That time I followed the Downtown Gatineau Culture Trail

Published on July 12 2018

Just a 10-minute walk from Ottawa, spend a little time in Gatineau, where a stroll along the red line will reveal some great discoveries! Restaurants, urban art, theater, bars, a museum … The Culture Trail links these attractions—and more—along a 3-km route through the heart of downtown Gatineau.

Dare to play tourist

I grew up in the Outaouais, and I still live here. My idea of downtown Gatineau? A rather vague notion, synonymous with late evenings and small houses clustered on street corners.

That notion was about to change. Thanks to what? A 3-km red line winding through the streets of Old Hull, showing them at their best and inviting residents and visitors alike to (re)discover a neighbourhood that’s lively, stimulating, and fairly bursting with art and culture.

Ville de Gatineau
Ville de Gatineau

Urban art - Brewery Creek - 2018 Cultural Trail

What’s the Culture Trail?

The Culture Trail is a route that includes 11 cultural, heritage and tourist attractions, 12 exhibition and performance venues, numerous and diverse restaurants, shops and businesses, and more than 25 urban and mural artworks that add a touch of colour, imagination and shared stories to the city centre.

What’s the best way to appreciate and understand the story of downtown and the various artworks without getting lost? Take one of the guided and self-guided tours offered throughout the summer. They’re well worth it!

I should also mention the dynamic and diversified downtown programming, with more than 40 events and activities for all ages throughout the summer.

What’s to see along the red line?

A mix of natural and cultural attractions

The route begins at the corner of Des Allumettières Boulevard and Laurier Street. A short detour to the river’s edge takes you to the site of Mosaïculture Gatineau 2018, where more than 5.5 million plants have been used to create sculptural works of breathtaking beauty and precision.

Tip: The guided tour is well worthwhile. Informed and enthusiastic guides are on hand to explain the creative process behind the sculptures and tell you about the provenance of the works and the ancestral legends they portray.

Mosaïculture Gatineau 2018 – 2018 Culture Trail.

A little farther along Laurier Street is the iconic Canadian Museum of History, where the new Medieval Europe exhibition will take you back to the days of lords, knights and nobles.

For a sneak preview of the exhibition, read Virginie’s blog post!

Local cuisine and local pride

Next, the red line leads us behind the Maison du citoyen, where the Old Hull farmers’ market is held, every Thursday in summer from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This is the perfect place to enjoy fresh, local and affordable produce!

Follow the Culture Trail signs to a secondary route that’s well worth checking out: the pedestrian precinct of Place Aubry. Cafés, restaurants, terraces, bars, live entertainment and street art await you day and night in the lively, colourful Old Hull sector.

Sébastien Lavallée
Sébastien Lavallée

Place Aubry, downtown Gatineau – 2018 Culture Trail

Contemporary art meets heritage

The trail finishes on Montcalm Street, with its many attractions such as the timeless Théâtre de l’Île and the legendary microbrewery Les Brasseurs du Temps.

If you’re an art lover, be sure to visit La Petite G’ART and La Filature to discover works by local artists and artisans. A MUST!

Conclude your journey with the magnificent Agwàtà sound and light show, back in downtown Gatineau for a final year, from July 20 to 29, 2018. This multimedia water show offers an immersive experience that showcases Brewery Creek and the historical richness of Old Hull. A unique heritage and artistic event inspired by the region’s rich history.

Get your tickets now!

Some helpful hints to make the most of downtown this summer

It’s easy to navigate the Culture Trail: just follow the red line painted on the ground, and download the Go Centre-Ville app, an intuitive platform that puts downtown Gatineau’s calendar of events, tourist attractions and cultural activities at your fingertips. It also includes practical information, such as nearby parking and the trail map in interactive format.

It’s available for free from the App Store and Google Play.

In addition, red information stations displaying the trail map are located at intervals along the route to help you orient yourself and learn more about this vibrant downtown neighbourhood.

So next time you’re looking for an original and free activity in the Gatineau area, do what I did: play tourist for a day, and walk or bike the 3-km Culture Trail! 😊

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The Culture Trail is a project carried out by the City of Gatineau, in close partnership with Vision centre-ville and Outaouais Tourism.

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