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Saturday, July 20, 2024

One Perfect Day in Témiscouata-Sur-Le-Lac


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Planning a summer road trip in Eastern Canada and wondering what to do in Témiscouata-Sur-Le-Lac, Quebec?

This 24-hour itinerary features the top things to see, do and eat in this fascinating lakeside destination.

We stopped here on a recent road trip from Toronto to New Brunswick and fell in love with this welcoming town. We’re sure you will too!

View of Fort Ingall and fish art and Michele Peterson writer.
Lots to see and experience here! (Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

Set on the largest lake south of the St. Lawrence River and surrounded by forested hills, it’s a popular spot for summer vacations filled with cycling, boating, kayaking and hiking.

But you can still get a taste of its epic outdoor adventure, warm hospitality and Michelin-worthy dining even if you have just one day.

Lighthouse on Lake Temiscouata, Quebec.
Picturesque views at Lac Témiscouata. (Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

Location

First, you might be wondering where is this awesome spot?

It’s located in the Bas Saint-Laurent Region, south of the St. Lawrence River bordering Maine and New Brunswick.

For road-trippers, Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac also happens to be directly off Route 185 (part of the Trans-Canada Highway) so it’s on the way to Moncton, Fredericton, Saint John and St. Andrews, NB from Toronto or Ottawa, Ontario via Highway 20.

It’s an ideal place to stop enroute to vacations in Halifax, Digby and Tatamagouche beaches in Nova Scotia and PEI.

If you’re craving fresh air, a swim in cool waters, stunning views and fabulous food, here’s what to fit into your vacation at Lake Témiscouata.

1. Step into the Past at Fort Ingall

Soldier at Fort Ingall at Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac.
Welcome to Fort Ingall in Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac. (Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

There’s no risk of suffering “museum fatigue” at Fort Ingall, a historic attraction in the heart of Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac.

This reconstructed British fortification was originally built in 1839 during a border conflict between the United States and Canada.

Soldier walking at Fort Ingall with flag pole.
Enjoy the grounds of Fort Ingall. (Photo Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

It held a strategic location on the Portage Trail from New Brunswick to the St. Lawrence.

So its main purpose was to prevent American troops from reaching Quebec City, the administrative capital and Halifax, the military capital.

Living quarters at Fort Ingall with bed and chair.
View the officer’s quarters and other reconstructed buildings. (Photo Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

Today, it’s a top attraction for visitors. Not only does it have a breezy setting overlooking Lac Témiscouata, it houses some fascinating exhibits.

Highlights include the reconstructed buildings such as barracks, prison (and rather grim tortures devised for insubordinate soldiers), lookout, officer’s quarters and mess kitchen.

During July and August, visitors also have the opportunity to see the firing of the midday cannon (or even shoot it themselves!)

🌟 Pro Tip: To get the most out of your visit, rent one of the excellent Audio Guides. They’re free during low season but well worth the $7 cost the rest of the year.

2. Indulge in Michelin-Worthy Cuisine

Dining room at Auberge du Chemin Faisant.
You’ll enjoy Michelin-worthy dining at Auberge du Chemin Faisant. (Photo Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

One of the most surprising (and rewarding) things to do in Témascouata-sur-lu-Lac is to take a gastronomic journey through the ocean’s bounty at Auberge de Chemin Faisant.

This boutique-sized inn and restaurant is helmed by the talented team of Marine and Baptiste Massol, sommelier and chef.

Sommelier Marine Massol at Auberge du Chemin Faisant.
Sommelier Marine Massol at Auberge du Chemin Faisant. (Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

Their experience and creativity–garnered though careers in the restaurant industry in Michelin-starred restaurants in France, Switzerland and recently Quebec–is evident in their 8-course Tasting Menus.

We had an opportunity to enjoy the Seafood Tasting.

Each course was thoughtfully crafted, starting with a creamy Parmentier soup featuring the smoked eel of Kamouraska and Chantilly horseradish.

Smoked Eel Parmen Soup at Auberge du Chemin Faisant.
Smoked Eel Parmentier (leek, potato and egg) soup at Auberge du Chemin Faisant. (Photo Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

It was followed by a tarte tatin with shallots and balsamic mustard ice-cream, paired with Domaine Amouraska rhubarb wine, a tart rose with hints of sweetness.

Another inventive course features a refreshing sturgeon ceviche topped with Acadie Gold Sturgeon caviar, offering a delicate brininess with a subtle nutty flavour.

Other highlights included courses of Gaspésie lobster, wild turbot, salmon with delicious sides of locally-sourced seasonal and artisanal products such as fiddleheads.

Ending on a high note, the dinner wrapped up with a deconstructed Basque cake with sorbet to cleanse the palate. It was paired with a local maple sap wine from Domaine Vallier Robert.

Salmon Croquette in white bowl with glass of wine.
Enjoy fantastic Salmon Croquette at Auberge du Chemin Faisant. (Photo Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

Dining here is a seamless blend of inventive creativity, skillful cooking and genuine hospitality.

It’s well worth planning ahead so you can time your visit to enjoy this culinary experience. It quite possibility will be one of the best meals you’ll enjoy on your trip!

3. Sample Artisanal Cheese at Fromagerie Le Détour Cheese Factory

Exterior on Cheese Factory with sign.
If you’re a cheese lover, you don’t want to miss the Fromagerie Le Détour Cheese Factory! (Photo Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

The region’s fertile pastures and farms make it a haven for food enthusiasts who want to dive even further into its delicious products.

When it comes to regional artisanal cheeses, don’t miss Fromagerie Le Détour, a cheese shop set in a pastoral grove right off Hwy 185 (Google Map).

Be sure to try the oh-so-buttery Douceur Témiscouata, cow’s milk triple cream as well as the award-winning Grey Owl Cheese.

Produced right in Notre Dame du Lac, this wrinkly, slate-coloured, surface-ripened goat’s milk cheese has a silky, smooth interior and a deliciously dusky, edible rind.

Different cheeses on table at factory.
The fertile pastures and farms produce an assortment of fine cheeses. (Photo Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

Note: The municipality of Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac was created from two towns, referred to now as the Quartier Cabano and the Quartier Notre Dame du Lac.

Because neither are too far from each other, I’ve referenced them as one in this post.

4. Stock up on Fresh Artisanal Croissants and Baguettes

Fresh bread at Tentations Gourmandes in Temiscouata-sur-le Lac.
Pick up some croissants, éclairs or a baguette to enjoy. (Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

To round out your meal-on-the-go, pick up some croissants, éclairs and baguettes at Tentations Gourmandes bakery (Google Map) operated in Temiscouata-sur-le Lac.

🌟 Insider Tip: If you’re planning on doing any fishing in Lake Temiscouata, bakery proprietor Dany Tardif is a wealth of insider tips on where to catch a big one. If you’re in doubt, check out his trophy wall of fish (and moose) photos for proof.

5. Picnic at Celestial Gardens

Picnic table at the celestial gardens of Témiscouata.
These planetary-themed gardens are a unique way to learn about the solar system.

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy an al fresco meal (Check out our recipes for boating and picnics), you can’t go wrong with the Jardines Celestes du Temiscouata.

Located in the heart of town (Google) it’s easy to combine with a trip to Fort Ingall.

Nerdy folks like me will love how the theme of this park’s 20 gardens is based on the planets.

So you’ll see planets, the sun, moon, stars and other celestial wonders from the world of astronomy.

How cool is that?

As a family-friendly road stop, it’s got lots to offer beyond the sun, moon and stars.

Fish art in park.
Enjoy colorful art in the park! (Photo Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

There are picnic tables, public washrooms (with potable water), a splash pad, playground and climbing structures for kids, fragrant roses and plenty of inspiring public art.

All this adds up to making Témiscouata-Sur-Le-Lac one the best places to stop on a Toronto – New Brunswick road trip if you’re travelling with kids.

6. Get a Photo-op at the Lighthouse

Michele Peterson at the lookout at Lac Témiscouata.
Enjoy the views from the lookout at the marina at Lac Témiscouata. (Photo Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

Continue your walk through the Celestial Garden Park towards the waterfront and you’ll soon reach a lookout across Lac Témiscouata.

Gawk at the yachts, launch your own stand-up paddle board or take photos of the lighthouse.

From this vantage point, you really get a sense of the vast size of this lake.

This lookout at the marina offers panoramic views of sky, forest and water. (Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

Spanning nearly 66 square kms and a length of about 40 kms, it’s easy to see how this mighty waterway played an important role as a portage route used by Indigenous peoples and early European explorers.

7. Bask on a Beach at Lac Témiscouata

Lake Témiscouata  swimming beach.
While it was too chilly to swim during our visit, this is a popular beach in the summertime. (Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

It’s not often you’ll find a road trip stop that includes the opportunity to splash around at a swimmable beach.

But the town’s serene setting along Lake Témiscouata also provides a peaceful backdrop for a leisurely day of sun, sand and swimming at its main beach.

Bring your own chairs, cooler and provisions as there aren’t many facilities.

8. Sip Some Suds at Madawaska Beer

Beer taps inside of a microbrewery.
Beer on tap at Madawaska Brasserie at Hôtel 1212. (Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

Hôtel 1212 in the tiny town of Déglis, a 10 minute drive from Témiscouata-sur-le Lac, is the home of the Madawaska Microbrewery brewpub and brasserie.

Their beer is crafted with a deep respect for traditional brewing methods, while also embracing innovative techniques that highlight the rich natural resources of the area.

The brewpub was closed for renovations during our visit but we were able to sample a few of their signature craft beers from pale Blonde to a robust IPA Mosaic at the Pub du Lac Resto-Bar (see below).

9. Lunch at Pub du Lac Resto Bar

This popular eatery (Google Map)is ideally located near the Cabano waterfront and campground.

Its outdoor terrace is the ideal place to soak up the fresh lake breezes and sample a beer form its extensive menu of local and international craft beers.

Craft beer at Pub du Lac resto-bar.
Sample some craft beer at the Pub du Lac resto-bar. (Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

The menu features pub favourites (try the frites). The excellent service by the friendly staff makes up for its rather elevated prices.

10. Cycle the Interprovincial Linear Park

To bikers at Interprovincial Park.
Take in nature while cycling the Interprovincial Linear Park.

If you’re feeling ambitious and have more than one day in the Témiscouata region, then you should consider cycling the Interprovincial Linear Park.

Known as the Parc Linéaire Interprovincial Petit Témis, this 134 km trail stretches from Riviere-du-Loup all the way to Edmundston, New Brunswick.

We really wished we had brought our bikes so we could have cycled a few stretches of the linear park and wore off a few of the calories from the gourmet cheese, pastries and fine-dining!

bike trail between provinces with picnic table.
Cycle this bike trail between two provinces. (Photo Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

But it is possible to fit in some cycling even if you have only one day in town.

While out and about we could see access points to the cycling path at various picturesque points in Témiscouata-sur-le Lac.

Insider Tip: A good access point is beside the Auberge de la Gare (Google Map), where you can park your car ( or bike) and enjoy a nice meal as a reward for your exertions.

11. Experience the Wilderness of Lake Témiscouata National Park

Moose in the wild forest.
.
You might get lucky and see a moose in the park. Better to see one there than on the highway!

Although it’s easy to focus on Lake Témiscouata –it is, after all, the second-largest lake south of the St. Lawrence River–it’s impossible to miss the vast forested expanse of Lake Témiscouata National Park.

This protected area features extensive trails, many with breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding forests. Wildlife enthusiasts can observe various species of animals, including white-tailed deer and moose, in their natural habitat.

The park also features historical and cultural sites, such as ancient Indigenous portage routes and archaeological sites.

Access is limited so it’s wise to book your day pass online in advance to avoid disappointment.

In the summer (May to October), an hourly ferry connects the mainland to the park.

12. Stay at Unique and Charming Accommodations

front steps of a charming accommodation.
Auberge du Chemin Faisant is both art gallery, lodging and restaurant. (Photo Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

As you’ve likely figured out by now, there’s so much to do in this region, you’ll want to stay longer than one day.

Fortunately, in addition to the campgrounds, RV parks and motels, there are several charming places to stay for a night or two.

We stayed at the Auberge du Chemin Faisant, a small inn designed in 1950 by architect Robert Blatter.

Born in Switzerland, Blatter played a major role in the design of several notable buildings around Quebec City including the Basilica at Ste. Anne de Beaupre and is known for his influence in the modernist movement in Eastern Canada. 

Once the home of the mayor of Cabano, then the Sisters of the Holy Rosary, today it’s owned by innkeepers Marine and Baptiste Massol and operates as a bed and breakfast and gastronomic destination.

Originally from France, they bring their considerable experience as sommelier and chef to the inn and host gastronomic events within the onsite restaurant.

We highly recommend timing your overnight visit so you can enjoy one of their Gastronomic Packages featuring an 8-course Tasting Menu with wine pairings.

Overnight guests can look forward to a delicious breakfast showcasing local artisanal products from the Bas Saint-Laurent region.

A gourmet breakfast in white bowl.
Enjoy an upscale breakfast at Auberge du Chemin Faisant. (Photo Credit: Francisco Sanchez)

Another place to stay in the Cabano district is Motel Cabano, known for its prime location near the lake.

13. Sample Premium Maple Products at Domaine Acer

While we didn’t have time to personally visit the maple ecomuseum or tasting room at Domaine Vallier Robert, but we wish we had based on the sample we enjoyed of their fine maple wines!

This local producer was awarded the very first permit for the artisanal production of maple-based alcoholic beverages. Since then they’ve gone on to produce an exceptional array of maple products including syrup, jelly, butters and chocolates as well as fine wines.

They’re located a 20-minute drive from Fromagerie Le Detour cheese shop (Google Map) but it’s worth adding a visit to your itinerary.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac is an ideal road trip stop en route to the Maritimes.

It also makes a great home base for visiting Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site as it’s less than a 2-hour drive to Berthier-sur-Mer, the launching point for cruises to the island.

Whether you visit for just one-day or longer, it offers travellers the perfect blend of relaxation, outdoor activities and exceptional local cuisine.

Our own stay was a highlight of our Quebec and New Brunswick adventure.

Travel Planning Resources

Quebec City: Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac is located 2.5 hours from Quebec City. So if you’re taking a Canada-New England Cruise it’s easy to rent a car in Quebec City and go exploring the Bas Saint-Laurent area.

We rent our cars on Discovercars.com. It’s an online car rental booking site that compares rates from several companies to find the best deal.

Check for the best car rental rates at Discovercars.com

Quebec Maritime: For information on travel and vacations within Quebec Maritime, Bas Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie, check out the official Quebec Maritime Website.

Whale Watching Cruise: A top thing to do in the region is to take a ruise to spot whales, seals, and belugas. Check rates and availability of a whale-watching tour from Quebec City.

Other Favourite Destinations in Quebec

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Collage of Fort Ingall, art and cuisine.

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