000 mountain bikers have checked in at the top. Maneuvering past big views of the sprawling landscape, I forced myself to focus, tuning into the trail, my breathing and my brakes to keep my wheels on the granite as I snaked down the slope.

If Slab City is fun, it’s also a poster child for the distinctive riding I’ve come to expect in the Québec City region. In the past 10

years, I’ve watched the area become one of the top mountain biking destinations in eastern North America, with four remarkable centers — Sentiers du Moulin, VALLÉE BRAS-DU-NORD, EMPIRE 47 and MONT-SAINTEANNE — offering hundreds of miles of trails for cyclists of all skill levels. Riders now compare Québec City to Whistler, British Columbia, long a gold standard. A blistering pace of trail building in Québec, combined with supporting facilities and services, have elevated our neighbors up north to worldclass status.


Even a few decades ago, the trails at MontSainte-Anne, an iconic network 25 miles northeast of Québec City, drew serious riders. But for years it was just Mont-Sainte-Anne; Vallée Bras-du-Nord didn’t open to mountain bikes until 2008, followed by Sentiers du Moulin in 2010 and Empire 47 in 2014. According to Québécois cyclist and Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Patrice Drouin, those networks put the region on the map as a riding destination. “Mont-Sainte-Anne isn’t

alone anymore,” said Drouin, who would know — he opened Québec’s first mountain bike shop, built its first trails, created its first race leagues and hosted its first World Cup, back in 1991.

Drouin now runs AUBERGE & CAMPAGNE, a small hotel five minutes from the MontSainte-Anne trails. “Our guests pedal here for a few days, then use us as a base camp to explore Vallée Bras-du-Nord, Sentiers du Moulin and Empire 47. There is a different style of riding at each trail center. It’s all well marked and well organized. Great infrastructure has boosted the sport drastically.”

It’s the outcome of years of planning and work, explained Nicolas Labrecque-Sauvé, director of cycling advocacy group Québec Vélo de Montagne. In 2014, tourism organization Destination Québec Cité joined forces with trail centers and private landowners to promote the region to tourists. The Town of Lac-Beauport also offered incentives for building trails — including allowing landowners to construct short-term rentals in exchange for 25 years of trail access.

“We put a lot of emphasis on the experience and quality of trail building, and we are

How the Québec City region became a world-class mountain biking mecca BY BERNE BROUDY
Vallée Bras-du-Nord

very environmentally focused,” LabrecqueSauvé said. “We get all of the Québec City trail centers together at least a couple of times each year to share best practices and to brainstorm how to grow the sport here and how to draw visitors to enjoy the trails.”

That means setting a high standard for quality and creativity as new trails are added. “Diversification is what makes visiting Québec so compelling for riders,” Labrecque-Sauvé said. “There are new trails every year, and still, each area has its signature style.”


Such efforts have translated to a steady flow of riders visiting from outside the region. Labrecque-Sauvé said that of the 112,000 day passes sold at the Québec City area’s four biggest pay-to-ride networks last year, about a quarter went to riders from Vermont and the northeastern United States.

“The rolling terrain and slabby granite — the steep and weathered tail of the Appalachian Mountains — gives this place its personality,” said Delaware-based professional mountain biker Brice Shirbach, a frequent visitor to Québec trails for a decade. “Québec riding is like East Coast skiing. It’s awesome in its own right, and honing your skills here sets you up for riding success almost anywhere.”

Some come from farther afield. Last September, I met friends from Colorado in Québec City, and we made Vallée Brasdu-Nord our very first stop. We noodled alongside white-water rapids and followed a wiggly mess of flat trails sporting maple syrup-themed names. Flat doesn’t mean easy: With its dips and dives, tree roots and twists, the route was blue, not green. Later, with our muscles limbered up, we tackled the more challenging Neilson East, the first leg of a classic all-day ride called the Full Neilson.

The trail snaked and dropped through dense hardwood forest, then popped out at waterfalls where we stopped to dunk our feet and helmets. We zipped through what felt like a dozen different ecosystems until we reached a lunch spot on the banks of the broad and powerful Bras-du-Nord River. From there, the trail rock-hopped along the riverbank, then eventually burrowed back into the trees.

Throughout, we found options to choose between A-lines and easier B-lines — the former a chance to learn, improve and push ourselves; the latter a boon for groups of friends whose talents and courage, on any given day, may vary. It was a master class in “progression,” the idea that athletes can best improve when they have their pick of challenges. Stowe residents Kenzie and Cyril Brunner said the approach sets Québec cycling apart.

The rock work and features on the Québec trails are works of art.

“At the Québec trail centers, Kenzie and I can both ride and push ourselves,” Cyril Brunner said. “She’s working on the tech, and I already love the crazier rock slabs and chunky terrain. But there’s room for both of us to improve.”

Even with lots of free-to-use trails close to home, he doesn’t blink at Vallée Bras-du-Nord’s fees. “Yeah, you have to pay to ride,” Brunner said. “Even with the four-hour drive, it’s worth it. In Vermont, the gap between intermediate and expert riding is huge. The Québec trails are designed to let you slowly work your way up through the degrees of difficulty.”

Such design makes Québec riding a choose-your-ownadventure experience, and each rider I spoke with highlighted a different quality of the trails. Nick Bennette, executive director of the Vermont Mountain Bike Association, rides in Québec with friends and family at least a couple of times each summer. He comes for the descents, but he says the uphills are equally notable.

“Climbing trails at the Québec ride centers are pleasant. They’re planned, not an afterthought,” Bennette said. Meandering climbs (and, at Mont-Sainte-Anne, lifts) take riders to launch points with access to a plethora of downhills. Pedal up Milk Run at Empire 47, for instance, and you can go back down on any of eight blue, black and double-black descents. Grind up Montée Ravage, and there are 11 descents to choose from.


The four biggest mountain bike areas are within an hour of Québec City. Thirty-five miles to the northwest of downtown is VALLÉE BRAS-DU-NORD (, 800-321-4992, day passes CA$9.50-22.25, children 6 and under free); the Shannahan sector is cliffy with cascading rivers and waterfalls, and deep dives into the boreal forest snake through glacial debris.

SENTIERS DU MOULIN (, 418-849-9652, day passes CA$7.75-23, children 6 and under free), 15 miles north of the city, has a mix of crosscountry and enduro trails on the trail-center side, with everything from flowy singletrack to chunky rocks and wooden features. On the Maelstrom side, it’s a winding climb to the top of the best slab riding in the East. Directly west from there is EMPIRE 47 (, 418-848-8661, day passes CA$623, children 6 and under free with paying adult), whose jump lines, skills parks, pump track and airbag make this a great pick for building your bike-handling skills.

Pedal- and chair lift-accessible black and double-black trails at MONTSAINTE-ANNE (, 418-827-4561, trail-use day passes CA$20-30, all-day lift access CA$5264, enduro tickets CA $42-48) bring in some of the best riders around, but cyclists of all skill levels can find their flow on newer green and blue routes. If you can’t get enough in one day of riding, spend a night at Patrice Drouin’s nine-room AUBERGE & CAMPAGNE (aubergeetcampagne. com, 581-982-4933, rooms CA$241). Or try the 166-site MONT-SAINTEANNE CAMPGROUND (, 800-463-1568, sites from CA$47 a night). There will likely be mountain bikes at every site.

Sentiers du Moulin
Empire 47
There are new trails every year, and still, each area has its signature style.

“You can do them with your 10-year-old,” Bennette said. “No one goes to a network for the climbs, but that’s where you spend 80 percent of your ride time. The climbs in Québec are built so that more people can enjoy the descents.”


Vallée Bras-du-Nord, St. Raymond

This stunning outdoor escape has something for everyone. It feels wild, with roaring rivers and waterfalls, cliffs, and mountains to explore. I love the mountain biking trails — there is plenty of variety, ranging from rowdy, whooboy-hold-on-to-your-helmet downhills to family-friendly, fairly flat paths.

As Québec mountain biking has progressed, some close observers have noticed crosspollination amid the switchbacks and stony descents on both sides of the border. A decade ago, Québec builders looked to Vermont’s Kingdom Trails for guidance and inspiration; one day while riding there, I ran into a local friend, trail builder Knight Ide, giving the Vallée Bras-du-Nord crew a tour and a mini master class. The inspiration now flows both ways. Brunner is the designer behind Stowe’s Serenity and Adrenaline. They’re still under construction but already known for skinny bridges and an overdose of tech in a compact corridor. He modeled them after trails

Minta Trivette, Richmond

he rode in Sentiers du Moulin.

Carolyn Lawrence, executive director of Stowe Trails Partnership, a chapter of VMBA, said she took notice of Québec’s liberality about e-bikes. While they’re banned in many places across Vermont, in Québec they’re generally allowed, for an upcharge. After riding in Québec, Lawrence advocated for e-bike access at home.

“I was really excited about how many people I saw using Class 1 e-bikes on the trails in Sentiers du Moulin without user conflict,” she said. “That encouraged me to work with the Town of Stowe to get e-bikes approved for Cady Hill and Sterling Forest.”

Lawrence said she’s still energized by the trails she’s seen, and ridden, up north. “The rock work and features on the Québec trails are works of art,” she said. “I like to brag about the infrastructure in Stowe, but in Québec City, there is just so much.” ➆

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say Bonjour to our charm European

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Exploring the colorful transformation of Montréal’s once-gritty Griffintown

Montréal had a gloomy outlook when I was growing up there in the 1990s. An economic recession, political uncertainty around separation from Canada, and a brain drain of young Anglos and immigrants (including me) to Toronto and the U.S. made urban decline seem certain.

A lot of big, vacant, derelict buildings came to define Gri ntown at the time. In that neighborhood to the south of downtown and west of Old Montréal, mostly Irish immigrants once worked in the Lachine Canal-side factories that powered Montréal’s industry for about 150 years. They’d shut down, one by one. Then, in 1992, the Québec Ministry of Cultural A airs invited Caroline Andrieux, a French curator who had successfully created artist hubs in similar neighborhoods in Paris, to come do ... something.

What she did was establish Quartier Éphémère, a satellite space for her Parisian curatorial project Hôtel Éphémère, creating temporary installations with notable artists in an abandoned Gri ntown warehouse. Following the success of those projects, the Québec

government gave the organization a free lease on the former Darling Brothers ironworks foundry (1880-1991), then slated for demolition. In 2002 it became FONDERIE DARLING: a massive exhibition space, residency program and hub for contemporary art.

The building itself, now preserved under the Cultural Heritage Act, has a rich patina. In the main exhibition hall, 30-foot ceilings with clerestory windows let in everchanging light. The massive dimensions of the concrete and brick ceiling vaults conjure not only the physical weight of winches and machines they must have once held but also the metaphorical weight of that history. Though bits of the foundry’s infrastructure remain — a chimney, a bucket on a chain next to a metal spiral staircase — the otherwise spare architecture allows artwork to breathe, to occupy the exhibition gallery as a fully articulated vision.

In the main hall, Simon S. Belleau’s conceptual, video-based show “Répliques,” on view through May 26, borrows its language from film and theater production. For “Tiramisu,” Belleau, who was an artistin-residence here from 2019 through 2022, installed a large aluminum theatrical lighting grid 10 feet o the floor, e ectively lowering the cavernous ceiling to human scale. Visitors can’t miss the backstage trappings that frame their experience. An LED screen plays video of actors recounting Belleau’s dreams, partially in English and partially in French, which visitors can also read in a marked-up script.

In Fonderie’s smaller gallery, I saw James Gardner’s “Ecstatic Distance,” also on view through May 26. The large-scale burlap canvases and sculptural installation that make up the show are incredibly heavy. Gardner uses poured gesso, weighed down by objects and sheets of plywood, to build up thick surfaces that he etches and grinds, giving them the appearance of ancient icons or church walls — artwork in conversation with the once-crumbling infrastructure that surrounds it.

If artists helped revitalize Gri ntown, they are now being priced out of the trendy district. Rents in the area are skyrocketing,

“Ecstatic Distance” by James Gardner at Fonderie Darling
Fonderie Darling

and condo construction is happening on seemingly every corner. Gardner is one of the artists whose nearby Griffintown studio may soon be lost to new development.


Cité Memoire, Montréal

Video vignettes that poignantly depict important moments in the history of Montréal are projected on multistory buildings. We feel transported and moved by the films, and the public nature of the video projections invites spontaneous conversations with fellow passersby. Andrew Wild, Burlington

Working to offset such changes, Fonderie Darling residency programs offer eight local artists three-year studio leases at reduced rates. That three-year commitment allows them to truly move into the space, explained current artist-in-residence Shanie Tomassini:

racial reckonings today. There will also be outdoor events on the PLACE PUBLIQUE DU SABLE-GRIS, a pedestrian plaza in front of the Fonderie.

Regardless of what’s on view, it is worth a visit to this nonprofit, kunsthallestyle art center if you want to see world-class contemporary artwork by Montréal artists and get a sense of the area’s history. And it makes a good starting point for exploring the neighborhood.

Most folks you’ll find here are walking or biking along the canal or scout-

“It’s long enough that I can really make myself comfortable and really change the scale that I usually work in — it’s rare, that chance.”

The Fonderie also has a threemonth live-and-work program for artists-in-residence from beyond Montréal. Geneviève et Matthieu, a couple with a collective practice who hail from Rouyn-Noranda, eight hours north of the city, have participated in the residency more than once.

“Fonderie is like a dream for an artist!” said Geneviève, who was busy sculpting what looked like tentacles during my visit. The collective’s practice combines performance, installation, music and bouncing.

This summer, visitors will have the opportunity to see “Black Summer 91,” a group exhibition centered on uprisings that took place following the killings of Black people by Montréal police in 1991 and in conversation with

ing out restaurants and shops on rue Notre-Dame. The streets can feel a bit constricted, especially with construction, and it’s easiest to navigate on foot.

Farther into Griffintown, there are a few other artsy sites, such as NEW CITY GAS, which hosts events and music in a 19th-century gasworks building that’s also home to Canada’s first NFT gallery, 0X SOCIETY. The nearby MONTRÉAL ART CENTER AND MUSEUM is less polished, with a combination of studios, obscure 19th-century paintings, mannequins of Québec history and strong roadsideattraction vibes.

The largest visual art space is ARSENAL CONTEMPORARY ART, which occupies an 80,000-square-foot former shipyard near the Lachine Canal. Collectors Pierre and Anne-Marie Trahan founded the space in 2011, naming it with a nod to the Arsenale building

Fonderie artists-in-residence
duo Geneviève et Matthieu
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(also a former shipyard) at the Venice Biennale.

The ground floor hosts rotating installations of works from their collection — think big-name international artists like Anish Kapoor and Ugo Rondinone, as well as Canadian artists such as David Altmejd and Rodney Graham. There’s enough room for a rented-out section of traveling or commercial shows, heavy on the tech spectacle, such as the recent “Disney Animation Immersive” and the upcoming “Biennale ELEKTRA — Illusion,” open May 31 through July 21 and showcasing digital, electronic and AI-based art.

On the second floor is BLOUIN DIVISION , a commercial gallery representing Canadian artists whose work either is or is likely to be of the same caliber as the collection downstairs. It’s a joint venture between the Trahans’ gallery and that of René Blouin, a force in the Montréal art scene for decades. Blouin was considering retirement when his friends approached him about the project. He opened his original gallery in the BELGO BUILDING on rue SainteCatherine in Montréal in 1986.

“I think it was $4 a square foot,” Blouin said. That was long before the building was at the center of what’s now known as the Quartier des Spectacles, where many of Montréal’s festivals take over the streets, especially in summer. These days, the Belgo Building itself has become a downtown hub for artists, with 27 art galleries and a number of studios, many of which are open to visitors.

Blouin has always had an impressive roster, offering early shows to globally renowned artists such as Kiki Smith — “She showed up with two trash bags full of work,” he recounted — and promoting the work of Canadian artists internationally.

The gallerist spoke passionately about the young artists bringing energy to Montréal’s art scene, many of whom come through Concordia University’s MFA programs. He pointed out Nadia Myre and Caroline Monnet as two artists whose melding of elements from their own Indigenous traditions with the visual language of contemporary art is particularly new and exciting.

Blouin Division’s project space also fosters new perspectives — its inaugural show presented Noémie Weinstein’s first solo presentation, a suite of dreamlike paintings of interiors.

Innovative new work can still be found here, hiding out in a warren of old brick factories and narrow streets.

Where many high-end commercial galleries can seem aloof or cold, Blouin Division’s focus on Canadian voices gives it an identity that’s more grounded.

Montréal has always been a place for big ideas and big urban plans, not all of which have gone very well. (Building the expressway that still cleaves the waterfront was one of the things that depressed


The area south of downtown and west of Old Montréal is made up of a few different neighborhoods, and some of them overlap — you might spot names such as Griffintown, Le Faubourg des Récollets, Cité du Multimedia or Les Quartiers du Canal. If you’re between rue NotreDame and the canal, you’re in the right ballpark. Don’t get spooked by boulevard Henri-Bourassa, a big, busy road with a green space in the median; it’s actually pretty walkable.

Start your exploration of the area’s contemporary art with FONDERIE DARLING (, 514-392-1554, CA$8, by donation Wednesday and Thursday), which has free outdoor events in summer on its PLACE PUBLIQUE DU SABLE-GRIS and an upscale, industrial-cool restaurant called LE SERPENT (it’s owned by Hubert Marsolais, the restaurateur behind the iconic fine-dining eatery Le Club Chasse et Pêche). Follow the canal southwest for a mile, and you’ll get to ARSENAL CONTEMPORARY ART (, 514-931-9978, admission and hours vary by exhibition) and its upstairs BLOUIN DIVISION (blouin-division. com, 514-938-3863, free). Along the way, you’ll pass the event and music space NEW CITY GAS (newcitygas. com, 514-879-1166), whose basement houses the digital art shows of NFT gallery 0X SOCIETY (0xsociety. com, free). Also en route is the MONTRÉAL ART CENTER AND MUSEUM (, 514-6672270, admission from CA$9.20), which is weird; go for the kitsch and community vibe more than the art.

While you’re at it, here are a couple of other worthwhile art stops not too far away. Old Montréal’s PHI FOUNDATION FOR CONTEMPORARY ART (, 514-849-3742, admission varies) showcases very contemporary art, while former department store the BELGO BUILDING (thebelgoreport. com, 514-861-0305) now comprises lots of galleries and studios downtown, right where you’ll find most of Montréal’s big summer festivals in the Quartier des Spectacles.

Griffintown in the first place.) But the plan to revitalize that neighborhood through art was a success, albeit one that now leaves the city with a different challenge: how to sustain the creative energy — and, importantly, the artists — that remade it. Art centers such as Arsenal and Fonderie Darling remain the driving force behind that effort, and innovative new work can still be found here, hiding out in a warren of old brick factories and narrow streets. If you can’t find the art, keep looking — it’s just past the condos. ➆

ART « P.9
Work from the Trahans’ collection by Anish Kapoor and John De Andrea at Arsenal Contemporary Art Arsenal Contemporary Art
“Répliques” installation by Simon S. Belleau at Fonderie Darling
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A new First Nations-run whale-watching site in Québec melds science and Indigenous culture

Stand on the summit of Gros-Cacouna mountain, in the coastal Gaspé Peninsula community of Cacouna, and you can gaze for miles across the St. Lawrence Estuary. Its brackish waters rise and recede, tugged by faraway North Atlantic tides. For bigger animals, including whales, it presents a natural buffet: The nutrient-rich confluence of cold seawater with the Saguenay and St. Lawrence rivers draws the krill, capelin and other small fish on which the predators depend.

But of the 13 species of whales you might spot flippering around these parts between

May and October, just one — the endangered St. Lawrence Estuary beluga — lives in the waterway year-round. Its small population of roughly 1,850 occupies the species’ southernmost range and is genetically distinct from the more northerly belugas. Starting on June 21, visitors will have a new opportunity to spot and learn about these rare whales at an observation deck and research site called Putep’t-awt that is opening atop the 272-foot Gros-Cacouna mountain.

“Cacouna is a hot spot for belugas, especially for females with young — the calves are born from the end of June until the middle of September, and Cacouna is a very nice place to see them,” said Robert Michaud, president and scientific director of the Tadoussacbased Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals, which is partnering with the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation for the launch of Putep’t-awt.

The Cacouna observation deck is the newest of three GREMM-affiliated, land-based beluga viewing sites on the St. Lawrence. For Vermonters, it is also the most accessible. While earlier sites, at PointeNoire and Baie Sainte-Marguerite, are on the far side of the waterway, Cacouna is a more feasible 5.5-hour drive from Burlington, a scenic road trip that cuts northeast, then hews to the St. Lawrence’s southern shore. Binoculars will be available for visitors to view passing belugas (though Michaud also recommended bringing your own, if you have them).

You might see scientists at work, too. As part of a new project called Window on Belugas, the GREMM team at Putep’t-awt will use range-finding binoculars, drones and underwater listening devices called hydrophones to study the social organization and habitat use of the whales, which were hunted commercially here until 1955.

Cacouna is a hot spot for belugas.

“There is so much we don’t understand about belugas,” Michaud said. “This project offers a great opportunity to connect the drone images with sounds to study social behavior.”

Starting later this summer, visitors will also have the option to sign up for science and cultural programming at Putep’t-awt, presented in tandem by GREMM and the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation. On the scientific side, visitors will follow the progress of marine research firsthand, observing visual and audio footage from land-based GREMM sites and the organization’s research vessel.

Female beluga and calf


PUTEP’T-AWT is in Cacouna, accessible via a 0.9-mile walking trail that starts in a parking lot at the end of route de l’Île, a sevenminute drive from the Boutique D’art Autochtone Matuweskewin (1001 rue du Patrimoine, 418-860-2393). The Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk offices and historic homes are also nearby, at 217 rue de la Grève. Look for announcements about tickets and programming at and

Also in Cacouna, this year’s WOLASTOQIYIK WAHSIPEKUK FIRST NATION’S POW WOW on August 17 and 18 ( will feature dancers, two drumming groups and singers. The Parc Côtier Kiskotuk (, 418-8633683) adjoins the observation deck and is popular with bird-watchers.

The homey bed-and-breakfast GÎTE LA VEILLEUSE (418-862-8353, double rooms from CA$90 with breakfast) is walking distance from both Putep’t-awt and Parc Côtier Kiskotuk. Otherwise, most visitors stay in nearby communities such as Rivière-du-Loup and Notre-Dame-du-Portage, whose century-old riverside Auberge sur Mer (, 418-862-0642, double rooms from CA$127) has historic rooms in the main building, plus newer motel accommodations and a family-size chalet with a kitchen.

Wolastoqey guides, meanwhile, will share some of the Nation’s long history. For at least 8,000 years, the Wolastoqiyik have been traditional guardians of a territory spanning modern-day New Brunswick, Québec and northeastern Maine. (They are sometimes called “Maliseet” in English.) Larry Jenniss,

general manager of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation, said Grand Chief Jacques Tremblay envisioned Putep’t-awt as a way to merge scientific knowledge with ancestral Wolastoqey teachings.

“He wanted to build a bridge between cultures,” Jenniss said, “to educate visitors about our traditions and about the beluga, highlighting our role in protecting them.”

Jenniss explained that while Western science often isolates a subject and focuses on hard data collected over a relatively short period, Wolastoqey teachings weave together interconnected observations and emotions gathered over centuries and build this information into stories, art, laws and protocols. Jenniss believes that integrating Western science with such Indigenous

knowledge can yield a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the natural world. A 1.2-mile interpretive trail at Putep’t-awt will debut in June, with interactive panels that delve into the Nation’s culture, stories and legends.

While their name translates to “the people of the beautiful and bountiful river,” the Wolastoqiyik have only recently begun to rebuild their community’s ties to Cacouna, and to each other. After the government seized their reserve in 1869, people scattered, severing cultural and community ties. It wasn’t until 1987 that about 100 Wolastoqiyik gathered again to elect a chief and council, re-forming their Nation and starting efforts that are still ongoing to reclaim parts of their ancestral land.

One of their first actions was to construct council offices on the sole surviving piece of their territory — a 60-foot-wide lot not far from GrosCacouna mountain, where Putep’t-awt is located. “When our ancestors were out on the river, this was the point where they aimed their small canoes to make it safely home,” Jenniss said.

It’s a place they’re proud to share with guests, though the mountain’s surroundings have changed significantly from the days when the Wolastoqiyik called this region Wolastokuk and thrived through fishing, agriculture and trade. Since the early 1800s, the south shore of the St. Lawrence has drawn affluent city dwellers from Toronto and Montréal seeking to escape the summer heat; their grand summer homes transformed the then-agricultural villages of Kamouraska, Notre-Dame-du-Portage and Cacouna into 19th-century resort towns. Bas-Saint-Laurent remains a popular tourist draw, its waterside villages offering culinary tourism, historic architecture and outdoor adventures.


Balnea Spa, Bromont, Eastern Townships

I love going to Balnea Spa. It’s out in the country and has a calm European vibe, hushed tones, good massages and a lovely little restaurant. It is on a lake, and in good weather you can swim and lounge on the grassy lawn. Erin Hanley, Burlington

That 60-foot-wide lot? It holds a small historic home called Maison DenisLaunière and the Nation’s administrative buildings. But nearby Putep’t-awt, whose opening next month coincides with Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Day, is key to the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation’s homecoming, too.

“We want to become part of the surrounding communities,” Jenniss said, “but we also have our own special story to tell.”

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Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation Pow Wow

Still, Québec City’s “French accent is strong,” Charest said, with 92 percent of its residents considered primarily French speaking as of the 2021 census, compared to 60 percent in Montréal. (It’s still common to find service in English.) It’s no surprise that French pastry abounds in this city — look for Pâtisserie Chouquette’s namesake sweet choux puffs in the SaintJean-Baptiste neighborhood — alongside emphatically Québécois fare such as tourtière and the sticky-sweet pouding chômeur with pan-fried foie gras at La Bûche.


A local’s guide to dining in Québec City, from old-school to new

I’m a lazy traveler. When planning where to eat in a new destination, I’d much rather send an SOS email to an in-theknow friend than do my own research.

In Québec City, that friend is Rémy Charest, a lifelong resident who has been writing about food and wine for nearly 30 years.

Though it o ers fewer dining options than Montréal — being home to 550,000 people versus 1.7 million — the provincial capital promises many of the same cosmopolitan pleasures that draw Vermonters over the border to Québec’s largest city. Think natural-leaning wine bars, dumplings, bustling bistros and, of course, poutine.

It’s a dynamic, inventive scene, Charest said. And Québec City has come a long way from when he worked in the kitchen of the now-closed Aviatic Club in 1989.

“They served Tex-Mex, and it was kind of a big, exotic move,” he said with a laugh. “Nowadays, you get a sample of all styles of dining in the same way that you’d have in Montréal,” whether that’s a great Japanese izakaya; a Corsican bistro; or Peruvian, minimalist Italian or locally inflected Mexican fare.

For Vermonters, the prevalence of localfirst sourcing will feel familiar — albeit with more seafood. Snow crab season is now dwindling, but May is the height of Québec’s lobster harvest, which lasts from late April to July. Asparagus, fiddleheads and local meats, such as squab and guinea fowl, are other ingredients Charest suggested diners seek out.

Charest winnowed his restaurant recommendations into two daylong itineraries spanning leisurely brunch to late-night drinks. One captures the city’s old-school culinary chops, and the other heads out into hip neighborhoods for a taste of something new. An epic weekend of eating awaits.

Foie gras terrine at Chez Boulay
Chez Boulay


Fortified Old Québec is a big draw for tourists, with its stately stone walls, winding cobblestone streets and historic landmarks such as the Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec, the oldest church in Canada. Even as a local, Charest spends his fair share of time walking by the St. Lawrence River that borders the city. “The history and the beauty, it’s gorgeous,” he said. His itinerary in and around the oldest part of the city makes the most of that 400-year backstory, including a stunning aerial view and classic French fare that still gets visitors fired up.

Brunch: Ciel! Bistro-Bar

It takes 90 minutes for this revolving restaurant on the 27th floor of Hôtel Le Concorde to complete its 360-degree spin — an ideal window in which to enjoy a relaxed weekend brunch while gaining a unique perspective of the river and the Château Frontenac, the castle-like hotel opened by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1893. With staples such as steak and eggs and French toast-like brioche perdue, “the food is solid; the view is amazing,” Charest said. (, 418-640-5802, brunch CA$25-29)

Late-afternoon drinks: 1608 Bar

Following an afternoon of sightseeing within the historic center, pop into the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac itself to visit this elegant wood-paneled bar, named for the city’s founding date. Order a Québec City-brewed Le Bilboquet beer, or try the Cask Mates, a fruity, bitter cocktail made with bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup. If you’re seeking an alternative brunch spot, Charest said, the Château’s adjoining Restaurant Champlain is a long-standing Québec City tradition with a bountiful buffet. (, 418-692-3861, drinks CA$12-35)

Dinner: Le Continental

Open since 1956, Le Continental is “old-school done particularly well,” Charest said. Go for steak, duck à l’orange for two or crêpes Suzette flambéed tableside — a theatrical trademark of French haute cuisine from the restaurant’s founding era.

“You’re in the historical part of the city,” Charest said. “Why not have service that goes back to the previous century?” (, 418-6949995, dinner CA$44-109)

1608 Bar Flambéed shrimp at Le Continental
Hokkaido scallops at Ciel! Bistro-Bar


Since Québec City’s footprint is pretty small, Charest said, it doesn’t take long to branch out from the well-traveled tourist spots. “It’s good to see what’s a little edgier,” he said. “Get out of Manhattan, go see Brooklyn, right?”

Candidates for the hip and happening “Brooklyn” (or Winooski, for a more local analogy) of Québec City include the neighborhoods of Saint-Roch and Saint-Sauveur, each a reasonable walk or short taxi ride from the city walls. Both are hotbeds of exciting coffee shops, fun bars and restaurants from casual to fancy, Charest said, with the action central to rue Saint-Joseph and rue Saint-Vallier, respectively.

Brunch: Chez Boulay

Despite a location within the walls of the old city, this “boreal bistro” is distinctly au courant with its celebration of hyperlocal ingredients such as smoked bison breast, Saint-Laurent redfish and foraged sea buckthorn. Even at weekend brunch, you

might see fir tips in the hollandaise slathered over a seared steak, hay whipped cream on the French toast or smoked mushrooms atop eggs Benedict. (, 418-3808166, brunch CA$26-32)

Afternoon tea: Camellia Sinensis

Wander out to Saint-Roch after brunch, stopping for a cup of oolong, matcha or Assam along the way. This boutique tea shop — with two stores in Montréal, too — stocks hundreds of carefully sourced options from India, China and Japan alongside local herbal infusions. Regular workshops, which are mostly in French, include an all-encompassing introduction to tea; category-specific classes on green, black and Pu’er; and even tea mixology. (, 418-525-0247, tea CA$4-8, workshops CA$45-90)

Snacks and drinks: Chez Tao!

Continue walking toward the edge of Saint-Sauveur, Charest said, and you can find yourself at Chez Tao! for midafternoon drinks and southeast Asian snacks. Streetfood favorites such as som tam, friedchicken bao and shrimp chips pair perfectly with tropical cocktails. Try the Last Island, with rhum Agricole and citrus. No need to

Oysters at Jjacques
Street-food favorites at Chez Tao!

plan too carefully — the bar doesn’t take reservations. (, 418-204-1850, cocktails CA$14.50-22, food CA$4.50-19.50)

Dinner three ways: Le Pied Bleu, Melba, or Patente & Machin

Charest offered three dinner suggestions, none more pork-filled than Le Pied Bleu. It’s “like a Lyonnais bouchon on steroids and extra lard,” he said, comparing the charcuterie-focused menu to the French city’s offal-loving traditional restaurants. The 14 plates of its “tour de tripes” offer a quick introduction for the table.

An epic weekend of eating awaits.

Other, perhaps lighter, options include “very fine and inventive French cuisine” at Melba and “hearty, delicious, casual gastronomic food” at Patente & Machin (piedbleu., 418-914-3554, CA$3-45;, 418-614-3042, CA$19-38;, 581-500-2548, CA$30-65).

Last call: Jjacques

Still hungry, somehow? This “stylish speakeasy” could work for dinner or early drinks, Charest said; even Jjacques’ website debates if it’s a restaurant, an oyster bar or a cocktail bar.

Charest likes to stop by for late-night drinks and a snack, whether oyster shots, warm olives or mushrooms six ways. Stick to a nightcap from the travel-themed cocktail menu — perhaps a Veuve de Venise with Campari, green Chartreuse, amaro, citrus and bubbles — or go all in on a seafood tower. It’s lobster season, after all. (jjacques. ca, 581-491-3286, cocktails CA$1045, food CA$6-90, seafood towers CA$65-230). ➆

FUN FOR ALL, BIG AND SMALL! Discover a fun and multisensory experience! INTERACTIVE EXHIBITION An exhibition produced by: In partnership with: In collaboration with: BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE 1T-34VPortofMontreal052224 1 5/16/24 4:45 PM


A new UNESCO geopark in Québec is a paleontology wonderland — but almost no one visits

It’s not precisely true that no one goes to Anticosti Island, the windswept and shipwreck-ringed shard of land that sits where the St. Lawrence River meets the sea. There are the island’s 200-odd year-round residents, for starters. Hunters travel there each fall in hopes of bagging the abundant white-tailed deer that browse its boreal forests; I’ve dreamed of going for ages.

And so, after the 3,047-square-mile island was named a UNESCO geopark last year, a designation that recognizes sites of extraordinary geological value around the world, I surveyed Vermont geologists, sure I’d find one who’d made a trip to see the pristine fossils crowding Anticosti’s seaside cliffs, river valleys and headlands. Even among our state’s professional rock hounds, however, the island seems to remain tantalizingly out of reach.

“Alas, I have not been to Anticosti Island. It does sound fascinating,” wrote Raymond Coish, emeritus professor of geosciences at Middlebury College, in an email. Middlebury

assistant professor Alexis Mychajliw, a National Geographic explorer who trained as a paleontologist and studies global extinctions, was even more concise: “I WISH!”

Just 1,000 people visited Anticosti Island last year, estimates Suzie Loiselle of the regional tourism organization Le Québec Maritime. It’s a landscape unmarred by mass tourism, or even the minor kind. The only way to get to Anticosti is via seasonal flights from extremely small airports in Québec, or — even slower but far more romantic — aboard the Bella Desgagnés, a freighter ferry that plies far-flung ports along the St. Lawrence River.

One scientist who does research there mused that Anticosti Island may be among the most isolated places in eastern North America. But for Vermonters, it’s also just right there; not impossibly remote, merely inconvenient. And travelers willing to make the journey earn access to one of the most adventurous destinations in southern Québec, where a fascinating history is written into the ground beneath their feet.

Vauréal Falls Grotte à la Patate
A trilobite fossil in the Becscie Formation

“The entire island consists of ancient seafloor sediments deposited between 447 and 434 million years ago,” said Joshua Zimmt, a stratigraphic paleobiologist and postdoctoral fellow at McGill University who has conducted several fieldwork seasons on the island. Zimmt explained that, for scientists, Anticosti Island is the best place in the world to study the Late Ordovician mass extinction, the first of our planet’s five big dieoffs, which wiped out some 80 percent of life around the world roughly 450 million years ago. “You can find anything you can imagine, in terms of the fossil record of that time, just lying on the surface of the island,” he said. You don’t need to be a specialist — only to look around you. Trilobites with spindly legs bug out of sheer walls; hornlike, whorled coral bristles from stone. “You’re literally walking on fossils, almost every step you

You’re literally walking on fossils, almost every step you take.

take,” said Julie Ouimet, co-owner of Anticosti Ecotours, who moved to the island after falling in love with its wild landscape during a 2020 visit. “As soon as you get out of town and start driving around, the sheer beauty of the place just takes your breath away.”

Some highlights from that history are on display at the ANTICOSTI HISTORY, CULTURE AND PALEONTOLOGY INTERPRETATION CENTER in the island’s main town of Port-Menier, where an exhibition covers the basics of the extinction event preserved in Anticosti fossils. But most Anticosti Island fossils remain in place, exposed in eroded sedimentary rocks overlooking river valleys and empty beaches.

Fossil sites line the roughly 80 miles of hiking trails within ANTICOSTI NATIONAL PARK (, run by Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (SEPAQ). Among the most popular is the 4.3-mile round-trip walk to 250-foot high VAURÉAL FALLS, following a riverbed flanked by a soaring canyon whose walls climb to 295 feet. More than 600 fossils have been identified within Vauréal Canyon; every vertical meter of its rock walls accounts for 15,000 years of marine deposits. The three-mile LES TÉLÉGRAPHES loop leads to Baie de la Tour, a sweeping beach framed by limestone cliffs. Rent a helmet and headlamp at the visitor center before venturing into the GROTTE À LA PATATE (Potato Cave), among the longest caves in Québec.

For the intrepid, options abound — in recent years, travelers have blazed bikepacking routes around the island’s gravel roads and recorded long-distance kayaking voyages along hundreds of miles of coastline. A few outfitters, including SAFARI ANTICOSTI ( and ANTICOSTI

ECOTOURS (anticostiecotours. com) offer guided tours of the island, with activities such as sea kayaking, hiking and wildlife watching.

Ouimet and her partner, Michel Labrecque, lead snorkeling and scuba diving trips exploring Anticosti’s barrier reef, where you can spot remains of some of the estimated 400 ships that have sunk in the waters surrounding the island. “You go to places where you have the feeling that you are the first one to be there,” Ouimet said.


Flights to Anticosti Island’s PORTMENIER AIRPORT (YPN) depart Sept-Îles (YVZ) and Havre-St-Pierre (YGV). Heading downstream on the St. Lawrence River, the Bella Desgagnés ferry operated by RELAIS NORDIK ( departs Rimouski each Monday night, stops at SeptÎles, then arrives in Port-Menier on Tuesday night (CA$208); the one-way journey from Sept-Îles costs CA$111. If you want to take the boat both ways, Bella Desgagnés passes back through Port-Menier on Sundays for arrival in Rimouski early on Monday morning.

There are a handful of seasonal restaurants, accommodations and campgrounds on the island. Painted bright purple and with its own on-site smokehouse, the GITE DU COPACO (, from CA$115 per person with breakfast) offers simple rooms, high-speed internet and cell service. From June 1 to September 10, the municipality allows camping in five sites at the Pointe du Château area (418-535-0250) that’s 1.2 miles outside the village of Port-Menier. Find more information at and

And there’s always deer season; SEPAQ says Anticosti Island has among the highest concentrations of white-tailed deer in North America. The animals have proliferated since Henri Menier, a Frenchman who once owned the island, introduced them at the end of the 19th century. Nonresident hunting permits are sold on the island for CA$448.70, with a limit of two deer per visit during deer season, which generally stretches from early September to late November or mid-December.

The closest I’ve come to my own long-imagined Anticosti trip was last winter, when a friend in Richmond prepared a solstice dinner of venison — bounty from the island’s hunting season.

Montréal Botanical Garden botanical-garden Beautiful, world-class botanical garden with events and programs for children and adults, both educational and entertaining.

Fork-tender to its crisp edges, the loin was aromatic, garlicky. Conjuring Anticosti’s forest depths, its lonely beaches, I thought of the flavor they might impart to a wintry meal in faraway Vermont. Did I only imagine the faint brine of a northern sea? ➆

Liz Joslin, St. Albans

The Bella Desgagnés ferry Baie de la Tour


How the Eastern Townships became a bright-star beacon


Foresta Lumina, Coaticook

Foresta Lumina is a Walt Disney Worldquality technology/ magical night hike/ eco-village/goth-litevibe experience. It is tucked away in the Eastern Townships, and I don’t feel it gets the cred it deserves.

Sharon Ellingwood, Northeast Kingdom

he anticipation at OBSERVÉTOILES, an outdoor observatory in the Eastern Townships, had been building for hours. Or was it days? I’d traveled there, along with my husband and 10-yearold son, to watch April’s solar eclipse at the astronomy-themed spot, which found itself — through a stroke of cosmic luck — squarely within the path of totality. It was quiet as the surrounding forest went dusky. But when the sun disappeared, a gasp rippled through the crowd, followed by an impromptu round of applause.

Want to see the next total solar eclipse in the Eastern Townships? As in northern Vermont, it will be a while — mark your calendar for 2106. But in recent years, the region has earned a reputation for protecting our world’s more quotidian darkness, the kind that happens, like clockwork, every night of the year. The border-hugging region of small towns and forests is home to two areas recognized for inky skies: AU DIABLE VERT, the Sutton outdoor center where ObservÉtoiles is located, and MONT-MÉGANTIC, a first-of-itskind International Dark Sky Reserve. Both spots draw avid night owls.

“People know that Mégantic is a place to see the stars — it’s one of the greatest nature shows,” said Sébastien Giguère, scientific coordinator and head of education at ASTROLab, the stargazing-focused visitor center at Mont-Mégantic National Park.

While the park itself has been around since 1994, in 2007 it joined dozens of surrounding towns to form the 2,030-square-mile MontMégantic International Dark Sky Reserve.

I can’t imagine growing up without seeing a real night sky. To me, it’s like growing up and never going into a forest or seeing flowers.

It’s a designation recognizing not just starry skies but also community-wide commitment to keeping constellations brightly visible for generations to come. (Today there are 22 such reserves around the world, in places from Namibia to New Zealand; North America has three.) In the years leading up to the designation, by the nonprofit organization DarkSky

International, the region around MontMégantic implemented a broad-reaching plan to reduce light pollution, from replacing light fixtures to limiting the hours and brightness of outdoor illumination. The outcome was a 35 percent reduction in artificial light at night. Stand atop Mont-Mégantic on a clear night these days and you might spot, with no need

Mont-Mégantic International Dark Sky Reserve

for a telescope, the whirling smudge of the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.5 million light-years away. “It’s part of the identity now of the region,” Giguère said, describing access to starry nights as key to savoring the natural world’s beauty. “I can’t imagine growing up without seeing a real night sky. To me, it’s like growing up and never going into a forest or seeing flowers.”

Star-seeking visitors to Mont-Mégantic can start by exploring the ASTROLab at the base of the 3,615-foot mountain. French-language evening tours offer multimedia presentations and, weather permitting, guided telescope viewing outside. Or you could head via shuttle bus for stargazing at the summit’s MontMégantic Popular Observatory; that’s the public counterpart to the nearby, researchfocused Mont-Mégantic Observatory, where scientists from the Université de Montréal and Université Laval peer through the most powerful telescope in Canada.

This year’s ASTRONOMY FESTIVAL, July 4 to 6 at Mont-Mégantic, will feature group stargazing, a guided night hike and a Frenchlanguage presentation on stardust. The PERSEID METEOR SHOWER, August 9 to 11, will draw crowds toting blankets and lawn chairs for stargazing, a multimedia presentation on the Perseids and a chance to peer upward through a 24-inch telescope.

Such public events serve, in part, to keep locals invested in the region-wide project. Andrew Reagan, communications manager for DarkSky International, explained that such buy-in is essential to the success of keeping night skies wondrous. “Light pollution doesn’t have boundaries. A dark-sky park is only going to be as dark as neighboring communities,” Reagan said. “They have to be working with their local communities to ensure that they stay dark.”

Many in the Eastern Townships have taken to the theme: Wholesome nocturnal fun has proliferated in the years since the Mont-Mégantic area was named a Dark

Sky Reserve. There are guided moonlight hikes at SUTTON NATURAL ENVIRONMENT PARK and nighttime, French-language tours of the GRANBY ZOO featuring encounters with animals that are most active after dark. With a home base in Val-Racine, photographer and guide Samer Hobeika teaches the art of photographing night skies through his starthemed adventure company ZENDERFULL

And there’s ObservÉtoiles, the open-air auditorium where I took my family to see April’s spectacular eclipse and which bills itself as the world’s first “open-air augmented reality planetarium.” There are stargazing presentations scheduled throughout the summer, but just one is in English — that’s on September 1. These sessions are certainly innovative: Audiences don virtualreality headsets that merge star maps and imagery with views of the actual sky.

“It superimposes … 17th-century illustrations of the constellations over the real stars in real time as you look around,” said Jeremy

Fontana, who opened ObservÉtoiles in 2018.

That same year, the surrounding, 560-plus-acre Au Diable Vert outdoor center, which Fontana owns with his wife, was designated a Canadian Dark-Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Fontana had been working with a local astronomer to measure light pollution on the property, with impressive results. The center has a Sky Quality Meter reading of 20.5, dark enough for clear views of the Milky Way and its inky “lanes” of stardust.

“There’s not one single man-made light visible all the way for a 50-kilometer view into Vermont. It’s a magical location,” Fontana said.

When night fell at Au Diable Vert, we felt that same sense of wonder. My family had arrived at the Dark-Sky Preserve too early in the season to sign up for a star show, but even from our accommodations in one of the property’s tree houses, we could see Venus and Jupiter, as well as the familiar curve of the Big Dipper. My son stared up in wonder, tracing the shape of the constellation with his finger.


Tickets to the ASTROLAB (astrolab., 819-888-2941, nighttime activity tickets CA$22.75, youth 17 and under free) and MONTMÉGANTIC POPULAR OBSERVATORY (, 819-888-2941, nighttime activity tickets CA$27.25, youth 17 and under free) are available online. Visit the website to learn more about the ASTRONOMY FESTIVAL ( and PERSEID METEOR SHOWER (

Book online for evening shows at OBSERVÉTOILES ( en/summer-activities/observetoiles, 450-538-5639, CA$39.99; an Englishlanguage show is scheduled for September 1). On-site accommodations at the Dark-Sky Preserve, which also has hiking trails, cycling and paddling, range from wilderness campsites (CA$50 and up) to tree houses (CA$144 and up) to podlike, family-size cabins (CA$189 and up).

Other nighttime activities take place at SUTTON NATURAL ENVIRONMENT PARK (, 450-538-4085, guided hikes CA$15), the GRANBY ZOO (zoodegranby. com/en/activities/the-zoo-at-night, 450-372-9113, nocturnal zoo activity CA$125 per person) and ZENDERFULL (, starthemed outings from CA$50 per person, book the three-bedroom, eight-bed Zenderfull chalet in ValRacine on Airbnb from CA$300 a night). If atmospherically lit pathways at FORESTA LUMINA (, 888-524-6743, CA$16.12-29.38) don’t hew precisely to dark-sky ideals, the experience is marvelous nonetheless, with a sense of adventure and a vertiginous suspension-bridge crossing.

The excitement of the eclipse still lingered as we donned headlamps to wander through nearby fields. Lying on our backs with so much to see above us, it felt like we could float off into space. I asked my son if he wanted to revisit these starry skies, so different from those at home in Ottawa, the following night. “Sure,” he replied. “We just have to look up!” ➆

Foresta Lumina


Forty-nine reasons to visit Québec this summer

Like Vermonters, the people of Québec know how to seize the summer. But with 14 times our population, the province hosts more events, concerts and festivals than it is humanly possible to attend. Many of them are uniquely enticing. In multicultural Montréal, it might be a Japanese street food festival or a three-day African dance party. In the Eastern Townships, right across the border, there’s lots of music and a rodeo with live bulls and Canadian cowboys. Read on for a better idea of what’s going on north of the border — in Montréal, Québec City and the Eastern Townships — this summer.


Piknic Électronik Montréal

Sundays through October 6,

Top-quality electronic music meets a breathtaking view of Montréal from Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène, aka St. Helen’s Island.

Eurêka! Festival

May 24 to 26,

The biggest science festival in Québec features more than 100 free, family-friendly events.

Mondial de la Bière

May 24 to 26,

Sample as many as 400 food and beverage products at the largest beer fest in North America.

Go Bike

May 26 to June 2, go-bike-montreal-festival

In a week of city cycling, bikers can choose from a range of routes and activities, including rides around the island of Montréal.


May 27 to June 16,

This vibrant showcase of anythinggoes art features 91 companies, 15 venues and more than 600 performances of, well, everything.

Montréal Baroque Festival

June 13 to 16,

This year’s celebration promises unique pairings of musicians from diverse Montréal communities.


June 13 to 16, what-to-do/festivals-and-events/ yatai-mtl-japan-week-montreal

At a popular Japanese street market, get a taste of sushi, drinks, shows and cultural workshops.

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

June 27 to July 6,

Imagine the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival on steroids: traditional jazz, Latin and African music, pop, blues, blues rock, Cajun, and reggae — performed outdoors and in multiple venues, all over the city.

L’International des Feux Loto-Québec

June 27 to August 1,

Countries compete in Montréal’s annual fireworks showdown, employing the latest techniques and innovations in the field of pyrotechnics. It’s at La Ronde amusement park, over Dolphin Lake, on the site of the city’s original Expo 67.

Montréal Complètement Cirque

July 4 to 14, montrealcompletementcirque. com/en

North America’s first international circus arts festival brings together gravity-defying representatives of the circus world for performances throughout Montréal.

Festival International Nuits d’Afrique

July 9 to 21,

Biennal ELEKTRA — Illusion

May 31 to July 21, arsenalcontemporary. com/mtl/exhib/detail/ biennial-elektra-illusion

Arsenal Contemporary Art hosts the continent’s largest exhibition of digital art.

First Fridays

June 7 to 9, July 5 to 7, August 2 to 4, first-fridays-montreal-street-food

Every “first Friday” weekend of the summer months, this festival of food trucks pops up on the Olympic Stadium grounds.

This 13-day event showcases talent from Africa, the West Indies and Latin America. Some of the ticketed concerts are indoors, but there are plenty of free acts in the downtown Quartier des Spectacles.

Fantasia International Film Festival

July 18 to August 4,

Since its founding in 1996, this genre film festival has focused on niche, B-rated and low-budget movies in various genres, from horror to sci-fi. Showings are at Concordia University.

Fierté Montréal

August 1 to 11,

Following the initiative of the city’s 2SLGBTQI+ communities, the

Montréal Complètement Cirque
Québec fireworks

Montréal Pride Festival celebrates their rich cultural and social progress.

Osheaga Festival

Musique et Arts

August 2 to 4,

Vermonter Noah Kahan headlines the three-day extravaganza of nonstop music, visual arts and fashion on multiple stages in Parc Jean-Drapeau.


August 2 to 4,

A bilingual, all-ages convention at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal celebrates anime, manga and Japanese culture.


August 2 to 11,

Celebrate the beauty and diversity of Italian culture in Canada through music, arts, food and folklore in Montréal’s Little Italy, between rue Saint-Zotique and rue Jean-Talon on boulevard Saint-Laurent.

National Bank Open

August 3 to 12,

Also known as the Canadian Open, this is one of the most important tournaments on the professional tennis tour.


August 9 to 11,

Catch the beat of Québec’s energetic club culture at Parc Jean-Drapeau for a weekend of hip-hop, rap, house, reggaeton, dubstep and glitch-hop. You can get there by metro.

LASSO Montréal

August 15 to 17,

Canada has country music, too! Participants don cowboy hats and kick up their heels to celebrate rural life in an urban setting: Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Festival AfroMonde

August 17 to 20,

Traditional music, dance, visual art, fashion and humor converge in a diverse, dynamic celebration of African diaspora cultures around the Old Port of Montréal.


August 20 to 25,

This six-day showcase experiments with digital art in multiple forms: musical and audiovisual performances; interactive and immersive installations; and virtual, augmented and mixedreality works.

MAD Festival

August 22 to 25,

Fashion shows, multidisciplinary acts, live art installations, musical performances and real-time design are part of this annual celebration of sartorial creativity held in the Quartier des Spectacles.

POP Montréal

September 25 to 29,

Boasting more than 400 acts from all over the world, this cuttingedge indie music fest in Montréal’s hip Mile End neighborhood just might introduce you to your next favorite band.


KWE! Meet With Indigenous Peoples

June 16 to 16, Québec City, what-to-do-quebec-city/events/kwe

Indigenous artists and leaders share wisdom, crafts, short films and discussion of current issues.

Domaine Forget

International Festival

June 29 to August 24, Saint-Irénée, en/international-festival

Domaine Forget is both a summer music and dance academy and an international festival on a 100-acre property overlooking the St. Lawrence River. For two months, it hosts world-class soloists, orchestras, dance concerts and jazz events.

Festival d’été de Québec

July 4 to 14, Québec City,

This huge outdoor party has been getting thousands of festivalgoers dancing and singing since 1968. Over the course of 11 nights, choose from 150 multi-genre shows on five stages surrounded by history and culture.

Festival des Bières de Laval

July 12 to 14, Laval, home

Featuring more than 70 exhibitors, including 35 microbreweries, this two-day beer fest is a great way to celebrate Bastille Day in Québec.


P.24 Festival International Nuits d’Afrique Fierté Montréal
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Gatineau Brewfest

July 17 to 27, Gatineau,

This yearly event is a must for epicureans looking to taste terroir products and craft beers from all over Canada, with a focus on Québec and Ontario.

Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant

July 31 to August 4, Mont-Tremblant,

For five summer days, the hills north of Montréal are alive with the sound of world-class jazz. More than 150,000 music lovers attend, and many of the concerts are free.

Grands Feux Loto-Québec

Tuesday and Thursday nights from August 1 to 24, Québec City and Lévis,

The largest fireworks festival in the world is back with shows launched from a firing platform in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. It also promises eight original pyromusical performances.

New France Festival

August 1 to 4, Quebec City,

Bygone Québec City is the focus of a festive celebration of North American history.


Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu

August 9 to 11 and 15 to 18, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu,

This colorful convergence of hot-air balloons is the largest in Canada. On the ground, the entertainment includes a major lineup of local and international performers.

Le Festibière de Québec

August 15 to 18, Québec City,

Translation: Québec Brewers Festival! More than 100 exhibitors — including 50-plus local microbreweries — make this a delicious destination for beer lovers of all persuasions.

Bières & Saveurs de Chambly

August 30 to September 2, Chambly,

Sample local craft beers, ciders, meads and wines, as well as locally grown foods, at a historic fort on the Richelieu River. It’s one of the biggest tasting festivals in Québec!

Festival Western de St-Tite

September 6 to 15, Saint-Tite,

East meets West at this two-week event all about Canadian cowboy culture. Expect rodeos, dancing and country music.


Sherbrooke t’en

Bouche un Coin

June 6 to 9, Sherbrooke,

A foodie festival near the Lac des Nations serves up tastings, demonstrations and food booths.

Orford Music Festival

June 12 to August 10, Orford,

Professional and student musicians flock to Mont-Orford National Park to play in this well-established summer music series of classical and jazz concerts.

Ayer’s Cliff Rodeo

June 13 to 16, Ayer’s Cliff,

Check out live rodeo right over the Vermont-Canada border. Also tractor pulls, country music and dance competitions.

Soif de Musique

July 3 to 7, Cowansville,

Hot Air Balloon Festival

August 29 to September 2, Gatineau, montgolfieresgatineau. com/en

Featuring the hot-air balloon in all its forms, this festival offers flights, nightly illuminations and, at the end of each evening, fireworks.

The name translates to “Thirst for Music.” Forty thousand people attend, making this the biggest music event in the BromeMissisquoi winemaking region.

Sherblues & Folk

July 4 to 6, Sherbrooke,

Emerging and international musicians converge on downtown

Sherbrooke for a summer festival renowned for the quality of its programming. Most of it is free.


July 11 to 14, Ayer’s Cliff,

Québec’s only neo-vaudeville festival is a four-day outdoor carnival featuring music, circus, burlesque, theater, skateboarding, wrestling, camping, and a beard and mustache contest.

Fête du Lac des Nations

July 16 to 21, Sherbrooke,

Musicians from Québec and beyond take over multiple stages in Parc Jacques-Cartier for a weeklong summertime celebration with local food and family activities.

Couleurs Urbaines

July 26 to 28, Granby,

This free visual arts symposium brings together more than 50 artists from across the province of Québec. Here’s a rare chance to watch them work.

Festival des Traditions

du Monde de Sherbrooke

August 14 to 18, Sherbrooke,

The town of Sherbrooke celebrates world traditions over a long weekend of music, dance, food and craft.

Festival Gourmand de Val-des-Sources

August 15 to 18, Asbestos,

Local food is the main draw of this family-friendly festival that also offers rides, parades, games, sports tournaments and fireworks.

Fête des Vendanges

August 31 to September 2 and September 7 and 9, Magog,

Just north of Newport, this flavor fest features more than 100 exhibitors sampling and selling Québec wines, spirits, cheeses and other local products. ➆

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A summer travel guide to Vermont’s other favorite airport

Lifting o from Burlington International Airport has a lot to recommend it: proximity, a solid book exchange, preflight pints at the Skinny Pancake. Anecdotes suggest good odds, moreover, of spotting at least one member of Phish (or, at the very least, of Vermont’s congressional delegation). There are rocking chairs; it’s cute as a button. But as frequent flyers know, big airports have their advantages, too.

Montréal’s flagship airport — MontréalPierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, also known as YUL — o ers nearly nine times more daily takeo s and landings than BTV. That means more options and, often, cheaper flights. When analysts at booking aggregation site KAYAK compared round-trip economy flights over a four-month period between each airport and their top 10 final destinations in common — cities that include Los Angeles; Cancún, Mexico; and London, England — they found that the flights originating in Burlington cost 42 percent more, on average, than those from Montréal.

When the tra c cooperates, YUL is just a couple of hours from Burlington — two sing-alongs to the Stick Season album, if you press pause for the border crossing. But flying out of Montréal does take a bit of strategy, from securing safe parking to organizing international travel documents. Here’s the deal with YUL and what you need to know if you’re using the airport this summer travel season.

You Can’t Get There From Here

Direct flights out of Montréal head to 157-odd destinations, from Algiers to Zurich. Perhaps unsurprising in a city whose winter lows could freeze a woodchuck out of the Green Mountains, those cover an abundance of warm-weather locales, including Mexican resort towns, several Caribbean countries and eight cities in Cuba.

While Seven Days does not endorse this sort of thing (ahem), some Vermont travelers advise that flying to Cuba from Montréal has remained a convenient option amid travel restrictions that wax and wane with U.S. foreign policy. Cuban border guards reportedly even o er to forego stamping your passport.

Of note in recent years: In 2023, YUL added Emirates and the budget-friendly Dominican airline Arajet to its lineup of carriers. Colombia’s own flagship airline, Avianca, made a Montréal debut in March with direct flights to Bogotá. Starting this year, low-cost airline Sun Country, which also flies out of BTV, will o er seasonal direct flights between Montréal and Minneapolis. And in June, the Montréal-based Air Transat will become the only airline in North America to o er direct flights to Marrakech, Morocco.

Montréal’s Once and Future Airport(s)

Some readers may remember Montréal’s airport by another name. In the words of Seven Days publisher Paula Routly: “What happened to Dorval?” Like our very own Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport, it just got a prolix rebrand. Dorval Airport opened in 1941, then in 2004 was dubbed Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in honor of the beloved Outremont-raised former prime minister. (Also known as Justin’s dad.) Confusing matters further is the city’s other airport, Montréal-Mirabel International

Airport (YMX). Mirabel was the main gateway for international flights from 1975 to 1997 but was widely seen as inconvenient and now mostly handles cargo.

YUL, meanwhile, is bustling to a fault — a record-breaking 21.2 million passengers passed through last year, and between 2022 and 2023 the airport saw faster growth than any other in Canada. It’s brought noise complaints from surrounding communities and serious tra c snarls. Last fall, Montréal taxi drivers told the CBC that backups were so bad that passengers regularly exited cars and walked to avoid missed flights. At an April press conference, Yves Beauchamp, president and CEO of ADM Aéroports de Montréal, announced a plan aimed at easing that congestion by adding more parking lots, a new drop-o area and satellite boarding gates by 2028.

Until then, plan strategically to dodge the worst of it — avoiding rush hour is a good place to start. An express drop-o area debuted on May 1 at the new parking structure, P4 (590 boulevard Albert-deNiverville, Dorval); a second express drop-o area will open near the Chemin de la Côte-de-Liesse access road in time for the summer season. Eric Forest, a spokesperson for ADM Aéroports de Montréal, wrote in an email that free five-minute shuttles would serve those drop-o areas this summer to ease congestion closer to the airport itself. All airport parking lots will also be free for the first 40 minutes this summer, Forest noted. If you’re picking someone up, the three CellParc lots are free for up to two hours.



Crossing an international border en route to the airport adds an undeniable chaos facto r. To avoid unforeseen delays, check border wait times and get your paperwork squared away: You should carry a valid passport, enhanced driver’s license or NEXUS card, for one. As we reported in last year’s Québec travel issue, a birth certificate and photo identification theoretically work if you don’t have those but may take more time to process at the border. Same goes for minors: If they have passports, bring those along. Otherwise, minors under the age of 16 must have a birth certificate, while those 16 to 18 should present a birth certificate and photo ID. If one parent is traveling with children, they will need a letter from the other parent giving permission for the trip and including a contact number. Visit for more tips to get over the border, including what you need to know about going to Canada with a DUI on your record.


You can find some half-decent eats once you get past security at YUL, such as the craft beers and French-accented bar snacks — fondue, onion soup — of Québecbased mini chain Archibald Microbrasserie (, 514-687-9977) by Gate 51 in the domestic terminal. But if you have time, consider the pre- or postflight offerings beyond the airport. Exploring the surrounding West Island area, which visitors to Montréal generally skip, pays off in some memorable meals. While its suburban sprawl lacks the charm of more central areas, such as Old Montréal or Mile End, it’s also a breeze to park during dinner.

ere are Afghan specialties at Restaurant Aryana (, 514-683-9595), including a leek-stuffed ravioli called ashak and Kabuli pilow, a national dish of basmati rice piled high with braised veal. Some partisans insist that Bombay Choupati (, 514-4213130), with its memorable versions of the savory crêpes called dosas, serves the best Indian meals on the island of Montréal. Likewise, the low-key, family-owned Beck’s Cuisine and Catering (, 514-676-0900) is known for top-notch Filipino cuisine. Its deep-fried pork belly, or lechon, wins raves.


For Québec aficionados in Vermont, pining for better public transit to Montréal is an old refrain. at we had a train last century, then lost it, still grates; the Montréaler stopped rolling in 1995. However, travelers with flexible schedules can still get to Montréal, and to YUL, by bus. Greyhound offers twice-daily departures from the Burlington Downtown Transit Center to the centrally located Gare d’Autocars de Montréal, a three-hour journey that costs US$21.49. e bus station adjoins the BerriUQAM metro station, from which you can hail a cab for the remaining 12 miles or catch the 24-hour 747 YUL Aéroport/Centre-Ville bus to the airport. (Pay for the bus with the Chrono or Transit mobile apps or buy a ticket on board with CA$11 in exact change.)


If you’re driving yourself to the airport, you’ll need a place to park. Given the ongoing car-theft problem in Montréal (and Canada more broadly), it’s worth being choosy. Parking at one of the airport’s official lots is convenient and generally safe but also a more expensive option. Covered spaces a five-minute walk from the terminal run CA$37 for 24 hours,

while EconoParc lots range from CA$30-36 for 24 hours, including the use of aroundthe-clock shuttle buses to the airport. If you’re parking at the airport, reserve spots online in advance.

Many hotels near the airport also offer parking, and you can compare options at aggregation websites such as parksleepfly.

aggregation p

day lots offer of

. A recent search showed spaces from CA$15-25 per day in uncovered self-park lots at hotels with free 24-hour shuttles. Other hotels offer free parking along with a paid overnight; depending on the duration of your trip, that could be cheaper than parking alone. e Sheraton Montréal Airport Hotel includes 10 days of parking with a one-night stay; the Residence Inn by Marriott Montréal Airport has overnight packages including up to 15 days of parking. Security measures vary.

If you’re going on a long trip — or really trying to cut costs — you can also park farther away and take public transit to YUL. By-reservation, secure long-term parking at the Olympic Stadium is a relative deal: CA$45 for eight days and CA$160 for 30 days. From Olympic Stadium, you can access the connected Pie-IX Metro station and hop a green-line train to Lionel Groulx. e 747 YUL Aéroport/Centre-Ville bus runs around the clock from Lionel Groulx to the airport. ➆

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