Quebec in winter, it’s fun!

While the Indian summer already seems far away and the winter sets in, Quebec is about to put on its beautiful snow. But so far, no way of staying cloistered: here, the outdoors is a way of life. And as recalled a local saying, “There is no bad weather, there is only poorly dressed people! ”

So we strap the boots, we warmly covers, plus gloves and hat and we leave to discover the wintry Quebec face, full of activities and surprises.

The program includes unique traditions and cities that are full of energy and creativity, easy access to national parks, forests of loss of view, mountains, a million frozen lakes, thousands of rivers and majestic river of Saint Laurent.

To immerse yourself in this natural setting, you will stay in a cabin, a tepee or a cozy cottage in the woods and there will be plenty to choose from a wide range of  activities: snowmobiling, ice skating, skiing and dog sledding.

With its XXL dimensions, the Quebec Winter has everything to seduce the visitor in search of adventure and discovery. With the added bonus of Quebecers heat, the negative temperature will not bother you!

The unavoidable

Several months would not be enough to discover all the faces of Quebec, including twenty-two regions extending over a territory that is more than two times bigger than Alaska.If you spend ten days, so you have to make choices and select the steps of your trip that suit your tastes and your desires of the moment.

Among the must, Montreal, main entry point, and Quebec City, the capital. Visits, walks, shopping or skating, activities abound in the cities, that come alive especially at weekends when major outdoor festivals: Montreal High Lights, Igloofest and the Quebec Winter Carnival. And in the evening, we forget the cold in restaurants and bars, in contact with Quebecers, whose good humor and friendliness are enough to melt the ice!

After enjoying the attractions of the city life, you can explore the national parks and wildlife reserves, to encounter nature as big as the wild: taiga, boreal forests, tundra, rivers and countless lakes, the Saguenay Fjord and the great St. Lawrence River, whose fertile plain extends between the mountain ranges of the Laurentians and the Appalachians, you will take full eyes.

On almost 7 000 km 2 ( 4300 sq mile ), the parks managed by Sépaq (Society of Outdoor recreation establishments in Quebec) offer visitors a range of winter activities: snowmobiling, ice fishing, dog sledding, hiking on snow or cross country by skiing or snowshoeing.

Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier by Mathieu Dupuis | © Sépaq

Many parks are nearby cities. Such as, the National Park of Jacques Cartier, a half-hour drive from Quebec. The park has a network of 11 snowshoeing trails totalling 78.7 km. Take advantage of the freshly renovated Discovery and Visitors Centre to warm up or enjoy some delicious soup. If you want to have a snack or warm up once the trails, drop in to any of the 4 huts with fireplace. The park also offers snowshoe rentals.

if you’re a fan of alpine skiing or snowboarding, you can go to the Massif de Charlevoix, easily accessible from Quebec and its packed many advantages, with its elevation of 770 meters, and its perfect snow and incredible view of the St. Lawrence. Finally, not to leave Quebec without having tested the dog sled ride in the heart of snowy landscapes.

After a day outdoors, no doubt you will enjoy the typical dishes of the Quebec gastronomy, before spending the night in a wooden cottage in the forest, a real “cabin in Canada”!

Finally, to continue your exploration of the art of living in Quebec, please try another winter experience through an afternoon in a Nordic spa in the countryside. The principle: alternating hot and cold, inside … and outside. You will come out as relaxed as invigorated!

Winter is active

All over Quebec, regardless of temperature, outdoor activities abound in the winter and the views are breathtaking!

Adrenaline Aventure Nature, Eastern Townships © TQ / Vlan Communication

For those whose childhood was rocked by the imagination of White Fang, do not miss to go on a dogsledding excursion. Rush on untouched slopes in the heart of the white expanses for a day or a few days, and become familiar with the traditional mode of transport for Northern Aboriginal people. An exceptional opportunity to discover the complicity between the musher and animals from his team, composed of four to nine dogs: generally huskies (Siberian), malamutes (from Alaska), and sometimes Greenland.

For those who prefer, there is also the snowmobile, which, incidentally, is a Canadian invention. Of the 33 000 km of marked paths throughout the whole territory, there are all necessary services: fuel, garages, heated shelters, food and accommodations.

In Valcartier Vacation Village, just 20 minutes north of Quebec City, is for skiing place for everyone and fun is guaranteed on different tracks, whether you are with family or friends.

Finally, as soon as the ice layer of lakes and rivers is thick enough, you can experience the ice fishing,  a skill inherited from Native Americans.

Ice fishing, Gaspésie © TQ / R. Ouellet

Tip: by booking a package, all equipment is provided. Depending on location, you’ll catch different fish species: trout or perch if you are fishing in the lake Témiscouata, smelt, and redfish in the Saguenay, and other kind of fishes on the side of the Laurentian Mountains.

Before you park your “char” (car, Quebecers) next to the hut, you will have the opportunity to test the ice driving, an experience in itself! And if you prefer to stay in town, know that in Montreal, it is possible to tease the fish, the white fishing in village of Old Port.

When you arrive in town

Igloofest in Old Montreal © Igloofest / M. Legault

In large Quebec cities, it is not bored during the winter, far from it! From major festivals are organized, electrifying cities won by the cold.

In Montreal, the Igloofest brings together thousands of fans of electronic music at the Old Port. From Thursday to Saturday, there are thousands to dance in the open. If the cold is severe, the atmosphere will be hot! In 2016, the 10th edition will be held from 14 January to 6 February.

During that time, the Quebec Winter Carnival ignites the streets of Quebec City every weekend from January 29 to February 14. Before the parliament, rises the magical ice palace which was built for Bonhomme from snow (1979 to 1994) with around 9,000 tons of snow compacted into enormous bricks. It is the Carnival’s guest of honour. More than 200 activities are planned: DJ, party, night parade, ice sculpture competition, ice canoe race derby … And many traditions such as Arrow Sash and red trumpets, Queen and Duchesses. See the programme here..

A few days after the closing of the carnival in Quebec, begins one of the largest winter festivals in the world: Montreal High light Festival, which attracts over a million visitors. This year (from 18 to 27 February): a mix of performances (music, circus, theater, dance) and gastronomy, with the arrival of leaders from five continents.

Warm front

Typical meal Quebec © TQ / D. Lafond
Typical meal Quebec © TQ / D. Lafond

While it is cold in Quebec, but in fact, it is a good reason to warm up, and take the opportunity to indulge in the comforting pleasures of food and welfare activities, , stopping in spas.

Many peaceful havens await the traveler in the heart of nature. Among them, the Sacacomie Lodge ( just 90 minutes from Montreal and 2 hours from Quebec City) , it is a real comfortable refuge in the forest, near the Mastigouche wildlife reserve. All wood, and it offers beautiful lake views and a warm atmosphere inside.

Wood is also a key element in the Auberge du Lac Taureau, a hotel in the Lanaudière region that combines luxury and authenticity. Besides the health and spa packages, it offers a whole range of winter activities like snowmobiling, ice fishing, dog sledding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, as well as skating, broomball and even hockey, on the ice.

Many activities are possible in Le Baluchon Eco Resort, north of Saint-Paulin, MauricieHere, the focus is on eco-resort, respect for the environment and the well-being (yoga, spa) but also gastronomy.

To discover the largest log cabin of the world, go to the very select Fairmont Le Château Montebello, along the Ottawa River. With a spa and fitness center, the hotel, which is celebrating its 85th anniversary, is the ideal place to relax.

Head to the top of the mountain to reach Gîte du Mont-Albert, a four-star inn in the heart of Gaspésie National Park, with views of Mount Albert. Do not miss to honor the host table, which serves fine cuisine.

At 625 meters, the Mountain Lodge Chic-Chocs is also a great step in the Matane Wildlife Reserve in eastern Quebec. There, experienced guides offer you to explore the trails, where you might see a moose. Then it will be time to return to the warmth of the inn to enjoy the “3 S: sofa, sauna and spa,” then take place in the evening around a large wooden table to enjoy game or Fish in a good mood.

It slips, for sports!

Skateway Old Port of Montreal, Montreal © TQ / Canada Pictures
Skateway Old Port of Montreal, Montreal © TQ / Canada Pictures

With its snowy slopes and long winter, Quebec is a delight for lovers of alpine skiing and snowboarding. 

Divided between the mountains of the Appalachians and the Laurentians, the approximately 70 ski resorts are easily accessible from Montreal or Quebec.Most of the tracks are passable at night, is illuminated from sunset date.Snowboarders also enjoy the facilities that are dedicated to them.

or those who prefer Nordic skiing or cross country skiing, the possibilities are endless excursions on the many trails of Québec’s national parks and wildlife reserves, managed by Sépaq.

For a perfect immersion in nature, the must is to spend the night in a refuge.The National Park of Mont-Tremblant, the largest Quebec (1 500 km 2) in eleven account, accessible on foot, snowshoes or skis. You can also sleep in a cottage, or winter camping, if desired.

Finally, in the city or elsewhere, the skating is a leading winter activity, enjoyed by the whole family. Far from being limited to the rinks, it is also practiced on frozen lakes and rivers, outdoors. Thus, in the Lanaudière region, the L’Assomption River is a great ice track where you can slip on 4.5 km, a record!

In the Laurentians, the Lac Masson turns into a huge skating rink each winter.Like the Lake St. John, home from January to March to an ice Village. For the occasion, 350 houses are installed, and two ice rinks are equipped to play hockey, the national sport.

Full scale of experience

Northern lights in Nunavik © TQ / H. Wittenborn.
Northern lights in Nunavik © TQ / H. Wittenborn.

In the collective imagination, Quebec in winter is synonymous with large spaces, long sleigh rides in the heart of snowy landscapes, with trees skyline out of sight. This is not a myth!

For proof, head north, where you can enjoy an unforgettable experience in the heart of the boreal forest, along with the team of Aventuraid. On the program: snowmobiling, dogsledding, snowshoeing, trapper camp, traditional meals with local products and discover the local wildlife.

If you do not have the chance to meet a moose or a snowy owl during your trip, you can always visit the gray and arctic wolves of Mahikan Park, and listening to the howling dark, while you are comfortably installed in your ecolodge, a four seasons house in the heart of nature.

A little further north, after crossing the Lake St John, another adventure awaits you in the Monts-Valin National Park, which dominates the region from its height of 984 meters. There you can explore two places with names a scary tad: the Ghosts valley and the country of the Mummies, landmarks for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing.

The Valin receive more than 5 meters of snow each year! These rainfall are behind the Valley of Ghosts and the country of the Mummies. After such an expenditure of energy, you’ll be happy to join your EXP cottage whose windows are a window on nature, heat and more.

Ice Hotel, Quebec © TQ / JF. Hamelin
Ice Hotel, Quebec © TQ / JF. Hamelin

For a taste of loneliness deep into the wilderness, you can also spend the night in an unusual accommodation: a tepee, a treehouse in the trees or a yurt. And in the morning, be enjoyed, amazed, when the sun rises on from the pristine and quiet landscapes, before leaving to explore the area.

And if you were a folly in going to sleep at the Hotel De Glace in Quebec? For the 16th consecutive year, this work of art , magically welcome guests from 4 January to 28 March. A unique experience that will certainly not leave you cold!

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