It is the second oldest city in North America after Quebec City. There is a wealth of history to explore, including learning about this original Canadian settlement, taking in the historical architecture, and understanding how this city contributed to the development of Canada as we know it today. Like many Quebec cities in the area, it was a central hub for trade, driving development and interest in the country.
Trois-Rivières sits in the middle of Montreal (a little over an hour to the west) and Quebec City (about 2 hours to the east). Approximately 30 minutes north of the city, you will find the cute town of Shawinigan. A bit further north (about 20 minutes), you will be at the door of La Mauricie National Park, with abundant breathtaking nature, lakes, micro cabins, and more.
We have compiled this guide to help you plan your getaway to Trois-Rivières and the Mauricie region. It includes the best places to visit, beautiful hotel options, noteworthy places to eat, and more.
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History of Trois-Rivières
- Founded in 1634 as a village under the French regime.
- The first school was founded by Ursuline nuns, who arrived in 1697. They worked to help local missionaries Christianize the local Aboriginals and Métis.
- The first foundry was established in 1738, making Trois-Rivières Canada’s oldest industrial city.
- It was captured by the British during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763).
- Much of the city was destroyed by a fire in 1908, leading to a significant redesign of the city.
- Developed into the “World’s Paper Manufacturing Capital” in the early 20th century due to industrial developments by the Canadian International Paper Company and St. Lawrence Pulp and Paper.
- The Government of Quebec classified the historic district of Old Trois-Rivières as a heritage site in 1964.
How to Get to Trois-Rivières
There are several options for making the trip from Toronto to Trois-Rivières, depending on your budget, timeline, and preferred form of travel. This includes travelling by car, bus, plane, or train, but not all of these options will take you all the way to your destination. Here is a quick breakdown of each option to help you decide on the best mode of travel:
The drive from Toronto to Trois-Rivières will take approximately 6 ½ hours, depending on traffic. From Toronto, take the 401 E to Rue St-Roch. This is a simple route, as you’re following the 401 for most of the trip. Alternatively, you can take Highway 7/Trans-Canada Highway, which will take approximately an hour longer.
Taking a bus to Trois-Rivières is slightly more challenging as no bus runs the entire distance between the two locations. For example, you can take the Megabus from Toronto to Montréal starting at $49.99 per person, but you would need to transfer to another bus or train to cover the portion of the trip from Montreal to Trois-Rivières. The Orleans Express runs from Montréal to Trois-Rivières, starting at an additional cost of $29 per person.
Like the bus, you can take a VIA Rail train from Toronto to Montréal, starting at $62 per person. However, you will have to transfer to another option, like The Orleans Express, for the last leg of your trip.
Finally, flying is your best option if you’re looking for the fastest possible trip from Toronto to Montréal. But with the speedier travel comes an added cost. Flights from Toronto to Monreal start at $152 per person, one-way. When you reach Montreal, you will (once again) have to transfer to another option to make it the rest of the way to Trois-Rivières.
Hotels in Trois-Rivieres
If you are looking for a comfortable place to rest your head in Trois-Rivières, there are various options ranging from typical hotel chains to more picturesque and memorable stays, offering a unique accommodation experience or a history worth exploring. Here are a few options we are sure you’ll enjoy:
1413 Rue Notre-Dame Centre
A unique blend of Canadian history and modern design, Hôtel Oui Go! is constructed in the historic Balcer Building, one of the many heritage buildings in downtown Trois-Rivières. While the exterior of the building may remind you of days long gone, the interior tells a very different story with an upscale and chic atmosphere. The boutique hotel offers 28 rooms and 2 meeting rooms, making it an ideal stop for both business and pleasure.
The hotel is connected to a breakfast spot we enjoyed, Le Gaufré 1908 (more on that to follow), and a general store selling local products, sweets, basic toiletries, and knick-knacks called Le Brun en Ville.
975 Rue Hart
While the Gouverneur Hôtel Trois-Rivières may look like a standard modern hotel from the exterior, the hotel has much to offer visitors. One impressive feature is the hotel’s restaurant Rouge Vin, which includes an outdoor roof terrace with a jacuzzi and swimming pool. The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Trois-Rivières, making it a great home base for exploring nearby attractions, including the Musée Pop and rue des Ursulines.
This is one of the hotels in Trois-Rivières where you can stay with your pet if you travel with a furry friend. However, dogs must be under 45 lbs., and you are limited to 2 canine companions. They are also not permitted in the suites, only standard pet-friendly rooms.
10911 Notre-Dame Ouest
The property was once home to the Tomaqua Beach resort, which was in operation from 1920 to 1960. Passionate about sharing their love of Lac St-Pierre, new owners Jean Guy Morisette and Gisèle Poliquin began work at transforming the forgotten and run-down property into a refined and luxurious inn. The Auberge du Lac Saint-Pierre officially opened its doors in September 1988.
Nestled on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, the rooms offer a breathtaking view. In addition to their 30 rooms and suites, they offer a massage therapy service, golf/show packages, and a restaurant with premium and high-end dishes.
Restaurants in Trois-Rivières
The vibrant history of Trois-Riviéres isn’t the only attraction for travellers. One thing we can’t get enough of is how it feels like Europe, with plenty of cafes and patios and people milling about. Whether you are looking for a quick breakfast or planning a celebratory dinner, here are a few noteworthy stops from our adventures for you to consider:
603 Rue des Ursulines
You will find this bistro-style restaurant just a short distance from the Cogeco Amphitheatre (which we will discuss later). The building itself was an ancestral house built in the 19th century. The current owners converted the house into a restaurant 15 years ago with modern décor but maintained accents of the past as a nod to the location’s history. They offer soups, salads, pastas, seafood, grills, and more. This is all accompanied by a diverse wine list. You can eat indoors or out on the beautiful terrace.
142 Rue Saint-François Xavier/1579 Rue Badeaux
Whether you’re interested in a high-end plated culinary experience or ordering lunch boxes to enjoy on the go, this location has options to suit everyone’s needs. The restaurant (located at 142 Rue Saint-François Xavier) offers delicious, upscale meal options prepared with careful attention to taste, plating, and other details, including duck, Nagano pork, fresh oysters, and more. Their 1579 Rue Badeaux location is a lunch counter where you can grab quick meals like sandwiches and salads – all prepared with the same attention to flavour.
15 Rue de Forges
Finding high-quality vegan food can be a challenge in some locations, but not here. Café Frida offers a 100% vegan menu, including sandwiches, breakfast plates, soups, and more. They aim to be a meeting spot and place to discover local talent, with changing artwork on the walls and carefully chosen music. Gordana gave the location her stamp of approval after enjoying a meal here.
100 Rue de Forges
While the company has 14 branches across the province of Québec, the Trois-Rivières location is the original. Founded in 1992, they offer a cozy atmosphere and an assortment of specialty coffees to choose from. We stopped in for a coffee, and it certainly did not disappoint! If you’re unsure of which coffee blend to try, they also offer discovery boxes to allow you to sample a range of options.
300 Rue des Forges
With a stunning and luxurious atmosphere reminiscent of the prohibition era, Les Contrebrandiers Boissonnerie Gourmande offers a beautiful location for a romantic dinner, celebratory event, or business gathering. The menu challenges the limits of flavours while still offering a nod to the classics, while the serving sizes are large enough that some may prefer to share a dish. We enjoyed dinner here, where we tried Deer Medalion and Duck for the first time.
1413 Rue Notre-Dame Centre
As we previously mentioned, Le Gaufré is connected to the Hôtel Oui Go!, the accommodations we enjoyed during our trip. Hotel guests who receive a breakfast ticket as part of their stay will be eating here. You’ll enjoy your choice of delicious breakfast options, including complete breakfast plates and homemade waffles – it was the perfect way to start our day. If you aren’t staying at the hotel, the location is also open for lunch and dinner.
Ô P’tit Quai des Breasseurs
1435 Rue Notre-Dame Centre
Located near the heart of downtown, Ô P’tit Quai des Breasseurs is an adorable corner terrace providing the ideal stop for a quick drink or a bite to eat. They serve authentic Mexican cuisine from Mezcal Taqueria, including tacos, flautas, quesadillas, nachos, and churros. You can rinse it down with their assortment of beers from the microbrewery Ô Quai de Brassseurs.
326 Rue des Forges
If you are searching for restaurants in Trois-Rivières that offer healthier meals, this location has the options you’re searching for. The menu offers a delicious blend of sandwiches, salads, poke bowls, and other hearty options. Of course, this is all paired with a wide assortment of beers, wines, and spirits. With a specialization in mixology, their cocktail menu truly offers something for everyone.
Located in a former Wesleyan church, the appearance and branding of Le Sacristain is a nod to its roots. The menu features specialty soups, stews, salads, and sandwiches, along with the option of mouth-watering “homemade” desserts. If you have a busy schedule and are struggling to find time to carve out a lunch break, they also offer the option of lunch boxes and take-out meals. We ordered sandwiches, and they were delicious!
1465 Rue Notre-Dame Centre
A microbrewery, restaurant and roastery all in one spot, this location has something for everyone. In terms of food, they have a lunch menu and a dinner menu, each with a variety of quick bites, hearty meals, and tasty desserts. Both beer and coffee can be enjoyed on-site, or you can purchase some to take home and enjoy later.
Things to Do in Trois-Rivières
We had a busy weekend in Trois-Rivières, with many incredible and fascinating things to explore. For the history buffs, there is so much to see that you will struggle to fit it all into a single weekend. From taking a step back in time as you walk Rue des Ursulines to browsing the incredible creativity on display at the EMA Expérience Métiers d’Art, you will surely enjoy every moment.
There are two major areas to note in the city. Rue des Forges is the location of many bars, restaurants, and other attractions. During the summer months, the street is closed to cars, allowing people to walk freely down the road from location to location. The other area we recommend visiting is Rue Notre-Dame Centre, with its many cafés, bars, and stores to explore.
Here are a few of the best things to do in Trois-Rivières based on our experiences:
At first glance, this may look like a basic city park, but it holds major significance in the city’s history. At the park’s entrance, an X is marked on the floor. This symbolizes the very spot where the city was founded. The stairs themselves tell the story of the area’s history, with each step highlighting a milestone in the development of Trois-Rivières. You can take in the area from a beautiful lookout point when you reach the top.
Within the park, you will find a statue of the founder. However, no one actually knows what the founder looked like, making it impossible to model a statue after him. Instead, it was modelled after the historian credited with discovering who the founder was.
This monument was erected on Rue Notre-Dame Centre in 1921. It is dedicated to all soldiers who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. The bronze statue features an infantryman during battle, his bayonet in hand positioned to strike. The emotion on the soldier’s face is often acknowledged as being among the most incredible and passionate displays.
A landmark in Trois-Rivières, Pierre-Boucher Place features a lighted fountain that puts on beautiful and entertaining displays with the movement of the water, the sounds and rhythms it creates, and the bright spectacle of lights. Some displays are designed to offer a glimpse of history or key events in the area, while others are focused entirely on creating an eye-catching display to capture the attention of those walking past.
Hommage au Sacré-Coeur
This monument was constructed on the exact location where Sacré-Coeur stood before it was destroyed by fire in June 1908. The brown benches behind the statue represent the exact location where parishioners once sat.
Rue des Ursulines
The oldest street in Trois-Rivières, this is where you will find most of the area’s historic and preserved buildings. While there is no set agenda or tour we took to see the area, we encourage making time in your schedule just to walk the street and take in the architecture and history on display. It was absolutely picturesque and beautiful.
Galerie d’art du Parc
The Galerie d’art du Parc, founded in 1972 by Denis Bouchard, Sabine Gingras, Father Carmel Paquin, and Liette C. Paquet, is a non-profit organization.
Its opening was on February 9, 1972, at Pavillon St-Arnaud in Parc Pie-XII, Trois-Rivières. Since 1974, it has been one of the first accredited exhibition centers by the Quebec Ministry of Cultural Affairs. The Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications and the City of Trois-Rivières have supported and collaborated with the Galerie d’art du Parc. In 1981, the Galerie d’art du Parc relocated to the Tonnancour manor through an agreement with the municipality and the government.
Each exhibition presents a unique opportunity for discovery.
St James Anglican Church
This historic church was built by the first missionaries to arrive in New France. The church has been actively used by an Anglican congregation since at least 1823, making it an essential part of the area’s history. Recently, the Quebec government pledged $1.7 million to restore the building, prompting its temporary closure during the renovations. While you can’t tour inside the building, you can still enjoy its historic architecture.
For art lovers, EMA is a must-stop location. This boutique, showroom, and “place of experience and creation” showcases all stages in the creation process. On one side, more than 40 professional artists from the area share and sell their work. On the other side of the building, you have the opportunity to see the artists in their element, creating their works and putting their talent on display for visitors to learn and find inspiration. They also host events where you can participate in experimental meetings led by some of the artists themselves.
La Fabrique de Théâtre Insolite
Welcoming artists from here and abroad, La Fabrique de Théâtre Insolite focuses on sharing new, marginal, unconventional, or peripheral work. They give a voice to those often overlooked in the art space for being different or unique. They also offer a space for avant-garde shows to be performed. This creates a truly incredible experience for art and theatre lovers.
For those that are unfamiliar with the Ursulines, they are a Roman Catholic religious order specifically for women, devoted to ensuring girls receive a proper Catholic education. These women play a pivotal role in the history of Trois-Rivières, having founded the first school for young girls in 1697 and the first hospital in the city of Trois-Rivières. They continued to operate in the area until 2019. In this museum, you will learn about their history and their incredible impact on the city’s development.
Les Petits Chanteurs de Trois-Rivières has been dedicated to teaching traditional arts and culture through the practice of choral singing for 75 years (and counting). They offer music education to children from kindergarten through secondary school, fostering a love of music early in their development. They also have an adult program available. The school hosts many workshops and performances for those with an appreciation for music.
Middle School Marie-De-l’Incarnation
A local school operating in a beautiful, historic building – Middle School Marie-De-l’Incarnation is a stop worth making, if only for the photos. It is named after an Ursuline nun, Marie de l’Incarnation, who took her vows in 1633. After her passing, she was venerated as a saint for her work to inspire others to follow the word of Christ.
A popular spot for that perfect Instagram photo, the Cogeco Amphithéâtre is the site of the large Trois-Rivières letters. The location can accommodate up to 3,500 in the stands and an additional 5,500 people in the grassy esplanade, making it a go-to stop for large national and international performances, including Cirque du Soleil. In the colder months, it is converted to an indoor-only cabaret that can hold up to 600 people.
Trois-Rivières has a rich history in the pulp and paper industry, one that helped shape the city and the country as a whole. To honour this history, the former filtration plant of the Canadian International Paper Company (CIP) was transformed into a museum sharing the hard work and dedication of those who built the industry as well as paying tribute to the many log drivers, lumberjacks, and workers who lost their lives on the job. The museum features original equipment, an immersive experience in the process involved in the industry, and more.
The Musée POP is a hub for Quebec history and culture. Here, the museum showcases many different elements of the province’s folk culture through its exhibitions, some of which include the Quiet Revolution, the magnificent works of François Bertrand, and the history of the Old Prison. The prison exhibit can be taken as an introduction to the location or as a complement to the available guided tour. We enjoyed learning about the prison’s history and how it was operated over the years, including the fact they used to keep the women prisoners separate from the men because they were believed to be more trouble (haha).
Manoir Boucher de Niverville
A museum dedicated to life in New France, this is an excellent opportunity for history lovers to see what it was really like living as the bourgeoisie during that era. The exhibits do a great job of sharing the morals and customs of the people of that time. The building was classified as a historic monument in 1960 and restored 11 years later for its current purpose. The souvenir shop on-site also carries artisanal and recycled products for those searching for something unique.
Assumption Cathedral, Trois-Rivières
The Assumption of Mary Cathedral is the main cathedral of the Trois-Rivières diocese. It was constructed between 1854 and 1858 and is devoted to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
The parish linked to the cathedral is named Immaculée-Conception-de-la-Sainte-Vierge, which includes the churches of Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Allégresses, Saint-François-d’Assise, and Sainte-Cécile. However, the church of Saint-Philippe, which was part of the parish, was demolished in 2015.
Dedicated to conserving and enhancing the natural and urban environments, the Île Saint-Quentin is a unique and beautiful place to spend the day. During the summer season, it offers a swimming pool and beach for families to relax and cool off. There are also plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy nature with a hiking trail, cycling path, and tent camping spots. Enjoy the area’s walking, snowshoe, or skate trail in the winter. There are also room rentals for events and meetings.
If you enjoy beautiful architecture and construction, this location should be on your list. Pont Laviolette is an arch bridge built to connect Trois-Rivières to Bécancour. It is recognized as the longest metal frame bridge in Quebec and is a beautiful place for pictures.
A former city, Cap-de-la-Madeline was founded in 1651. It was famous for its religious ties, including its basilica, Basilique Notre-Dame du Cap. The city was also the location of a flight training school built and operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. Today, the city has been amalgamated into Trois-Rivières, but it still attracts thousands of tourists to its religious sites.
The original church, built in 1659, was a simple, small wooden structure. Unfortunately, like many wooden structures, it didn’t stand up well to the test of time and a second church was built to replace it in 1720. Constructed from fieldstone, this is known today as the Old Shrine, and it still hosts daily Mass, making it the oldest church in Canada to do so.
This is the site of several recorded “miracles,” including the formation of an ice bridge after much prayer across the St. Lawrence River to allow for stones to be transported to build a much-needed larger church. The Bridge of the Rosaries was then built to commemorate this event.
At another time, three men testified that while praying to the Statue of the Virgin Mary, she opened her eyes and looked out into the world with a “look of true compassion.” This story spread quickly, inspiring many to visit the area on pilgrimage. In time, this influx of people meant a larger church was required to support their needs, leading to the construction of the Notre-Dame-Du-Cap Basilica.
Visitors to the area can take in the beauty and history of both the Old Shrine and the Notre-Dame-Du-Cap Basilica. The basilica features a breathtaking display of stained glass lining the walls, creating a truly remarkable experience.
Activities & Day Trips in the Mauricie Region
While there are many things to do and see within the city of Trois-Rivières, we recommend considering the other incredible attractions and potential day trips in the greater Mauricie region. This includes activities for all interests and activity levels, ranging from a relaxing spa getaway to the best Maurice camping and hiking opportunities. Here are a few options we believe you should consider:
We made the trip to Shawinigan for an overnight adventure and couldn’t recommend the area more! On the first day, we had lunch at Le Chenapan (502 4e rue de la Pointe, Shawinigan), an adorable bistro with delicious food, coffee, desserts, cocktails, and a selection of wines.
By the way, Le Chenpan loosely translates to The Rascals.
La Cité de l’Énergie
From there, we visited La Cité de l’Énergie. This large museum complex offers a wide assortment of immersive activities and exhibits, including those showcasing the history of Shawinigan and its region, as well as many science and technology-related attractions. We recommend the Planet Energy exhibition, multimedia show, and the stunning view of the Mauricie area from the Hydro-Québec Observation Tower.
That night, we travelled to Nature Nature, a beautiful resort area perched on the mountainside and bordered by the St. Mauricie River. Here, you can choose from a variety of different accommodations, including cabins, shelters, campsites, and more. This means there is something for every comfort level while taking in the location’s breathtaking views. We stayed in Cabin MICRO 01, an adorable little 2-person micro cabin with a wood fireplace, outdoor terrace, and all the amenities of home.
Le 2800 du Parc
On our final day in the Shawinigan area, we ate at Le 2800 du Parc. Not only did they have delicious meal options, but we also had the opportunity to talk to the owner’s daughter about the location’s history and development. When the family purchased the land the restaurant now stands on, they tore down a 100-year-old barn on the property. They used the same wood to build the restaurant as a nod to its history. The result is a beautiful restaurant with the soul of a barn and the feel that it has been around for over 100 years.
Of course, if you are interested in Maurice’s camping or hiking opportunities, you must visit La Mauricie National Park! This beautiful location includes vast areas of forest and 150 lakes, creating the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the area’s natural beauty. The park offers guided tours, camping and overnight accommodations, hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and more. It is also home to many local wildlife, including loons, red foxes, beavers, moose, and black bears.
428 Rang des Grès, Saint-Étienne-des-Grès
Are you looking for a new and exciting way to view the area? Why not check out the beauty and wonder of the Mauricie area from the sky? We booked a helicopter ride, which was an incredible experience, but the location also offers scenic flights by seaplane, gourmet excursions, and even lodging for those interested in staying in the area for any length of time. This is also a great way to enjoy Mauricie Park if you aren’t as interested in immersing yourself in nature.
8210 Bd des Forges, Trois-Rivières
Located just outside Trois-Rivieres, KiNipi offers a full Nordic spa experience. This includes the traditional thermal experience, a Swedish massage, and a restaurant with upscale and delicious meal options. This Mauricie spa is an excellent option for an afternoon or full-day getaway, with plenty of packages to purchase that allow you to enjoy all the location offers. They also host wellness retreats and offer accommodations for those who want to extend their time.
Enjoy a Getaway to Trois-Rivières & Mauricie, Quebec
Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer, a history buff, or someone in love with the arts and culture of our country, you will find many opportunities in Trois-Rivières and the Mauricie region.
This area has a fascinating past, having played a vital role in developing New France and, ultimately, Québec. Embracing this past, the area has been transformed into a vibrant and bustling neighbourhood that feels like you’re walking through the streets of Europe. If nature is more your style, you are just a short drive to La Mauricie National Park, a hub for all the outdoor adventure activities you could dream of.
You’re sure to have an incredible weekend, and you may start planning your next trip before you leave!
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