A Return to Three Pines: A Great Reckoning

A Return to Three Pines: A Great Reckoning

Townships of Quebec

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Like other mythical places in literature (Shangri La, Xanadu, Narnia, etc.), Three Pines doesn’t appear on any map. However, many of the locations in Louise’s novels are inspired by real places in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.  

Have you ever visited the Eastern Townships? If so, what locations did you see?

Share your photos of your visit to the Eastern Townships with Louise and fellow fans here

20 replies on “A Return to Three Pines: A Great Reckoning”

I have been twice to the Eastern Townships. The first time a friend and I went up on the spur of the moment to go to an art show in Frielichsburg that was based on Art inspired by the mysteries. We stayed in a lovely B&B in the village for two nights and explored the area, tracking down inspirational sites, Loved Le Relais especially the ploughman’s lunch, and the bookstore. But may favorite spot was the Abbey. Then we went back a year or two later and stayed in Knowlton and that was even more fun, we met some delightful folk and again went to the Abbey (we are both suckers for Benedictine Chants and love the cheese). Dec 2119 I went with cousins to Quebec City for the Christmas Market and the Bury Your Dead tour…Wonderful time. We planned another trip at Foliage Time to Knowlton, but Covid scotched that!

We’re basically across the border from Knowlton, so we planned a day to “look around for 3Pines”. My friend’s husband ran into the post office to ask if we’d found the place where Louise lived! They wouldn’t confirm that, but told us to visit the bookstore! We did that, and took our pic in the pine trees. . We enjoyed lunch at the cafe, then mass at the beautiful abbey. We did cider tasting on the way home. We remember the beauty of the area and the warmth of the people, and we will always return

Louise Penny fans walk in each other’s and her footsteps. We have the same photo!! And now I want to go to the Christmas Market. See you there…in spirit at least!!

BTW While in the Eastern Townships, we ate at Le Relais Bistro in Knowlton, browsed Brome Lake Books bookstore, stepped inside the Church of St. Aidan in Sutton Junction (inspiration for St. Thomas’s Anglican), and enjoyed a picnic that included those dark chocolate covered blueberries at Abbey De Saint-Benoît-du-Lac. Fabulous!

Janet- I’m copying & saving what you wrote, hoping my friend & I will make the trip next year. Thanks!

We can’t wait until those borders open up and we can return. Can’t have too many bowls of cafè au lait or licorice pipes!! And be sure to take the Bury Your Dead tour with Marie Legroulx…thorough and delightful. You even stop off at La Petit Coin Latin and can buy a piece of maple sugar pie!!

Haven’t been to the townships yet- plans fell through when the plague (as in virus, not what happened in November, 2015) hit. So maybe autumn 2022.

The map should have a heart somewhere within. Using same colors and shades. That is where Three Pines is.

From our 2018 Christmas letter to friends:
“This past summer [2018], Floyd and I fell hopelessly in love with the mystery writing of Canadian author Louise Penny and her primary character, Inspector Armand Gamache. We were obsessed! Fueling that adoration was our own history with Québec—Canada’s “la belle province”and the setting for Penny’s novels: we honeymooned in 1966 in Québec City!

And so, in September, we set off from Cape Cod [summer residence]—equipped with her ‘Three Pines Inspirational Map’ and some AirBnB reservations—on our own “Magical Mystery Tour” of Québec that extended from the Eastern Townships (where she sites her mythical, fictional village of Three Pines) to Montreal (Expo ‘67 memories) to Québec City (honeymoon memories) to Île d’Orléans, and on to Charlevoix. Magical, indeed! As a friend from Maine described Québec province, ‘It’s like driving to Europe’!!

We commend the extraordinary and exquisitely crafted novels of Louise Penny to you. Yes, there are a few murders ;-)) but, more important, you’ll find an abundance of history, philosophy, theology, loyalty, poetry, hospitality, friendship, humor…and word crafting par excellence.

You nailed it…the combination of history…poetry, art, family relationships all make these books the best ever.

They have spoiled us! Louise sets a high standard! The Inspector Maigret series by Georges Simenon comes the closest to satisfying the way Three Pines does; I believe I remember reading they were inspiration for Louise Penny.

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