“More people go to Sarah’s Boulangerie than ever show up at church,” snapped Ruth. “They buy pastry with an instrument of torture on it. I know you think I’m crazy, but maybe I’m the only sane one here.” (The Cruelest Month, Chapter One)

Thankfully, Wayne Shanahan, co-owner of La Rumeur Affamée—on which the Boulangerie is based—mentions nothing of instruments of torture in his essay below. . . .

LaRumeuroneNestled in the picturesque Eastern Townships of Quebec lies the enchanting hamlet of Sutton and its acclaimed ski hill “Mont Sutton.” La Rumeur Affamée General Store is located in the center of the Village and is the meeting place for local residents, including Louise and Michael, and tourists alike.

Entering La Rumeur Affamée is a sensory experience. After taking in the eye-appealing décor, our well trained professional team members welcome you with friendly “Bonjour’s” and smiles from behind the bread and cheese counters, but the truly exceptional greeting is from the enticing smell of freshly baked breads, croissants, brownies and tour signature Tarte au Sirop d’érable (maple syrup pie).

You are immediately drawn to the original hand-crafted all-wood counters and display cases, well used hardwood floors and high ceilings from the 1860s that instantly make you feel like you have entered an era of times gone by.

Sutton was settled by Loyalists following the American Revolution. The Town Hall was built in 1859 and in 1861 George Henry Boright, a settler from New Hampshire, built the brick building that housed his general store, post office and stage coach depot which La Rumeur has now occupied since 1999. It is truly the heart of the community.

In the early days the main economy of Sutton was driven by farming and in 1960 the Mont Sutton ski resort opened and the village has since become reliant on tourism. The town has become a popular year round destination for its vineyards, art galleries, mountain biking, road biking, hiking, and of course, skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing.

Sutton is populated by the highest proportion of artists in Canada, hosting annual festivals such as Le Tour des Arts, the International Sculpture Symposium and many art galleries. Sutton has historically been an English enclave in a predominantly French province. The ratio now sits at approximately 40% English to 60% French.

La Rumeur Affamée roughly translates to “The Famished Rumour.” Kelly Shanahan, owner of La Rumeur Affamée, certainly knows how to quash that rumour by providing a vast selection of irresistible baked goods, local and international cheeses, charcuteries, sausages, locally raised duck products, delectable ready-made meals, tantalising sandwiches, aromatic coffees, extra virgin olive oils, vinegars, mouth-watering chocolates and desserts, Quebec craft beer, wine, non-gluten and certified organic products.

Kelly has an impressive background as a foodie, having owned and operated “L’Aperitif,” a fine food shop in the neighbouring town of Knowlton, managed a massive cheese department at Central Market in Dallas, TX, worked at David Woods Fine Foods signature store in Toronto as well as offering cooking classes and many years in the restaurant world.

Me, being a former executive in the chain restaurant business, recognized the value of supporting my wife of 30 years in her culinary endeavours in a small-town environment. A native of Quebec City, I’ve worked in the fast-paced cities of Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Dallas before accepting Kelly’s challenge of a simpler life.

LaRumeurtwoThe Great Wall of Bread at La Rumeur awaits you with freshly baked baguettes, artisanal loaves of spelt, kamut, quinoa, flax, rye, nut, olive and cheese. Our non-gluten and non-lactose breads include quinoa, rye, raisin and nut bread. Our chocolate orange muffins are to die for as well as the selection of croissants, chocolatines and vienoiseries.

Kelly says, “although it’s hard to beat the mind-boggling aroma of fresh bread, our signature maple syrup pies are the hands-down winner with our regular patrons.” Fresh daily fruit pies, cookies, squares, cakes and sucre à la crème round out the alluring selection of baked goods.

The fact that the town has a population of less than 4000 defies the general store’s ability to maintain a massive selection of almost 200 cheeses from around the world including over half from Quebec.

“Our 1608 cheese was crafted in 2008 in the Charlevoix region to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Quebec City, the oldest city in Canada. Using raw milk from Ancien Canadien cows of which there are less than 1000 head left in the world, this semi-firm award-winning cheese is a huge seller,” says Kelly.

Seeing the wide-eyed reaction of first-time customers as they take in the old-world charm and enticing odours of our 1860s style general store is reward enough for the lovingly hard work we put in daily.

It is easy to see why Louise Penny drew inspiration from this jewel in the Eastern Townships for the local boulangerie in her bestselling novels. The joie de vivre is alive and well at La Rumeur and chances are you might spot L’inspecteur Gamache sampling one of our many Quebec craft beers remarking “c’est si bon” the next time you drop in.

Sutton is located six miles north of Vermont, one hour southeast of Montreal, four hours northwest of Boston and 6 hours north of New York City. La Rumeur Affamée, 15 Principal North, contact: 450-538-5516 or on our Facebook page.

The Boulangerie / La Rumeur Affamée is mentioned throughout The Cruelest Month usually accompanied by a description of sumptuous food. What are your thoughts on the role of foods in Louise’s novels?


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We came from FL and SC USA, to find all the Louise Penny spots and were very much looking forward to the Boulangerie only to find it closed :(. Disappointing would be an understatement! We did peek through the windows and found it totally charming.
Maybe another day!

Well, after so many enthusiastic comments which I myself aknowledge, I would like to point out something that I have found a little annoying in Penny’s books. Emotion is a very controversial topic but the author seems to know all about it. She seems a psychologist teaching at a freshman class. I feel disturbed by her self assurance and clear-cut categories on the subject: good and bad emotions, real a faked sentiments and so on. Ambiguity and humiluty suits me more when dealing with human feelings.

Thanks to Louise Penny’s wonderful writing style and her website, we are in the middle of a several day vacation in Sutton. As part of a family reunion on the east coast, we were going to be in upstate New York and after reading about La Rumeur Affamee, well, Sutton made the most sense as a center from which to explore the Eastern Townships. May I say the owners of La Rumeur Affamee, Kelly and Wayne, have been so friendly and helpful in making our stay all the more enjoyable. Beyond providing incredible, bread, cheese and beer, they helped arrange for sleeping quarters in our next stop, Knowlton. We have come here from Durango, Colorado where we pride ourselves in hospitality, and to the people of Sutton and all of the Eastern Townships, you do yourselves proud. And a special thank you to Louise Penny for making it all so real and enticing.

This is the book I’m reading now, in order so I don’t miss any new residents to Three Pines. Food plays such an important part in so many of our lives. I love the way you describe what the holiday meals consist of, and what the characters are eating and drinking in the bistro. Even the coffees!

I love Louise’s books and agree that her descriptions of foods make me so hungry!! I love the little shops that abound in Eastern Canada. Maple sugar pie — that is a very fond memory from my childhood — Westerners do not have a clue how delicious it is!!!

I picked up “Still Life” when I was grazing in Barnes and Noble and absolutely fell in love with Gamache and gang. Of course, I looked for the two books that had preceded it and read them. The next step was to let my friends know about my great find. The rest is history. There is a real enthusiastic group of readers here in Bourbonnais, Il USA. We are all eagerly waiting for the new book. Keep them coming.

The books wouldn’t feel as real without the wonderful descriptions of the food. I can almost smell and taste the meals. We’ll be travelling from Ontario to Boston this fall and will definitely be stopping in the Eastern Townships and La Rumeur Affamée, in Sutton. Thank you for giving us such insights into the places of “Three Pines”.

Decades ago I used James Michner’s IBERIA as a cookbook because he thoughtfully included the recipes for the dishes he found & loved in Spain & Portugal. It would be the proverbial glace’ on the gateau if Louise could sneak a recipe or two into THE NATURE OF THE BEAST.

Found this among many great reviews of the skiing, Anna: “Sutton is the best kept little powder skiing secret of the eastern townships. Please don’t all rush there to spoil it for fanatics like me.”

Thanks Paul. I can think of nothing better than a skiing trip combined with a Three Pines adventure! Where do you ski? We are Whistler goers where the gastronomic delights include Waffles at Crystal Hut, Beavertails on Olympic and Cinnamon Buns at Chic Pea. These will definitely appear in one of my books!!

Hi Anna
The skiing is fantastic. If you come you absolutely have to ski #6 and #7 which is where we ski in the glades after a powdery snowfall. Drop in and see Kellyand I at La Rumeur Affamée.

The description of the food in Louise’s books is like the descriptions of the weather, part of the layers of sensual experience which add a rich depth to her novels.

I find it interesting that the importance of food to the novel experience seems to be a newer one, I could be wrong. I have strong memories of ginger beer and chocolate biscuits in Enid Blyton’s novels!

I love the word “boulangerie.” It is so delicious to say and “Sarah’s Boulangerie” sounds just right.
The real place looks wonderful. Since seeing the inside picture and reading about it, I’ve been craving lovely fresh bread!
Interestingly, I don’t remember being taken into Sarah’s Boulangerie in any of Louise Penny’s books. Anyone remember a reference to being inside with any of the characters?

We were here last summer when we visited Old Quebec City — we went to Knowlton book store and we stayed overnight at a ski chalet n Sutton ! what a fabulous tour of eastern townships – we hope to get back to the lavendar fields again this June and the B&B we stayed at…we love this part of Quebec – good ol’ Canadian blood/history and 2nd to NONE foods, especially ‘le tire’
thank you Louise Penny and Michael, of course!!!

As I was gazing fondly at the photo of the interior of the shop, I was sure I could smell the freshly-baked bread! Turned out my husband was making toast! hahaha – I SOOOOO wanted it to be a new innovation in the latest update from Windows! 😀

So lovely to be among like mind friends. Drooling over Louise’s gastronomic descriptions the senses go into over drive and then I just have to eat chocolate croissants and drink cafe au lait. I might have to travel further than most to visit La Rumeur Affamee but it’s now definitely on my list of must see place to visit. Thank you Louise your books are a sensory delight.

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