Since The Kids were born, Ed and I haven’t had a night away to do all the things that we like to do; long multiple course meals, followed by music and drinks and then ending the night snuggled up in bed watching Glee reruns (okay, that last part is my dream). Turns out, we had just that and some on our two-day getaway in Outaouais and we got to bring The Kids along for the ride.
Outaouais is a region of western Quebec, Canada. It includes the city of Gatineau, the Pontiac region, and the town of Maniwaki, and is located on the north side of the Ottawa River opposite Canada’s capital, Ottawa.
On Friday afternoon, we picked The Kids up from school and headed on our adventure. We took the scenic route from Ottawa and within 45 minutes, we set eyes on the beautiful and largest log cabin in the world — Fairmont Le-Château Montebello.
This was the first time that The Kids had stayed in such a nice hotel so they were really impressed with their very own queen sized bed complete with more pillows than they could count. I was impressed with the details like colouring book and crayons for The Kids, warm décor in keeping with the log cabin theme, room fridge for our snacks, coffee maker and WiFi as well as the personalized note and treats that awaited us.
While the hotel has a lovely restaurant, we thought that we’d try something else for dinner as we knew that we’d be enjoying their brunch the next day. Ed had done a search for restaurants within 15 minutes of the hotel that also had a kids menus and we ended up going to restaurant Au Vieux Chaudron. Food and service are two things that are very important to us when eating out and we were pleased with both. No one paid any (negative) attention to The Kids, even when they fell asleep on the bench.
When we returned, The Kids had a second wind so we decided to sit in front of the beautiful and majestic fire place. The giant six-sided fireplace is the focal point of the room, at 80 feet tall and weighing 80 tons, this masterpiece is a great place for people to get together.
While they do have a bar area, it was closed so Ed went off in search of libations and came back to tell us that there was a bar/restaurant downstairs playing live music. Fortunately, The Kids were allowed in* so they got to dance and we got to check #2 off our wish list.
Our day ended with The Kids getting the remote control and watching the weather network until they feel asleep. Their only complaint was that there wasn’t a kids channel. All of my wishes came true so I was pleased.
When we woke up, we were greeted to a weather report (sunny, 8 degrees), newspaper and kid-sized dressing gowns just in time for our morning swim. The Kids wanted to get an early start so that they could complete all 40 of the activities that the resort offers!? Golf, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, curling, year round tennis, squash, gym, equipment rental (bicycle, canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, etc) as well as Canada’s only Land Rover Off-Road Driving** to name a few.
We spent some time outside playing on the jungle gym, mini golf, skipping stones on the river and even attended a curling lesson.
After all that activity, we’d worked up an appetite. Brunch is served in a dining room with a beautiful double staircase and view of the Ottawa river. It’s served until 11am so we had plenty of time to try one of everything and considering the menu, all of us wanted to. Bacon, smoked salmon, fresh fruit and bakery, cheeses, smoothies, maple syrup crepes***, the list goes on. We were fortunate to have an excellent server, Sylvain that took The Kids under his wing allowing Ed and I the chance to chat and relax while enjoying the view.
The Kids were sad to say good-bye but we assured them that we’d come back and had some more exciting things planned like a trip to Parc Omega! Parc Omega is a safari park in Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours, Quebec, Canada. Along a 12-kilometre nature route are lakes, meadows, small valleys, forests, and rocky hills. It is home to much wildlife including moose, bears, raccoons, and wolves.
We spent three hours in the park driving around with our windows down and listening to the local radio channel (in English and French) that shares information about the park. We spent our time feeding carrots**** to the deer, elk, boar and many other animals from the comfort of our vehicles (Note that you can rent caged ATV machines that let you get even closer to the animals).
To be honest, we were close enough as we wanted to be and had to try and keep the animals from climbing right into our vehicle!
We also had the chance to watch a Park Staff feed the bears and wolves (they were about six feet away behind a fence) and ask questions.
On our way out, Artemis saw a deer lying in the tall grass just off a walking trail so she wanted to feed it her last piece of carrot. People were walking nearby and the animal didn’t even pick up his head so it seemed like he was comfortable. I was a bit nervous, however, she made sure to walk towards the deer where he could see us and gave him lots of time to get up and walk away. Turns out he had no intention of moving and let Artemis put the carrot right in his mouth!
We could have spent even more time as we didn’t do any of the walking trails (Zone 4 and 11) or stop off at the visitor centre. Next time!
On our way home, we stopped off for some hot chocolate and treats at the ChocoMotive in the old Montebello railway station and of course some poutine at a local diner (I inhaled it before realizing that I hadn’t taken a picture of it. The Life of a Blogger, always taking pictures of their food.).
Have You Ever Been to the Outaouais Region or Other Family Getaway?
— Journeys of The Zoo (@zoojourneys) December 8, 2015
* Under aged patrons allowed until 11pm.
** Note that a daily $23 resort fee applies.
*** Ed isn’t usually a fan of crepes but their maple syrup crepes (with maple syrup on top of course) were so good that he went back for seconds. A week later, I was telling a friend that I went to Chateau Montebello and she asked me if we tried the crepes. Apparently they’re famous!
**** We purchased carrots in the local supermarket but you can also buy bags from the Park Gift Shop. I would definitely get AT LEAST two 3lb bags next time as there are lots of animals and even Ed and I enjoyed feeding them.
Disclosure: Journeys of The Zoo received compensation that enabled us to share our experiences with you.