This article, and distribution, was paid for by QuébecSki and produced in conjunction with POWDER.
Words by Heidi Nixon
It's that time of year again when we start to lock in our ski season plans, and this winter we're suggesting a trip to the land where the winter months are celebrated with more enthusiasm than anywhere else: Québec.
This snow-obsessed province is home to some world-class skiing. Le Massif de Charlevoix, with the highest vertical drop east of the Canadian Rockies, includes Mont-Sainte-Anne, the resort with the picture postcard view over the St. Lawrence River, and Stoneham, home to immaculate parks and an Olympic-sized halfpipe. The Québec City and Charlevoix regions are quickly becoming a bucket list stop for any avid skier.
If you're heading here from the south or west, and the odds are that you are, you'll want to stop into Québec City—one of Canada's oldest and most culturally rich cities. Here you will find stunning architecture, incredible food, and unmatched hospitality that combine to create a European vibe. And from the downtown core, you're within an hour's drive of three resorts, each offering a different experience. Let's call it Québec's version of The Powder Highway.
Starting 30km north of the city, you will find our first stop at Stoneham resort. With 333 acres of skiable terrain and three amazing terrain parks it's no wonder the hill is home to some of the best skiers in Canada. Freestyle skiers, like the legendary J.P. Auclair, grew up honing their skills on these slopes, and emerging freestylers flock here in attempts to do the same. Throughout the peak season you can ski under the stars, as the hill stays open until 9:30 p.m., which a novelty to most skiers hailing from the west. The town's unique charm will make it hard to leave, but don't get too comfortable because you still have two resorts awaiting you up the river.
East of Stoneham and just half an hour outside of Québec City, you'll find Mont-Sainte-Anne—stop number two and the widest of the three hills. With 547 acres of skiable terrain, this resort is an absolute hidden gem for those of all ages and skill levels. When the sun is out you can see breathtaking panoramic views over the St. Lawrence River. When it isn't, you can grab a hot drink and warm your feet by the outdoor fireplace, while you wait for the clouds to deposit some of the area's 20 feet of annual snowfall, turning the place into a powder playground.
LE MASSIF de CHARLEVOIX
It's true what they say about the cold Québec winters, but what they don't tell you is that it makes for some of the lightest and fluffiest snow you'll ever ski. Even further down the St. Lawrence, you'll find the final stop on your next road trip: Le Massif de Charlevoix, featuring a 2,526-vertical-foot drop and 400-plus acres of skiable terrain. Here, unlike most ski resorts, when you arrive at the hill you are already at the top, and all that's left to do is click in and ski down. You'll be amazed when you look below and feel like you're riding your skis or snowboard directly to the shore of the St.Lawrence River. It's a view like no other, and definitely one for the bucket list. And if you want to see the mountain from a different angle, you can check out one of North America's most unique downhill sledding attractions. Le Massif de Charlevoix offers a 7.5km sled run that is a perfect way to give your legs a little break from the action.
My favorite part of this area is the potential for big mountain style skiing so close to the resort, and accessible even without backcountry touring gear. That is a luxury that can be hard to find in the East. The steep "40s" at Stoneham will challenge even the most experienced skier. The gladed runs at Mont-Sainte-Anne will make you grin ear-to-ear from the first chair to the last. That's if your legs don't give out before the end of the day. The off-piste zone at Le Massif de Charlevoix, which has been slowly developing over the past 10 years, can now be accessed with a short 20-minute hike. A quick Google search will reveal videos of skiers in these deep glades, which could easily be mistaken for Rockies. Don't take our word for it though; try it for yourself before the secret gets out.
Skiing isn't the only highlight of this region, it truly is a full experience. The famous après ski that spreads throughout the microbreweries and bars will be awaiting you when you get off the slopes. You'll be welcomed by friendly locals who will gladly direct you to the nearest charming hotels, inns, and spas. The Charlevoix region is celebrated for its gastronomy, so you will want to leave yourself extra time to take it all in. Whether it’s a tasting of traditional cheeses or a meal of well raised duck from a nearby farm, you will be in good hands with the passionate foodies of the area.
There's plenty in terms of stand-alone attractions, too. Québec City will be hosting the annual Winter Carnival in February, and is home to both the unforgettable ice hotel, and the F.I.S. World Cup Jamboree, where over 80 athletes from across the globe come to compete on a big air jump built smack in the middle of downtown. What a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by people who make the most of the white season. With an endless opportunity for exciting events in both regions, you'll be guaranteed to feel that same enjoyment for winter that we all had as kids.
Winter in Québec is done unlike anywhere else. We believe in embracing it and finding the joy in snow, because if you can't find joy in snow you'll have less joy but still the same amount of snow.
For more information on the area, check out Québec-Charlevoix.