A Complete Guide to Val d’Or, Quebec in Canada

This wild region of western Quebec is centered on a rustic gold-rush hamlet established in 1935 after gold was discovered in the area. With its weathered main street, Val-d’Or—meaning “valley of gold”—might not appear to be much at first glance, yet it is a diamond in the rough.

You can not only explore a historic gold mine, but also learn about local indigenous life and culture, see some Northwoods species, and enjoy some of the world’s most invigorating four-season outdoors in the surrounding boreal forest. This is a venue that promotes relaxation, fresh air, and learning about diverse cultures.

What to See and Do

There aren’t many established sites to visit, but there are a couple of remarkable ones that provide insight into local life and culture. After that, you’ll have access to a fantastic four-season wilderness for hiking, cycling, kayaking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and other activities.

  • La Cité de l’Or: To explore the ancient Lamaque Gold Mine, which operated from 1935 to 1985, you must put on miners’ overalls, a helmet, and a lamp. You’ll tour the essay laboratory, the shaft, and the hoist room after descending 300 feet into the underground darkness. A regional mining history interpretive center is located above ground. The nearby Village Minier de Bourlamaque is a restored miner’s village with 60 log miner dwellings that have been converted into residential homes. An audio guide is available to supplement visits with brief anecdotes from old and new residents, and one house is open to the public with an interactive historical exhibition.
  • Refuge Pageau: A trail snakes through this pine-shaded enclave in adjacent Amos, through cages and enclosures housing rehabilitating Northwoods wildlife such as moose, wolves, coyotes, beavers, black bears, and various kinds of birds of prey. The sanctuary was founded in 1986 by “Wolf Whisperer” Michel Pageau and his wife, Louise. He was a trapper whose heart changed after getting to know the animals and deciding to help them rather than kill them. The refuge’s purpose is to reintroduce the animals into the wild as quickly as possible, while many permanent residents have suffered irreversible injury at the hands of humans and will remain here indefinitely. Make a point of asking for an interpretation guide who will give you the story behind each animal. Don’t forget to meet Chewbaka, the cutest porcupine you’ve ever met, and Le Facteur, a show-off crow who makes various sounds to please.
  • Kinawit: This educational and cultural center, perched on the banks of Lac Lemoine, provides insight into the Algonquin area, where First Peoples have lived for millennia. Storytelling, medicinal plant collection, bannock making, open-hearth cooking, and guided treks are among the activities. It was designed to break down prejudices, but it is also a place of healing, as local youngsters are trained and hired, giving them a chance to reconnect with their culture. You can stay in a tipi or one of the rustic cabins.
  • Centre d’Exposition VOART: This is the place to go if you want to see some local art. A full schedule of activities, including educational lectures, workshops, and guided tours, includes travel shows and exhibits of local (and non-local) artists.
  • Outdoor Adventures: Hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, fishing, hunting—or, in the winter, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, dog sledding, or snowmobiling—all reign supreme in this pristine region. For further information, contact the tourism bureau.
  • Recreative Forest of Val-d’Or: At this vast wooded area, you can run, walk, cycle, or collect berries. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, skating, and walking are popular winter activities on its network of paths.

The Best Time to Visit

Winter is a great time to visit this northern region if you enjoy winter sports such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and skating. From November to April, heavy snowfall can cover the landscape. However, summer is the best time to visit, with daytime temperatures reaching 75 degrees F (24 degrees C).

Festivals and Events

Among the annual summer events are a storytelling festival in June, a popular humor festival in July, and a blues festival in mid-June to mid-July. Since 1969, the Tour de l’Abitibi has been an international bicycle stage competition.

Where to Stay

Because this is not a tourist location, there are no showy hotels. Having saying that, the hotels in Val-d’Or offer enough of comfort for a good night’s sleep.

  • Hôtel Continental: The Continental, the only downtown hotel, provides a full hot breakfast as well as easy access to the town’s restaurants, shopping, and significant landmarks. The on-site restaurant serves simple food.
  • L’Escale Hôtel Suites: A nice stay is ensured by clean and large rooms, continental breakfast, and an on-site restaurant.
  • Hôtel Forestel:Forestel, the region’s largest hotel, provides pleasant accommodations, a restaurant, and amenities for both business and leisure guests.

Where to Eat

Again, because this is not a tourist location, there aren’t many restaurants. These, on the other hand, cater to the locals. The water in the region has been determined to be among the purest in the world, implying that the beer—and kombucha—is divine.

  • Balthazar Café: This quaint café on Val-d’Or’s main street is the place to go for homemade sandwiches, soups, salads, and pastries. Consider picking up picnic food or lingering over a cup of coffee here.
  • Microbrasserie Le Prospecteur:This bustling micro-brasserie in the center of downtown Val-d’Or sells regional artisan beers and local cuisine, as well as local kombucha. Summertime on the rooftop terrace is beautiful.
  • Acetaria “Green” Kitchen:The pillars of this locally sourced restaurant are healthy salads and soups, which seek to deliver greens while being environmentally “green.”

Getting There

Air Canada and Air Creebec fly from Montreal (YUL) to Val-d’Or (YVO); the journey takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes, and round-trip tickets range from $300 to $600.Autobus Maheux runs numerous buses per day between Montreal and Val-d’Or; tickets are about $150 and the trip takes around 7 and a half hours. You may also travel 325 miles from Montreal in around 6 hours.

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