Exploring the Epic Sites That Created the Backdrop to Louise Penny’s Captivating Novels
Award-winning Canadian author Louise Penny has captivated the world with her compelling mystery novels set primarily in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Her wildly popular books from the Three Pines series have consistently topped the New York Times bestseller lists and have been translated into 29 languages, selling more than 10 million copies worldwide. Her recent collaboration co-authoring State of Terror with Hillary Rodham Clinton has cemented her as one of the mystery genre’s all-time greats, and this spring Travac wants to take you to the centre of her universe as we visit the idyllic real-life locations that inspire the settings to her novels.
Travac’s special three-day excursion will take you into the heart of the Eastern Townships and to the locations that have been immortalized by Penny and her brilliantly fashioned characters. We will visit the Victorian village of Knowlton- the direct inspiration for Penny’s fictional village of Three Pines- with stops at Brome Lake Books and the Brome County Historical Society Museum where Jane’s painting from Still Life is on display. Your tour will continue with visits to many sites that are cherished parts of the fabric woven in Louise Penny’s novels, including (among others) Abbaye de Saint-Benoît-du-Lac (the inspiration for Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups Abbey in A Beautiful Mystery), old Hadley House, and of course, Sarah’s Boulangerie. We will also make stops at Elderberry Farm, Sherbrooke’s famous murals, and enjoy high tea- an Eastern Townships tradition that Penny and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of Three Pines would no doubt appreciate.
Travac’s fabulous Louise Penny adventure will be very popular- early booking is essential. Join us as we uncover the important settings that make Penny’s novels so endearing and the secrets behind them!
Please note that Travac is also offering a special Louise Penny summer event tour to see Louise Penny herself perform in the Knowlton Players murder-mystery comedy play “If Books Could Kill”. For more info on this tour, please click here.
This morning we will leave Ottawa and make our way to Knowlton, Quebec. Our first stop will be at an Elderberry Farm, to get you into the feel of the Townships and into the spirit with which Louise Penny writes. We will then head into Knowlton itself, a town known to Penny for its pastoral beauty and the inspiration for Three Pines in her books. Lunch is included today at Sapin Bistro, recommended by Louise herself. While in Knowlton we will visit Brome Lake Books. This small village bookstore has all the trappings of an early 20th century building with bookcases filled with both hardcovers and paperbacks. You can even leave a message for Louise Penny in a book dedicated to this purpose. After your visit to the bookstore, you will take a short walk to the Brome County Historical Society Museum where you will find Jane’s painting from Still Life. After our visit to Knowlton, we will visit an award-winning winery, just outside of Magog, known particularly for their sparkling wines.
Our second day begins with a journey to Sutton. On our way, we will stop at Abbaye de Saint-Benoît-du-Lac. This abbey was the inspiration for Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups Abbey in A Beautiful Mystery. The abbey itself has a history that dates back to 1912. At the time of its construction, it was rather isolated, but in an incredibly beautiful locale. The Benedictine monks of the Saint-Benoit-du-Lac abbey are famous for and have been making cheeses since 1943. You will have the chance to purchase some of this incredible cheese. Leaving the abbey, we will continue on to Sutton where you will have a chance to visit the delicatessen (La Rumeur Affamée) on which Sarah’s Boulangerie was based. After lunch, would will have an opportunity to taste some chocolate at a Chocolaterie the Louise visits when in town.
We will begin our day in Sherbrooke with a guided tour of the town and its famous murals. We will then make our way to the Uplands Cultural and Heritage Centre for high tea, a tradition Louise and Armand would appreciate. Housed in a Neo-Georgian residence built in 1862, Uplands Cultural and Heritage Centre is a non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, the support, and diffusion of the cultural and heritage traditions of the Eastern Townships. This Centre is a favorite haunt for many in the region. After tea, we will visit La Station Fromagerie, winner of several regional, provincial, and national awards for their cheese made from organic raw cow’s milk. The cows feed on organic pastures that give their cheeses a very local flavour.
Our last stop before we bid farewell to the world of Three Pines is Georgeville, where you can visit the General Store, the inspiration for Mr. Belliveau’s General Store, and St George’s Church, inspiration for St Thomas Church. You will also see the old Mansion House, the basis of “Hadley House” which figures prominently in Penny’s novel A Fatal Grace. The Old Mansion House was built in 1889 and once had the distinction of being Quebec’s oldest hotel in continuous operation. The house began its life as a coaching inn, serving travelers making their way from Montreal to Boston. Over the years, folklore has surrounded the house which Penny picks up in her novel.
Itinerary subject to change.
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