Published Jan 01
What’s your idea of winter fun? A long day out enjoying the outdoors, or café-hopping in search of the coziest spot? In the Chaleur region this winter, you don’t need to choose: come enjoy the best of both worlds. If you’re looking for a destination where you can make the most of excellent winter recreation and sublime eats, you’re in for a treat: the Chaleur region is waiting for you with its full array of winter fun and some of the best restaurants in the province. Five activities, five places to eat: we’ve prepared a full itinerary for you to experience the best of the Chaleur region in just two days – but don’t let that stop you from staying longer with us.
Can you believe the Boulangerie artisanale R & J bakery, in downtown Bathurst, is sold out every single day? Danish pastries are flying off the shelves so get ready to be at the door early. This is a well-deserved success since every item is incredibly delicious. Try our favorites: their crusty croissant or super-soft brioche. Just a block away, head to the Kaffeine café for your coffee fix or one of their signature hot drinks, like the cardamom hot chocolate.
Get ready to warm up: you’re going skiing! The Chaleur Region is home to the wonderful Snow Bears Cross Country Ski Club, whose ski trails are superbly maintained by a team of dedicated volunteers. From the back of the Nepisiguit River Company shop, start off with an easy trail before tackling more advanced and expert trails. If you get tired, try to find Don’s Inn, a shelter where you can sit down for a little break. If you’re lucky, a fire will be going in the pit! With more than 10 km of trails, you could spend an entire day enjoying the fresh snow.
Tip: if you don’t have skis, rent your gear at the Nepisiguit River Company.
At this stage, you should start feeling hungry. Before moving on to your next adventure, how about a restorative lunch at the Cast & Crew Gastropub, close to the Nepisiguit River Company? This cinema-themed pub is right by the Apollo movie theater. Get cozy in your booth and make your choice: will you have world flavours like the cilantro pad thai or the squash risotto, or will you prefer good old classics like nachos or burgers? Everything is excellent and served with a smile. Oh, and don’t forget to try a local beer!
Spend the afternoon relearning everything you know about biking and get fat-biking. Fat biking is the ultimate 2020s winter sports. It is so successful that bike shops are all sold out right now. What’s not to love in a sport that makes you rediscover the outdoors with a healthy dose of adrenaline? If you are unsure about it, just know that if you have fun riding a bike, you’ll have fun riding a fat bike! You’ll find fat bike trails crisscrossing the ski trails in the Snow Bears Cross Country Ski club. The club is serious about keeping them in a pristine condition and will even close them if the weather is not the best. To get started, park at the Squire Green Golf Club, from where you can access several kilometers of fun-filled trails.
Tip: get in touch with the K. C. Irving Center at 548-0410 to rent your bike.
Top off the day with an exceptional culinary experience in one of the best restaurants in the province, no less: Fresco Kitchen, a European-style restaurant by Chef Joel Aubie, of Top Chef Canada fame. Don’t expect a long list of dishes: the chef keeps the menu short and efficient, a hallmark of local and fresh products. Enjoy well-balanced flavours like the pepper, spinach and parmesan spaghetti and make sure to leave room for the crème brûlée or the chocolate lava cake!
Tip: book your table in advance, especially on the weekends, if you want to make sure you get a seat on your chosen date and time.
No sports/coziness combo getaway is complete without a spa session. Close to downtown Bathurst, the Auberge de la Vallée offers a full spa experience with treatments, massages, a hot tub, a pool, a sauna, you name it. Call it an exceptional day with a treatment to pamper your sore body – just make sure to book it ahead of time. If you stay at the Auberge, you can just put on a bathrobe and check the sauna after supper for a dream night.
Start the day with a hearty brunch at the Cocooning Café in Petit-Rocher. There’s no better place to get some fuel before taking off on an adventure. Try their brunch plates complete with decadent eggs, loads of roasted potatoes and fresh fruits. Make sure you get plenty of energy as today is going to be even more intense than yesterday.
Tip: since you’re in a French café, store up all the delicious pastries for later. Chocolate éclair, anyone?
Did you know that the Chaleur region is New Brunswick’s dog sledding capital? Choose between Sled Dog Adventures and Aventures Birch Bark - both excellent dog-loving mushers in Allardville. Start off by visiting the kernel, then buckle up for a sled ride through the woods with happy dogs. Exhilaration guaranteed. Both mushers will let you to lead the sled dogs under their supervision. How is that for an unforgettable experience? However, do keep in mind that this is a serious workout: keeping six eager dogs under control is more energy-intensive than you think!
It’s time to see a majestic, wild side of the region. From Allardville, Middle Landing and the Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail are just a 15 minutes drive away. Park in Middle Landing and strap your snowshoes on for either a shorter 4 km return hike to a rope bridge or a longer 7 km loop – both gorgeous options along a pristine and well-blazed trail.
Caution: in Middle Landing, park along the road as the summer parking lot is part of a snowmobile trail.
The Chaleur region offers plenty of snowshoeing options, from the kid-friendly Boisé trail network and the bird-lover Daly Point nature preserve in Bathurst, to the CN trails in Petit-Rocher or even the Atlas Park in Pointe-Verte.
After such a fun-filled day, you deserve a treat. Did you know that the 13 Barrels microbrewery now offers paninis prepared by the Cocooning Café? Enjoy a panini + beer combo to try one of their brews. Sink into the huge sofa in front of the fireplace and let the day slowly take a quieter turn while sipping your beer or playing one of the board games.
For dessert, head off to the Andrea chocolate shop for homemade sweets and chocolates. Take our word for it… you deserved that!
* This blog was written with the collaboration of Audrey Favre - Arpenter le chemin *
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