Between enjoying yummy food, sitting outside in nature (after being stuck inside all winter) and spending time with loved ones, it's no surprise why picnics have become a summer staple in Montreal. This has been especially true during the pandemic.
The team started doing these picnics during the pandemic after years of visitors coming to the orchard and asking to explore the grounds.
They offer monthly menus based on what's in season on the farm and in the area, packed in a beautiful picnic basket that you can take anywhere on the property, whether it's on the tables and chairs scattered throughout the rows of apple trees or on your own picnic blanket.
We booked for five of us to go to celebrate lots of birthdays this month. I went for the first time last year in October, so it's no surprise the menu was different in July — lots of fresh veggies, cold dishes and light sauces, but there was one thing that was consistent: the UNBELIEVABLY fresh quality.
For July, the chicken was the only hot dish, so we decided to eat that first, and let me tell you, it was probably one of the best chicken dishes I've ever had IN MY LIFE. It was quite reminiscent of a Thanksgiving turkey in a light, yet creamy gravy and I could have easily had a whole basket of it.
We then moved onto a veggie sandwich. If you know me, you know I'm a mega-fan of sandwiches. I couldn't decide which was better: the fresh veggies or the fluffiest, doughiest bread that tasted like it was pulled out of the oven five minutes earlier. The rest of the menu was filled with lots of great dishes like salads, porchetta, cold soups, and some fish, too.
Of course, there's always a sweet treat to end off the meal. This month's menu included a fruit shortcake. I'm not much of a shortcake person, but this was honestly so light and delectable that I think I may be one now.
It was such a great day on the farm that we didn't want to go home. It's only 40 minutes outside of the city and felt like a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle. At $80 per basket (a basket is made for two people), it was actually great value for money and I cannot wait to see what's on the menu next month!
La Cabane d'À Côté Picnic
Price: $80 for a basket for two
Address: 3595, Montée Robillard, St-Benoît de Mirabel, QC
Why You Need To Go: For one of the coolest and tastiest picnics you can have less than an hour from Montreal.
The Ciel en Fête hot air balloon festival in Quebec is floating its way through Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu next month, accompanied by a host of activities, including yoga, a Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) picnic and an illuminated night show.
In the event of good weather, the hot air balloon festival will take place every weekend during the month of August.
The festival will host two free yoga sessions at dawn, where you can practice your downward-facing dog surrounded by breathtaking floating hot air balloons.
The SAQ'scinq à sept style Pique-nique découverte allows you to picnic beneath the balloon-dotted sky. Tickets include a basket with a selection of wines or bubbles from Quebec, paired with agrifood products from the region.
Night Glow on August 7 will create a hot air balloon spectacle under the stars, illuminated in the likeness of Chinese lanterns, which you can view through your car.
On several dates, two professional acrobatic divers will perform extreme dives from a hot air balloon in mid-flight — they'll be jumping 20 to 25 metres, equivalent to an 8-storey building, and diving into the water below.
Food trucks and beer will be available at the free Budweiser tailgate on August 14, where you'll be able to watch the Volaria aerial festival.
Reservations for each activity are required, but entrance is free for most events.
Ciel en Fête Festival
Price: Mostly free entry, but prices vary
When: Every weekend throughout the month of August — dates for each activity vary
Sink Your Teeth Into Montreal's Latest Inventive Dessert
Where: Chef Tony Rinaldi; Online
Why You Need To Check It Out: The only thing sweeter than bomboloni, the Italian dessert trend that took Montreal by storm last year, is adding Italy's other favourite dessert, gelato, to form a bombolone ice cream sandwich.
Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your trip.
Attend A 3-Day-Long Outdoor Music Festival
You know them as Osheaga, ÎleSoniq, Francofolies, Jazz Fest, Heavy MTL, and by plenty of other names.
The Montreal music festival is a ubiquitous summer activity that we'll definitely miss in summer 2021 but come summer 2022, it's gonna go OFF.
Break Out In Song With A Bunch Of Strangers On The Yellow Line After Said Festival
Remember the days when we all willingly crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in a sweaty metro car, exhausted but still with enough energy to break into song with a bunch of strangers?
Yeah, I miss that too!
Have A Picnic At A Local Park
People flock to Montreal parks like La Fontaine and Jeanne-Mance pretty much as soon as the snow melts to get together with friends and enjoy the simple pleasures of a picnic and day drinking.
And if this year has proved anything, it's that Montrealers are going to picnic no matter how many dystopian police van loudspeakers and aggressive bike cops are thrown at them.
Rent A BIXI
The BIXI is not only something that makes all Montreal car owners want to scream about parking spots — it's a convenient, speedy, and efficient way to get from point A to point B if you don't have a car.
Make sure to wear a helmet!
Drink On A Terrasse
Even though we haven't been able to do this in a while, this is perhaps the most popular and iconic way to enjoy a summer day.
Bonus points if you and three friends tackle several pitchers of mimosa at your 11 a.m. brunch.
Attend A Protest
"Dans la rue, avec nous!"
No matter what you're protesting about, it's your inalienable right as a Montrealer to take to the streets and complain en masse.
Smoke Weed On Your Balcony*
This activity was a little more daring when weed wasn't legal but to be fair, legality has never stopped some Montrealers from going out on their balconies to burn one down on warm summer evenings.
Why You Need To Go: The island on the river near Quebec City is famous for its colonial villages, orchards, artist shops and views of the surrounding landscape.
The scenic Chemin Royal, which circles the island, takes about an hour to drive non-stop, but there are plenty of irresistible adventure opportunities along the way, like the Seigneurie de l’Île d’Orléans, which is scheduled to open in mid-June.
Distance from Montreal: Roughly 50 minutes to one hour and 20 minutes, depending on your starting point
Why You Need To Go: La route des vins in the MRC of Brome-Missisquoi in the Eastern Townships includes four different scenic routes passing a total of 20 vineyards and multiple restaurants, according to its website.
Distance from Montreal: Two hours (to the town centre)
Why You Need To Go: This little tourist destination has a lot going for it, including the Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook with its 169-metre-long suspended footbridge and the enchanted Foresta Lumina light installation.
Not to mention that Coaticook is home to the famous Laiterie de Coaticook ice cream shop.
Why You Need To Go: This regional tourist hotspot at the tip of Lake Champlain has public beaches, a market and an art gallery all surrounding the Baie de Venise, which hosts water sports and boating activities.
Why You Need To Go: Another regional tourist spot, Magog has a lively downtown, hiking trails through the local Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises and, beginning in spring 2021, the new location of the super-popular Bleu Lavande lavender fields with their picturesque picnic spots.
Why You Need To Go: A little closer to home in Montreal's very own borough of Lachine, visitors can spend the whole day picnicking in the expansive Parc René-Lévesque with its whimsical sculpture garden and views of the river.