I’m learning to embrace winters here in Canada. I used to hibernate until the flowers started blooming again, but now I find myself indulging not only in walks in the snow but swims too! Since Toronto has been without snow for most of this winter, I was excited to get the invitation to visit the province of Quebec again. In this guide, to the best of Charlevoix Quebec, I share details and tips on my luxury winter escape.
Charlevoix Luxury Hotels to Stay and Play
I stayed in two luxury resorts during my visit to Charlevoix Quebec and don’t just recommend them both for accommodations but for dining options too.
Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix
Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix located about an hour and fifteen minutes drive from Quebec City is situated in the town of Baie-Saint-Paul Quebec on the shores of the St. Lawrence River. Once a massive farm, the hotel is the vision of Daniel Gauthier, known for starting Cirque de Soleil in this tiny village.
The hotel buildings span five complexes with a variety of different types of rooms. With 145 rooms, a thermal outdoor spa, a conference facility, two restaurants, a bakery and steps from the St. Lawrence and town of Baie St. Paul, this is an easy choice for any escape. More on this fantastic hotel in this post: This is What a Luxury Winter Escape Looks Like at Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix.
Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu
Further up the coast of the St. Lawrence River is the tiny community of La Malbaie Quebec. Here stands the grand Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu which dates back to 1899. An important piece of La Malbaie’s history the hotel is filled with secrets, historical artefacts and paintings.
Also on the property is Casino Charlevoix and the hotel’s golf course making it a popular summer destination. For winter lovers, the hotel’s outdoor heated pool is a popular spot, as is the ice rink out front. For a full review of the hotel see our post: Tastes of Today and Yesterday Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu Charlevoix Quebec. For a full review of the hotel see our post: Easy Luxury Winter Escape at Fairmont Richelieu Quebec.
Skiing and Winter Activities in Charlevoix
Le Massif Charlevoix Quebec
With ski hills that give the illusion that you are falling into the St. Lawrence River, Le Massif offers a network of challenging slopes with many marked challenging to expert. There are cross-country trails available here as well. It is a popular destination for skiers but is probably most known for its wooden sledding experience.
Imagine racing down the side of a mountain on a luge shaped wooden sled, which only you and your body movements can control. There is no built in luge track, but a groomed trail along the side of the mountain with a few stops along the way.
Le Massif is a great hill to ski at if you are staying at Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix.
Located near La Malbaie and a short 20-minute drive from the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, Mont Grand-Fonds offers some of the best skiing in Charlevoix. Known amongst the locals, this hidden gem is a must if you are a skier and travelling through the region.
Even on the weekend, there were no lineups for chairlifts, and during a week where the rest of the area had a winter warm up which affected many ski centres, Mont Grand-Fonds had groomed hills and cross country trails.
If you are downhill skiing, be sure to stop into the small cabin at the top of the hill for a bite to eat. Jeremie is serving up the most delicious eats in his little kitchen. This soup could very well have been the best soup I’ve ever had.
Village of Baie St. Paul
Shop the streets of Baie Saint Paul known as an artists centre. Filled with tiny galleries, boutiques and restaurants, it is a must for travellers who love small-town shopping. From cider, wool socks and art to three delicious chocolate shops Baie St. Paul is a favourite stop all season round.
Tips: For fresh, amazing fudge stop into the Café Arômes et Saveurs, which not only offers great coffee in the back but is attached to a huge candy store. If you’re stopping for lunch or dinner I recommend: Le Orange Bistro and the Le Saint-Pub Microbrewery.
The island Isle-aux-Coudres is visible off the shores of Baie Saint Paul. The only way to access it is via ferry located in neighbouring village Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive. The 23 KM island is a popular summer destination, however, traversing the icy St. Lawrence river made for some spectacular scenic views.
On the island don’t leave without a stop for lunch at historic Boulangerie Bouchard. This family-run bakery has been open for over 69 years and features some delicious quiches, soups and meat pies. Of course there is also a selection of sugar cakes, croissants and the famous “Nun’s Farts” rolls. When asked why they are called Nun’s Farts I was told it had something to do with kids watching the nuns baking pastries and letting out a few toots in the process.
Be sure to stop at Ciderie Vergers Pednault and sample from their impressive selection of ciders. They have over 25 varieties and also feature an assortment of jellies, jams, butter and syrups.
Catch the Ice Canoe Races in February
If you plan your trip to the Charlevoix region well, you will plan to be there for the Isle-aux-Coudres leg of the ice canoe races in Quebec. La Grande Traversée Casino Charlevoix is a breathtaking ice canoe race across the St. Lawrence River.
Teams take their homemade equipment made up of wetsuits, football shoes which they drilled spikes into and duck tape, brace the cold icy water to row and push their way across the ice to victory.
Tip: Hop on the ferry (which is free) once the race starts and follow the race alongside the ice canoe races. Dress warmly it’s windy and cold on the island and ferry boat.
Take a Helicopter Ride with Heli-Charlevoix
One of the biggest thrills for me during my winter escape in Charlevoix Quebec was my first helicopter tour. Owner Benoît of Heli-Charlevoix was the perfect host as we rose above the snowy region for a short tour along the St. Lawrence River and the village of Baie St. Paul. Had the weather on the mountains co-operated we would have also landed on a mountain and gone snow shoeing.
Heli-Charlevoix offers many different tours year round, which include guided air tours, picnic stops and more.
Planning a Stay in Quebec City before or after seeing Charlevoix?
Whether you are flying into Quebec City or driving through on your way to Charlevoix here are some posts to help you plan a few activities in Quebec City.