Discoveries

Winter in Québec !

Yves Lafontaine
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If you think winter is for hibernation, that's for the bears! From November to March, fun-loving Quebecers have their own clever ways of keeping their spirits up when the thermometer goes down – snow festivals and new high-tech and good old-fashioned winter sports. White Gold
With tons of snow, a vast wilderness, a long season and 200 cross-country and downhill ski centres, in Québec, skis get almost as much use as feet. Québec has the most challenging cross-country ski trail east of the Rocky Mountains – La Traversée de Charlevoix. Québec is also the snowmobile capital of the world, with 33,000 km (18,600 miles) of signposted trails over old logging routes, abandoned railroads, steep mountains, glistening tundra, and by lakeshore and seaway.
Explore the magic of a French Canadian winter by snowshoe trekking, dogsledding, a day on the ice floes off Îles de la Madeleine, observing fluffy white newborn harp seals or, for the truly adventurous, ice climbing. Chute Montmorency , higher than Niagara Falls, freezes into Canada's most climbed wall of ice. Or try some ice fishing at one of the colorful ice fishing "colonies" of shacks on frozen lakes around Québec. The ambience is always lively and the fish can't get any fresher.

Cities under flakes
Québecois winter is as charming in the city as it is in the country. Try some romantic ice skating to music on frozen ponds and canals, light-hearted tobogganing, and even cross-country skiing (Montréal has 70 km/45 miles of cross-country trails). Then head over to the Molson Centre for a hockey match with the Montréal Canadiens, winners of the Stanley Cup 24 times since 1929. Or go window shopping in Montréal's weather-proof Underground City. It covers 40% of downtown with a 30-km (19-mile) labyrinth of pedestrian walkways linking office towers, cinemas, hotels, shops, restaurants and 65 metro stations.
Every February, over a million people gather in Québec City to celebrate the biggest winter carnival in the world. From an enchanting ice palace, "Bonhomme Carnaval" , the mascot of Québec City's Winter Carnival , reigns over ten days of festivities, including canoe races on the frozen St. Lawrence, fireworks across from the Parliament Building, a colourful float parade, and ice sculpting competitions at the entrance to the Plains of Abraham.
Snow doesn't last forever, but Quebecers make the most of it. Wet snow or powder, frost or ice, it's all raw material for a game or a festival or a competition to keep the blood warm until the spring thaw.

Skiing
It's no wonder that Québec draws more than one million skiers every year. First of all there are its two major mountain ranges, the Laurentians and Appalachians, then its abundant snowfall (an average of 3 m/10 ft every year), and over 800 trails to challenge skiers of all calibres at more than 80 resorts, most located less than an hour from the major cities, not to mention a season lasting close to half the year.
Trails are perfectly maintained, of course, and feature the most modern equipment and the latest in artificial snow-making technology. Between runs you might be lucky enough to catch one of the many international competitions held in Québec each year. And the fun doesn't stop when the sun goes down! We boast the best night skiing in the Americas.
After enjoying the perfect snow conditions all day, you can relax at one of the many comfortable facilities at the foot of the slopes. Packages are available, including meals, lessons and unlimited skiing. And since you're in Québec, it's all topped off with genuine hospitality and first-class cuisine.
There are four major ski areas in Québec: the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships, the Greater Québec Area and Charlevoix.
Less than an hour from Montréal, the Laurentians have the highest concentration of alpine ski resorts and lighted trails in North America. Among the best known are Tremblant, Gray Rocks, Mont Saint-Sauveur, Mont-Blanc, Ski Chantecler and Mont Gabriel, all set amidst the incomparable charm and hospitality of mountainside villages.
Halfway between Montréal and the US border, Ski Bromont, Mont Orford, Mont Sutton and Owl's Head in the Eastern Townships are known for high peaks and great ski centres.
Just a few minutes from the charms of Québec City, you can enjoy superb skiing. Mont-Sainte-Anne speeds skiers up to the top of its 56 trails on its 8-passenger gondola and express chairlifts, while Stoneham has the largest lighted ski area in Canada.
In the Charlevoix region, Mont Grand Fonds and Le Massif at Petite-Rivière-Saint-François overlooks the St. Lawrence. With the highest vertical drop in Québec,Le Massif caters to skiers looking for new challenges.
Winter in Québec: it's vivacious and wild!

Cross-country skiing
What could be more exhilarating than gliding through still, pine-scented woods, to the sounds of rushing water beneath the ice beside the trail, or the squeaking of your skis as you cross the empty expanse of a snow-covered lake sparkling in the brilliant winter sun?
Whether you're simply out for a leisurely stroll in the woods or prefer long-distance treks, you'll find some 30 major centres and thousands of kilometres of well-maintained and marked trails, dotted along the way with huts and relay stations. Many of these centres offer lessons, guided tours and equipment rental.
There are lots of delightful trails close to the cities, sometimes even in the cities themselves, but some of the most memorable experiences await you in Québec's magnificent parks and reserves. The most extensive networks, ranging from 150 to over 300 km (95 to over 185 mi.), are to be found in the Gatineau, Mont-Sainte-Anne and Gaspésie parks and the Laurentides wildlife reserve.
Cross-country skiing is the sure trail to fun and fitness!

Snowmobiling
Ready for an unusual experience? Do you thirst to explore vast snowy expanses, deep forests and broad frozen lakes? There's only one way to discover much of Québec's immense wilderness, and that's aboard a snowmobile.
Québec and snowmobiles were made for each other. These ingenious machines throw the doors open wide to parts of the province that would otherwise be inaccessible. When Joseph-Armand Bombardier of Québec invented the perfect winter vehicle in 1922, he had no idea of how popular it would become. The snowmobile is the essential means of travel for native people in Québec, a powerful steed for racers and other outdoor enthusiasts, and a source of fun for the whole family.
Québec's love affair with snowmobiling has engendered a network of trails extensive enough to satisfy everyone, from the family out for a Sunday afternoon of fun to hard-bitten explorers.
There are over 30,000 km (18,600 mi) of trails, including the 9000 km (5600 mi) of the Trans-Québec network winding through almost every corner of the province. Along the clearly marked and carefully maintained trails, snowmobilers can find everything they need: fuel, repairs and rentals, heated huts, lodging and food.
Snowmobilers' clubs organize a host of terrifically popular and colourful competitions and events all season long, like the North American snowmobile festival in Thetford Mines and the Rallye International de Chibougamau. And don't miss the Grand Prix in Valcourt, where you can also visit the Musée J.-Armand-Bombardier.
Snowmobiles are also a great way to get to other winter activities, ice fishing in particular. There's nothing like the warm camaraderie of a day spent fishing out in one of the little towns of shacks that spring up on the ice of the St. Lawrence, Saguenay and Sainte-Anne rivers as soon as they freeze over.
Straddle a snowmobile and take control of winter!