“My books are not about just terror and murder, they are about goodness. And kindness. About choices. About friendship and belonging. And love. Enduring love. If you take only one thing away from any of my books, I’d like it to be this: Goodness exists.”
– Louise Penny
A client asked Tracy and I to design a Louise Penny Tour. I had already read her first novel, Still Life, for my neighborhood book club, but while creating their itinerary, I became utterly enchanted by the bucolic setting of Louise’s 16 novels. I’m now looking forward to not only finishing the series, but to visiting the area myself.
Seeped in history and reminiscent of the gilded ages of royalty, conquerors, valor and passions, Hotel Bonaparte offers an experience firmly inspired by the past, but with a contemporary twist. It’s location is at the heart of Old Montreal and a short walk to the Old Port. History abounds in this world of cobblestone streets, horse carriages, ancient churches, neighborhood pubs and bistros, fine cuisine as well as art galleries and curiosity shops. The Bonaparte feautures all the modern conveniences as well as one of the top restaurants in the City. The food as well as the service is “classic French”
With 36 rooms and one Suite, The Bonaparte is quaint and cozy, a feeling that continues as you enter your guest room. Tall ceilings and lofty French dormer windows overlook old cobblestone streets, church gardens and spires. The rooms are airy and offer lots of daylight. Hardwood floors, oak doors, brick walls, working desk and comfortable beds are a given.
Perfect for a friend’s getaway, you will be staying in the largest suite which features two specific spaces; one King size room and one Queen size Murphy bed that converts into a spacious sitting area. Two modern bathrooms with rain forest shower make it easy for everyone to get ready for a full day of discovery. Large French doors open up onto a private terrace with a breathtaking view overlooking the gardens of Notre-Dame Basilica.
Quebec’s own Cirque du Soleil is back at the province’s largest city. Hosted Under The White Big Top at Old Port Of Montreal, this massive Cirque du Soleil Montreal engagement is your chance to experience the magic, the whimsy, and the wonder of the company’s new “Kooza” show, a mind-bending piece of physical theater that will leave you astounded. It’s a great show, at once exciting and beautiful, and it confirms the company’s status as a bold new name in the world of ice skating spectaculars.
“Someone had lied. Or hadn’t told the whole truth. In her dream, her only dream, played over and over since childhood, she had a solo show at the Musée d’art contemporain. She walked down this corridor. Composed and collected. Beautiful and slim. Witty and popular. Into the waiting arms of an adoring world. (A Trick of the Light)
Located on St. Catherine Street, Montreal’s main thoroughfare, the MACM was established in 1964 by a cooperative of both artists and collectors with the mission to “make known, promote and preserve contemporary Québec art and to ensure a place for international contemporary art through acquisitions, exhibitions and other cultural activities.”
The building itself, designed by the award-winning Jodoin Lamarre Pratte architectural firm, is a site to behold. Decidedly postmodern, composed of multiple angles, and topped with a giant pair of red lips. That’s right. A giant pair of red lips. The work of the gifted artist Geneviève Cadieux, the lips are actually her mother’s and Cadieux says the piece represents the “the idea of the feminine voice” as she feels “it’s very important for women to have a voice and be seen.” It would seem Louise subscribes to that very same maxim, don’t you think?
Inside the seven-story structure you’ll find diverse exhibition spaces, a theater, a library, and a multimedia room which are all anchored by its spectacular rotunda that represents the “pursuit of Drapeau-era ideals: the creation of a central artistic hub.
“She drove through the Ville-Marie Tunnel, then up onto the Champlain Bridge. Gamache was silent, looking at the half-frozen St. Lawrence River far below. The traffic slowed almost to a stop once they approached the very top of the span. Lacoste, who was not at all afraid of heights, felt queasy. It was one thing to drive over the bridge, another to be stopped within feet of the low rail. And the long plunge.” (How the Light Gets In)
Hovering high above the St. Lawrence River and nearly four miles long, the Champlain Bridge connects Three Pines with Montreal and features heavily in the works of Louise Penny.
How the Light Gets In begins with a body being discovered and “brought up from the side of the Champlain Bridge” and sadly, like many bridges, the Champlain has seen its fair share of deaths but not nearly as many as its sister bridge, the Jacques Cartier, which has had as many as 16 suicides in a single year.
The overall state of the Champlain plays a big part in the plot of the novel and this, like many of Louise’s themes, is more fact than fiction. The bridge has suffered heavy deterioration over the years and a 2010 study revealed that the bridge is “functionally deficient” thus a strategy was put in motion to replace it.
In 2014 the new plan for the replacement bridge was unveiled with completion in 2018. It maintains its six lanes of traffic and added in a separate span for bicycle and pedestrian paths.
“More people go to Sarah’s Boulangerie than ever show up at church.” (The Cruelest Month)
The Boulangerie/ La Rumeur Affamée is mentioned throughout The Cruelest Month usually accompanied by a description of sumptuous food.
A stop at Sarah’s boulangerie is a must for their mouthwatering delicacies. Relax as Armand, Clara, Myrna Ruth and Reine-Marie do regularly, and have a little wine and cheese.
Entering La Rumeur Affamée is a sensory experience. After taking in the eye-appealing décor, well trained professional team members welcome you with friendly “Bonjour’s” and smiles from behind the bread and cheese counters, but the truly exceptional greeting is from the enticing smell of freshly baked breads, croissants, brownies and tour signature Tarte au Sirop d’érable (maple syrup pie).
You are immediately drawn to the original hand-crafted all-wood counters and display cases, well used hardwood floors and high ceilings from the 1860s that instantly make you feel like you have entered an era of times gone by.
La Rumeur Affamée roughly translates to “The Famished Rumour.” Kelly Shanahan, owner of La Rumeur Affamée, certainly knows how to quash that rumour by providing a vast selection of irresistible baked goods, local and international cheeses, charcuteries, sausages, locally raised duck products, delectable ready-made meals, tantalising sandwiches, aromatic coffees, extra virgin olive oils, vinegars, mouth-watering chocolates and desserts, Quebec craft beer, wine, non-gluten and certified organic products.
The Great Wall of Bread at La Rumeur awaits you with freshly baked baguettes, artisanal loaves of spelt, kamut, quinoa, flax, rye, nut, olive and cheese. Our non-gluten and non-lactose breads include quinoa, rye, raisin and nut bread. Our chocolate orange muffins are to die for as well as the selection of croissants, chocolatines and vienoiseries.
Kelly says, “although it’s hard to beat the mind-boggling aroma of fresh bread, our signature maple syrup pies are the hands-down winner with our regular patrons.” Fresh daily fruit pies, cookies, squares, cakes and sucre à la crème round out the alluring selection of baked good
Knowlton, Quebec, a.k.a. “Three Pines” is the real-life place that inspired the fictional town where Louise Penny sets her bestselling mystery novels.
They’re serving steaming coffee and camaraderie at Le Relais Bistro. Built in 1849 the bistro features cushy chairs, large wooden dining tables and cozy rooms for overnight stays upstairs at Auberge Knowlton, all reminiscent of the Bistro in A Brutal Telling.
You’ll find a cheery welcome and plenty of reading tips at Brome Lake Books, a cozy store with nooks that invite readers to settle in and explore new titles. Penny’s readers will find it reminiscent of Myrna’s new and used bookstore in the novels. Here you can buy a Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mug and get a free licorice pipe with your mug, the same old-fashioned candy that the Inspector gets when solving mysteries.
Or you can buy a signed copy of one of Ms. Penny’s books. Owners Danny McAuley and Lucy Hoblyn hosted the author’s first book launch here, and they have held an event for each new book.
A central “character” in Louise’s magnificent Still Life, Arts Williamsburg was inspired by the real life Brome County Historical Society. Located just south of Brome Lake in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, the Historical Society was established in 1898 with the mission “to acquire, preserve, research, exhibit, interpret, and publish items of historical interest encompassing all of the historic Brome County and its sites.”
Also in Knowlton, Brome Lake Historical Society Museum is a surprising gem, especially for its size. It features an exhibit about the thousands of orphaned British Home Children who passed through it in the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. And, it houses a WWI Fokker airplane believed to be one of only three planes of that type in the world with its original fabric. But, don’t miss Jane’s painting “Fair Day” used in the movie, Still Life, based on Penny’s book of that name.
The Eastern Townships, les Cantons de L’Est, are located in southeastern Quebec, on the edge of the American border. During the Revolutionary War, the area offered refuge to the British royalists fleeing from the revolution. While the rest of Quebec is thoroughly French, the Eastern Townships bear the marks of British culture including villages with names such as Sutton, Sherbrooke and Georgeville. The fictitious town name of Three Pines is nod to the fact that royalists often planted a cluster three pine trees as a signpost of safety for British royalists fleeing across the border.
British as the towns were, they’re still in the midst of culturally French Quebec and people here switch back and forth between English and French easily. They also offer the fabulous food, wine, shops and joie de vivre of the region’s French Canadian heritage which Penny weaves into her stories. Characters are constantly eating meals that make the mouth water, enjoying a glass or two of wine or taking in the peace of their surroundings. It’s no wonder that people from around the world visit the area every year to see the landscape and cultural life they’ve read about in Louis Penny’s books.
“It was a restful room. The fires at either end of the beamed bistro took the gloom out of the day. Their light gleamed off the polished wood floors, darkened by years of smoke and farmer’s feet. Sofas and large inviting armchairs sat in front of each fireplace, their fabric faded. Old chairs were grouped round dark wooden dining tables. In front on the mullioned bay windows three or four wing chairs waited for villagers nursing steaming café au lait and croissants, or scotches, or burgundy wine..” (A Brutal Telling)
Step back in time without sacrificing the comforts of modern day. Built in 1849, Auberge Knowlton, the oldest continuously operating hotel in the Eastern Townships, celebrates more than 165 years of history of receiving guests with its elegant, antique-filled decor while offering all the modern amenities one has come to expect from a first class hotel.
Savor contemporary flavors at Le Relais Bistro and regional dishes served in a country-chic setting complete with wrap-around windows overlooking Knowlton’s main intersection, known as one of Quebec’s prettiest. Giving the restaurant the name “heart of the village”. Fresh and plentiful, Le Relais Restaurant-Bistro’s meals are a subtle blend of Mom’s home cooking and the gastronomic talents of our chefs, who take their inspiration from the French tradition.
Regional dishes feature Brome Lake duck and pork, local vegetables and cheeses. With a nod to history, an extensive steak menu is also available in the evening, living up to the restaurant’s historic local name, “The Steak House”. Our choices of wines include an excellent selection of imported and local wines.
“This was the near mythical monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups. The home of two dozen cloistered, contemplative monks who had built their abbey as far from civilization as they could get. It has taken hundreds of years for civilization to find them, but the silent monks had had the last word. Twenty-four men had stepped beyond the door. It had closed. And not another living soul had been admitted. Until today.” (The Beautiful Mystery)
“A waitress took their plates and a cheese platter arrived. ‘These are all from the monastery at Saint-Benoit-du-Lac’, said Olivier, waving a cheese knife over the platter. ‘Their vocation is making cheese and Gregorian chants. All their cheeses are named after saints. Here’s Saint- Andre and this one’s St-Albray”. (The Beautiful Mystery)
The religious affiliation and events of the book bear no resemblance to the Benedictine Monks of the real abbey, as explained by Louise: “it became clear in researching The Beautiful Mystery that I couldn’t set the book in a monastery, or even an order, that really existed, so I dug into history and found the Gilbertines, an order that actually once existed, but went extinct.”
This abbey is home to Benedictine monks on the shore of Lake Memphrémagog, and was the inspiration for the Abbey featured in The Beautiful Mystery. Visitors can take a tour, listen to the monks’ Gregorian chant at 11 AM, and also purchase the products the monks make including cheese (named after saints), chocolate and other goodies.
Almost 2 km of footpaths have been developed for contemplation and prayer. Visitors can discover the beauty of the nearby forest by walking these paths.
Ten minutes from the abbey, as you head towards Magog, Savon des Cantons and the Jardin des Sens are well worth the stop. For the soaps, personal care products, household products, little jars brimming with local flavours … all this and the amazing beauty of the environment here will make you want to stay a little longer.
Open since 2004, and counting itself among the first Nordic spas in Quebec, Spa Nordic Station has been built on an enchanting site, surrounded by trees, on the banks of Magog’s charming Castle Brook river. The site has been created to provide you with an intimate space for quiet reflection, in an antique décor with a warm and unique feel.
At Spa Nordic Station, the powers of temperature, water and nature provide you with deep relaxation and well-being. The body is purified, energized and calmed, while the spirit finds inner peace. The high quality amenities allow you to reap the benefits associated with the practice of thermotherapy in the most optimal fashion. You will find on the site, two Finnish saunas, a Russian banya, a eucalyptus steam crypt, two large Californian tubs, two Nordic waterfalls and access to the river, three relaxation rooms with fireplace, outdoor terraces, and massage cabins in the forest.
Facing Lake Memphremagog, with Owl’s Head in the background, Mount Orford nearby, and only two minutes from downtown Magog, the Verso Hôtel-Boutique established itself in the most idyllic setting. And, with 54 rooms with a 50s and 60s style decor, its bistro (Kóz), and its balconies overlooking the lake, there’s only one thing to add: Enjoy!
Magog vibrates all year with a multitude of cultural, sports and gastronomical activities and events. The Parc de la Baie-de-Magog is a must for its walking paths, its beach and its boat launching dock. The Maison Merry welcomes visitors to this Magog citizens’ historical memory site. The downtown area also houses many boutiques, art galleries, several terraces and restaurants.
For a quieter environment, the walking paths of the Marais de la Riviere aux Cerises allows visitors to discover well-preserved marshlands and two vineyards, The Cep d’Argent and the Vignoble Chemin de la Riviere will surely tickle your taste buds.
Founded in 1897, the village of North Hatley is known as one of the most beautiful small towns of Quebec. It’s landscapes offer breathtaking views, its architectural heritage and its olden-day village centre are all unique.
At the northern point of Lake Massawippi, the village was developed all around this area’s natural amphitheatre and attracts a large number of tourists from everywhere. North Hatley is a highly recognized vacation site in the Eastern Townships.
In the height of summer the guests descended on the isolated lodge by the lake, summoned to the Manoir Bellechasse by identical vellum invitations, addressed in the familiar spider scrawl as though written in cobwebs. Thrust through mail slots, the heavy paper had thudded to the floors of impressive homes in Vancouver and Toronto, and a small brick cottage in Three Pines. (A Rule Against Murder)
You will be spending the night in the very hotel which inspired Manoir Bellechasse, where Armand and Reine-Marie go each year for the anniversary by saving there pennies and which is featured in The Murder Stone.
Soak in the grandeur of this beautiful historical Relais & Châteaux property.
Manoir Hovey combines old-world charm and service with contemporary luxury. This destination appeals to visitors who yearn for simpler times when a vacation called for a charming country house on a lake with lots of fresh air and fabulous world-renowned food. The minute you drive up to our property, you will feel completely relaxed. The beautiful southern styled mansion combined with the unique picturesque lake view is therapeutic.
Le Hatley Restaurant at Manoir Hovey, reflects the Chef’s passion for the region’s history, its bounty, and its natural beauty. Drawing on his French Canadian roots, Chef Alexandre Vachon serves a refined nature-inspired cuisine paying homage both to his heritage and to the land and producers around him.
Le Tap Room Restaurant with its local and seasonal flavours, welcomes you year round in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Its menu offers simple and refined dishes as well as snacks and “pub” options such as our famous Abenaki poutine.
In the summer time, a terrace overlooking the English gardens and the lake invites you to enjoy an alfresco lunch.
Indoors, the bistro’s welcoming decor with its 10,000 brick fireplace inspires you to relax while contemplating the objects collected over time that adorn the walls and tell the story of the place.
Check the activity calendar here, and let us know if you would like to participate. Some may require advanced reservations: https://activites.manoirhovey.com/en/
« As Quebec City shivers in the grip of winter, its ancient stone walls cracking in the cold, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache plunges into the most unusual case of his celebrated career. A man has been brutally murdered in one of the city’s oldest buildings – a library where the English citizens of Quebec safeguard their history. And the death opens a door into the past, exposing a mystery that has lain dormant for centuries…a mystery Gamache must solve if he’s to apprehend a present-day killer. » (Bury Your Dead)
Based on Louise Penny’s best-selling mystery novel Bury Your Dead, this two and a half hour long tour follows the trail of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he investigates the murder of a local amateur archeologist, whose body was found in the cellar of the Québec Literary and Historical Society. Explore Old Québec City’s narrow streets with our guide and see with your own eyes the places where life and work bring Armand Gamache.
The Bury Your Dead Tour starts at the Quebec Tourist Information Centre (12, Sainte-Anne Street). Among other landmarks mentioned in the novel, the tour stops at the Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica, the Literary and Historical Society (Morrin Centre), and Émile Comeau’s house. You’ll also see where French General Montcalm died after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. The tour ends on the Place d’Armes.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is the unrivaled symbol of Quebec City since 1893. Perched high on the cliff, it is said to be the most photographed hotel in the world. This impressive Renaissance-style château has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage treasure for its role in Canada’s history. The towers and turrets of the hotel provide spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River and of the architecture of Old Quebec. The hotel has undergone numerous renovations and now is totally restored. Its a combination of ultimate comfort in 610 guest rooms and suites, three restaurants, and Moment Spa where history meets luxury.
The history of the hotel includes famous guests such as Céline Dion and Alfred Hitchcock.
Cafes. Restaurants, Shops and Markets Mentioned in Bury Your Dead
“Gamache’s wife, Reine-Marie, had left at dawn that morning after spending a week with them at Emile’s stone home on Rue St. Stanislas within the walled city of Quebec….life in the Old City was both gentle and dynamic, ancient and vibrant…the residents of Quebec City were waking up to walk to the Boulangerie for their morning baguette and cafe'” (Bury Your Dead)
Quebec City boasts a charm one could only find in one of the oldest towns in America. Imbued with history and surrounded by the only fortifications north of Mexico, it is truly a place like no other. Walking along its cobbled streets and narrow pathways one is surrounded by an Old France feel, a remnant of the past that has made Quebec city what it is today.
The UNESCO-protected old district and lower city are where the heart of the province’s capital beats the strongest, with tiny eateries and animated cafes just a few steps away from street artists. Take a stroll in the Quartier Petit Champlain for some of the best sights in the center or walk by the St. Lawrence, the river that gave Quebec City the name of “where the river narrows”.
Quebec City is so picturesque, you might at some point forget it is a real city. The tiny streets and tiny houses will take you back in time and away from what you would expect of a North American city. However, if the shops, cafes and restaurants are adorable, the streets and monuments will remind you of the historical importance of Quebec.
We’ll create your perfect vacation recipe from scratch, sourced from the finest ingredients below, and add our special sauce.
Art and Culture
Meeting the Locals
Rest and Relaxation
Indigenous Craft Workshops
We’ll add personalized surprises sprinkled throughout.
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