Le Monastère des Augustines … Nearly Four Centuries in the Making

The following article is excerpted from Healthy Aging® Magazine. To continue reading this article and more like it, subscribe to Healthy Aging® Magazine, the lifestyle magazine that is all about following your passion and what you can do rather than what you can’t.

Photo: Le Monastere des Augustines

By Carolyn Worthington

The quest for healing vacations has been around for a long time. For thousands of years, seekers of rejuvenation have sought mineral and mud baths to relieve arthritis and other woes, trekked to mountains to gain clarity of the mind and breathe clean air, and also bathed in saltwater for skin and even drank it for digestive track improvements.

Today, wellness tourism is taking a new twist and carving out its own niche market. Although spa vacations continue to be in vogue, the growing travel trend is a vacation that focuses on total wellness that combines mind, body, and spirit.

Le Monastère des Augustines

(Clockwise from top left). Entrance to Le Monastère des Augustines. Striped bass, grilled peppers puree, tomato carpaccio and herb salad, Photo: Le Monastère des Augustines. Exterior of Le Monastère des Augustines. Photo: C. Worthington. Yoga class, Photo: Le Monastère des Augustines

Le Monastère des Augustines

Enter Le Monastère des Augustines, located in the heart of Quebec City, Canada, which has had its roots in healing for almost 400 years. And now, this nonprofit monastery, which has benefited from $42 million in restoration, has opened its doors to the public.

The monastery now functions as a nondenominational wellness center. There, travelers can have unique experiences in holistic health, combined with restorative stays in a destination that’s mission is also to preserve its heritage.

This is not a spa. There are no beauty treatments like hair styling or manicures. It is not a religious retreat. Rather, the focus is on wellness in the setting of a historic monastery that has been respectfully restored, blending original buildings harmoniously with new additions and welcomes all travelers.

Back in the day. Photo: Le Monastère des Augustines

Back in the day. Photo: Le Monastère des Augustines

Wellness Story Began Almost Four Centuries Ago

The story of Le Monastère des Augustines began on August 1, 1639, with three young sisters, or canonesses, from the Augustinian order—a Catholic religious order devoted to the care of the sick and needy. The three young women traveled by boat from their monastery in Dieppe, France, a port on the English Channel in Normandy, to Quebec City, which had been founded by the French explorer Samuel Champlain only 31 years earlier.

Imagine the scene that they saw with a population of around only 350 settlers. The three—Marie Guenet de Saint-Ignace, Marie Forestier de Saint-Bonaventure, and Anne Le Cointre de Saint-Bernard—set about helping the poor and sick, caring for the body and soul, and also established the first site located in Sillery, which was Canada’s first Indian reservation.

There, the three sisters founded what was to be the first hospital on the continent, north of Mexico. Unfortunately, five years later in 1644, they were forced to move their site to the town of Quebec after numerous attacks by Iroquois Indians.

Later, in 1693, a new hospital, Hôpital-Général de Québec, was built and run by four canonesses. The monastery began there in 1709 and was cloistered until 1965. Over the years, the Augustinian Sisters order founded 12 hospitals that became the foundation of healthcare in Quebec.

monastere des augustines healthy aging

Modern day visionaries. Augustinian sisters walking in garden of the Monastery Hotel – Dieu de Quebec. Photo: Le Monatere des Augustines Les Archives 

Today, 10 sisters remain at Le Monastère des Augustines. Just as their sisters before them, they have a vision for the future: to pass on their heritage to future generations by opening the doors of their home to the public as a special wellness destination.

A Heavenly Stay

The monastery offers two types of rooms: 33 “authentic rooms restored in the spirit of monasticism” and 32 totally redesigned rooms with a contemporary feel. You can experience an antique decorated “cell” with a shared bath, if you would like. Or enjoy the modern private room with a king or queen bed. All beds are ultra-comfortable.

(Clockwise from top left) Yoga class. Restaurant serving healthy and creative recipes. Interior view of hallway. Photos: Le Monastere des Augustines. Dessert sampled at lunch. Photo: C. Worthington

Rejuvenation Programs

During your stay, you can try all the programs available, such as massage, reflexology, posture alignment, or essentrics, which includes aerobic type, Tai Chi, Pilates, or yoga.

A massage is a must. The monastery’s staff is extremely capable and professional, making you feel as if you’ve died and gone to heaven.

In the spirit of promoting tranquility and relaxation, guests are encouraged to unplug while within the monastery’s confines.

Breakfast is, in fact, held in silence. No one speaks, other than a few giggles, and everyone enjoys the solitude as they get ready for their days. The morning ritual is held, they say, to be “in harmony with the site’s historic vocation.” If you are not a talkative morning person, you will love this.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The emphasis is on fresh, local, and healthy cuisine with gluten-free and vegetarian options. Don’t worry, you can have wine and beer from the selection of local products.

A visit to Le Monastère des Augustines is a unique opportunity to refresh your engine and to experience the six values of the community: hospitality, compassion, interiority, humility, respect, and generosity.

Le Monastère des Augustines
77, rue des Remparts
32, rue Charlevoix
Québec (Québec) G1R 0C3 Canada

The above article is excerpted from Healthy Aging® Magazine. To continue reading this article and more like it, subscribe to Healthy Aging® Magazine, the lifestyle magazine that is all about following your passion and what you can do rather than what you can’t. See the next article in the series, “Exploring Quebec City.”


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