Located in the province of Quebec, an hour drive from Quebec City, Charlevoix is an idyllic winter wonderland, set quietly between the mountains and the sea, covered with a blanket of pristine white snow. UNESCO named Charlevoix a World Biosphere Reserve in 1989, and the sprawling landscape is made up of rolling hills, Laurentian Mountains, and the St. Lawrence River, the result of a crashed meteorite 350 million years ago, leaving a 33-mile wide crater. Here are five things to do in this upscale outdoor paradise, which will make for an unforgettable trip.
Soar About the Clouds with a Helicopter Ride
Nothing is as memorable as exploring a place with a bird’s eye view. Heli Charlevoix is conveniently located at the entrance of Baie-Saint-Paul, 5 minutes from the town center, and offers several options to see the sights by air, from reasonably priced scenic tours to Chef tastings on a mountaintop, complete with local products. heli-charlevoix.com/en/
Relax at The Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu
This stunning Fairmont property has stood the test of time and will be celebrating its 120th anniversary in 2019. First built-in 1899, the 250-room hotel was built overlooking St. Lawrence River to accommodate steamship passengers. Today, the majestic property still stands tall overlooking the St. Lawrence River and features 405 guest rooms, 4 restaurants, a 27-hole golf course, Moment Spa, Sports Centre, tennis courts, observatory, 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, casino, and indoor/outdoor pools.
Most recently the host of the 2018 G7 Summit, Presidents, Dignitaries, and socialites have always had a special place in their heart for Le Manoir Richelieu. In the past, the hotel was a summer playground for the wealthy, checking in for the warmer months to enjoy the castle-like hotel, manicured grounds, and sophisticated interiors for the full summer season. fairmont.com/richelieu-charlevoix/
Explore the Outdoors at Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park
Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie is truly an outdoor winter wonderland. The mountains, waterfalls, glacial valleys, clean air, and Malbaie River Gorge makes for a picturesque backdrop for snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, fat biking, hot skiing, ice climbing, hiking, ice skating, and more. New this year is the Valle des Glace experience, a skating rink, and ice pathway, directly on Rivière Malbaie. Take one day or several, to explore the serenity of nature. sepaq.com
Traverse Down Le Massif de Charlevoix
Skiing, snowboarding, and extreme sledding are a few of the ways to get down the 52 trails and glades over 407 suitable ski acres at La Massif de Charlevoix. Featuring the highest vertical drop in Eastern Canada at 2,526 feet, the mountain was purchased by former Cirque du Soleil President Daniel Gauthier, who has invested heavily in the property throughout the years. One of the few ski resorts that can be accessed from the summit or the bottom of the mountain, you will be pleasantly surprised at the cafeterias. Lead by Chef Guy Bessone and his team, no greasy, fried foods are available here, only chef-made, fresh items like wood-fired pizza, hearty plates of pasta, vegetarian options, and daily specials.
The season here runs from December to late April, and outside of skiing and snowboarding, extreme sledding (or luge) can be done Friday through Monday with a prior reservation. The specially made wooden sled on runners is rented on-site, and the 4.5-mile trip down the mountain takes about 1.5 hours. At the midway point, stop with your guides and fellow adventure seekers to grab a hot cocoa or bone broth in the warming station, and admire the 360-degree views. lemassif.com/en/
See Pristine Landscapes by Dog Sledding
An ode to a Great North tradition, the perfect way to see the natural beauty of Charlevoix is by the back of a dog sled. At Le Reine et le Millionnaire, the couple-owned company treats visitors to a unique experience, with the help of 35 four-legged friends. Excitement is in the air before setting off, as the younger pups can’t wait to show you their land. The majestic Siberian huskies and Alaskan Malamute mixes live in a large, communal open space gated dog park, complete with “dog condos” when not working. Lereineetlemillionnaire.com