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Sample Tours: Central Canada

8 Day Quebec Ski Tour

When you travel in Québec you are embarking on a journey filled with action and peacefulness, ambience and beauty, not to mention the potential for reliving history at every turn. As you follow the route, you may feel like you are following in the steps of early explorers and voyageurs. It is a journey of adventure and discovery. It is also paced to be leisurely and restful. Many of the ski hills and activities are two to four hours from Montreal and the temperature is often around -10 C - perfect weather for skiing and outdoor activities.

Besides finding a wonderland of adventure and new experiences when you come to Québec in winter, you will find countless opportunities for joining in an energetic nightlife. Many Quebéckers like to go out at later in the evening and a majority of restaurants, pubs, bistros and cafés are open very late, or perhaps what the rest of the country would call early morning. So, it won't be hard to find evening activities to take part in. The hard part will be deciding which venue you may want to try that evening. If you are traveling as a family, some of these nightlife opportunities may not be of interest, but there are many family-oriented experiences that will ensure a memorable time. Certainly, Le Carnaval is a definite family-type destination, as is Mont Tremblant, Le Massif and Mont Orford.

Duration: 8 days
Total Distance: 1250 km/781 mi


  
Ski Quebec Province 8 Day Tourview larger map
Itinerary
Mont Tremblant
Day 1 - From Montreal through St Saveur des Monts to Mont Tremblant

If you are a cross-country skier, you may find it worthwhile to stop at St. Jerome and ski along the track bed of the former railway line known as "Le P'tit Train du Nord". This 200 km trail is now a "linear park" and people ski along the trail between railroad stations. The trail begins in St. Jerome and ends at Mont Laurier, north of Mont Tremblant.  

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There is a shuttle service available in the main centres along the route that will take you back to where you parked your RV. The railroad stations have been renovated and now mostly serve as restaurants. This railway line was built in the early part of the last century and took Montrealers north to the rustic ski resorts popular in the 1920s and 1930s. The further north you ski on this line, the fewer services are available beside the trail.

 

Mont Tremblant Village
Day 2 - Stay at Mont Tremblant and Ski All Day

Mont Tremblant is an up and coming resort that is increasing in popularity every year. This venue draws celebrities from all over the world. It is the highest peak in the Laurentian Mountains, with a vertical drop of over 2,000 ft on one part.  

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The Versant Soleil, which means "sunny slope", is a new ski area opened in the fall of 1999. This side of the mountain has a vertical drop of 1905 ft. and offers plenty of challenging runs.

If you came directly from Montreal to Mont Tremblant, you will have an extra day to spend on the many runs requiring varying levels of skill. If you want to take in some of the activities and sights of the smaller towns between Mont Tremblant and Québec City, you would have to leave Mont Tremblant early in the afternoon of Day 2.

 

Quebec Ice Hotel
Day 3 - From Mont Tremblant to Québec City

Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Val David or Ste. Adèle are all long-time settlements, with loads of history and activities. On an eight-day tour, you would not likely have time to wander through the villages and take in some of the sights; unless, you leave Mont Tremblant on the latter part of Day 2. 

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Certainly, you would find many things to do and see on your journey to Québec City.

Ste. Adèle has all kinds of craft shops, unique boutiques and all sorts of museums and historic buildings to explore. Ste Adèle is known as a museum town and also offers a train tour through the nearby woods.

The village of Val David is a popular place for artists to gather and explore their talents. Check with the town information centre to find out which artists have opened their studios to the public.             

Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts is just 20 minutes from Mont Tremblant and has plenty of shops, boutiques and restaurants to tempt you. Lac des Sables situated in the centre of town is also a real draw.  

On your drive to Québec City, you will go through Trois-Riviéres - one of the major commercial ports in Québec. So as you drive along the North Shore, you will likely see ocean-going tankers up close on their way toward or returning from the St. Lawrence Seaway. These tankers enter the Great Lakes on the other side of the Seaway and sail to the port of Thunder Bay in western Ontario, where a large grain terminal is located. One thing that many travelers talk about when they arrive home is the "pain de ménage" available for purchase in bakeries along the North and South Shores. It is exceptional bread that has a truly memorable, homemade flavour. Pain de ménage accompanied by cups of hot chocolate as a part of your breakfast should keep you going for a few runs on the hills. 

Québec City is one of the oldest cities in North America. Samuel de Champlain established Québec City as an early settlement, called an "abitation" in 1608. Le Vieux Québec, French for "Québec City's old town", is well worth the visit. The architecture is reminiscent of 17th Century Europe and the streets are still paved in cobblestones. This part of the city has maintained its old-world charm and atmosphere. Québec City was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1985.

If you are looking for things to do in Québec City, consider joining an architectural tour, enjoying a meal in one of the wonderful restaurants that make eating an artistic adventure or going for a ride in a "caleche" - a small horse-drawn carriage. The caleche will take you around the old parts of the city and show you all the sites. There are fortresses, the Citadel, battlefields, embattlements and gates. Many battles were fought in and around Québec City. Political ambitions associated with the British and European powers were decided in six major battles waged around the city. You can descend the cliffs behind the Chateau de Frontenac by way of stairs and then climb back up or ride back up in a cogwheel tram. The French army naturally believed that they were safe leading up to one battle because the cliffs were the only way to get to the battlefield without having to go through strong lines of defense established on the other sides of the field. But the British army, led by General Wolfe, somehow climbed these cliffs and surprised the French army, led by marquis de Montcalm, and engaged them in battle when they were unprepared. They fought this particular battle on the Plains of Abraham - near the place where the Chateau Frontenac is now located. The English won this battle, but both Wolfe and Montcalm died on the battlefield.

For two weeks you can observe and take part in many activities that involve snow and take place in the outdoors. There is a snow castle with snow slides, an authentic igloo and music and entertainment. You will find other snow sculptures near the snow castle. If you are brave and hardy, sign up for the snow bath. There is a dogsled race and a soapbox derby that winds its way through the centre of the old town. Also, there are two night parades, one at the beginning and one at the end of the festivities. They also have visiting artists who create something in their medium that fulfills a current theme associated with that year's Carnival. You can watch the artists while they work. There is no shortage of fun and activities suitable for the whole family.

 

Montmorency Falls
Day 4 - Mont Ste-Anne (part of the World Cup ski circuit), Montmorency Falls north of Québec City

Spend the day at Mont Ste-Anne (part of the World Cup ski circuit) or spend the day in Québec City and go to Mont Ste-Anne for night skiing. Although, you may want to be at Mont Ste-Anne in the day, as this mountain offers you fantastic views of the surrounding area - the St. Lawrence in the distance and even the rooftops of Québec City itself.  

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Snowboarders would particularly like this venue, as there are two half-pipes to conquer and freedom on all other 56 runs.  If downhill skiing is not your style, you can ski the cross-country trails around Battlefields Park in Québec City. As well as skiing at the Park, guided tours are available and are also recommended.

If you are an ice-climbing fan, then Montmorency Falls are the place to go. They are just northeast of Québec City where the Montmorency River joins the St. Lawrence River. They make for a challenging and popular ice climbing venue - considered to be one of the best sports for the environment. After the ice has melted, there is no evidence left saying that you were there. If you are not keen on climbing the falls, they are worth a visit just the same, as they are very beautiful when they are frozen and you get a good view from the crest of the falls - there is a suspension footbridge strung across the crest of the falls to give you a different perspective. From this vantage point, you get a broad vista of where the Montmorency River joins the St. Lawrence as well as Québec City's downtown district, which is clearly visible from the bridge.

 

Le Massif Ski Lift
Day 5 - Le Massif de la petite rivière St-Francois

Le Massif is a spectacular resort! You will see the St. Lawrence River from the high points of this resort, as many of the runs have a vantage point to give you an incredible view. It appears that the water lapping at the shoreline lies directly below the base of the mountain.  

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In actuality, it is a few kilometres away. However, you can certainly get a good view of commercial tanker ships going up and down the St. Lawrence River as you plunge down the slopes.

This mountain is the highest in Québec and one of the most popular in eastern North America. It has a vertical drop of more than 2,500 ft. with the longest run taking you along 2.36 miles of trail in deep snow. Le Massif also has unlimited runs for snowboarding.

Make sure you bring a good pair of sunglasses, as the sun shines brightly and creates a sparkle on the bright blue water in the St. Lawrence River. There is also a strong glare coming off of the snow when the sun is out. The river does have ice floating in it, but it does not freeze over.

Le Massif stands in the area of Charlevoix, which is also a great region for cross-country skiing. There is plenty of snow here and many kilometres of trails that require beginner to intermediate skill levels. The trails begin very close to Québec City and wander for long distances, both close to the banks of the St. Lawrence River and points north and northeast. Where cross-country skiing is possible, you will also find dogsledding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.

 

Le Massif
Day 6 - Le Massif de la petite rivière St-Francois

Stay one more day for skiing at Le Massif, "Montagne sur la Mer" - Mountain by the Sea. 

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If you don't feel like skiing today, spend the day relaxing in St-Simeon.

Sugar Shack
Day 7 - From St-Simeon to Mont Orford (on the south side of the St. Lawrence River)

There is a ferry that will take you across the St. Lawrence River from St-Simeon to Rivière du Loup. Some of these ferries only go to the smaller islands, but most also make a trip to the south shore and back. You may prefer to drive around a few of the islands that lie in the middle of the St. Lawrence on your way to the south side.  

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These small islands have had European settlements since the early days when Québec was considered a part of New France. From 1832 until 1937, Gross I'le, was used as a quarantine station for European immigrants arriving at Montreal by ship. 

If you are in Québec in the month of March and early April, you will be there at the right time to take part in sugaring parties, or sugar shacks. If you would rather fit a sugaring party into your travels at this point in the schedule, instead of skiing, you will find lots happening at Sainte-Marcelline.

Some sugaring parties have meals, music and other forms of entertainment to add to the activities. You can go for a walk in the woods and observe the process. The workers often sprinkle the runny sap on the snowy ground. The sap hardens somewhat when it comes in contact with the snow and then you can pick up the sap and "pull" it like taffy. When sugar shacks offer the possibility of "pulling taffy", it is called a "trier de sucre".

You can also ask the staff at Canadream to suggest a reputable venue for sugaring parties. They have knowledge about who in the industry would offer you a good experience. For instance, www.cabaneapierre.com and www.sucreriedelamontagne.com are both reported to be excellent. The owner is very entertaining and is certain to make your stay most enjoyable.

Another option for this part of the itinerary is to spend the evening stargazing at the Mont-Mégantic's Observatory, just south of Thetford Mines. The Observatory opens up the ceiling at night to allow visitors to use the telescopes and see what they can see.

You reach your destination, Mont Orford, by driving along Autoroute 10, a few kilometres outside the town of Magog. This ski area covers three different peaks, Mont Orford, Mont Giroux, and Mont Alfred DesRochers. All these mountains are more than 2,000 feet high and the runs are interconnected giving skiers lots of choice on how to get down the hill. The resort offers dining, ski schools, and child care. Click here for more details. There is also a snow park and a half-pipe for snowboarders at this resort, not to mention ice-climbing, sleigh rides, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

 

 

Montreal
Day 8 - From Orford to Montreal

Orford is in easy reach of Montreal, with about two hours of driving time. It is reputed to be the most romantic city in North America. It certainly is imbued with atmosphere from the historic buildings all around the city, and especially Vieux-Montréal. Despite all the change the city has undergone throughout its existence, it has maintained its early style and architecture.  

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Take a day to tour around the city of Montreal and take in the sights. This city offers so many cultural and artistic activities to absorb much more than a day, but you may want to give yourself at least that much time.

The following points are only a few of the possibilities:

Visit the Centre d'histoire de Montréal facing onto the Place D'Youville. The Centre is housed in an old fire hall. They develop new exhibitions regularly. You can walk around on the rooftop and see Vieux-Montréal from a higher vantage point and learn about the city's culture and history.

Or perhaps you are up to climbing to the base of the cross at the top of Mont-Royal, Montrealers' favourite mountain.

There are numerous museums and places of interest to go and be inspired or wildly stimulated.

Montreal was the site for both the 1967 Expo and the 1976 Summer Olympics and some venues are open for tours.

Like so many civic centres in Québec, there are many restaurants, bistros and nightclubs throughout the city. The downtown district has countless establishments to choose from; there are oodles in the Underground City (a plus if the weather is inclement), as well as in the Quartier Latin.

There is also the Biodome, the Insectarium (kids would love this), and the Botanical Gardens.

Once in Montreal, you may wish to return your RV and then spend the day touring around the old city. There are a variety of activities in Montreal for you to choose from before heading home. I am sorry there won't be time to do too many - this is your open invitation to return to take in other sites. Bon voyage!

 




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