When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
Abitibi is a vast region in western Québec whose history is intimately linked to the exploitation of its abundant natural resources. It is not your typical Quebec travel. In fact, you will probably visit Abitibi on your second or third visit, but you will wonder why you did! Here, you will find lush forests and fish-filled lakes and rivers, as well as mining landscapes, picturesque villages and vibrant cities such as Rouyn-Noranda and Val-d'Or. Its proud, friendly people are sure to charm you. While you're in the area, try some of the region's excellent craft beers!
The City of Val-d'Or, in the heart of Abitibi, is the gateway to the region. Founded in the early 1920s following the discovery of significant gold deposits in the area, its name ("Valley of Gold") reflects its origins as a bustling gold-rush town. The settlement quickly attracted prospectors dreaming of wealth and eager to try their luck. Come summer, the city comes alive to the light of the neon signs of its many saloons, bars and restaurants.
BELVEDERE PARK AND ROTARY TOWER
The Rotary Tower is in Val-d'Or's Belvedere Park. Rising 18 metres over the forest, the tower offers an all-encompassing view of the Vallée-de-l'Or. In addition, you will notice ten pit head frames, the structures used for the extraction of ore. You will also see several large lakes that feed the Harricana River, the 2nd-longest navigable river in Canada. On a clear day, you can even make out the chimneys of Horne Smelter in Rouyn-Noranda! Admission is free.
MINING VILLAGE OF BOURLAMAQUE - CITÉ DE L'OR
La Cité de l’Or ('City of Gold') is a historic site that will plunge you into the heart of the exploitation of a gold mine. The Mining Village of Bourlamaque was formerly administered by Lamaque Mine, one of the main employers in the region. The mine shaft, hospital, residence of the mine executives and the log cabins that housed the miners are still intact. In addition to a tour of the mining village (with or without a guide), the site offers several other activities: descent into an authentic mining tunnel 300 feet underground, a tour of four Old Lamaque Mine buildings, permanent exhibits and a geocaching rally. Open every day from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from mid-June to late August (reduced hours in low season).
NEAR VAL D'OR
MALARTIC MINERALOGICAL MUSEUM
Located in the town of Malartic, this museum showcases the geological and mining heritage of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. It houses exhibitions, collections (don't miss the impressive display of rocks, minerals and fossils), interactive games and several other interesting features such as an earthquake simulator, fairy stones, an actual lunar rock, splendid gold nuggets and more. Open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer (early June to early September) and the rest of the year, Sunday-Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
BELVÉDÈRE DE MALARTIC
This scenic viewpoint right next to the museum offers an impressive view of the Canadian Malartic Mine. On one side you will see the town of Malartic and on the other, the largest open-pit gold mine in North America. The contrast is striking. If you are travelling with children, you can also pay a visit to the adjacent park to enjoy the water games, playground and picnic areas. Admission is free.
NOTICE FOR HIKERS
Several kilometres of trails crisscross the region. Access to the trails is free throughout the summer season.
Forêt récréative, Val-d'Or
Mount Kekeko, Rouyn-Noranda
Alembert Hills, Rouyn-Noranda
Opasatica trails in Montbeillard / Near Rouyn-Noranda
Located on the most mineral-rich portion of the Cadillac Fault, Rouyn-Noranda is the regional capital of Abitibi. Also known as the National Copper Capital, it has attracted prospectors from its very beginnings. Today the city is also home to a thriving artistic community. Despite the visual impact of the mining industry, you will find beautiful parks and flowery gardens.
MUSÉE D'ART DE ROUYN-NORANDA (MA)
The MA art museum acts as a veritable cultural centre, presenting major exhibitions and playing an active role in developing the visual arts in Abitibi. Sensitive to the reality of the First Nations who live on the territory, it maintains special links with their artists whose stand out for their striking originality. The museum features a cafe and a gift shop with local handicrafts. Admission is free. Open from early June to late September, Friday-Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Reduced hours in low season.
The Horne smelter opened in 1927 at the site of the Horne mine, a few years after the discovery of a copper deposit in 1923. By the time the mine closed in 1976, miners had extracted close to 54 million metric tons of copper, gold and silver ore. A visit to this custom copper smelter will teach you all the secrets of copper transformation. Guided tours from late June to mid-August, every day at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Children under 12 are not admitted. Pants and closed shoes are required. Admission is free.
CYCLING AT LAKE OSISKO
In Rouyn-Noranda, you can borrow a bicycle free for 2 hours ($5 per additional hour) and cycle the 8.4-km bike path around Lake Osisko. This easy, enjoyable ride will let you discover the residential areas, nature and industrial side of the city. The booth is open every day during the summer starting in late May, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
MURAL IN HONOUR OF RICHARD DESJARDINS
In 2018, the city of Rouyn-Noranda commissioned a collective mural paying tribute to the city's beloved native son, singer-songwriter Richard Desjardins. The images were inspired by the landscapes of the region and the lyrics of the poet's songs. At 165 metres long, it is the second-largest mural in Canada. It is on the south wall of the Boulevard Rideau viaduct.
PARC AVENTURE JOANNÈS
Located on the shores of Lac Joannès, this adventure park promises a day of fun for the whole family. Will you dare to try the Arbre en Arbre aerial park (ages 7 and over)? In addition to the treetop adventure course, other activities available at the site include a huge maze, a giant baby-foot game, mini-golf in the forest, hiking and mountain bike trails. A real life-sized nature playground! Open from late June to the end of August, Wednesday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends in low season from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservation recommended.
PARC NATIONAL D'AIGUEBELLE
About 50 km north-east of Rouyn-Noranda you will find the magnificent Aiguebelle Park, loyal custodian of a rich natural and cultural heritage. This exceptional protected area offers tranquility and beautiful scenery. Several hiking trails lead to a suspended bridge across a gigantic fault, a huge spiral staircase erected alongside an impressive escarpment, to the top of the Abijévis hills or to a fire watchtower. You can see traces of glaciers and ancient lava flows, watch birds and wildlife, or do some canoeing, kayaking or fishing. Equipment rental is available on-site. The park is open year-round, and the visitors' centre is open from the end of June through to early September from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (schedule may vary with the season).
PARC NATIONAL D’AIGUEBELLE
Season: The park is open year-round, but the period during which services are available varies according to sector.
Entry fee: $8.90/adult/day and free for youth aged 17 and under.
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
This chocolatier was founded in 2001 by Olga Coronado Mijangos, an entrepreneur from Guatemala. Passionate about prestige chocolate, she crafts all her products by hand, with a focus on excellence.
Open from early May to mid-September, Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. Reduced hours in off-season.
Le Prospecteur ($$-$$$)
This microbrewery is the perfect place to enjoy a good craft beer, brewed on site, and a meal among friends. In addition to a wide selection of beers, you can try apple ciders and kombuchas. Also serves tasty bistro fare. A lively atmosphere and regular events such as comedy shows and live music.
Open Monday-Saturday from 3 p.m.
Bar-Bistro l'Entracte ($$$$)
L'Entracte serves refined bistro cuisine with an emphasis on product freshness and presentation. The menu changes twice a year with the seasons. House specialties include sushi and chalkboard specials. You will enjoy the unique lounge atmosphere and music shows featuring an interesting lineup of artists. Don't hesitate to join in the party and live it up into the wee hours: you'll be able to say that you truly experienced Abitibi!
The kitchen is open every evening except Sundays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Fridays until 11 p.m. in the summer.
Le Trèfle Noir ($)
Le Trèfle Noir opened its doors in 2009. At the time, it was the first craft brewery in Abitibi to have a tasting room on the premises. Following the company's success and a growing demand, a microbrewery was created in 2012. Today the brew pub offers a dozen beers, selected from among more than fifty constantly changing recipes. Also serves a bistro menu.
Open Monday-Thursday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Friday-Saturday from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m., with shows some evenings.
Chez Morasse ($)
This legendary spot is a local institution. Their mission is to serve the "best poutine in the world". You be the judge! One thing is certain, you will find lots of choices and flavours of this iconic Quebec dish, which you simply must try while you're here.
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Le Cachottier ($$-$$$)
This trendy little bistro is simply charming, with impeccable service and a varied, delicious menu. The house specialties include good tartares and tapas to share. They also offer a nice wine list and Trèfle Noir draft beers. Patio dining available in summer.
Open Tuesday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (may vary depending on demand).
Boulangerie-Pâtisserie St-Honoré ($$-$$$)
This French bakery / patisserie offers a wide array of artisanal fresh-baked goods. In addition to delicious bread, pastries and desserts, they have a breakfast and lunch menu featuring an interesting selection of sandwiches, takeout options and, some say, the best coffee in town.
Open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Horizon Thai ($$-$$$)
Horizon Thaï is a popular avant-garde restaurant whose mission is to serve fusion Asian cuisine combining styles, origins and flavours. Drawing inspiration from Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and even North American cuisine, the daring menu is offered in a casual atmosphere. Memorable experience guaranteed.
Open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
*** Hours may vary ***
With its abundant nature and fertile soils, Abitibi abounds in culinary delicacies that are sure to seduce your taste buds. Fine cheeses, goat cheeses, charcuteries, fish, pastries, jams, chocolate, craft beer… Throughout your stay, be sure to sample the local specialties: after all, new gastronomical experiences are a part of any great vacation!
Festival de musique émergente (FME)
Dates: Early September 2021
In Rouyn-Noranda, the mission of the FSE is to promote original, emerging musicians nationally and internationally by encouraging the distribution of their music. It offers a variety of musical experiences including outdoor concerts, intimate shows, theme evenings, and more. Performances take place in different venues across the city, and on an outdoor stage on 7e Rue.
Osisko en Lumière
Dates: Early August 2021
Every month of August, Osisko en lumière lights up the sky of Rouyn-Noranda. For three days of festivities, three fireworks shows are presented by professional fireworks teams, as well as nine outdoor concerts from international-caliber artists. A unique event in an enchanting setting, that you won't want to miss if you're in the area at the right time.
- Very Favourable