The word for incredible in French is “incroyable.” And that’s exactly what you’ll feel when speeding down the highest vertical east of the Canadian Rockies, with a view of the St. Lawrence River unfolding below you.
Quebec’s Le Massif de Charlevoix is everything you’d want in a mountain escape with the added benefit of being less crowded than some of its nearby counterparts. It’s close to major cities yet feels worlds away thanks to the mountain’s unique layout. It also comes with the added bonus of an impassioned culinary team focused on bringing locally-sourced French Canadian food to the masses.
A new luxury Club Med property, which opened in December, is bringing a renewed focus to the lesser-known peak, ensuring it won’t stay a hidden gem for long. But there is still plenty to get excited about, and there’s still time to be among the early birds to ski it.
“It’s really a feeling. It’s about the moment of being immersed in beauty and nature. It’s this endless terrain that takes you from great heights down to the water’s edge,” Maude Barrette Desjardins, the communication and marketing director for Le Massif, told Travel + Leisure. “It’s about freedom, and it’s about reconnecting with nature.”
Located about an hour from Quebec City, the mountain boasts more than 400 skiable acres with breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence River from nearly every run. But wait, this is the cool part: Most skiers and riders arrive at the top of the mountain rather than the base, ensuring they can rip right down without having to wait in line for a lift first.
“You have to understand, when you come to Le Massif, as soon as you enter the road, you feel at that instant that you are traveling, you are elsewhere,” Barrette Desjardins said. “There’s something really unique — you feel like you’re in a dream at every run.”
For the Powder Hound
Le Massif features the highest vertical east of the Canadian Rockies and offers more than 9 miles of backcountry and off-piste terrain, promising a challenge for even the most expert of skiers and snowboarders.
Barrette Desjardins said groomed runs tend to stay in good condition since the mountain works to keep crowds down.
“We have a contingency at the mountain, so we control the number of people that come … to make sure people have the best experience, and they can maximize their day. It was in place for [the pandemic], and it’s served us well,” she said. “Everybody who comes here will tell you the same thing: you feel you’re privileged … we don’t want to lose that privileged feeling. It won’t be the same if it gets really crowded.”
You won’t find fast food on this mountain. Instead, there’s a determined focus on showcasing the best food the region has to offer, from confit duck legs and soups to cheese and charcuterie platters that allow guests to put together their own lunch.
“We are a mountain, a destination of Charlevoix,” Barrette Desjardins said. “It has always been important to feature the local product and to make sure the people who come here get to experience the feeling of Charlevoix. It’s in our DNA.”
For Nighttime Thrills
\After a day of skiing and riding, visitors to Le Massif can head to the mountain at night to experience an impressive traditional sledding run, which clocks in at more than 4.6 miles. Don a headlamp and take a snowcat up to the top of the sledding trail, then speed down for a two-hour nighttime adrenaline rush. Don’t worry. There are a few breaks along the way — including at a chalet at the halfway point to warm up.
How to Ride
The mountain offers “dynamic pricing” for its daily lift tickets, which changes based on demand and the day of the week. Lift tickets start at $77.50 CAD (about $60) for a half-day adult lift ticket and $109.50 CAD (about $84) for a full-day adult lift ticket.
Where to Stay
Walk right out to the slopes at the ski-in, ski-out Club Med Quebec, the company’s first all-inclusive ski resort in Canada, which opened in early December. After a day on the mountain, relax at the resort’s spa by Sothys or enjoy dinner in one of the hotel’s two restaurants.
For a bigger group, book one of the small homes at Les Refuges, perfect for four to six people, each featuring a modern, streamlined design with cozy fireplaces and an equipped kitchen (with a fondue pot, of course).
Where to Eat
Take a break from the slopes with an on-mountain lunch at the Restauration Summit Chalet. At the restaurant, you can order a hearty celeriac, porchetta, and provolone sandwich, tuck into a plate of osso buco pork Milanese or warm up with a classic bowl of onion soup with Hercule de Charlevoix cheese.
In the evening, head to the nearby Baie-Saint-Paul, a quaint and charming town on the river. Order a classic fondue to take away at Ah la vache!, or venture down the street for a burger or some smoked meat poutine and a microbrew at Le Saint-Pub – Microbrasserie Charlevoix.
Where to Apres-ski
Party the late afternoon away at Le Grand Duc, a pub that sits on the mountain’s summit and boasts a lively atmosphere with live music on Saturdays. Enjoy a great selection of local beers from Quebec and a whole section of gin Québécois.