A break from the daily grind at Air-Eau-Bois

Published on July 27 2023

It’s 12:24, and I’m leaving work early today, because it’s time to finish packing my bags and my cooler and set off on an adventure with my friend! Our destination? The Base de plein air Air-Eau-Bois outdoor centre. If, like me, you’re from the Outaouais region, you’re probably familiar with the name because of the popular summer camp held there every year. But did you know that it’s also the perfect place to spend a relaxing weekend as a couple or with friends or family? Follow me as I explore the site and its activities!

Arrival

The Base de plein air Air-Eau-Bois is about an hour’s drive from downtown Gatineau and less than three hours from Montréal. No more seemingly endless drives to your destination! Perfect for families or anyone who simply wants to make the most of their vacation. What’s more, we were lucky enough to have our super four-legged co-pilot along, so before we knew it, we’d arrived at the reception building.


Accommodation

After checking in, we were given a tour of the types of unusual accommodation. The three new micro-cottages are just far enough into the forest to provide all the privacy you need, while remaining within walking distance of the beach and other amenities. The same area of the site also boasts two geodesic domes with their own private decks and views of the magnificent Poisson Blanc reservoir. These ready-to-camp accommodations are equipped with everything you need for cooking, as well as a barbecue and a super comfortable bed. All you have to bring is your bedding and food! We then headed for our micro-cottage and parked right next to it. My dog immediately felt at home on the large screened-in porch. An outdoor fire pit and a dry toilet complete the site. If you’re looking for a more rustic experience, you can also rent micro-shelters and tent sites, all close to the beach and a large washroom block.


Activities

I was more than impressed by the number and quality of activities available on the site. I could easily have spent a week there, and the time flew by. I can see why kids enjoy the summer camp so much! The best part is that all activities are also available to visitors on request, but be warned: your guides are likely to have names like Mousqueton (“carabiner”), Hibiscus or Tournesol (“sunflower”)!

I tried the climbing activity first. The guide immediately put me at ease, and I started my ascent of the 15-metre-high rock face. It’s a great challenge for young and old alike, with four routes of different levels of difficulty and a beautiful view of the surrounding forest. After the climb, we opted for the recommended hike to Petit Point de Vue. Accessible to all, this beautiful 45-minute loop takes you to a rocky summit from which you can view the Poisson Blanc reservoir in all its splendour. If you’re up for a longer walk, there are several other trails on the site.

After these two enjoyable activities, we returned to our micro-cottage to make ourselves a nice supper before going for a sunset paddle in a canoe. Renting a boat is quick and friendly, and the beach is the perfect starting point for exploring the surrounding islands. Don’t hesitate to ask the staff at the reception building for advice and recommendations for stops—they’re real pros!

The next day, we tried out two other activities available on reservation: ziplining and archery! Archery was my favourite, because it combines accuracy and concentration and is different from the kind of activity usually offered at outdoor centres. Other activities on the site include an adventure course, soccer and volleyball pitches, swimming, and fire prevention and survival workshops.


The overall experience

Much more than a holiday camp, Base de plein air Air-Eau-Bois is a beautiful and accessible place to spend quality time in nature. Whether you want to relax with your significant other in the comfort of a dome or go camping with two other families and several children to keep busy all day, there’s room and activities for everyone! Even your four-legged friends can live their best life here. And who knows? Maybe we’ll bump into each other, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this holiday, it’s that I want to go back!

Is your summer schedule all booked up, or are you already pining for snow? Find out what’s in store for you on a winter break at Air-Eau-Bois!

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