My last stay in the Outaouais region was in April 2018 and as it is a very large region, the amount of places and experiences to discover is constantly growing. After a little more than 3 years, it was the perfect time to rediscover the region’s touristic offer in a relaxing, gourmand, urban and rural setting. Here is what caught my attention during my most recent stay in the Outaouais. Don’t forget to take notes for your next holiday in the region!
This article was created in collaboration with Bonjour Québec and Tourisme Outaouais as part of my role as a Bonjour Québec ambassador.
Day 1: On the road to the Outaouais
For this trip to the Outaouais, I was lucky enough to be accompanied by my friend Mary Lynn. We have travelled together several times in the past (in the Nevada desert and in Chicago, among others). We met at Montreal Central Station around noon to drive to the Outaouais. Equipped with several beverages and some snacks, we headed to Val-des-Monts for the first stop on our itinerary.
First stop in Outaouais: HOM Mini chalets in Val-des-Monts
After a few hours of driving through the misty valleys of the Outaouais, we arrived at HOM Mini chalets. On the spot, we are warmly welcomed by Martin. Over the past few years, he and his wife Dominique have built magnificent little cottages on the shores of Lake McGregor, in Val-des-Monts. On site, you will have absolutely everything you need to have a memorable stay, just bring your personal belongings and food if you wish to cook in the superb modern kitchen. Outside, you will find a spa with a superb view of the surrounding forest. Even though there are a few cottages on site, you will have a lot of privacy as they are all positioned so that you can’t be seen and also can’t see into the neighbour’s house. Special mention to the heated floors which will make you live the Quebec nordicity while remaining cozy and warm.
Dinner at Les Fougères Restaurant in Chelsea
After settling in comfortably in our cottage, and having had an apéro of local products, we headed back to Chelsea, a municipality located about 40 minutes from Val-des-Monts. It is with great enthusiasm that we go to the Restaurant Les Fougères to discover the cuisine of chef Yannick LaSalle. Yannick won the title of Canada’s best chef at the Canadian Culinary Championships in 2019. On the menu, several dishes cooked with care, with local and seasonal products. For the starter, I was totally seduced by a traditional Italian dish, gnudis, which consists of little balls of ricotta cheese reminiscent of gnocchi. For the main course, I was tempted by the Bouche du Saint-Laurent, one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. As you may have guessed, the Bouche du Saint-Laurent is a seafood dish that is totally decadent and will satisfy the most avid scallop, shrimp and cod lovers.
Back to HOM Mini chalets for the night
After our copious meal at the Restaurant Les Fougères, we took the road back to Val-des-Monts, for a good night’s sleep at HOM Mini chalets. It will be the ideal environment to fully relax before leaving the next morning for another beautiful day of discoveries in the Outaouais.
Day 2: Discovering the Outaouais
After a good breakfast in the comfort of our cottage, we start the day with a good moment of relaxation in Gatineau, at Kōena Spa. Then, we will drive to Bouchette, a municipality located about 75km from Gatineau, to stay at the Minitik Inn, which is located at the Village Majopial. An excellent day on the horizon, combining the urban side of Gatineau with the country side of Bouchette.
First stop: Kōena Spa for a massage and their Nordic baths
Located right in the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Gatineau, the Kōena Spa is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day. To start off this spa experience in a gentle way, a Swedish massage for Mary and me was in order. After 60 minutes of total relaxation, the verdict was in: it was one of the best massages we had ever had. My relaxation was so total that I almost fell asleep during the massage. At the time I visited the spa, I was still on crutches (following a fall earlier in the year during my trip to the Gaspésie), so I was not able to try out all the facilities. However, Mary was able to try several and was totally charmed by the halotherapy room, where the walls are covered with Himalayan salt. Under the same roof, you will also find a bistro where you will find different sandwiches and dishes to share.
Heading to Village Majopial near Bouchette in the Outaouais
After a few hours of relaxation at the spa, it was time to take the road to Bouchette, a municipality located about 1h30 from downtown Gatineau. We head to this area to enjoy the Village Majopial experience. I had heard of this place in the past, but this was my very first visit to this bucolic place.
Bluebarn Coffee Roasters in Wakefield for coffee on the go!
While we were on the road to Village Majopial, we felt like having a coffee. Since we weren’t very familiar with the area, we used Google Maps to find a nearby coffee shop. It was while trying to get to a Tim Hortons that we happened to pass Bluebarn Coffee Roasters. We were so happy to find this kind of place by surprise. We both opted for a filter coffee to go and sipped it slowly on the road.
Arrival at the Minitik Inn located at Village Majopial
Directly on the shores of Lac des 31 milles, we then arrive at the Minitik Inn. Recently integrated into the Village Majopial’s accommodation offering, the Inn has 6 very cosy rooms, with beautiful wood accents and heated floors. The view of the lake from our room is breathtaking. When you book a room at the Inn, you will also have access to the outdoor spa, which will warm up your relaxing moments by the lake.
Dinner at Restaurant L’Huile d’Olive
Our room at the Minitik Inn was so comfortable that we contemplated not going out for dinner again… Fortunately, we found the courage to go to the Restaurant L’Huile d’Olive, also located at the Village Majopial, a few steps from the Inn. We were treated to an excellent meal and very attentive and enthusiastic service. For the main course, I opted for the grilled AAA filet mignon with green pepper and Jack Daniel’s sauce, it was simply sublime, it was melting in the mouth. Wine lovers, you will be served with the huge wine cellar which you can visit on request.
Day 3: Breakfast at the Minitik Inn and return to Gatineau
For the last day of our stay in the Outaouais, we started with a superb breakfast in the room while watching the sun rise over the Lac des 31 milles, what a beautiful sight!
Back in town after a stay in nature
After an overnight stay in the wilderness, we return to the city along the picturesque roads of the Gatineau Valley.
Lunch at Arôme Restaurant located inside Hilton Lac-Leamy
Our return to the city was marked by a delicious meal at Arôme Restaurant located at the Hilton Lac-Leamy. After chatting with the chef, we were able to taste one of the house specialties: dry-aged beef for 42 days. This process reveals unexpected flavours in the meat and tenderizes the piece so that it melts under your teeth with every bite. In keeping with the cosy spirit of our itinerary, I also opted for the onion soup au gratin with smoked gouda, a real comforting delight.
Check-in to our room at the Hilton Lac-Leamy
Right after our dinner at the Arôme Restaurant, it was time to check in to the hotel. We definitely arrived at the right time to enjoy the sunset over Ottawa in the distance. The rooms at the Hilton Lac-Leamy have great views of the surrounding area.
Improvised dinner at the Restaurant Antonyme in Aylmer
Initially, we had planned to go to the Aylmer Christmas Market. When we got there, I had to make the sad decision not to go since it wasn’t safe enough to walk around on crutches. Anyway, everything happens for a reason… We looked at the restaurants near there and the Restaurant Antonyme caught our eye. We call them to see if they have any availability during the evening. As luck would have it, they had just received a cancellation, which allowed us to have a table for 2 hours, which was more than enough for us.
From the first glance at the menu, our mouths were watering. The waiter explains that each dish is a portion that can be shared between two people and that we will need about 2-3 dishes each to make a complete meal. After some discussion, we decide on our dishes. As this is a menu that evolves with the seasons and according to what is available locally, it is difficult for me to recommend a particular dish; I suggest you let yourself be guided by your desires of the moment as none of the dishes we ordered disappointed us. Everything was absolutely delicious, but I must make a special mention of the homemade foie gras terrine on gingerbread. It was probably one of the best dishes I have ever had in my life (and you know I try a lot of restaurants). Mary and I agreed that this meal was most likely in our top 10 best meals ever and we are so looking forward to going back.
Until next time, Outaouais!
Before heading home, we had a hearty breakfast at the Arôme Restaurant while soaking up the sun thanks to the abundant windows.
This is the end of another great stay in the beautiful Outaouais region and I can’t wait to return!