Friday, 8 April 2016

Plein Air Ensemble Trip to Orford, Quebec

Blog 15

This week, I took a break from my look back to my first couple of months in Canada. There is a good reason for it: I was away with the Plein Air Ensemble for our spring trip to Orford which is in the Eastern Townships.

My friend Hélène and I went on Thursday, March 31 in horrible weather conditions. On top of the heavy rain, we had lots of fog so that the visibility was really poor.

When we arrived at the hotel, we saw that we had a nice suite with a huge king size bed, a hot tub on the upper level and a pull-out sofa and the bathroom on the lower level. We decided to toss a coin to decide who would get each floor. I got lucky as it turned out that I would be able to enjoy the romantic upper level.

Due to the bad weather, we decided to get the shopping for the following days' happy hours out of the way.

When the rain stopped, we decided to go to the “Marais de la Rivière aux Cérises” which offers 6 km of trails through woodlands, marshes, swamps and bogs. It has the biggest boardwalk I have ever seen. The scenery was just amazing despite the gray sky. However, on our way back to the parking lot, we got completely lost, which was even worse as it started to get dark and big rain clouds were moving back in. After we passed the same spot three times, we finally realized where to find the exit. I have to tell you, we were both happy when we were back at the car. It definitely was a little scary.

Due to our three hour walk, we just made it to dinner. We were extremely hungry, but we were treated royally. We could pick our own courses from the menu, consisting of appetizer, main course and dessert. The food was just fantastic! I hardly ever had such delicious food. Every dish came artistically presented on our plates, a real treat for all the senses.

The next morning, we awoke to more rain which continued until the late afternoon. There was no way we could paint outside. As we did not feel like painting inside, we decided to look for picturesque painting spots. Our first stop was the “Centre d'arts Orford” with its small lake that looked very nice with the ascending fog. We also admired the many park sculptures made from all kinds of materials. Realizing that there were cottages all around, Hélène and I went into the gallery to inquire about accommodations. The manager had a nice talk with us, then showed us the rooms of the inn that is on the premises. It would be perfect for our group. The hotel Villegia Chéribourg is fantastic but this luxury comes with a price, and is not necessary for our trips. We do not have time to use most of the facilities like the spa and the exercise room anyway.

After a full day of painting, we are usually too tired for physical exercise and instead provide our own evening entertainment consisting of a demonstration, an art-related movie, or games. On the last evening, we have our show-and-tell.

When we continued our discovery tour, we almost hit a young moose that crossed the road toward Mont Orford. What a beautiful animal! Unfortunately, I was not fast enough to get a good shot with my camera. 
We followed the route 112 to Eastman, then continued on the 245 to Bolton. While we saw many nice spots, we could not have put up our equipment safely on the narrow shoulders of the roads. Finally, at “Chemin de Bolton Centre” we found a bridge with two nice views of the Missisquoi River. In Bolton Centre, we saw a beautiful waterfall – unfortunately, on the grounds of a spa. However, there was a nice gazebo at the side of the river that offered possibilities as a painting site. We kept driving towards Knowlton at Lac Brome on the 243. At one point we saw a small lake with a small island of trees. It was breathtaking. However, parking was an issue again. When we finally reached Knowlton, we were wet and hungry.

We had a wonderful lunch at the Star Café, then continued to Foster, from where we took the10 back to Magog. We came back early enough to be able to prepare everything for the Happy Hour and squeeze in a swim and time in the outdoor whirlpool. Just then the sun came out. It was so relaxing.

During Happy Hour, we welcomed the group of artists. This time, it was only a small group of 14 artists as the accommodations were more expensive than what we are used to. However, in the winter months it is hard to find hotels or inns at a reasonable price, especially since the prices for groceries and utilities have forced the hotel industry to adjust their prices. Many smaller places are not equipped for the cold season and open only after the long weekend in May.

Dinner was again delicious, better than anything we ever had during our trips. This is the first time that we are able to choose à la carte. The only disadvantage is that dinner takes about two and a half hours. There is no time for our evening activities but we have lots of time to get to know each other better.

I hope you enjoyed my travelogue. To hear more about our painting trip, please visit my blog again next week.


  1. Enjoyed reading your article and even if the weather was not cooperating, sounds like you had a great time

    1. We had a great time. It is always fun to have a group of artists together but this is really a group with a great chemistry.