Ok, we don’t blame you if you’re scratching your head thinking – where the hell is Gatineau! This city in western Quebec is actually the fourth largest in the province, and sits right across the river from Ottawa (the two cities combine to form Canada’s “National Capital Region”.)
Actually, although it’s a separate city, it’s just a 20 minute walk from the Parliament building in Ottawa, and thousands of residents cross the bridge every day to get to work. But enough about geography and politics – what you want to know if “why should I visit?” Well, here are four very good reasons:
For one of the best meals you’ll have in Gatineau, look no further than Chez Edgar. This tiny gem is extremly popular, especially for brunch so get there well before you feel truly hungry. If you want to take something for the road, the bakery serves excellent bread and sweet treats. If you’re look for a good old-fashioned steak dinner, then we reccommend Sterling. There are seafood dishes on the menu, but you can’t go wrong with the ribeye and fries. Oh, and if you love food, then the annual Outaouais Food Festival in September is definitely worth a look.
One of the biggest attractions here is the Casino du Lac-Leamy, which hosts a breathtaking international fireworks competition here every August. And in September, you can catch the annual hot air balloon festival – if you’re lucky, you might even snag a spot in the basket and see the city from the clouds! Visiting in winter? You should time your visit with Winterlude, and join the locals in celebrating all things cold and icy! You can skate down the Rideau Canal (the world’s largest skating rink), taking in ice and snow sculptures, musical concerts, DJ shows, and interactive art exhibits.
The Canadian Museum of History (Previously the Canadian Museum of Civilization): If you only go to one museum in Canada, let this be it. Head to the permanent Canada Hall to learn everything you need to know about the country (especially the First Nations tribes), continue on to the impressive exhibit on the Empress of Ireland – “Canada’s Titanic” – then sit back and enjoy a movie at the Imax theatre.
For a night of bars, clubs, and late night eats, look no further than Vieux Hull, not too far from the main financial centre downtown. Le Petit Chicago is a great little drinking den, or try Aux Quatre Jeudis for something with a lot more buzz. You’ll also find a few lively Irish Bars, or you can just wander along the Promenade-du-Portage on a Saturday night and see what takes your fancy!
Still not convinced? Well, you can set up your base in Ottawa and take in Gatineau on a day trip! Whether you try some of these spots or DIY your stay in Gatineau, we definitely think it’s worth a visit, at the very least to say you’ve walked between two Canadian provinces