A trip through Lanaudière’s farm country

May 12, 2021

Discover the Lanaudière region and its agricultural businesses through the eyes of Sophie Ginoux from Tour du Québec!

The Lanaudière region is not just an area adjacent to Montréal or a route you have to take to get to eastern Québec, it’s a part of the province that captivates you through your eyes, heart and taste buds. I know, because I have loved this region since I first laid eyes on it 25 years ago.

Just before Saint‑Esprit, Highway 25 North turns into Route 158 East. Almost immediately, the urban sprawl gives way to nature: vast fields as far as the eye can see, interspersed only with green groves and endearing villages. Lanaudière, with its farmlands and rural charm, welcomes you.

Before exploring the smaller roads, first make a stop by turning right on Rang de la Rivière Sud, in Saint‑Esprit. You’ll discover, after a few hundred metres, Les Volailles d’Angèle, a 100% natural poultry farm that offers a wide range of excellent products, including chickens as big as turkeys, in its store set up in the old summer kitchen of the century‑old family home.

Photo credit Sophie Ginoux

Next, take Route 158 East again to the next village, Saint‑Jacques. As you turn onto Rang Saint‑Jacques, you’ll again come across fields, this time flanked by small farmhouses and grain silos. At 2555, on the left, you’ll definitely want to stop at Cochon cent façons, a former dairy farm converted into a high‑quality pork production farm. The farmers, meat dressers and cooks working there take pride in preparing natural products free of antibiotics and animal by‑products. And you can taste the difference! Their deli meats are simply delicious.

Since your trip has only just begun, turn around on Rang Saint‑Jacques and drive to Chemin Gaudet, which will take you to your next destination: Saint‑Liguori. From there, an enchanting setting of small winding roads lined with trees, greenery and colourful wooden houses awaits you. If heaven exists, it might look like this spot.

At the end of Rang Lépine, nestled between a vineyard and small river, is La Belle Excuse. The result of the love between a Lanaudière woman and a Greek olive oil producer, this small company produces a range of oils, products processed from this liquid gold, and vinegars as well as high‑end care products for children (Lolo). But more than anything, it’s the enchanting setting that makes you want to linger in front of Michèle and Aristo’s family home, where you cross happy children and employees as well as a multitude of small plantations, including unexpected fig and lemon trees.

Relaxation and snacks

It’s time to head out again and drive to the Parc du Moulin Fisk, just a few country roads away. The park is well worth the detour, just as is the timeless village of Crabtree that is next to it. Less frequented than other shingle beaches in the region, this small corner of preserved nature is ideal for taking a break and having a picnic.

Photo credit Sophie Ginoux

After this relaxing stop, head for Route 348 East, toward Saint‑Ambroise‑de‑Kildare. If you take a right turn, you’ll come across several farms offering U‑pick and berry products. One of the farms belongs to Marc Leblanc, from whose charming store comes the divine aroma of a pie baking in the oven. The next point of interest, Au Jardin des noix, is a little farther on. It’s here that a former businessman embarked on a crazy adventure: planting trees on 35 acres of land and waiting twelve years for the first harvest. You’ll immediately fall under the charm of the place, where chickens run freely and all sorts of activities are organized. A real favourite.

While still munching on a few nuts, head back on Route 348 in the other direction, and then Route 343 toward Sainte‑Marcelline‑de‑Kildare. You’ll be charmed by the rolling green hills that the road winds through. A land of Hobbits, or nearly, with a small town at its centre, beloved by craft workers and artists. On Rue Principale, lined with attractive light fixtures from which colourful planters hang, drop by the Simon Turcotte, confiturier jam store. For 20 years, this architect of flavours has been crafting jams and mustards as delightful as his village.

Visit the bison and finish the trip on a high note

If you’re planning on a longer stay in Lanaudière, continue along Route 343 and then Route 337 to discover the lovely villages of Saint‑Alphonse‑Rodriguez, Sainte‑Béatrix and Saint‑Jean‑de‑Matha. Explore the roads in the area and head to the Chutes Monte‑à‑peine‑et‑des‑Dalles regional park. You’ll discover several good spots in the area to excite your taste buds. For example, visit the Maison du pain d’épices in the small community of Lac Noir or the cheese factory of the Ferme Vallée Verte in Rang Guillaume Tell. You’ll also want to visit the very beautiful Rang Saint‑Guillaume and Rang Sacré‑Coeur. You’ll be able to get supplies at the Qui sème récolte cider house where, in addition to cider, you can also find kombucha and maple products. A little farther on, the small duck farm, Canards Maurel‑Coulombe, is worth a visit for its fillet of duck, confits and other fine foods. However, be sure to check the availability of products before you go there.

For your main adventure of the day, leave Route 343 and take a small forest road leading to Rawdon. Less than a kilometre later, the asphalt disappears and you’ll continue on a gravel road. Keep driving for a good 15 minutes. Suddenly, on Chemin Parkinson, you’ll come to an enclosure where huge cattle are grazing. La Terre des bisons, a farm for raising large game animals, and that’s known for its meat cuts, economuseum and trail leading to a river, is truly amazing.

The road will become more familiar again as you get closer to Rawdon. Depending on how much time you have, you can make several stops in the town, even if it’s just on Rue Queen to stock up on fresh cheese curd at the Fromagerie Roy. But it’s by taking Route 337 that you’ll next come across, at a road junction in Saint‑Lin, what is perhaps the best fine food store in the region: Museaux d’Écosse. Entirely dedicated to local products and producers, this place is a gold mine of ideas for a delicious meal.

Photo credit Sophie Ginoux

After such a journey, why not end your day at a microbrewery? There’s actually one in the revamped Vieux‑Mascouche that looks like a saloon: L’Albatros. To get there, take Route 335 and then follow the side roads of Rue Sainte‑Henriette and Chemin de la Côte‑Georges. It’s time to savour a good home‑brewed beer while enjoying a musical performance by a local artist, as you recall all the great things you’ve seen and while your taste buds dance in ecstasy. What a fantastic day!

Recommended by Tourisme Lanaudière

Île‑des‑Moulins, Terrebonne

Photo credit Fabien Proulx-Tremblay

For two centuries, Île‑des‑Moulins was at the heart of the development of one of the most important seigniories in Québec’s history. Today, five historic buildings bear witness to the economic vitality of the Terrebonne seigniory and the achievements of its seigneurs and censitaires. The Terrebonne mills, active from 1721 to 1940, still stand out on the magnificent site of Île‑des‑Moulins. Take advantage of your visit to have a bite at the Bâtiment B bistro. The patio offers a beautiful view of the river just below.

Dorwin falls - Rawdon

A site as attractive as it is relaxing. Here, nature lovers will be delighted by a majestic waterfall, lookouts, flora interpretation trails and play areas protected by century‑old trees. Take the ecological trails and enjoy the area’s richness and biodiversity. The explanatory guide, available at the reception office, will help you identify them.

Auberge de la Montagne Coupée - Saint-Jean-de-Matha

Photo credit Damien Lair

In Saint‑Jean‑de‑Matha, the Auberge de la Montagne coupée offers, by its very location, the most beautiful view of Lanaudière. On the patio of the Edelweiss pavilion, you’ll actually be looking out over a forest of hundred‑year‑old trees. The panoramic view is breathtaking! When the weather is clear, you can see as far as Montréal. Take advantage of your stay to taste the inn’s excellent cuisine, which features regional products.

Musée d'art de Joliette, Joliette

The Musée d’art de Joliette will make an impression on you with its modern architecture and splendid collection of works of art. It’s the largest regional museum outside of Québec’s major centres. Innovative, exciting and accessible, it democratizes culture and offers a variety of exhibitions and family activities. This summer, several exhibitions are being presented there.