Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu is only 40 kilometers southeast of Montreal, but it is a city in its own right. The Richelieu River cuts the city in half. It used to be a major transportation hub. It is now a busy city with a lot to offer.
The city was founded in 1665, and some of its old buildings can still be seen today. It’s a beautiful city that will please people who like nature, big cities, and culture. Here are the 10 best things to do in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu if you get to stay for a few days.
1. Walk along a canal
The Chambly Canal is a National Historic site that goes for almost 20 kilometers along the Richelieu River. When it opened in 1843, the canal was a way for Canada and the US to trade with each other.
There are 10 bridges over the canal, and eight of them can still be moved by hand. There are also nine original hydraulic locks, and eight of them still work today.
People like to ride bikes and walk along the canal because it is a beautiful place to do so. It’s also a place where boaters like to go.
2. Stop by a fort
The National Historic Site of Fort At Chambly Canal
Well, there are actually three, and they were all built on the same spot at the Chambly Canal National Historic Site. In 1665, the first Fort Sainte Thérèse was built. The second was built in 1747, and the third was built in 1760.
The French Carignan-Salières Regiment from Piedmont built the first fort, but they gave up on it in 1667. The Governor of New France built the second Fort Sainte Thérèse to keep the Iroquois and the English colonies to the south.
The English found Fort Sainte Thérèse burned down. They rebuilt it for the third time and then used it as a post. Later, it was completely left alone and forgotten until 2008, when archeological digs began.
3. Look up at the balloons.
Since 1984, the amazing Festival International des Montgolfières (International Hot Air Balloon Festival) has been held in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. If you’re in town in August, you can’t miss this festival.
This is the biggest hot air balloon festival in all of Canada. People come from all over, including the United States and other Canadian provinces. If the weather is good, the festival is held at the Saint-Jean Airport.
There are two flight launches every day, at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The festival lasts for a week and has a lot of other things to do and see, like live shows, rides, and great food.
4. Go to the park for the day
Center-de-Plein-Air-Ronald-Beauregard is a great place to spend a day, especially if you’re on vacation with your family, but even adults traveling alone will enjoy a day there. The park is on the west side of the river and has a lot of things to do all year long.
In the winter, you can go there and ice skate while looking at the view across the river. During the warmer months, you can go hiking, kayaking, have a picnic, or play volleyball or tennis in the park.
There is a playground right there where kids can swing and slide. Center-de-Plein-Air-Ronald-Beauregard lets people rent kayaks, canoes, and even ice skates.
5. Find out about the history of the city
You can learn about the history of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu as you look around the Fort Saint-Jean Museum. The museum has a large collection of military items from the last 350 years. It opened in 1960.
Inside the Royal Military College Saint-Jean is where the Museum is. It looks at the history of the military through weapons, uniforms, maps, artifacts, and documents from the past.
The Fort Saint-Jean Museum is in a part of the Fort Saint-Jean complex that is a National Historic Site of Canada. It is near the Richelieu River. The Royal Military College Saint-Jean is still open and running, but some parts aren’t open to the public.
6. Take a tour of wine and cheese
Quebec is known for its great wine and cheese, and a few of the places that make them are in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Go on a wine and cheese tour of the city and try all the tasty things it has to offer.
The young winery Le Mas des Patriotes makes red, white, and rosé wines that are typical of the area. Visit the winery and take a walk through the vineyards, look around the facilities, and try some of the best wines they have to offer.
The award-winning Fromagerie Au Gré des Champs makes delicious organic cheese from raw cows’ milk. Since 2000, the cheese house has been making cheese, like the well-known Le Gré des champs and Le Monnoir.
7. Make a circle
In the Haut-Richelieu area, which is where Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu is, there are some beautiful bike paths. You can ride your bike through the country, along the river, and by Mont Saint-Grégoire.
Cycling is a great way to see the sights of the city and the rest of the area, and you can stop at any place you want along the way. On a bike tour of the area, you can find historic sites, places to have a picnic, and forests.
One of the best places to ride a bike is from the Iberville neighborhood of the city to the town of Mont-Saint-Grégoire, which is to the northeast. It’s a beautiful way to ride, and there are lots of places to see along the way.
8. Learn about the people
Go to the historic village of L’Acadie to learn about the Acadians who moved to the area in the late 18th century. It is a beautiful and unique village on the banks of the Petite-Rivière-de-Montréal, also called the L’Acadie River.
The village has a lot of history and culture. It has a historic church, some cute houses, and other buildings from the middle of the 20th century. It is now a part of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, but it used to be a separate town.
Walk around the village and look at the beautiful buildings that are still there. You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time. You can also enjoy the cute shops and cafes in the area.
9. Go to the store
Not just any market, but the one-of-a-kind Ferme Guyon, which is both a farmer’s market and a farm. Learn how to grow vegetables in a greenhouse, take a walk through the nursery, or check out the old barn from 1860.
At the Ferme Guyon, there are many plants and garden decorations, as well as a kitchen that makes delicious food every day. Even butterflies are everywhere, and the plants bring in hundreds of them for people to look at.
Go to the market and try cheese, jams, coffee, oils, and craft beer made in the area. The market also has a great bakery and a café where you can get delicious homemade food made with ingredients straight from the farm.
10. Have fun outside
Mont Saint-Gregoire is a great place for people who love being outside. It is right on top of the city. You can enjoy the outdoors by hiking, biking, or driving an ATV on one of the mountain’s trails.
In the winter, you can go snowmobiling, and in the spring, the 18-hole Mont-Saint-Grégoire Golf Club is a great place to play a round of golf. There are also places to fish, picnic, and see farm animals.
People who like to take things to the next level can enjoy the aerial course. This means swinging from tree to tree, running across suspended bridges, climbing nets, and flying along a zip line.