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Ottawa à vélo – rien de plus beau!

11 Sep

Des pistes cyclables longent le canal Rideau dans le centre-ville d’Ottawa

Vous voulez visiter la capitale du Canada et prendre de l’air frais en même temps? Avec plus de 180 kilomètres de sentiers récréatifs joignant les espaces naturels, les parcs, les jardins et les sites nationaux, Ottawa est une ville de rêve pour les amateurs de cyclisme! Voici quelques options :

Pour cyclistes expérimentés et indépendants :

Vous pouvez apporter votre propre vélo (à bord d’un train-vélo de Via Rail peut-être?) et planifier votre trajet à l’aide d’outils variés. La Commission de la capitale nationale(CCN), l’organisation qui gère la majeure partie des sentiers de la capitale, consacre une section complète de leur site web au cyclisme. On y présente entre-autres les outils suivants:

  • Le document La capitale du vélo: Cette carte, qui présente un survol des sentiers de la région, est disponible de façon numérique ou imprimée.
  • La Carte du réseau cyclable – Ottawa-Gatineau : Cette carte présente le réseau de façon plus détaillée. Ce document est aussi disponible de façon numérique ou imprimé.
  • La carte Google Maps : La nouvelle option « vélo » de Google Maps vous donne accès au réseau cyclable de la capitale par le biais de votre ordinateur ou votre téléphone intelligent.

Pour cyclistes avec habiletés et intérêts variés :

Des cyclistes prennent avantage des vélos-dimanches sur la promenade de Sir-John-A.-Macdonald (anciennement la promenade de l’Outaouais)

Il y a des pistes pour tous! Des pistes faciles et pavées, des pistes cendrées, des pistes de montagne dans le parc de la Gatineau et plus encore. Sans oublier Les vélos-dimanches Alcatel-Lucent lors desquels plus de 50 kilomètres de promenades à Ottawa et dans le parc de la Gatineau sont fermées à la circulation automobile pour les cyclistes, patineurs à roues alignées, coureurs et marcheurs.

Plusieurs compagnies à Ottawa offrent leurs services pour faciliter vos randonnées:

  • Louez un vélo (avec casque et cadenas) par heure, par jour ou par semaine chez Vélocation. Ils offrent des vélos de toutes sortes : de course, tandem, de montagne et pour enfants. Ils offrent aussi des randonnées guidées et des suggestions de trajet.
  • Faites une randonnée avec Ottawa Cycling Tours en utilisant votre propre vélo ou une location. Ils offrent des randonnées adaptées aux besoins et aux goûts de tous. Ils peuvent personnaliser des itinéraires, ou vous pouvez choisir une de leurs randonnées prédéterminées (par exemple: visiter des brasseries; longer la rivière des Outaouais; se rendre à Carp pour visiter le Diefenbunker.)

Une des nombreuses pistes cyclables de la capitale – celle-ci longe la rivière des Outaouais, sous la colline du Parlement

Pour ceux qui veulent un mode de transport facile et abordable :

Un vélo “Bixi” devant les fameuses sculptures de pierres équilibrées aux rapides Remic le long de la rivière des Outaouais

BIXI de la capitale est la solution parfaite pour ceux qui veulent faire de courts déplacements d’un site touristique à l’autre. Ce système de vélos en libre-service compte 250 vélos et 25 stations situées à proximité d’un grand nombre de lieux touristiques de la capitale. La tarification encourage une utilisation fréquente et de courte durée. Une autre façon idéale de se déplacer au centre-ville de la capitale!

Avec tant d’options, pourquoi pas visiter Ottawa sur deux roues?

Chris Robinson Travel Show features Ottawa Dec. 24

21 Dec

If you’re in the Toronto area, tune in to NewsTalk 1010 from 10:00 to 11:00am on Saturday, December 24 for the Chris Robinson Travel Show‘s feature on Ottawa.

You’ll learn more about the plans for Winterlude and other winter celebrations, post-Christmas shopping options, relaxing at Holtz Spa, staying at the Fairmont Château Laurier, dining at Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures, visiting the National Gallery of Canada and the Canada Aviation & Space Museum and more!

To whet your appetite, check out the video at the bottom of Chris Robinson’s homepage: http://www.chrisrobinsontravelshow.ca/

 

Ottawa Fall Festivals

12 Sep

Ottawa may be Canada’s Capital, but not all of our parties are political. Here’s a brief overview of some of fabulous fall festivals and celebrations happening in the city and nearby towns and villages.

International Plowing Match & Rural Exp0
Sept 20 – 24

Nearby Prescott-Russell comes alive with this annual autumn competition and exhibition. It’s a tough row to hoe, but someone’s got to do it!

Ottawa International Animation Festival
Sept 21 – 25

It’s the largest festival of its kind in North America and attracts film buffs, art lovers, filmmakers and cartoon fans from around the world! Image (right): La Luna, Director: Enrico Casarosa, Pixar Animation Studios, 2011.

Ottawa Fashion Week
Sept 29 – Oct 2

Ottawa, Canadian and international designers strut their stuff for Spring/Summer 2012 during the seventh annual Ottawa Fashion Week.

Beau’s Oktoberfest
Sept 30 – Oct 2

Local microbrewer Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company presents three days of Oktoberfest fun in Vankleek Hill, an hour east of Ottawa.

Fall Rhapsody
Sept 30 – Oct 16

The annual celebration of fall colours in Gatineau Park, featuring activities, learning and sightseeing for the whole family.

Ottawa International Writers Festival
Oct 20 – 25

Michael Ondaatje, Irshad Manji, Chef Michael Smith, Wayne Johnston, Adrienne Clarkson, Guy Vanderhaeghe are just some of the authors confirmed for this annual event. Image (right): Ian Rankin who appears at the Festival on October 24th

Ottawa Food and Wine Festival
Nov 9 – 13

The longest running event of its kind in Canada, the Festival moves into the all-new Ottawa Convention Centre and expands to five taste-filled days of programming.

Gatineau Park winter season begins today

15 Dec

Some of Gatineau Park's trails offer tremendous views of the surrounding countryside.

The National Capital Commission (NCC) just announced that Gatineau Park’s winter trail network opened today, Wednesday, December 15!

While Gatineau Park is beautiful in any season, it’s especially enticing in winter. Best of all, it’s only 15 minutes’ drive north of Parliament Hill, meaning that enjoying this wilderness setting is an integral part of many Ottawans’ lives.

There are more than 250km (155 miles) of trails available in the park, allowing hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in a variety of  settings. Some are gentle, flat trails — including the popular and universally accessible Sugarbush Trail adjacent to the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre in Chelsea, Québec.

The Park boasts 10 daytime shelters where skiers or snowshoers can warm up at wood stoves and enjoy a snack or lunch that they may have brought with them. It’s also possible to spend the night in one of Gatineau Park’s four cabins, three yurts or by winter camping under the stars at Philippe Lake. Reservations are required for these activities.

Gatineau Park snowshoeing offers trails for cross-country skiing, winter hiking and snowshoeing

Cross-country skiers need to purchase a ski pass — you can purchase a season pass online or at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre. Daily passes are also available at the Visitor Centre or at any of the park’s parking areas that provide direct access to the open trails. Daily rates are $13 for adults, $9 for youths (13-17 years old), $9 for students (18-24) and seniors (60+), and free for children 12 and under. A family pass (2 adults and 3 youths) is $27.

There are no fees to snowshoe on the park’s 45km (28-mile) snowshoe trail network, accessible from parking lots 6, 13, 15, 17, 19 and the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre in Chelsea.

There are no fees to use the 10-kilometre winter walking trail network, accessible from parking lots 3, 6 and the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre. Domestic animals are permitted on leash on winter walking trails only.

You can find up-to-date ski conditions and trail statuses online or by calling the trail conditions hotline at 819-827-2020, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What are your favourite trails? I’ve snowshoed the Wolf Trail near Meech Lake a few times and while it’s a gruelling uphill hike, the views are definitely worth it!

Get out there and enjoy!

When do the leaves turn colour in Ottawa?

24 Sep

Our Visitor Services people at Ottawa Tourism often get asked this question.

It’s fair to say that usually the peak of fall colours in our area usually comes around Thanskgiving weekend — that’s CANADIAN Thanksgiving (for our American readers!), which is the second Monday of October — however, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate!


The Arboretum at the Central Experimental Farm (located near the Canada Agriculture Museum and Dows Lake) is a riot of colour each fall in Ottawa.

So here are a few tools you can use to keep up-to-date on the progress of the fabulous fall colours:

Ontario Parks maintains a website that shows how the leaves are doing in the various provincial parks throughout Ontario. Click on the Ottawa area on the map in the upper left of the page and you’ll get a listing of various parks in eastern Ontario with an estimate of the percentage of leaves that have already changed.

For Gatineau Park (just 15 minutes north of downtown Ottawa, in the province of Québec), there’s great information on the National Capital Commission’s website, including a handy colour meter.

There are activities planned over the first three October weekends in Gatineau Park as part of the Fall Rhapsody program, that are certain to please.

Now get out there and enjoy the leaves!

40 years of Sunday cycling!

21 May

This Sunday– May 23 — marks the beginning of the 40th season of Sunday Bikedays. The program continues until Sunday, September 5, the Sunday of the Labour Day weekend.

This unique program closes more than 50 km (31 miles) of scenic parkways to motorized vehicles on Sunday mornings from 9:00am to 1:00pm, allowing cyclists, inline skaters and runners to enjoy the roadway to its fullest.

One of the most popular routes is along Colonel By Drive, which skirts the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other popular sites include the westbound lanes of the Ottawa River Parkway in the west end, running along the Ottawa River, from the Canadian War Museum to Carling Avenue; and the Rockcliffe Parkway in the east ened, also running next to the Ottawa River, from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum to St. Joseph Boulevard in Orléans.

Additional roads in Gatineau Park are closed to vehicular traffic from 6:00 to 11:00am on Sundays, including the Gatineau, Champlain and Fortune Parkways. If you’re a cyclist who enjoys steep hills, then this is where you want to be!

If you didn’t bring your bike with you to Ottawa, don’t despair. You can rent one from the friendly folks at RentABike, conveniently located in an old train tunnel under Rideau Street where it crosses the Rideau Canal. (Descend the staircase just to the west of the entrance of the Government Conference Centre (the former main train station of Ottawa), right across the street from the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel.

Sunday Bikedays are well-appreciated and well-attended weekly events, encouraging everyone to be more environmentally friendly and to enjoy exercising in the great outdoors. They are organized by the National Capital Commission, and sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent, Zerofootprint, KPMG LLP and Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.

Enjoy the open road!

Survived the hike!

23 Nov

The hike with a couple friends on Sunday went extremely well. First, we stopped at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre to drop off our application forms to spend a night in one of the park’s cabins in January — we should know soon if we’re successful. (Hopefully more on that later!)

Then it was off to P12 (parking lot #12) at O’Brien Beach on Meech Lake. Off we went on Trail #36, part of the TransCanada Trail. A little steep at some points and with a healthy population of hard-working mountain bikers to watch out for, the trail was a delight, winding up and down through woods, marshes and along Meech Lake.

After an hour, we turned around and retraced our steps, enjoying the intermittent sunshine (though it was cool in the shadows).

We felt we deserved a treat, so we we headed back to Ottawa and indulged in burgers at Chez Lucien on Murray Street in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. Made with beef from O’Brien Farms south of Ottawa, and topped with carmelized onions, jalapenos and cheese, they’re delectable. And you feel virtuous because they’re served with both salad and fries! A great end to a great hike!