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The perfect trip to Val-d’Or: gorgeous sights, delicious flavours

Val-d’Or has more than one trick up its sleeve when it comes to wowing visitors. Not only is it brimming with attractions and history, it also has its fair share of gourmet eateries to dazzle your taste buds. We’ve come up with the perfect itinerary.

First stop: Les Jardins à Fleur de peau

Francyne Plante and Jacques Pelletier are true artists. Passionate about horticulture, sculpture and poetry, they’ve built a haven of peace and beauty over the years. Their garden features different paths you can wander as you please. As you make your way through the peaceful grounds, you’ll discover secret places, hidden corners, even a hammock in a shady patch of trees—the perfect spot for daydreaming.

Since the garden is always changing with the months and seasons, it’s a good idea to visit more than once during the summer. You’ll be constantly surprised by a new flower budding or by the latest sculpture born of Francyne’s or Jacques’ imagination.

Since there’s no time limit on their stay, visitors can spend as long as they like enjoying the site. A warm, welcoming and curious couple, Francyne and Jacques will be only too happy to share their corner of paradise with you.

Flowers of all colours and varieties grow in the garden thanks to Jacques and Francyne’s careful attention.

One of the stone sculptures adorning the garden.

For lunch: Habaneros (8-minute drive from the gardens, downtown)

Looking for a quick, hearty and delicious meal? Try this Mexican-inspired local chain where you choose the ingredients and combos that look good to you, for a totally satisfying meal.

Photo: Scouich

Second stop: Forêt récréative (7-minute drive or 20-minute bike ride from Habaneros)

After relaxing in the peaceful settings of Les Jardins à Fleur de peau, it’ll be time to stretch your legs, and the Forêt récréative is the perfect spot for that—for young and old alike. Between the paved trail (easily accessible for people with reduced mobility) lined with lush blueberry bushes, the mountain bike trails (with equipment rentals onsite), the park with picnic tables, and the treetop course, there’s something for everyone.

Mountain biking trails are available on the Forêt récréative site.

Photo: Marie-Claude Robert

Easy to get to, affordable and close to the city, the Forêt récréative has something for sports enthusiasts of all levels.

Reward yourself: Alpha Tango (2-minute drive or bike ride from the Forêt récréative)

All that exercise will make a person thirsty! The Alpha Tango distillery is the brainchild of Daniel Corriveau and his son, Alex Gaudreault. Not long after the two men started producing, their premium products started winning awards. The first distillers in the world to use bulrushes as a flavouring (in their first product, Bravo Charlie gin), they’ve since developed a line of spirits, each one tastier than the last, including a second gin and a smooth vodka (smooth enough to win over even the wariest of vodka holdouts). Visitors to the shop can meet the (super friendly) owners and sample products available exclusively on site, including Valentine amaretto, which tastes just like a Cherry Blossom, or the ready-to-drink bloody Caesar.

With its hint of black raspberry, Echo Foxtrot gin adds a beautiful red hue to your tonic-based drink—the perfect summer beverage.

Valentine amaretto, available only onsite, will transport you back to childhood with its nostalgic Cherry Blossom flavours. It’s also perfectly balanced—in fact, it tastes just like a hug.

Macerated bulrush is what gives Bravo Charlie gin its distinct flavour.

Snack time: La Vache à Maillotte (7-minute drive or 20-minute bike ride from the Forêt récréative and Alpha Tango)

La Vache à Maillotte’s new shop in Val-d’Or has something for all tastes. In addition to the full line of products from the legendary local cheesemaker, you’ll find a wide selection of gourmet products from producers in the region and throughout Quebec.

Inside La Vache à Maillotte’s spacious shop, visitors can browse a range of premium products from producers in the region and throughout Quebec.

One of the store’s main attractions is the Bar à frais, where you can custom order the amount of cheese curds or tortillons you want and add your choice of (exclusive!) seasoning. The perfect spot for a snack!

The Bar à frais lets you season your cheeses with a variety of unique and tasty spice blends.

For a sweet snack: Choco-Mango (5-minute drive or bike ride from La Vache à Maillotte)

When dessert time rolls around, Choco-Mango won’t let you down! There’s something for everyone—and every sugar craving. Artisanal chocolate, a range of ice creams (including the famous choco-mango, a blend of white chocolate and mango), cupcakes—an explosion of flavours and textures to satisfy your taste buds.

Chocomango offers a wide variety of ice cream flavours, from traditional to “out there”!

For supper: Microbrasserie Le Prospecteur (max. 5 minutes from Choco-Mango, even by foot!)

Microbrasserie Le Prospecteur is known for its premium beers and its original, bold and varied menu items. Even though their products are now sold at most local retailers, it’s still worth a visit for a taste of their delicious brews. There’s a shop and even a charming restaurant onsite, serving up top-notch food (we tested it, and we’d never lie to you; we still fantasize about the salad, with its perfectly crispy/creamy goat cheese and sumptuous raspberry coulis), and the rooftop patio is the perfect spot for soaking up the sun. Pair with a pint of Tête de pioche and you’re all set!

To this day, the memory of the goat cheese and raspberry salad is enough to make our mouths water.

At bedtime: Entre Lemoine et larbre (about a 15-minute drive from downtown)

One glimpse of Entre Lemoine et l’arbre and its three cabins on stilts, nestled high among the trees, will banish all thoughts of the city. You’ll instantly feel surrounded by the peaceful sights and sounds of nature. Each cabin is equipped with the amenities needed for a stay that’s just rustic enough. It will feel a little like camping, only more comfortable. In the evening, you can make a campfire, play board games, or just enjoy the silence and the sweet solitude.

In the morning, laze in bed and listen to the peaceful sound of rain falling on the roof or relax on the balcony as you watch the birds put on a show.

For breakfast: Balthazar Café (10-15 minutes from Entre Lemoine et l'arbre)

At Balthazar Café, you’ll immediately be struck by the warm, friendly reception. It’s the perfect spot to wake up slowly over your morning coffee. Drop in for a croissant or a sandwich—or a croissant sandwich!—a pastry or a muffin. There’s lots to choose from! The café is spacious but quiet. After checking your emails, you can leave with peace of mind, ready to face the day, or you can linger awhile, to get some work done or read a few chapters.

Third stop: La Cité de lOr (6-minute drive or 8-minute bike ride from Balthazar Café)

La Cité de l’Or immerses visitors in the life of the miners at the Lamaque Mine. First, you’ll explore the mining village of Bourlamaque and its period houses. You can stroll through the streets as the audio guide tells you more about the social, political and economic challenges that faced the town and the mining sector. At La Cité de l’Or, you can tour the four main buildings of the old Lamaque Mine and the permanent exhibition Gold in our veins. But the highlight is definitely the underground visit of the old Lamaque Mine. The knowledgeable and friendly guides will be happy to answer all your questions and tell you about the work the miners did, the conditions they endured, what they did in their daily lives, etc. It’s a very complete and eye-opening journey into a major chapter of the local history.

Photo: Christian Leduc

For the road: Les Becs sucrés-salés (10-to-15-minute drive or bike ride from La Cité de l’Or)

This gourmet food and pastry shop carries a wide range of regional products and a selection of fresh and tasty treats. If you’re lucky enough to stop by on a Friday, you can sample the shop’s star attraction: their generous and mouth-watering mille-feuilles. It’s a must-stop if you want a souvenir that will leave a delicious taste in your mouth.

This is just one possible itinerary among many... The options for things to see and do in and around Val d’Or are endless—it’s all up to you! It’s also worth checking if there are any events happening during your stay, since the city plays host to many festivals, shows and other cultural events during the summer that are well worth the detour!