Au Quebec Pays des Merveilles d’Hiver

Messieurs et Mesdammes, nous aimons le Quebec en hiver! With apologies to Madame Haydu, my high school French teacher, our recent journée au Quebec was trés intéressant, and nous were heureuse to tell you toût de l’historie.

Eçoutez, Senior Skiers, if you are looking for a winter vacation in snow country that is different, even exotic, consider heading north to Quebec. There you will find some incredibly beautiful multi-snow sport resorts, world-class hotels and scenery that is honestly like nothing you’ve ever seen before. All so close, all so exotique. But before we tell you about our skiing adventures, we want to report on Quebec’s winter jewel: le Carnavale de Quebec.

Mascot Bonhomme makes us feel welcome at his Palais. Credit: Tourisme Quebec
Mascot Bonhomme makes us feel welcome at his Palais.
Credit: Tourisme Quebec

If you are reading this, you are most likely a friend of winter. Let us tell you straight up that les Quebecois are amants (lovers) of winter. Frankly, when you live up there, you have to be. Visiting Quebec City during Carnavale is a lesson in celebrating a glorious winter culture built on welcoming the magnificent cold and all it brings.

We met Bonhomme, the puffy white snowman mascot of Carnavale, at an evening parade which featured dramatically lit creatures of the North—narwhales and wolves—floats with scenes of Quebec history, musicians, clowns, acrobats, motorcycles, all in the brilliant cold air. It seemed the entire city lined the parade route with rosy-cheeked children riding on parents’ shoulders, many enthusiastic bleatings of plastic horns, and a warm feeling of camaraderie.

Musicians' hut at le Monde de Bonhomme at Quebec's Winter Carnavale. Credit: SeniorsSkiing
Musicians’ hut at le Monde de Bonhomme at Quebec’s Winter Carnavale.
Credit: SeniorsSkiing

Downtown, we also visited la Palais de Bonhomme, a really large, ornate, multi-room structure built of crystal clear blocks of ice, with themed rooms and ice furniture. We walked over to the Plains of Abraham where we found an extraordinary outdoor exhibition of snow slides, kid’s activities, sleigh rides, ice sculptures, musicians in heated booths, and squeaky snow underfoot.

The pièce de résistance, though, was the canoe racing on the St. Lawrence River, choked as you would imagine this time of year with jagged ice floes and big bergy bits, and with the occasional stretch of open water. Teams of fiveIceboat hardy athletes dressed in wet suits and spiked shoes push, pull, heave, lift and row bateaux about 20-25 feet long through, around and over all this. The idea was to head around three buoys, two placed on the Quebec side of the river and the third on the far side, at least two miles across. Amateur teams went around the buoys once; the pros had to make the circuit twice. Now that’s an extreme sport.

Quebec is an easy car ride from anywhere in the Northeast and even from the Midwest; major airlines fly into Jean Lesage International. It’s probably the most European city in North America. Restaurants and cafes line le Vieux Quebec, and there are many art boutiques and craft shops though out the city. Just being in Quebec in winter is exhilarating; the locals know how to live in winter, and they start by loving it.

Coming next: Skiing the Charlevoix Region.


  1. Michael Conley says:

    Very interesting! My mother is from Quebec City & skied at Mont St. Anne as a young woman. I’ve been but only in the summer, never winter. A special place – sounds like you had a wonderful time.

  2. Quebec is wonderful any time of year, but it’s certainly special in the winter. Nice to read your piece about it.

  3. Henry M Frechette Jr says:

    We used to go to the Carnavale and ski at Mt St Anne every February vacation for years growing up. It is magical. We went back two years ago and had a great time and was amazed how much fun one can have in 0 degree weather even without skis

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