If you have ever visited the lake region of Northern Italy, you probably know the distinctive flair of the lake riviera: slow paced life, pastel colours with hues of blue everywhere, flowers and boats. You can find the same relaxing atmosphere in one of the southernmost villages of Quebec – Venise-en-Quebec. Lapped by Lake Champlain, Venise-en-Quebec embodies the spirit of the “Canadian riviera”.
Lake Champlain is a huge lake between Canada and the US, named after French explorer Samuel de Champlain. Most of its body of water lays in the states of Vermont and New York, while only its northern shores are in Quebec. Lake Champlain is, indeed, the thirteenth largest lake in the US, drained by the Richelieu River into the Saint Lawrence northward. In the US, it also connects to the Hudson River by the Champlain canal. The lake holds an important role in the history of colonial Quebec, acting as a natural border between indigenous nations Abenaki and Mohawks.
At only one hour South of Montreal, Venice-en-Quebec is one of the most popular villages on Lake Champlain shores, despite being only 70 years old: before January 1950, it was part of Clarenceville. The European residents of this area noticed that in Spring the waters of the lake would rise to reach the houses, and they made the association with the popular Italian city of Venice, which has made a reputation out its overflowing waters.
Due to its atmosphere, Venise Bay has attracted an increasing amount of tourists since the early 30s, populating the hotels during the Summer. This trend has never ceased, not even in COVID-19 times: when we visited, we had the expectation that the beaches would be deserted, and instead we found them bustling with people (and very little masks).
It’s easy to understand how Venice Bay is attractive for families: the public market offers stalls with all sort of temptations and a wonderful view of the bay, while the shores of the lake have long shallow waters that make it perfect for kids to play safely in the water. Volley ball nets, food trucks, tiki bars, make it all an easy experience for parents.
Nevertheless, our stay was short: after a stroll on the beach with our feet in the water, we decided that the place was way too crowded than we would have liked. It was a nice afternoon out, and it’s probably worth to go back in less busy times!