Ontarians – we need to get out of the province more. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many great road trips to take in Ontario, but it’s time to spread our wings. What better place to go than Quebec? If you immediately felt this was daunting because you don’t speak French, I have the perfect destination for you. Not only is Ville Marie close to the Ontario border but it’s the perfect segway to get used to travelling in French. Plus this town has so much to offer that historians, outdoorsy folks, small town wanderers and foodies will all enjoy the visit! You won’t want to miss these top things to do in Ville Marie Quebec.
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Top 9 Things to Do in Ville Marie Quebec
The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region is found in Western Quebec along the border with Ontario. It covers over 57,000 square kilometres and within that over 22,000 lakes! As you can imagine, it’s a stunning region bursting with natural beauty. Ville Marie is one of the oldest towns in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, making it the perfect place to start exploring the area. With a beautiful waterfront, fascinating history, delicious eats and gorgeous views, there are so many great things to do in Ville Marie Quebec!
Take a Stroll Through Ville Marie
What better way to get acquainted with a new town than by exploring with your own two feet? The town of Ville Marie is adorable and easily walkable. Find a spot to park on the street and leave your car as you wander towards the waterfront.
Enjoy a walk along Rue Notre Dame as you soak up the beautiful views of Lake Temiscaming from Parc du Centenaire. Along this stretch, you’ll find a number of stunning gardens, a gorgeous gazebo that’s a popular spot with the locals and a UK-style telephone booth. Why the latter? Not sure, but it definitely adds a pop of whimsey to the area!
You might notice a monument with a green bicycle inscribed with the phrase “Route Verte” or green route. Ville Marie is one of the starting points for this 5,300+ kilometre cycling route that covers a large part of Quebec as well as connecting to Ontario, New Brunswick and the United States. This makes the Route Verte the longest network of cycling trails in North America! If you’re an avid cyclist, read more about the Route Verte here.
Enjoy a Smoked Meat Eggs Benedict at La Gaufrière
Address: 18 Rue Ste Anne, Ville-Marie, QC J9V 2B7
Once you’ve enjoyed a stroll, you might be feeling a little peckish. The best way to start your day is with a hearty breakfast and La Gaufrière is a fantastic breakfast joint you don’t want to miss! This little cafe has a wide range of items on the menu including omelettes, French toast, waffles and even breakfast poutines. However, if you’re an eggs benedict fiend like I am then you have to get their smoked meat eggs benedict.
This is easily one of the best eggs bennies I’ve ever had. I honestly wish it wasn’t such a long drive as I’d probably eat this on a weekly basis. Enjoy smoked meat topped with melted Swiss cheese that’s then smothered in an incredibly creamy Hollandaise sauce atop an English muffin. To top it off, their benedicts come with home fries as well as a menagerie of fruit – and I’m talking a good one too. Just look at the photo and you’ll see what I mean!
One thing to note is that La Gaufrière only accepts cash so make sure you have some handy. Open 7:30 am to 3:00 pm daily.
Visit La Maison du Frère Moffet
Address: 7 Rue Notre Dame de Lourdes, Ville-Marie, QC J9V 1X7
Stop in and explore the oldest surviving residence in the entire region of Abitibi-Témicamingue! Frère Moffet (Brother Moffet) is known as the father of agriculture and one of the driving forces behind the colonization of this area. A member of the clergy, he saw how fertile the land was around what is now Ville Marie. Determined, he badgered the church to allow him to cultivate the land. After a few years, they finally gave in and thus the house you see today was constructed!
Inside La Maison du Frère Moffet, you’ll see a number of artifacts from the museum’s collection. There are a number of paintings depicting scenes from the area that are still recognizable to this day, household tools they used for chores such as laundry and cooking, reproductions of impeccably drawn maps of the area from the late 1800s, and more. Frère Moffet worked alongside Father Paradines who was an artist and cartographer, hence the paintings and maps. Local historical guides will share with you stories of how newcomers stayed in the house with them to help farm the lands, how the church traded with the Indigenous at Obadjiwan, and other pivotal events in the town’s history.
A fully guided tour is the best way to learn more about Frère Moffet and the history of how Ville Marie came to be. While all the guides speak French, not all speak English so it’s best to call ahead if possible. Don’t forget to stop by the outdoor exhibit on your way out. Every year, a temporary exhibit is constructed to share a piece of Temiscaming’s history with all who visit.
Entrance to La Maison du Frère Moffet is $10.00 per person and you’ll spend approximately an hour here with a guided tour.
Grab a Bite at L’OdacieuX
Address: 69 Rue Ste Anne, Ville-Marie, QC J9V 2B6
In a small town like Ville Marie, you expect to see your typical diner or restaurant aesthetic. Nothing fancy, right? Well, that’s certainly not the case at L’OdacieuX!
A play on the Middle French adjective audacieux meaning audacity or boldness, L’OdacieuX is certainly independent and marches to the beat of its own drum. Inside you’ll find an eclectic, flashy collection of decor with a number of string lights, a raised area with cushy armchairs and a bright red old school tractor surrounded by bar stools. If I was in town often, this would easily be one of my main hangouts.
On the menu, you’ll find burgers, salads, a mix of hearty eats and a variety of appetizers. Though these aren’t your typical menu items as they all seem to have their own unique spin. I’m talking General Tao poutine, peanut chicken and bleu cheese burgers to name a few of their dishes. They certainly sound strange in concept but oddly delicious and I’m here for it! Unfortunately, L’OdacieuX has a limited lunch menu with about 4-5 items and the full dinner menu doesn’t start until later in the afternoon so I didn’t get to try them. However, their shrimp tacos and poutine were absolutely fantastic so I’m sure everything they make is incredibly delicious!
Yes, of course I had poutine during my visit. I’m a snot, Quebec isFor the only place I’ll eat it and L’OdacieuX’s is a 10/10.
Obadjiwan–Fort Témiscamingue Guided Tour
Address: 834 Chem. du Vieux Fort, Ville-Marie, QC J9V 1N7
If you’re going to visit any destination in Ville Marie, it should be Obadjiwan also known as Fort Témiscamingue. This Parks Canada National Historic Site preserves the history of this important trading post that was pivotal to the area during the fur trade era.
For over 6000 years, Indigenous People have traversed these lands as we know to be the true history of what is now Canada. Archaeological digs have found artifacts that prove nomadic groups such as the Anishinaabe had established trading networks with other Indigenous groups including those west of Lake Superior, James Bay, Lac-Saint-Jean and well into Southern Ontario. Fast forward to 1680 when the Compagnie du Nord (New France) built the first trading post to compete with the Hudson Bay Company at the mouth of the Montreal River, approximately 30 kilometres from present-day Ville Marie.
Burnt down in 1686 by the Haudenosaunee, the Compagnie du Nord rebuilt the fur trading post almost 40 years later at the current location of the Obadjiwan–Fort Témiscamingue National Historic Site. Sign up for a guided tour as you traverse the 12 scenes depicting what life was like at the trading post during its prime. I highly recommend a guided tour as this way you’ll soak up as much knowledge as possible, especially since you can ask your guide as many questions as you’d like! Guided tours occur daily from July 2 to August 18 at 10:30 am for a fee of $10.50 in addition to your admission fee.
You can still enjoy Obadjiwan–Fort Témiscamingue without a tour as there is plenty of interpretive signage throughout the site. This will also allow you to go at your own pace as chances are you’ll be interested in specific stages more than others. If you don’t opt for a guided tour, ask one of the park staff about the story of the enchanted forest. It’s magical to experience on its own but the legend behind it adds to its charm.
If you’re lucky, canoe maker Karl Chevrier will be on-site sharing his knowledge with everyone who will listen. Ask as many questions as you like about building a canoe, the use of raw materials, Indigenous traditions and more. He’s more than happy to chat! Rumour has it that he may be building a canoe or kayak on site in 2024 so if Obadjiwan–Fort Témiscamingue isn’t on your radar yet, it should be now. This is an experience you won’t want to miss!
Explore Domaine Breen
Address: 24 Rue Principale N, Saint-Bruno-de-Guigues, QC J0Z 2G0
We’re going to take a little detour north of Ville Marie to the village of St-Bruno-de-Guigues. Since you’re already in Ville Marie, what’s a little 10 minute detour?
Here you’ll find the bourgeois century-old house erected by Thomas Breen, a local blacksmith and businessman. Established in 1906, this is a pure example of Edwardian architecture designed by Louis Caron Sr. If you’re a history buff and that name sounds familiar, it’s because this is the same architect who designed Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s house in Victoriaville, Quebec which is now a National Historic Site of Canada.
The home is in impeccable shape as it hasn’t undergone any modifications, keeping its original features. Step inside and settle into one of the chairs in the kitchen to watch a recount of the Breen family and how they came to be in Saint-Bruno-de-Guigues. The film is in French but not to worry as there are English subtitles! Afterwards, spend some time with each room to see artifacts from the two generations that called this house home. You’ll be mesmerized by the gorgeous stained glass windows and intrigued by the items they utilized in their daily lives. Make sure you take a stroll out back because these gardens are absolutely stunning!
Before you depart, hop across the street to see the oldest standing church in the region of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the Church of St-Bruno-de-Guigues. Depicting the Oblats style of architecture, it was built using pine logs from the Ontario side of Lake Temiscaming. It also features an organ built by the famous Casavant Frères who have been crafting organs since 1879.
Enjoy Dinner at Le Ste-Anne Bistro
Address: 14 Rue Ste Anne, Ville-Marie, QC J9V 2B7
This eclectic diner has some rad vibes and once again is a spot you wouldn’t expect to find in small town Quebec. Snag a table or grab a seat at the bar and enjoy a pint as they have a fantastic beer selection with both local and international options. Their patio is the place to be as you watch the colours of golden hour dance across the sky in the summer months.
Le Ste-Anne Bistro’s menu isn’t massive but still has a great variety of options to satisfy every palette. Enjoy an appetizer such as their deep fried cheese curds or their pretzel with housemade beer cheese sauce – both of which are absolutely delicious. As for your main course, you can’t miss their house features like the Ste-Anne roasted chicken and their beer and vodka battered fish and chips. Yep, you read that correctly! And no, these won’t get you drunk but it’s certainly some of the crispiest, most flavourful fish and chips I’ve ever had!
These eats are only elevated by their unique maple bacon and Peruvian dipping sauces. Not to mention they have a new poutine special every week so if you haven’t had your poutine fix yet, this is a great spot to do it! Le Ste-Anne Bistro is open Wednesday through Saturday from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm.
Visit For August’s Foire Gourmande Festival
As if all of this wasn’t enough to entice you to explore this adorable small town in Quebec, how about a food festival celebrating the local terroir? Enter Foire Gourmande!
During the second last weekend in August, Ville Marie is the place to be as food and art come together for three days of fun for all ages. The entire waterfront is transformed into a platform raising local artists, chefs, food producers and more! Plus you never know what’s in store with a flying dinner table experience in 2011 and dinner in darkness for 2014. You won’t know what 2023 will bring unless you attend!
Oh, and did I mention admission is free? If you’re planning to explore the region of Témiscamingue then this weekend is a fantastic time to do it!
Where to Stay For Your Visit to Ville-Marie
There are a few options for hotels in Ville Marie that are right in town such as L’Auberge Ville Marie and Les Suites de la Choclaterie. Okay, I say the term ‘hotel’ loosely as you’ll find mostly bed and breakfast vibes. No Holiday Inns in this neck of the woods! However, there is one spot that is the cream of the crop for your stay in Témiscamingue – and that’s La Bannik.
Located right on the shores of Lake Temiscaming, La Bannik is a stunning complex with plenty to offer those who stay on site. You’ll have access to their private beach, playground and volleyball court as well as their private dock. La Bannik also offers bicycles for rent if you’d like to explore more of the area. Hit the trails and work up a sweat before dipping into the cool waters of Lake Temiscaming. Sounds like the perfect summer day to me!
All that outdoor fun will have you working up an appetite. While you can easily grab some groceries or head into town, La Bannik does have a restaurant on site. It has a very limited menu, however they have some pretty fantastic pizzas if you don’t feel like leaving the complex. You can place your order and take it back to your cabin or campsite, though I highly recommend snagging a spot on their patio. It may be small but the views are absolutely stunning!
While it’s very popular for camping in the summer, they also have a number of roofed accommodation options. Ever wanted to test out an RV to see if it’s the right fit for you? They have some you can rent by the night! La Bannik also has adorable tiny homes, each sleeping up to three people. With no running water or toilet, it’s the perfect glamping experience at an extremely affordable price of $95/night.
If you’re looking for a bit more room though, La Bannik has 14 gorgeous cottages for rent that you’ll absolutely fall in love with. These open-concept cabins maximize space and have everything you need for your stay. With amenities like fireplaces, air conditioning, satellite TV, and your cooking essentials, they’ll truly be your home away from home! Some of the cottages feature deep soak tubs and even a private hot tub. Talk about living the high life! With options that can accommodate up to 15 people, there’s no excuse not to get your crew together and plan a summer (or winter) getaway!
During my stay however, I had the pleasure of staying in one of their newly renovated suites located in the main administration building. These are so new that they’re not even on their website yet! I felt absolutely spoiled in the Cafe Latte room which features two queen beds, a kitchenette with a toaster oven, a mini fridge, flat screen TV, a desk area and a cozy couch. The bathroom has a rainfall shower, deep soaker tub and heated floors which kept my feet nice and toasty throughout my stay.
However, my favourite part had to be my private patio complete with a propane fireplace! It was the perfect spot to rest my feet after a long day of exploring and the best way to start the day. What’s better than watching the sun rise over Lake Temiscaming with a hot cup of coffee in hand?
If this sounds like your kind of vibe, what are you waiting for? Click here to book your escape or take a look and see what others have to say about their experience.
Additional Things to Do Near Ville Marie
If you’re a fan of the outdoors, you will absolutely love this area of Quebec. There are so many other great spots to check out near Ville Marie! Chances are you’ll be driving along Ontario 63 to Quebec Route 101 so here are some fantastic stops to make as you travel from North Bay to Ville Marie.
As you cross the Ottawa River, you’ll be entering the town of Temiscaming, Quebec. Pull over and park either just off to the right or along the river in Dottori Park and snag a photo with the Welcome to Quebec sign. It’s a photo op you just can’t miss out on! Once you’ve snagged it, head on into town.
Temiscaming may be small but has plenty of fun to offer. As I’m a lover of waterfalls, I naturally made my way to Chutes Gordon aka Gordon Waterfall. Enjoy the short walk along the paved path to the lookout. You can park right by the Musée de la Gare (Train Museum) and visit the town’s cultural hub as it hosts a number of events and exhibits. Afterwards, head to one seriously cool hike, the Sentier des pipelines. Walk through the pipelines that used to carry water from the Lumsden Dam to the Ottawa River! There are a lot of stairs here so once you’re done, hop back in your car and over to the Belvedere Lookout for stellar views of Ontario’s side of the river.
RELATED: For full details and to make the most of your visit, check out my guide to Temiscaming!
Despite all these great things to do, there are only two restaurants in Temiscaming. Your first option is a Chinese restaurant and a canteen with your typical burgers, fries, etc so this isn’t the best spot for eats. However, the IGA in town is well stocked for a small town grocery store so if neither of those options tickles your fancy, you can always head there if you’re feeling hungry. As I mentioned though, Ville Marie is just an hour away so if you can wait, there are a few fantastic options as I’ve mentioned in this post! The alternative is North Bay which is about the same distance away and has even more options for great eats.
Parc National d’Opémican
Protecting 252 kilometres of the southern Laurentians, Parc National d’Opémican is a stunning park you need to visit while heading to Ville Marie. Opening in 2018, it’s Quebec’s newest national park. Home to a number of hiking trails, paddling opportunities, beaches, captivating historical sites and much more, you won’t want to miss it!
SOMETHING TO NOTE: In Quebec, provincial parks are referred to as national parks. This is not to be confused with Parks Canada as these are a part of Canada’s federal park system. Quebec’s “national” parks are overseen by SEPAQ, the Quebec equivalent to Ontario Parks.
The park is divided into three distinct sectors: Pointe-Opémican, Lac-White and Rivière-Kipawa. Sector Pointe-Opémican is where you’ll find the visitors’ centre and is the main destination for visitors. It’s home to approximately 60 campsites as well as 11 of their Ready-to-Camp sites. These glamping sites have everything you could possibly need for your visit. Each one is equipped with beds that sleep up to six people, a kitchen and dining area, a mini fridge, pots, pans, utensils, and a propane camp stove located just outside on the covered porch. Just bring your food, bedding and whatever equipment you may need to enjoy the park!
If you have the time, I highly recommend spending at least one day exploring Parc National d’Opémican, even more if you can manage to snag one of the Ready-to-Camp sites. If you’re strapped for time, head straight to the visitors’ centre where you’ll find access to a beautiful beach and a children’s playground as well as the hub for four hiking trails with unique artifacts along the Heritage Trail. At the end of this, you’ll find the historic Auberge Jodoin which was built in 1883. Here, you can rent canoes, paddle boats and stand-up paddleboards.
If you’re a paddler, you can’t miss tackling the 12-kilometre out-and-back route to Chute Opémika! Approximately 3.5-4 hours to complete, you’ll depart from the beach by the Jodoin Inn and follow the shoreline north along the Ottawa River. Follow the Quebec shoreline until you reach the narrows and quickly cross to the Ontario side where you’ll continue until McLaren’s Bay. You’ll see two accesses here so take the right one and follow the calm waters which will lead you straight to Opémika Falls!
MY EXPERIENCE: I was told there is a beach to disembark and then to follow a trail to access the falls but a huge storm had passed through the area the night before I did this paddle. There were some downed trees so they may have been blocking the access, though the water may have also been high as I was able to paddle almost right up to what seemed like the base of the falls. Either way, this paddle is absolutely stunning and worth taking a morning or afternoon to complete it!
As you head north, you’ll see signage for the Rivière-Kipawa sector about 25 minutes south of Ville Marie. Less popular than the Pointe-Opémican area, there’s a good chance you’ll have these trails practically to yourself. You won’t want to miss the beauty of Grand Chute and the incredible variation of vegetation along the Inukshuk Trail. The drive into this section is certainly interesting but makes for a great adventure! Then you can continue on to your destination of Ville Marie.
Things to Know for Your Visit to Ville Marie
Ready to check out these fantastic things to do in Ville Marie Quebec? Amazing! Here are a few things you should know for your trip so you can make the most of it.
Do I Need to Know How to Speak French to Visit Ville Marie?
No, you don’t need to know how to speak French. Of course, knowing basic French is always helpful when travelling to Quebec, but it’s not necessary for Ville Marie! This is a great place to practice and get some self-confidence as 90% of the people you’ll encounter will speak English. However, I still recommend at least saying bonjour and merci out of respect and to be polite. You’ll receive much better service if you don’t go barreling in assuming everyone will cater to you.
What’s the Cellphone Service Like In & Around Ville Marie?
I’m with Fido and I found that service could be a little spotty. In the heart of Ville Marie Quebec, you shouldn’t have a problem staying connected though you will run into issues with some parts of Parc National d’Opémican and along Quebec Route 101.
Anything Else I Should Know?
I would recommend downloading the French language pack on Google Translate if you don’t have it already. This will help you for translating menus, signs, etc since cell service isn’t reliable. That way you can always figure out what you’re reading and have a way to communicate if you encounter someone who doesn’t speak English!
This post is brought to you in partnership with Tourisme Abitibi-Témiscamingue. While I was compensated for my time, all of the content and opinions here are honest and speak to my personal experience!