Portrait of the region
Located almost on Montreal’s doorstep, Lanaudière is one of Quebec’s most beautiful regions, offering visitors a natural environment that still remains largely pristine and untamed. The territory is bounded by the St. Lawrence River to the south and the Laurentian mountain range to the north. Lying between the Laurentides region in the west and Mauricie in the east, it is a vast north-south corridor some 250 km deep and up to 85 km wide, covering an area of 13,537 sq. km. Journeying along its full length, you’ll pass from quite densely populated areas to virtually uninhabited wilderness regions. Lanaudière is a place where natural wonders and culture live in perfect harmony.
The agricultural plain
It’s no secret… Lanaudière is one of the leading agricultural regions of Quebec, earning itself the nickname “the green region.” The verdant plain sits in Quebec’s mildest climatic zone, where the lowlands of the St. Lawrence River Valley are at their widest and the soil is extremely fertile.
This rare combination of topography, soil and climate makes Lanaudière an ideal destination for enjoying tasty local produce and lovely scenery. Lanaudière is famous for its many maple groves – one of the largest concentrations in all of Quebec. For anyone who loves good fresh food, this is the place to tour, with many friendly, welcoming farms and agrotourist businesses to visit. Try one of the recommended agricultural tours on our Chemins de campagne (Country Roads) and get a real flavour of Lanaudière!
Lanaudière used to be a major tobacco growing area, and the town of Saint-Thomas, with its sandy soil, was for 68 years the centre of flue-cured tobacco production in Quebec. The tobacco farmers have since converted their fields to other types of cultivation. Today, the production of asparagus, berries and wine grapes has taken root here.
The Berthier Islands
Across from Berthierville can be seen an outstanding geographic feature: the Berthier Islands. Along with the Sorel Islands (south shore of the river), they make up the largest part of the Lac Saint-Pierre archipelago. In the year 2000, the lake and its 103 islands were officially designated as the Lac Saint-Pierre Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Two municipalities on the islands share three quarters of the archipelago: La Visitation-de-l’Île-Dupas, a good picnicking spot, and Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola, on the north shore.
The islands consist of a magnificent labyrinth of channels, marshes and water grasses. It is the most important stopover on the waterfowl migratory route and the largest nesting-grounds for herons in North America. This area has remained 90% natural and accounts for half of the wetlands of the St. Lawrence, with 27 species of rare plants, 79 species of fish and 288 species of birds, including 12 that are considered endangered.
Bird-spotters will simply love this ecological wonder in all its fragile beauty. You can take a cruise through the archipelago, or tour by kayak to get really close to nature. A regular ferry service from Sorel takes visitors to Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola. Cyclists can cross by ferryboat from Île-Dupas to Saint-Barthélemy and continue touring from there.
The King's Road
The King’s Road (Chemin du Roy) was the 18th-century land equivalent to the St. Lawrence River, the great highway along which the colony of New France prospered and grew. Canada’s first navigable highway, it was built to link Montreal with Quebec City for mail delivery and the transportation of voyageurs.
Although the Conseil Supérieur of New France first decided to build the road in 1706, it was not completed until 1737. Today’s Route 138 roughly follows the path of the original highway. From Repentigny to Saint-Barthélemy, the King’s Road traces an important part of Quebec’s early history, with magnificent lookout points along the river and a rich heritage of mills, churches, ancestral homes, gardens and art galleries.
In each of the six municipalities making up the King’s Road tour you will find historical interpretation panels. The route also provides access to one of the most beautiful natural and historical sites in Quebec: the Berthier Islands. To learn more, visit the Routes and tourist circuits section.
Here, between plain and mountains, drive along winding roads where quaint villages, nature and culture quietly co-exist. In this hilly region, the cultivated valleys and hillside dazzle in shades of green. Take your tour by car, motorcyle or bicycle and let the scenery sweep by – cascades, hills and valleys where the altitude varies from 200 to 300 m. These foothills have become a playground for visitors and vacationers thanks to the many lakes and natural attractions.
Matawinie is blessed with a wealth of natural riches – vast wilderness and mountainous areas, majestic waterfalls, rushing rivers and tranquil lakes. This is Northern Lanaudière, a territory known for hunting and fishing, with a number of outfitters and hundreds of kilometres of marked snowmobile and ATV trails. Come explore it with family or friends. There’s so much to do – hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, canoe-kayaking, swimming, boating and primitive camping.
The Matawinie consists of six regional parks and five large lakes with fine-sand beaches. Here you’ll also find some 170 km of the National Trail, two wildlife reserves (Mastigouche and Rouge-Matawin), four ZECs and two-thirds of Mont-Tremblant National Park.
The name Matawinie means, in Algonquin, "the meeting of two things." The region has a unique geological and wildlife character, springing up from the planet’s oldest rock formation (Precambrian-Laurentian), which pre-dates life on Earth.
If you love history, art, music or theatre, Lanaudière is the place to enjoy a wealth of cultural activities and celebrations of all kinds!
Lanaudière region has been a true cradle of talent and traditional music, producing many popular musical groups and singers. Possibly the biggest singing star in the world, Céline Dion, was born and lived in the small town of Charlemagne. Every year, the region plays host to the most important classical music festival in Canada, the Festival de Lanaudière – an incomparable musical experience. Also, lovers of music, folk tales and dancing gather annually at the Mémoire et Racines festival, in Saint-Charles-Borromée. This was the setting for one of Quebec’s best-known legendary tales, La Chasse-Galerie (The Flying Canoe).
For theatre enthusiasts, a great variety of high-quality fare is presented (in French) at Théâtre du Vieux-Terrebonne, Théâtre Hector-Charland in L’Assomption, and the Centre culturel de Joliette. Summer theatre is popular throughout the region.