Skiing with a French Accent

Written by  Stillman Rogers

USA
The Canadian province of Quebec offers some of North America’s best skiing, with the added allure of a distinctly French flair. Canada’s Francophobic province is huge, snow covered in winter, and has more than 40 ski areas within easy reach of the cities of Montreal and Quebec. 

The best known of the ski resorts is Mont Tremblant (www.tremblant.ca) in the beautiful, unspoiled Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal. Located about 85 miles (1 1/2 to 2 hours’ drive) from the Montreal airport (YUL) on good roads, Mont Tremblant is perhaps the most upscale of the Quebec resorts. The purpose-built village at its base has flavor of a French Alpine resort, filled with chic boutiques and dining choices that include both upscale French and traditional Canadian flavors. Clients will be happy with the mountain’s stats: Tremblant has a hefty 2,116 feet of vertical, 654 skiable acres (the largest in the province) and 14 lifts providing access to 95 trails. The south side of the mountain - the side that drops into the village - has the greatest range of skiing options with a good number of green (easier) trails as well as blue (intermediate) and black
(expert) trails.
To the east, close to Quebec City, are several more top-notch skiing opportunities. Clients can combine their ski adventures with a few days to soak up the culture of the province’s capital. The closest ski resort to Quebec City is just 18 miles away. Mont Sainte Anne (www.mont-sainte-anne.com/en) is only a half-hour east of the city on the north shore of the St Lawrence River. The Chateau Mont Sainte-Anne is an attractive place for lodging. It has lodging options and packages that include skiing at Massif de Charlevoix (www.chateaumontsainteanne.com/en); another close by is Hebergement Mont Sainte Anne (www.hebergementmontsainte-anne.ca/en).
The resort has developed on three sides of the mountain, and the summit to base lodge vertical drop is 2,050 feet. Views from its 2,600-foot summit include broad expanses of the Saint Lawrence River. Mont Sainte Anne has 71 trails on its 547 skiable acres, the longest of which is 3.6 miles. In addition to its alpine trails, Mont Sainte Anne has 7 km of snowshoe trails, more than 200 km of classic Nordic ski trails and 191 km of skate ski trails. Other activities include snowshoeing, dog sledding, ice skating and sleigh rides. Nineteen of the alpine trails are open for night skiing. Resort facilities include food service at the base of the north side of the mountain, the Owl Resto-Bar at the base on the south side and the Chalet Summit cafeteria and bar on the mountain. The attractive village of Sainte Anne de Beaupre is nearby with attractive shops and restaurants.

FARTHER FROM THE CITY
A bit farther from Quebec City, Massif de Charlevoix (www.lemassif.com/en) is in the vast wilderness of the Canadian northeast, literally on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. From most of its trails skiers have the impression that they will ski directly into its broad waters. While Le Massif is only about an hour from Quebec City, it is a true getaway experience. The ski area is well-equipped with restaurants - two at the summit and two at the base, along with aprés ski pubs. On-mountain lodging, because of its Crown land location, is limited to four chalets
The best lodging options are in the town of Baie Saint-Paul, itself about 60 miles from Quebec. The leading hotel in the region is the Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix (www.legermainhotels.com/en/charlevoix). It has two restaurants featuring seasonal offerings. The adjacent town of Baie Saint-Paul has other lodging options, plus a collection of shops, B&Bs, boutiques, restaurants and pubs.
This mountain has a vertical drop of 2,526 feet, the greatest in Canada, with terrain to challenge the most expert skiers. Its 52 trails spread over 406 acres, a substantial part of them black diamond or double black diamond in an open bowl canyon facing the river. Options for tentative skiers and beginners are limited, but Le Massif provides some of the most exciting skiing in eastern North America for those seeking challenges.
If your clients want a totally different ski experience, suggest a ski vacation in the Eastern Townships of Quebec (www.easterntownships.org). In this compact area just north of Vermont the several ski areas don’t have the vertical drop of the bigger hills, but offer a variety of ski experiences and the chance to ski several different mountains.
On the edges of the northern fringes of the Appalachian Mountain range, Mont Orford National Park (www.orford.com/ski/en), in the town of Orford, is a casual ski resort on three adjoining mountains. The summit of Mont Orford is 2,814 feet, one of the highest in the province. Skiers will find well-groomed trails on both sides of the mountain and on the neighboring Mont Alfred-Derochers a chance to ski ungroomed natural snow. The third peak, Mont Giruox, also has trails on two faces with beginner and intermediate choices. Orford also offers about 50 km of trails for Nordic skiers and snowshoers. While there is no lodging on the hill, suggest the upscale Estrimont Suites and Spa (www.estrimont.ca/en), especially for its dining room. A bit more casual is the Espace 4 Saisons (https://espace4saisons.com/en) on the back side of the mountain with a restaurant and convenience store and ski-in, ski-out convenience.

MAJOR MOUNTAIN
Another major mountain is Ski Bromont (www.skibromont.com) near Lac Brome. It is the largest of the township ski resorts. Bromont has 115 trails, spread over seven sides of four mountains. A quarter of them are beginner-novice, more than a third are intermediate and the balance are about evenly split between expert and “you’d better know what you are doing”. Bromont also separates its learner’s area from the main slopes, always a good idea. With its many mountain faces, clients will almost always find a good place to ski.
The closest lodging to the base lodge is Chateau Bromont (www.chateaubromont.com), with bus service to the base lodge. It offers a stylish enclosed courtyard with a pool and two excellent restaurants Another option, a short distance away from the mountain, is Le St. Martin Hotel and Suites (www.lestmartinbromont.com), close to Le Auberge Madrigal (www.lemadrigal.ca), an excellent restaurant which also has a few rooms. La Micro de Bromont is a micro brewery on the way into town. Make sure that your clients also know about the Confisserie Bromont and its Musee du Chocolate.
A third ski resort is Mont Sutton (www.montsutton.com/en) with ski trails on seven slopes, and particularly well known for its glades. The vertical at Sutton is about 1,500 feet and its 230 acres provide ample space for its 60 trails. The Family Zone separates children and learners from more experienced skiers. Sutton has four on-mountain chalets, but there are plenty of lodging options close by. Suggest Le Montagnard Hotel and Condos (www.montagnard.ca/en), less than 3 miles from the mountain, or The Pleasant Hotel and Café (www.lepleasant.com/en/), also about 3 miles from the slopes.
Another to suggest is laid-back Owl’s Head (www.owlshead.com/en/), a family-owned and operated mountain that brings back the feeling of skiing in the 1950s and ‘60s. It is east of the village of Mansonville on the shore of Lake Memphremagog and has some of the best views of any of the ski areas. Owl’s Head has trails for everyone: 30% beginner, 40% intermediate and 30% expert or higher. Owl’s Head also has plenty of on-site lodging as well as dining, ski school and cross country.
All of these mountains have packages that include lodging and lift tickets and many tweak the deals for longer periods of stay. Clients who choose to spend a ski vacation in Quebec are sure to return with a renewed spirit of “Joie de Ski”.

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