An Introspective walk on the Circuit de l'Abbaye
Our ambassador Ariane is back! In this article, she tells us about her experience doing the Circuit de l'Abbaye. A must read!
This time, also in a period of introspection myself, I really wanted to share with you a few snippets of my 5-day experience on the Circuit de l'Abbaye this summer 2020, alongside my good friend Véronique.
Émilie and Caroline, also very dear friends, came to join us and in turn, to share a bit of the road.
The 8-day trip is also offered in 2 circuits each of 5 days. We chose a 5-day circuit along the southern section, in order to get a little more off the beaten track. The offer in terms of accommodation is therefore limited, however it’s more than appropriate for those in search of peace and personal balance.
8 municipalities in the west of the MRC de Memphrémagog
Eastern Townships region
Facebook page: @circuitdelabbaye
Interactive map: https://www.circuitdelabbaye.com/carte-interactive/
My itinerary in brief & my book of good addresses
JI’m sharing with you my fondest memories to inspire you, but also my book of good addresses to better prepare you for your next year’s journey.
A second article – more in the form of a travelogue and sharing about my encounters along the route – will be published on the Eastern Townships tourism’s blog for spring 2021!
Day 0: Eastman / Abbey of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac / Magog / Austin
My fondest memories: Arriving smoothly taking a coffee at La Station in Eastman and viewing their works of art; Picnic on the grass of the Abbey and having deep discussions with Véronique of how we would remake the world; Strolling along the corridor with the multicolored mosaics of the Abbey of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac; Dinner at the Microbrasserie La Memphré with a view of Lake Memphremagog and its sailboats, falling asleep in an ancestral Victorian-style house...
*To get back on your feet, it's also possible to walk part of day 1 of the 8-day route (round trip).
Art Café La Station
439, Rue Principale, Eastman, (QC) J0E 1P0 / 579-437-8484
1, Rue Principale, Saint-Benoît-du-Lac (QC) J0B 2M0 / 819 843-4080
219, Rue Principale Ouest, Magog, (QC) J1X 2A8 / 819-868-2225
Microbrasserie La Memphré
12, Merry Sud, Magog, (QC) J1X 3K9 / 819-843-3405
B&B L’Échappée Belle – Chez Robert
15, Chemin Fraser, Austin, (QC) J0B 1B0 / 819-594-8338
Day 1: Austin / Bolton-East – Approximately 20 km walk
My fondest memories: Waking up early to the sound of rain; Chatting with Robert, the owner of the very nice B&B; Leaving under a fine mist, bringing a mystical atmosphere; Being surrounded by huge ferns giving me the impression of being in the middle of a tropical forest; Experiencing all the changes of the weather at the same time; Talking about everything and nothing with Véronique; Smiling at the sight of the bright Boisé Rivière B&B and their magnificent garden and land as far as the eye can see; Bathing in the Missisquoi River, G&T made with fruit in hand, laughing out loud; Be greeted at the lodge with hot towels; Savoring a delicious soup-meal offered to walkers with cheese on toast from the Abbey; Discussing life with Nathalie and André, the hosts, and their so worldly wise grown-up children...
Boulangerie Les herbes hautes
10, Chemin Fisher, Austin, (QC), J0B 1B0 / 819-703-8655
B&B Boisé Rivière
895, Route Missisquoi, Bolton-Est, (QC) J0E 1G0 / 819-919-5554
Day 2: Bolton-East / Mansonville – Approximately 20 km walk
My fondest memories: Eating frittata for breakfast and taking a trip to the river; Walking on country roads, coiled in the Missisquoi-North river valley; Saying hello to beige and brown cows; Being impressed by a host of beautiful ancestral homes, brilliantly renovated; Enjoying the shade of a large avenue of gigantic trees, providing respite from the blazing sun; Taking the time to stop and admire the spectacular mountain ranges views; Having lunch at an "Amis du Circuit" stop, where Jacqueline welcomes us plenty of stories; Discovering the historical heritage of Mansonville: Manson place and the round barn; Having a drink and relaxing our sore legs in the B&B's swimming pool; Enjoying a succulent vegan dinner from the caterer Cuit Zen; Snuggling up in the RV at B&B Moka chocolat...
Traiteur Cuit Zen
35, Chemin de Vale Perkins, Mansonville, (QC) J0E 1X0 / 450-292-4895
Euro-Delli du village
295A, Rue Principale, Potton, (QC), J0E 1X0 819-580-7557
Boulangerie Bistro Owl’s Bread
299, Rue Principale, Mansonville, (QC) J0E 1X0 / 450-292-3088
B&B Moka chocolat
12 Rue de Vale Perkins, Mansonville, (QC) J0E 1X0 / 514-663-6041
Day 3: Mansonville – Approximately 17 km walk
My fondest memories: Joining my beautiful friend Émilie, who comes to walk with us for the day; Being very hot; Observing the kayakers going down the Missisquoi River; Coming across old abandoned barns so typical of the Eastern Townships landscapes; Lunching at the Bleuetière du Marquis (organic) with incredible views of the green mountains; Getting caught in the rain; Chilling at the auberge, far too big for the two of us; Writing my journal in the hollow of a hammock...
Bleuetière du Marquis
2236, Chemin West Hill, Mansonville, (QC) J0E 1X0 / 514 951-9164
Auberge de la Station du Camping nature plein air
2733, Chemin de la Vallée-Missisquoi, Mansonville, (QC) J0E 1X0 / 450-292-3737
Day 4: Mansonville / Owl’s head – Approximately 22 km walk
My fondest memories: Hiking the magnificent loop formed by Miltimore, Fitzsimmons, West Hill, Ruiter Brook roads, with incredible landscapes and different from one day to the next; Feeling an unusual tranquility and even falling into a meditative state; Seeing the Pont de la frontière, very close to the US Customs; Glimpsing Mount Owl’s Head which seems to follow us all day long, under an occasional dark sky; Smelling the immense pink flowers; Eating on big red Adirondack chairs near a maple grove; Dinner at the Golf Club, accompanied by the sun setting over the mountains; Staying comfortably at the foot of the ski slopes…
Owl's Head Golf Club
181, Chemin Owl's Head, Mansonville, (QC) J0E 1X0 / 450-292-3666
MT HAUS hotel
40, Chemin du Mont-Owl's Head, Mansonville, (QC) J0E 1X0 / 450 292-3342
Day 5: Owl’s Head / Austin / Abbey of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac – Approximately 25 km of walk
My fondest memories: Starting a long, but beautiful day of walking; Memories of significant discussions with Caroline, who came to join us; Warming our faces in the sparkling sun; Appreciating the beauty of the path, skirting the corn fields; Taking deep breaths of fresh air, silence and nature; Improvise a lunch area in a courtyard entrance; Being impressed by the lake and the peaked Sugar Loaf Mountain; Stocking up on local products at the Abbey shop; Catching one last look at the surrounding mountains; Watching time fly by and above all not wanting it to end; Drinking bubbles and enjoying a wonderful dinner in Magog to celebrate the end of an unforgettable week; Being already nostalgic, but serene at the same time...
Magasin général Jewett
3, Chemin Georges-R.-Jewett, Mansonville, (QC) J0E 1X0
Abbaye Saint-Benoît du Lac
1, Rue Principale, Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, (QC) J0B 2M0 / 819 843-4080
481, Principale Ouest, Magog, (QC) J1X 2B2 / 819-843-4448
B&B L’Échappée Belle – Chez Robert
15, Chemin Fraser, Austin, (QC) J0B 1B0 / 819-594-8338
What about the logistics?
The organization of the Circuit de l'Abbaye offers great guidance through the many tips shared on their website (but they cannot as yet book your accommodation for you). You can also benefit from their complete trousse du marcheur (walker kit), available at a cost of $40 per person (amount that could change without notice), by registering online for 2021.
Currently, no luggage transportation service is offered by the organization of the Circuit de l'Abbaye. So, you do have to use ingenuity and travel light. On the other hand, by staying in charming B&B, you don't have to worry about your meals, at least not about breakfasts and dinners (depending of the B&B).
For lunches, you would have to do some shopping along the way or maybe organize a lunch with the B&B if at all possible. Find out well in advance, as on foot the distances are longer to cover if you need to refuel for food.
*Organizing meals during a pandemic required a lot more planning on my part. But let's hope that the situation will be restored in 2021.
You don’t need a shuttle to make the Circuit de l'Abbaye. On the other hand, if your struggling to finish the day or if you need to go to your car, you can always call the B&B Moka chocolat (and even the other B&B). A tip at your discretion will be always welcome.
A taxi service is also available for the Magog and Orford sectors. Additional fees are added outside Orford Magog ($ 1.75 per km): 819-843-3377.
Are you already dreaming of your next Compostela walk? Start preparing now!
Alone or with friends, I guarantee it will be one of your greatest experiences in life!