If you’re looking for something a little different that’s not quite camping, but not a plain ol’ hotel, one of the twelve ecolodges at Entre Cîmes et Racines might be for you.
With limited time (and money) this summer, I wanted to find a few places where we could do one-night stays and that were:
-unique and/or weird
-close-ish to Montreal
-near other inexpensive attractions
-and within our budget
Our one-night stay at the Pierre de Feu ecolodge in June was our first of three unique adventures for this summer 🙂 (Here’s number two.)
The Entre Cîmes et Racines property is about a 90-minutes drive from the West Island (depending on traffic of course), and we punctuated our route with a beach side trip on the way there and back, making the holiday seem much longer than the 29 hours we were actually gone. (You can find our beach outings in Lac Brome and Cowansville HERE and HERE)
Entre Cîmes et Racines is nestled in 175 acres of mature forest, just about a 10 minute drive from the town of Eastman near Highway 10. There are 15 km of paths and trails, and twelve secluded and distinctive lodges to choose from. Decide whether you want one with electricity, an indoor dry toilet, an outdoor toilet, or unplug completely (and literally) and opt for no electricity.
Our lodge, built halfway into a hill, didn’t have power, but did have the indoor toilet. Which I was very happy about when the kids needed to pee in the middle of the night.
The lodges also come equipped with a wood stove, mattresses and pillows, outdoor fire pit and table, firewood, water for the kitchen hand pump, all your kitchen supplies, cleaning products, and we had two comfy outdoor lounge chairs. There are even wine glasses! That was way too fancy for me, so I roughed it and drank my wine straight out of the can.
When you check in you’ll also receive a tote with dish cloths, garbage and compost bags, candles, toilet paper, and matches. You can find the list of what you need to bring yourself HERE.
We brought our own Coleman stove, sheets and pillowcases, but you can also rent them. Call ahead to confirm.
The main lodge (The Campanile) is where you check in, receive your bag of supplies, and which also houses modern toilets and showers that are available at all times. There’s also WiFi, ice, fire wood for sale, and you can get a fresh cup of coffee to enjoy in the beautiful gardens, or while watching the kids play in the little hidden playhouse in the adjoining woods. So. Cute.
I may have said “This is SO CUTE!” about 57,000 times during our stay.
I purposefully hadn’t told the kids where we were going, and after we’d driven down the winding gravel road, and descended the stairs to our lodge, we were rewarded with their giant eyes, and exclamations of “What?!? WOW!” and “This is So. Cool.”
Our little home for the night became known as “The Flintstone’s House”, “The Cave”, and “Our Rock House”.
You can see interior pictures of all the lodges on the excellent website at THIS LINK.
Our little lodge was perfectly suited for four people, and the inside was oh-so-cute with a table and chairs, a small kitchen area, two club chairs, candle holders, the inside toilet room, and the coziest bedroom area with a twin bunk bed and separate double bed. The kids were enthralled with the bunks, each claiming their own “fort”, and puttered around opening and closing doors, setting up their flashlights and stuffies, and unpacking their bags. Even with the bright sunlight, it was dark inside, as half the lodge is underground, so bring along plenty of flashlights or a couple of lanterns. At night it was adorably cozy once we lit the candles.
Things that we did during our overnight visit:
When I’d called to reserve we were told we could bring along a small gift to hide for the scavenger hunt prize. So I bought a couple of toy cars which the staff hid in the “treasure box” before we set out with our map. With clues and riddles hidden throughout the woods and along the trails, it was a super fun way to explore the grounds. We peered over bridges, climbed over fallen trees, and saw all sorts of bugs and butterflies. Halfway through our hunt, we spent a half hour wandering through the pines in the labyrinth before declaring a winner at the Sortie. It wasn’t me.
The trails are NOT stroller-friendly, but if you have a little one they’d be passable with a carrier.
We also explored the trails that meandered behind our lodge and came across a picturesque stream with small waterfalls, found an old waterwheel deep in the woods, and watched chipmunks racing each other through the trees.
After heading back to our rock house, we cooked dinner outside, explored some nearby trails again, and enjoyed a surprisingly bug-free evening listening to some nearby loons and watching fireflies. It was absolutely quiet, and because all of the lodges are quite spread out and secluded, we never heard even a peep from any nearby neighbours. I DID however remind the kids that we weren’t that far from other people and that there was no shrieking at each other. Because no one wants to hear “STOP LOOKING AT ME!!! HE’S LOOKING AT ME!!!” when they’re enjoying a tranquil holiday.
IF you are coming with very young kids or toddlers, I would call to ask which lodges would be better suited to you. While ours was just perfect for us (with a 10-year old and 5-year old), there was a sharp drop-off right beside the outdoor area that would have made me nervous with a toddler or “runner”.
Things I wish I’d brought more of:
-Blankets. It was warm out during the day, but at night got quite chilly and I’d miscalculated the number of beds, people, and blankets. Luckily we had some (very tiny, very thin) emergency blankets in the car and I found some ski socks!
-Wine in a can.
And while we were amazingly lucky to have perfect weather and almost no bugs during our stay in late June, I’d bring along indoor games, rain gear, and lots of bugs spray just in case.
Before going, I wondered if our little cave might be rather cheesy, but it was everything I hoped for. Secluded, quiet, and totally different. If you’ve never camped before, this might be a good intro to “roughing it”, and if you’re seasoned campers like we are, this is a little luxury! I read different reviews on the place before booking, and while some found it rather expensive for “camping”, for our family, it was a really memorable little holiday, that the kids were asking to repeat before we even checked out.
If you’re looking for a 5-star hotel with a pool, volleyball courts and tennis, or the kind of camping site that has a splash pad and canteen, this is not for you.
There are bugs outside, you might find an ant in your lodge (gasp!), it could rain. So be up for the adventure!
Also, the lodges rent out very early, sometimes up to a year in advance. I booked in March for June and had originally wanted “Le Hobbit”, but it was completely booked for the entire summer.
The website for Entre Cîmes et Racines should have all of the information you need to know, including nearby activities you can do during your stay if you want to venture off site, places to eat in Eastman, check-in and out times, directions, rates, promotions, what to bring etc…
Find it all HERE.