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Archive for month: July, 2017

God Bless Snowmobiling – 10 reasons why snowmobilers should visit us

God Bless Snowmobiling – 10 reasons why snowmobilers should visit us

There are several magnificent snowmobiling locations in Quebec, but Abitibi-Témiscamingue is in a class by itself. Our wide, meandering trails are safe and so extensive, chances are you won’t see another person all day, even though there are hundreds of snowmobilers out there. Our region is a snowmobiler’s paradise! Snowmobiling is highly important in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, both for residents and visitors. Not only is it rooted in our culture, it is the main tourist attraction during the winter months, making a substantial contribution to the regional economy. Below are ten reasons why snowmobilers should visit Val-d’Or and the surrounding area, and why we should all exclaim: God Bless Snowmobiling!

International Reputation

With its wide open spaces and long winter season, Quebec is snowmobiling heaven. Tourists from around the world are visiting Quebec to snowmobile in increasing numbers. In the 2012-2013 winter season 3,329 Americans, 5,308 Canadians from outside Quebec and 88,535 Quebeckers bought snowmobile permits (TAT, 2014), with Abitibi-Témiscamingue ranking third for the number of permit sales after Outaouais and Lanaudière. Top snowmobiling magazine Supertrax International has more than once named Abitibi-Témiscamingue one of the best snowmobile destinations, and awarded it first place in 2010 and 2011. The region is also receiving high praise from other quarters, and growing numbers of journalists, experts, bloggers and other visitors to the region are unanimous: snowmobiling in Abitibi-Témiscamingue is an unforgettable experience!

An Excellent Reason to Enjoy the Outdoors!

There is only one thing to do when there are wide, meandering trails and breathtaking natural panoramas on your doorstep: spend the day outdoors snowmobiling! The benefits of the outdoors are many: more energy, less stress, sound sleep and a hearty appetite, in addition to wonderful memories to take home.

Top Quality Trails

Abitibi-Témiscamingue, known for its wide, meandering snowmobile trails and breathtaking scenery, is one of the most popular snowmobile destinations in the world. With 3,700 km of trails, snowmobiling is a top tourist attraction and the number-one tourism product during the winter. Snowmobilers can cover long distances without crossing roads and love both the variety of trails (straight and curved) and the sense that they have the trails all to themselves. It is rare to encounter other snowmobilers, even when there are several enjoying the trails at the same time.

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A Longer Season

Winter 2016 was unusual for its late start. Generally, snowmobile season opens in Abitibi-Témiscamingue approximately two weeks earlier than in many other Quebec regions, and ends two weeks later, offering snowmobilers an important extra month of fun!

Snowmobiling is part of who we are

Because snowmobiling is so popular among residents of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, it is part of the culture. Visiting snowmobilers won’t feel that they are a disruption and will encounter respectful and careful drivers when crossing urban areas. Moreover, they can easily get tips on the best locales, where safety precautions are paramount, and reliable advice.

Welcoming Locals

It goes without saying that the warmth and friendliness of the residents of Abitibi-Témiscamingue also have a major impact on the quality of the snowmobile tourism experience. With such a friendly reception from residents, visitors find it very easy to fall under the region’s spell and rate their experience as unforgettable. A number of returning visitors to our visitor information centre tell us that it only took one visit to convince them to come back again and again.

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Brasserie Le Contact is un pub connected to a local snowmobile trail which connects to regional trail #83 as well as a large parking

Accessible Services

In Val-d’Or, an urban snowmobile route is prepared each year through a large part of the downtown area, providing access to numerous services, such as gas stations, banks, snowmobile specialty shops, hotels and restaurants. There are information panels located along the route to direct snowmobilers who are unfamiliar with the city.

An Active Tourism Industry

Although tourists place a great deal of importance on trail quality, access to services and a destination’s reputation, the human side is equally important. The region’s tourism industry understands that fact, and makes sure that snowmobilers have access to products and services that will give them a top-notch experience. For example, hotels offer competitive packages that are designed for snowmobilers, with a number of value-added services and products, such as trailer and snowmobile parking with 24/7 monitoring, or heated garages. There is also signage along the trails for a number of restaurants and hotels.

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A Longer Tourist Season

Because snowmobiling is such a tourist attraction in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the tourist season extends through the winter, reducing the drop in revenues between summer and winter. For example, many accommodation providers in Val-d’Or offer snowmobile packages and restaurants regularly welcome groups of snowmobilers stopping in for a meal.

A Substantial Economic Impact

Snowmobiling is an essential component of tourism in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, with economic spinoffs of over $2.5 billion in Quebec as a whole, including $60 million in Abitibi-Témiscamingue and close to $20 million in MRC de la Vallée-de-l’Or (MRCVO). It is now recognized as a major economic partner in regional development. The urban route in Val-d’Or also bolsters other services that while not a direct part of the industry, such as gas stations, banks and snowmobile specialty shops, benefit from snowmobile tourism in Val-d’Or. Tourism has a positive impact on the city’s economy as a whole.

 

Translation by Anne Laflèche

Disappointment-Free Fishing

Disappointment-Free Fishing

Every year the retreating ice signals the frenzied start of fishing season.

Just a few minutes from Val-d’Or and we are in the great outdoors, speckled with numerous lakes awaiting us. With rod in one hand and tackle in the other, we’re ready for a brand-new day of fishing, on the hunt for the best-looking pike in the lake!

We become more patient as we bask in the silence on the water and take advantage of these moments of serenity to admire nature, feel the gentle rocking of the boat, listen to the birds, breathe in the fresh air, turn our faces to the warmth of the sun and admire all the colours of the natural world.

Then, a bite!! The adrenaline starts to flow! We get ready for that last tug that will land our prize in the boat. Every fish that comes out of the water is followed by a surge of pride!

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In the Réserve faunique La Vérendrye, over 800 lakes are accessible for fishing. They have walleye, lake trout, northern pike, speckled trout, smallmouth bass, and sturgeon.

In our bubble, the only thing on our mind is fishing and we experience the restorative effect of nature and the sense of well-being it brings. If we want to appreciate every second of our fishing days to the fullest and not give in to disappointment, we have to appreciate the natural landscape around us and keep our expectations in check.

Lunchtime? Time to return to shore, light a small fire and toast our sandwiches – yummy!

Fish aren’t biting? Time to try some different techniques or different bait. We’ve got all day to meet our quota. In the heat of the afternoon sum, we find a little beach on the shore and play in the water for a few minutes. Then it’s back into the boat for a cool one!

We come home sun-tanned, our catch in the basket – what a wonderful way to spend a day, to spend the summer! And we’ll have plenty of fishing stories to tell as well.

And what could be better than fresh pike sizzling on the grill? If you’ve never had it, give it a try. It’s unbelievably delicious!

 

Translated by Anne Laflèche

A Huge Hunting Playground

A Huge Hunting Playground

What a thrill it is to hunt small game in the enchanting landscapes that surround Val-d’Or. The many forest roads and trails that meander through the region are home to a wide range of abundant small game. Sport hunters will be captivated by the area, which is easily accessed and offers perfect small game habitats.

Once you start, hunting quickly becomes a passion, as any hunter will tell you. The autumn chill and early mornings are discomforts quickly overcome when you proudly return with your quarry. But you have to be well prepared and armed with a healthy dose of patience and the ability to sit quietly in order to bag your catch. For wild game aficionados, there is no commercially-raised meat that tastes as good as game, which is often leaner and more flavourful.

There are close to 400,000 hunters in Quebec who enjoy the wilderness, whether for the challenge, the great outdoors, the peace and quiet, a taste for game or the pleasure of being with friends or family. Of course, safety is paramount, as is keeping the environment intact so that future generations can enjoy hunting as well.

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Ruffed Grouse

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Snowshoe hare

The nearby La Vérendrye wildlife reserve is immense, and eminently suitable for small game hunting. According to park manager Johanne Vienneau, the reserve attracts two types of hunters: those who live in the area, and overnight hunters looking for accommodation. The main small game attractions are spruce grouse, ruffled grouse and hare. Hunters take to the paths in vehicles, ATVs or on foot, some with hunting dogs. The success rate is high, particularly since hunting season in the reserve starts in mid-October once the leaves have fallen and the weather is still good. According to Ms. Vienneau, small game hunting licences for the La Vérendrye wildlife reserve can be purchased on the Sépaq website 24 hours in advance or at the visitor information centre.

Small game hunting is increasingly becoming a family affair. Marie-Claude and her partner are the parents of two daughters, 4 months and 7 years old, and hunt as a family! Marie-Claude packs their lunches and the diaper bag in the morning and they head out together to hunt partridge, on foot or in the car. For Marie-Claude, like many others, spending time in the woods is calming and a way to unload the stress of the previous week. And the family believes in the importance of caring for nature and not leaving garbage behind. At the end of the day, even the 7-year-old pitches in to lay out the partridge, the fruits of an ancestral experience passed down through the generations.

Fall is hunting season, when the seemingly endless forest floor is carpeted with leaves. If you haven’t given small game hunting a try, don’t be intimidated. It’s a fairly simple pastime for families and friends. Happy hunting!

 

Translated by Anne Laflèche

From Innovate to Classic

From Innovate to Classic

Dear Readers: This month we’re reviewing four pizza restaurants in Val-d’Or. Keep reading to expand your gastronomic horizons and find out where you can get the best pizzas in town. We used a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being best, to assess 10 criteria. So, without further delay, let’s look at our four reviews (done at the expense of our waistlines!).

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Prospecteur_microbrasserie_restaurants_bar_val-dor_salle de brassage

Price | $15.00

Conveniently located in downtown Val-d’Or, Microbrasserie Le Prospecteur serves up original pizzas, such as vegetable and goat cheese, or BBQ featuring smoked chicken from Boucanerie Fins Délices and a house BBQ sauce made with beer. Yum! We tried the Polonaise, with kielbassa, loads of toppings, just the right amount of sauce and an excellent aged cheese. Numerous craft beers are brewed on site to pair with the different pizzas. Prices are very affordable, the atmosphere is authentic and the lunchtime “pizza of the day” will satisfy your appetite without breaking your budget. A great place to eat for lunch or dinner!

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Pizzabella_restaurants_val-dor

Price | $19.50

The pizza looked appetizing and the aroma alone made us hungry. The crust was crispy with nicely-done edges, lots of toppings and melted cheese. The portions were perfect, just enough to keep us from feeling stuffed to the gills. And it was tasty! The restaurant’s reputation for service did not disappoint – our server was friendly and attentive. The menu boasts close to 20 pizzas, including the house specialty, Bella (with smoked meat), the Hawaiian, and the Seafood, so there is something for everyone and enough variety to keep you coming back. The pizza has excellent texture with just the right amount of toppings.

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Price | $17.67

The crust was perfectly cooked, including the edge, the toppings were attractive and the vegetables crunchy. There was plenty of the tomato-based sauce, with slightly salty cheese. And the intoxicating aroma wafted through the room. The slices are thick and the portions generous. There are close to 15 pizzas on the menu to choose from, including the Four Seasons for meat lovers, with bacon, olives, ground beef and ham. This family restaurant has a nice atmosphere, where good portions, good prices and good taste rule the day. If you are a diehard fan of classic pizza, this is the place for you!

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Avantage_bar_restaurants_pizza_four a bois

Price | $16.75

Hip pizzeria L’Avantage is also downtown, and as soon as we smelled that pizza aroma we were hungry. Abitibi-Témiscamingue’s only wood-fired pizza is cooked to perfection, with a delicious crust, just the right amount of toppings, a silky and delicately spiced tomato sauce and succulent melted cheese, all adding up to one exquisite dish. The restaurant’s original pizza creations, including The Pesto and The Mexican, are sure-fire crowd-pleasers. The American, our favourite, melts in your mouth. L’Avantage offers excellent pizza at an excellent price, and according to our review process, deserves the title Best Pizza in Town. You simply must give it a try. The top-notch food and service, combined with the warm and welcoming atmosphere add up to an unforgettable gastronomic experience. You can hear yourself talk and the flavours are distinctly down home.

Make your taste buds happy and put these four restaurants on your list. Sample their fresh ingredients, innovative dishes, and pleasant surroundings, and rediscover the classics, with a touch of contemporary style! You’ll love the delicious pizza, the great prices and the service at these warm and welcoming restaurants!

 

Translated by Anne Laflèche