I’m writing this from Hotel La Ferme which is in Baie-St-Paul, Quebec, Canada. Today I had a great time skiing at Le Massif de Charlevoix. Growing up, “Le Massif” was just a legend we heard about while scraping our skis on rocks and ice in the Gatineau hills outside of Ottawa. Besides having the highest elevation of any ski resort east of the Rocky Mountains, it also boats the most powder in Eastern Canada. From the moment I arrived at the resort until I put my fork down after a most amazing meal at Les Labours, today has been heavenly. Let’s get right into this as per usual, I have lots to say…
For starters, Le Massif de Charlevoix is located roughly 75km down 138E from Quebec City. One thing that struck me as really cool was that it’s the only resort I’ve ever been to where you drive to the top of the mountain and then ski down. I love this concept because you can finish when you’re tired instead of being stranded at the top of a mountain with lazy legs and not looking forward to a descent at the end of the day. Oh yeah, they also have a train…
Let’s talk about the train, shall we? Believe it or not, the resort purchased the old train track which goes from the area to Quebec City along the coast of the St. Lawrence. It’s currently a work in progress and only operating weekends but soon will be full time. Basically you can take the train from Quebec City to Le Massif at the base and 20 minutes down the track you’re at the Hotel La Ferme. This way, you want you can stay at the hotel and take the train to and from the resort which is great. It also means you can fly into Quebec City and make it to a Winter Wonderland without ever having to deal with the hassle of renting a car, smart.
I was met by a gent named Dennis who showed me the mountain and I just love it! The snow here was the best I’ve ever experienced and by that I mean there was basically no ice, anywhere. Also, it was a Monday morning so nobody was really there and I could do these massive turns carving the hills on my skis like I was an overzealous relative on Thanksgiving digging deep into a turkey with a very sharp knife. It also felt as though the runs we were on, we had to ourselves and I’m a big fan of that feeling.
The carving was fun but the powder was even better. With the skis I rented it was as though I was floating and my knees which are always an issue didn’t even bother me whatsoever. It’s the hard ice that you need to grind against to slow down on most resorts that crush the knees, this place had none of that. It also feels like you’re skiing into the St. Lawrence River, seriously. I took the photo below from the gondola but can only imagine the view on a sunny day from the summit. I also met a fellow Bishop’s University alumni who was also skiing it for the first time, he loved it.
After a few hours we went inside for some lunch. Many ski resort cafeterias offer overpriced fries and gravy with an uninspired hamburger, this place had choice plates available. I enjoyed some Duck Confit as it’s a favorite of mine. Afterwards we cruised some more runs before doing something I never imagined, luging… That’s right, luging and it took place down this 7km run that they built specifically for this purpose. It’s cool and you take this snow cat to your departure point and yes, helmets most certainly required.
Luging was a lot of fun and whoever you are; it will bring back the kid in you. For starters, it’s hard to control and there are expert and beginner ways of doing things. I tried the expert until at the first turn I found myself deep in powder before doing a few flips and was left staring at the sky covered in snow with a smile on my face. Finally got the hang of it and you can really get moving on those things. I believe the fastest someone has gone on the track is 80-95km an hour, I didn’t go near that fast but you REALLY feel yourself moving a few inches off the ground with sketch steering and racing your friends / others in the group is half the fun.
Afterwards, I made my way to the splendid room(photo tomorrow) where I’m writing this now at Hotel La Ferme. This place has a very modern feel to it but also has something for everyone. Besides a spa and several restaurants, it also has dorms… The dorms are $49 a night and it consists of 4 beds in a modern room with flat screen TV, lockers, comfy looking beds, private bathroom / shower and more. If you’ve got a few friends you can rent the whole room for $175. You don’t see this very often in Canada but I think it’s a great idea and opens up the establishment to many different types of budgets.
It’s been a long day and I’m exhausted and STUFFED. I just returned from Les Labours Restaurant in the hotel and am beyond satisfied. It’s got a cool open concept where the chefs are in a large island in the middle of the restaurant and if you’re like me, you sit at the bar so you can get involved. The Chef’s Etienne and Frank really made me several masterpieces in several sampling plates that I eat slowly, savoring each bite. All the food they use is organic and locally grown as much as possible. Below is the appetizer, favorites were the smoked salmon and sturgeon.
I’m tired and tomorrow I’m hitting the slopes again so it’s time for me to wrap this up.
Big thanks to Le Massif de Charlevoix, Quebec City Tourism and everyone else who helped me today.
P.S: I made a video of the luging. I hope it came out as my GoPro turned into a condensation station, sigh.