Escape to TémiscamingueBy Anne-Marie Belzile
When I have a few days off and want to get away, I head to Témiscamingue. On the shores of that vast lake, I almost feel like I’m at a seaside resort. As soon as I pass the Côte à Perreault, see that hill rise on the horizon, I slip into vacation mode. I stroll Ville-Marie, the prettiest village in all of Quebec, pass by the marina, drift away…
Last summer, I came with a gang of girlfriends. We rented a cottage for a long weekend at La Bannik. We had cocktails on the patio, cooked our meals on the barbecue, and caught up with each other over a bottle of fine wine. We knocked shoulders in our own private spa before toasting marshmallows round the fire, heads in the stars. The next day, some took advantage of the massage therapy services. We enjoyed the lovely beach, played Frisbee. Time drifted lazily by.
Since I work for Tourisme Abitibi-Témiscamingue, I’m often called on to play tour guide for friends. On this visit, I shared that Témiscamingue is the pantry of our vast beautiful region. The area around the lake boasts a microclimate that benefits surrounding producers. With authenticity and enthusiasm, they reap the land’s finest. So we visited Éden Rouge (we had vowed to try their new country dinner this summer), the Nordvie farm, the vineyards of Domaine DesDuc, the orchards of the Verger des Tourterelles (co-owner Marie-Ève makes an apple caramel à la fleur de sel that is to die for), the Fromagerie Le Fromage au village cheese works, and topped it all off with chocolate from Les Chocolats Martine.
And in the neighbourhood, there are also a wealth of great restaurants, which I listed for the girls: Bistro Elle & Louis, Eugène Auberge/Bistro, La Bannik, Le Coucoushee, etc. And of course I had to tell them about the food fair, the Foire gourmande de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue et du Nord-Est ontarien.
After all of that food, of course we needed to get out and move a bit. I brought them to La Grande Chute hiking trail. This hidden gem, which seduced the likes of Lana Turner and John Wayne in years gone by, will be part of the new parc national d’Opémican, due to open in 2017. On the way back, we stopped at the wetlands of the marais Laperrière. I wanted to show them the turtles, birds and other wildlife. Next year, we’ll have to visit the Récré-eau des Quinze.
Right next door to La Bannik is another must: the Fort Témiscamingue National Historic Site. It boasts a trading post, enchanted forest, magnificent beach, 6,000 years of native presence, and a two-century rivalry for control of the fur trade. This is where it all began!
We’ve promised ourselves a visit to the wasp interpretation centre, the Centre d’interprétation de la guêpe, a truly intriguing place. We’ll also have to give the Chibekana climbing wall a try, visit the Verrerie de la montagne glassworks, do the Ligne du Mocassin by bike, play Indiana Jones at the Fossilarium, and tour Ville-Marie by bike taxi with Vélo-Taxi. We have also made a pact to discover at least one of the 60 outfitters in the region to tease out a few trout, walleye and northern pike. That’s the thing about Témiscamingue. You come back, but you never feel like you’ve seen it all…