Less than 60 kilometres east of Montréal on the banks of the Yamaska River, Saint-Hyacinthe is a hub for those looking to exchange the bustle of Montréal for the quaint charm of a town with a population of 53,000. Named for Hyacinth of Caesarea, who died in AD 108 at the age of 12 after being tortured and starved to death for his Christian faith, this city in Québec’s Montérégie region is home to one of the only public markets still in existence in the province, dating back to 1830.
On Rue Girouard Ouest, three blocks north of the Yamasaka River, visitors will find Cathédrale de Saint-Hyacinthe and its painting of the heavenly father by renowned Québec artist Ozias Leduc on the chancel vault. A little over 1 kilometre northeast on Rue Girouard Est is the Chapelle du Séminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe, a library stocked with religious and non-religious works. Visitors will notice wire netting and a wooden door on the mezzanine of the library’s main room leading to an area where books banned by the Congregation of the Index were kept, a tradition of the Roman Catholic faith.
Saint-Hyacinthe restaurants offer hungry travellers a wide array of options ranging from tasty regional cuisine to delicious Mediterranean and Italian fare. Restaurant Les Quatre Saisons on Rue Johnson Ouest is located within the swank digs of Hotel des Seigneurs and serves foodies an eclectic variety of regional dishes as well as seafood and Italian buffets. Other Saint-Hyacinthe restaurants like Ô Saint-Patrick, which serves steak and sushi on Rue Saint-Antoine, are perfect for any appetite and craving.
At night, one of the most popular things to do in Saint-Hyacinthe is frequent one of the town’s many bars. Bouffon Resto-Pub on Avenue Sainte-Anne in downtown serves a variety of imported beers and wine as well as pub fare like burgers and pizza. Coffee drinkers can head to Tim Hortons for a cup of java 24 hours a day.
Outdoor enthusiasts have no shortage of things to do in Saint-Hyacinthe thanks to the picturesque landscape that surrounds it. Boisé des Douze, located on Avenue Saint-Louis, is open year round and has over 2 kilometres of trails for walkers looking to stretch their legs. For those in search of a bit more excitement, Centre Nautique on Rue Girouard Ouest rents out kayaks, canoes and even pontoons to boaters looking for a fun-filled day on the Yamaska River. There is even an indoor climbing wall for kids and adults. Less than 3 kilometres northeast, the Daniel A. Séguin Garden has bike trails for cyclists that meander alongside manicured gardens full of roses, herbs and moss beds.
Travellers seeking a few souvenirs to take home will enjoy Saint-Hyacinthe’s downtown area, or Centre-Ville Saint-Hyacinthe as it is known to locals. The area boasts over 150 stores and boutiques, including Décoration Malar and La Boutique du Foyer on Rue des Cascades.