(Pointe-des-Cascades) The children have returned to class, the days are getting shorter and fall is upon us. Once again, summer seems to have gone by at lightning speed. What if we tried to extend it a bit? Direction Village des Ecluses.
We have barely closed the car door when a pleasant sea breeze tickles our nostrils. Isn’t that the kind of scent that automatically chases away everyday worries?
A few steps from the parking lot, we discover a large terrace where groups of friends are seated over a beer or a coffee. Under the trees, hammocks await visitors looking for relaxation, while at the beach, a few bathers enjoy the freshness of Lake Saint-Louis on this hot September day.
“It’s an incredible spot,” says Antoine Julien, one of the five co-founders of the Village des Écluses. And we can only agree with him.
Crossed by the Soulanges Canal, the resort is built on a 10-hectare estate located at the junction of Lake Saint-Louis and the Saint-Laurent River. We are only 45 minutes from downtown Montreal, and yet we feel like we are far from the metropolis.
The Village des Écluses has existed for two years, but the place is full of history. At the beginning of the 20th century, the industrial buildings found there were used for the construction of the locks. Becoming the Théâtre des Cascades in 1986, the place saw a multitude of artists perform every summer for more than 30 years until its closure in 2019.
Creator of various urban projects highly appreciated by Montrealers, including the Gamelin Gardens and the Village au Pied-du-Courant, Jérôme Glad was approached to give new life to the abandoned place. At the time, he refused. “I thought it was too big for me. I had created outdoor public spaces, but I had not revitalized an area,” he says.
However, he reversed his decision after visiting the place and seeing its enormous potential. With the four other members of the non-profit organization Rendez-vous, he developed a project that focuses on culture, food, the outdoors and, above all, the spirit of community.
To do this, the group was inspired by the famous Village au Pied-du-Courant which has brightened the summers of many city dwellers in the Jacques-Cartier Bridge area for almost a decade.
This winning formula was reproduced at the Village des Écluses. Near the bar terrace where products from the Rigaud Le Castor microbrewery are served, there is a games module. Not far from there, in a small colorful cabin, the team from the Patate et Persil canteen, renowned in the region, satisfies the cravings. On weekends, DJ performances and concerts are offered. On Fridays and Saturdays, after dark, visitors can also admire a sound and light work at the tip of the lighthouse.
“In the offer, we try to think of everyone,” says Antoine Julien, specifying that part of this offer is free.
To this proven recipe, the team added a major ingredient: the outdoors. Not only is it possible to hike and cycle thanks to the proximity of the Pointe-des-Cascades nature park and the Soulanges canal cycle path, but you can also rent kayaks and paddle boards. or even electric surfboards.
Those who want to enjoy the place for more than a day can sleep there in a tent, in a trailer or, new this year, in a ready-to-camp.
With the series of ready-to-camp sites erected on the edge of Lake Saint-Louis, this dream village is starting to take shape, he rejoices. Other ready-to-camp as well as tiny houses should be added in the coming months.
The co-founders have many ideas to continue improving the place, starting with a rejuvenation for the old theater, with a multifunctional room to hold music concerts and others. But, says Antoine Julien, the barrier to their projects “is unfortunately investments”.
The Village des Écluses will remain open until the end of October. An equinox celebration on September 23 and activities to mark Oktoberfest are planned. “The idea is really for the world to come and enjoy it until the good weather lasts! », says Antoine Julien.
September did not sound the death knell for the camping season. In the various national parks of Quebec, it is possible to set up a tent or trailer until the first half of October, sometimes longer. Of a chilly nature? We opt for a ready-to-camp, which has light additional heating. With their wood stove, yurts and refuges are also interesting options. And, of course, we take advantage of our stay in nature to admire the trees and their colors, the best advantage of camping in the fall.
Young and old bike enthusiasts are invited to ride their bikes on the Granby cycle paths this Saturday, September 16, when the second edition of L’Estriade la nuit will take place. Two routes are offered starting from Daniel-Johnson Park, one of 7 km, the other of 10 km. Rally, family games and yoga are also planned during this free event.
If the metropolis is bustling with events during the summer months, it continues to surprise with its offer of festivals and activities for all tastes during the fall. Among the outings that have the potential to immerse us in a summer atmosphere, note the Tempéo festival on the Esplanade of Place des Arts. This Saturday as well as from September 21 to 23, the place will be transformed into a dance floor where participants will be able to dance their hips to the sound of Latin music, disco and many others, all hosted by Philippe Fehmiu.
A fall road trip? We’re on board! There are so many interesting destinations in Quebec! If we hit the road during the weekend of September 23 and 24, why not head to Portneuf to enjoy the Route des Arts et des Saveurs? This event, which is in its 8th edition, invites travelers to discover around fifty artists, artisans and producers from the region.