The ideal alpine ski trip: scenic slopes, snow, gourmet lunch on the mountain, fondue, speaking French at après ski, spa treatments, and a luxe ski hotel. Don’t forget: pricey airfare across the pond and jet lag to go along with that joie de vivre. What if you didn’t have to fly to the Alps for a French ski trip? Just cross the border to ski Quebec, eh?!
Le Massif and Mont Sainte Anne offer European alpine ambiance, just north of the four-century-old city of Quebec. Stay the night in Quebec City at Le Château Frontenac, which looks like Hogwarts and overlooks the St Lawrence River. Stroll snowy gaslight streets and savor superb cuisine in this fortified French Canadian city that celebrates winter with the world’s largest Winter Carnival, ice carvings, castles and canoe races.
Drive 30-minutes from the city to Mont Sainte Anne, and ride the base to summit gondola at this three-sided ski mountain with stunning views of The St. Lawrence Seaway. Ski the glades of “La Belle et La Bête” (Beauty and the Beast) or carve your way down perfect cord of Gros Vallons for 2,050′ vertical. Don’t miss the Cabane à Sucre, a trailside chalet serving warm maple sugar on snow – yum! Stay at the only slopeside hotel, Château Mont Sainte Anne, soak in the outdoor spa, then wine and dine on fondue at Le Brez – très bien! There’s night skiing at Mont Sainte Anne too, but I believe après ski is more fun, especially since the view is gone with the sun!
Le Massif, twenty minutes north of Mont Sainte Anne, is “magnifique.” Owned by Daniel Gauthier, formerly of Cirque du Soleil, this ski resort is a three ring circus. Fast lifts serve fjord-like skiing as you descend the 2,645′ vertical down the banks of the St. Lawrence. At Le Massif’s summit is a spectacular mountaintop lodge where you park, start and end your ski day – c’est fantastique. This well-pitched, picture-perfect ski resort in Charlevoix – a Unesco World Heritage site, is training ground for the Canadian Ski Team, but also a culinary haven for everyday skiers. No cheeseburgers or fries served at the Summit Lodge – how about duck confit, escargot, fresh pasta, s’il vout plaît!?
Stay at Ringmaster Gauthier’s nouveau Hôtel La Ferme nearby, ride a train from the slopes (he owns that, too) or drive 20 minutes. This stylish complex features five themed lodging buildings, a European spa, local cuisine served in a spectacular loft overlooking an après ski lounge in the main lodge, all surprisingly affordable for such a swank setting despite the humble “farm” name.
Why fly to the pricey French Alps when you can ski these gems in Quebec? Next up on the list of resorts to check out are Owl’s Head and Mont Tremblant. With beautiful views, great terrain and an unpretentious family-friendly feel, you’re bound to have a great day on the slopes at Owl’s Head. Mont Tremblant is très bien too, an hour north of Montreal, their alpine village is like Disney on snow – animated and very entertaining. Quebec has plenty of snow this season, and your dollar is on par – far better than the Euro. Bring your passport and parlez Français (think: piste, neige, bière, fromage, après-ski, & joie de vivre).