Chicoutimi and Jonquière are former cities in the Saguenay region of Quebec which (with Bagotville / Ville de la Baie and other surrounding towns) were combined officially to be one municipality of over a hundred thousand inhabitants, named "Saguenay" for the Saguenay River.
The region is strongly unilingual francophone; principal local industries have historically been forestry, paper (Abitibi, Price, Stone-Consolidated) and aluminium smelting (Alcan). CFB Bagotville is the local air force base; a community college (Collège de Jonquière) offers an intensive three-week immersion programme in French as a second language which has long attracted civil servants from the nation's capital and draws students from as far as New Brunswick.
Chicoutimi-Jonquière is geographically isolated as the two and a half hours of four-lane road leading into the municipality from Québec City runs almost entirely on provincial parkland with just one opportunity to stop for fuel at the midpoint. There is cellular telephone service on the main road in, but along many other roads (such as Chicoutimi-Nord to Tadoussac) there is truly nothing.
As the largest city in-region, Chicoutimi serves as a jumping-off point to Lac-Saint-Jean in the west and the Saguenay River to Tadoussac in the east:
- Lac-Saint-Jean is famous for its blueberries, to the point where locals in the region are referred to as "les bleuets" (literally, blueberries), with a Trappist monk group manufacturing tasty chocolate-covered blueberries and other confections in Mistassini at the far end of Lac-Saint-Jean. Other key landmarks around the lake are a zoo at St. Felicien, the tourist ghost town of Val-Jalbert (near Roberval) and a good collection of cycling and snowmobile trails.
- Tadoussac, at the eastern end of the fjord of the Saguenay River, is notable primarily for whale-watching. Both sides of the Saguenay River fjord between La Baie and Tadoussac - St. Siméon are largely parkland with no services. Boat tours of the river and fjord depart from either endpoint.
- By air
- While there is some service to Bagotville, the local Royal Canadian Air Force base, the closest major airport to the region is in the Québec City suburb of Sainte Foy.
- Aéroport de Bagotville, 7000, chemin de l'Aéroport, La Baie G7B 0E4, ☎ +1 418-677-2227, toll-free: +1-888-313-8777. Scheduled service to Montréal, not inexpensive.
- By bus
- Intercar, 4511, boulevard Talbot, Chicoutimi, ☎ +1 418-549-2463, fax: +1 418-696-4852. Intercity bus south to Quebec City, east to Tadoussac and west via Lac-Saint-Jean (Dolbeau, St. Felicien, Alma, Roberval) to Chibougamau. An express bus from Jonquière-Arvida-Chicoutimi to Sainte Foy and Montréal runs four days a week; another option is to connect at Québec City for Orléans Express buses to Montréal.
- By train
- Via Rail runs a train from Montréal to Jonquière which does not pass through the Québec City region.
- By ship
- Various cruise ships include the Saguenay River as one stop on a longer tour
- By automobile
- from Québec City, Route 175 is the main road through the Laurentian provincial park.
- from Tadoussac or Saint-Siméon, a highway follows the full length of the river on each side (Route 172 on the north shore, Route 170 on the south shore). There are no villages and no services on most of this route.
- from New Brunswick, follow the Trans-Canada Highway to Rivière-du-Loup then cross by ferry to Tadoussac
- from Trois-Rivières, Route 155 meets the ring road (Route 169) around Lac-Saint-Jean
- Ride share may be available through Allô-Stop in Québec City
- Transport STS, 1330, rue Bersimis, Chicoutimi, ☎ +1 418-545-2487, fax: +1 418 545-9976. Local city bus. $3/person.
- Taxis in Chicoutimi include A52 Taxi (+1 418-543-3868), Taxi Saint-Ambroise (+1 418-718-1414) and Taxis Unis (+1 418-543-3868)
- Taxi service in Jonquière is offered by Taxi Diamond (+1 418-548-2121)
- La fabuleuse histoire d'une royaume, 1831, 6e Avenue, ville de La Baie (Théâtre du Palais Municipal), ☎ +1 418-698-3333, toll-free: +1-888-873-3333. Jul-Au (en français), Sept-Oct (in English). Theatrical performance recounting the history of the region (as "the Saguenay Kingdom") from native settlement to colonial and pioneer times onward. Presented annually (originally in July) in French for 26 years, an abridged English-language version is now offered in the fall.
- La Pulperie de Chicoutimi, 300 Dubuc, Chicoutimi, ☎ +1 418-698-3100, toll-free: +1-877-998-3100, fax: +1 418-698-3158. Regional museum. The Arthur Villeneuve house, painted inside and out with local scenes in a multi-year effort begun in 1957, was relocated here from 669 rue Taché ouest in Chicoutimi in 1994.
- Musée du Fjord, 3346, boulevard De la Grande-Baie Sud, ☎ +1 418-697-5077, toll-free: +1-866-697-5077, fax: +1 418-697-5079. Museum and aquarium in La Baie, east of Chicoutimi, in one of the areas hardest-hit by flooding in 1996. The museum re-opened in 2004.
- Pont d'aluminium d'Arvida, route du Pont, Arvida et Shipshaw. First all-aluminium arch bridge in North America, built 1950 by Alcan and Dominion Bridge Company to span the Saguenay River at Arvida and listed on the provincial historic register in 2004. Arvida, named for industrialist Arthur Vining Davis, was a planned community built around an aluminium factory which took advantage of plentiful hydroelectric power. Shipshaw was the second of two generating stations in-region. Both are now part of Jonquière (Saguenay).
- Pyramide des Ha! Ha!, le parc des Ha! Ha!. 21 metre tall aluminium pyramid covered in 3000 reflective "yield" signs, with (seasonal) live performance stage, stairs and observation deck, in riverside park. A memorial to the 1996 flood which destroyed 250 buildings and displaced 3000 people, tours available in high season from Musée du Fjord.
- Saint-Jean-Vianney. Village near Shipshaw, abandoned after thirty-eight houses were destroyed in a landslide on May 4, 1971. A stone memorial marker, a crater and some damaged road are all that remain.
- Croisières du Fjord, ☎ +1 418-543-7630, toll-free: +1-800-363-7248. June-mid Oct, runs daily from St. Jean (June 24) to Labour Day. "Marjolaine II" cruises, charter and shuttle on Saguenay river, depart from La Baie (east of Chicoutimi). ·
The main street of downtown Chicoutimi is la rue Racine; construction of shopping malls has greatly diminished the number of downtown businesses. Local confections such as maple syrup or chocolate blueberries are usually less expensive in the main street shops frequented by locals in the city than at tourist establishments... even for blueberries in Lac-Saint-Jean itself.
The region is known for two dishes. Tourtière, a traditional French-Canadian meat pie, is named for la tourte (the passenger pigeon), a bird of prey which was once common in Lac-Saint-Jean but now extinct worldwide. More famous are the region's blueberries. Various farms around Lac-Saint-Jean invite you to pick your own blueberries in season (usually August, weather permitting).
- Le Barillet, 2523, rue St-Dominique, Jonquière, ☎ +1 418-547-2668, fax: +1 418-547-8210. Steakhouse, salads, seafood.
- Papy Resto Pub steakhouse Chicoutimi, 367 Racine Est, Chicoutimi, ☎ +1 418-973-0511. Steakhouse, seafood and pub.
- Pïouizéria, 3880, boul. Harvey, Jonquière, ☎ +1 418-695-5332, fax: +1 418-695-5331. open 7:30-8:30am, close 9pm-midnight. Italian, pizza, subs.
- Restaurant aux 3 points, 3645 boul. du Royaume, Jonquière, ☎ +1 418-547-6171, fax: +1 418-547-5902. 6am-9pm daily. Pizza, BBQ, family restaurant.
- Fleur de Jasmin, 331 rue Racine Est, Chicoutimi, ☎ +1 418-602-1345. 4:30-8pm daily plus 11am-2pm Tue-Fri. Chinese/Asian. $15.
- Restaurant les Colombes, 164 Rue Racine E, Chicoutimi, ☎ +1 418-549-2133. closed from 2:30-4:30pm. Vietnam and fusion cuisine.
- Restaurant Sam Sam, 3880, boul. Harvey, Jonquière, ☎ +1 418-695-1683. 11am-2pm and 4pm-9pm. Asian buffet.
- Restaurant La Cuisine, 387-A rue Racine est, Chicoutimi, ☎ +1 418-698-2822. open after 5pm daily plus 11:30am-1:30pm weekdays. French.
The main street of Jonquière (la rue Ste. Dominique, the "Saint Do") has a fairly extensive and notorious bar strip with several bars in close proximity. Some other options include:
- Brasserie Arvida, 1983 Davis, Jonquière, ☎ +1 418-548-8491, fax: +1 418-548-5860. Sports bar and restaurant. Steak, seafood, sandwiches.
- Café-Théâtre Côté-Cour, 4014, rue de la Fabrique, Jonquière, ☎ +1 418-542-1376. Cinema, music and live performance venue.
- La Tour à Bières, 517 rue Racine Est, ☎ +1 418-545-7272, fax: +1 418-545-2723. 4pm-8pm (restaurant), bar closes 3am. Microbrewery with eight local beers; a "sampling tower" offers a four-ounce taste of multiple beers on one tray. Brewery tours available for groups. Bistro with patio, live music on summer weekends.
- La Voie Maltée, 777, boulevard Talbot, Chicoutimi, ☎ +1 418-549-4141, fax: +1 418-549-2272. weekdays 11:30am-3am, weekends noon-3am. Microbrewery with locations in Chicoutimi, Jonquière and Québec City.
- Auberge Cépal, 3350, rue Saint-Dominique, Jonquière G7Y 1B3, ☎ +1 418 547-5728, toll-free: +1-800-361-5728, fax: +1 418-547-4882. On Rivière aux Sables south of Jonquière. Cycle path, heated outdoor pool, tennis court, restaurant, bistro, 67-room inn with seven meeting rooms.
- Hôtel Chicoutimi, 460, rue Racine E., ☎ +1 418-549-7111, toll-free: +1-800-463-7930. Downtown main street hotel overlooking Saguenay fjord, 85 rooms, three restaurants, boutique in lobby with souvenirs and regional art. $117-262/night.