| || |
| || |
Revision as of 16:23, 9 March 2009
Rigaud is a town in the Montérégie region of Quebec about 75 km west of Montreal. While in many ways a typical rural Quebec town, it features Mont-Rigaud, a small mountain in the otherwise flat Ottawa River valley. As a result, it attracts skiers, hikers, maple syrup enthusiasts and religious tourists who stop at the shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes on the mountain. It can make for a pleasant stop for an hour or two on the way between Montreal and Ottawa.
Rigaud is within sight of exit 9 of Quebec Autoroute 40 (aka the Trans-Canada Highway). Turn left after the exit onto St-Jean-Baptiste street and drive about 1km to town centre. From Montreal, this takes 45-60 minutes except at evening rush hour, when it can take up to 2 hours.
From Ottawa, take Highway 417 east, which becomes Autoroute 40 at the Quebec border. Turn left after the exit onto St-Jean-Baptiste street and drive about 1km to town centre. The trip takes around 90 minutes.
One commuter train stops at Rigaud to and from Montreal on weekdays. From Montreal, it leaves Lucien-L'Allier station at 5:20pm. It leaves from Rigaud back to Montreal at 6:50 am. It does not run on weekends.
If you are biking along the Quebec portion of the south side of the Ottawa River, you will pass through Rigaud. If you are coming from Ontario or the Carillon ferry, you will reach it via Chemin de la Baie. If you are coming from the Montreal/Hudson direction, you will reach it along Chemin de l'Anse.
The centre of town is very small, mainly lying along the two streets at the base of Mont-Rigaud. It can be crossed on foot within minutes. However, most of Rigaud's main attractions (ski slopes, maple sugar shacks, hiking trails, restaurants) lie scattered around the mountain, and may be easiest accessed from the another exit of the highway. So if you want to visit more than one site in Rigaud, you will probably need to travel by car.
- Mont-Rigaud. Not particularly high, but covered in mixed forest, which means that the autumn colours turn every colour in October. Bring bug repellant if you are going hiking in the forest, as there are mosquitoes and blackflies, especially in the spring and autumn.
- Sanctuaire de Lourdes. Catholics might light a candle at this outdoor, hundred-year-old shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes built into the mountain, which operates only in the summer. Non-Catholics might enjoy the "potato fields", a strange clearing of thousands of small boulders in the middle of an otherwise wooded area close to the shrine. The local legend of its origin are that a potato crop was turned to stone beause the farmer worked on Sundays. The old chapel near the summit of the mountain provides a great view of the Ottawa River valley.
- Go "sugaring off": Several "cabanes a sucre" ("sugar shacks" or maple syrup farms) cater to tourists, giving them hay rides, showing them how maple syrup is collected and prepared, serving traditional Quebec meals and playing folk music. This is most popular in March and early April, when the warmer temperatures cause the sap to start flowing through the maple trees after a long winter. The two closest to Rigaud are: Sucrerie la Montagne  at 30 Rang St-Georges (from town centre, turn left on Rue St Pierre, which continues as Chemin des Erables, then turn right on Rang St Georges) and Auberge des Gallant , 160 Chemin St-Henri (Take exit 17 off highway 40 onto Autoroute 201 nord, right on Chemin St-Henri).
- Ski on Mont-Rigaud: the mountain is not very high or challenging, but maybe an alternative to the faraway Laurentian or Appalachian mountains for those living to the west of Montreal.
- Hike on Mont-Rigaud: in the summer, and fall, this can be quite pleasant. In the spring or late fall, the trails get quite muddy.
There are a few fast food places in the town centre. If you want authentic Quebec poutine (french fries, gravy and cheese), you can't go wrong.
- Restaurant Del Fiacco, 18 Rue St-Jean-Batiste Est, town centre, ☎ (450) 451-8800. This is a very good, upscale Italian restaurant that would not be out of place in downtown Montreal.
- Restaurant Rube, 147 route 201 (Autouroute 40 Exit 17, route 201 nord), ☎ (450) 458-5369. A surprisingly pleasant steakhouse, with a warm fireplace dominating the main dining room.
- Auberge des Gallant, 160 Chemin St-Henri (Exit 17 off autoroute 40, then take route 201 nord, right turn at Chemin St-Henri), ☎ 1 800 641 4241, . Pricy but good French cuisine (duck, chicken, veal, steak, buffalo, pork) with Quebec twists.
- Hudson Inn, 90 Route 201 (Exit 17 off Autroute 40). ***. Close to Autoroture 40; convenient for Rigaud and Hudson area. $90-$100..