Mont-Sainte-Anne is a picturesque ski resort located in the town of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges in the province of Québec, Canada - 25 miles north of the ever charming and popular French influenced Québec City. This was the first destination on our week-long Canadian ski mountain road trip!
Much to my surprise and delight, I was selected for the trip after posting an Instagram at the Québec Original media event last fall with the contest hashtags: #quebecoriginal and #wintermadness. Bob and I decided on the second week of March and the Tourisme Québec team planned the rest - covering all our accommodations, lift tickets, spa visits, and most of our meals. So, a funny photo shoot at an event I almost didn't attend lead to quite the vacation.....
A relaxed six and a half hour drive under clear blue skies across New Hampshire by way of Franconia Notch and through the peaceful Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, we crossed the border into beloved Canada in what felt like no time at all. The Canadian portion of the drive is calm and quiet through endless open countryside or industrial spaces - until you reach the grande dame Québec City in all her chic European glory.
We enjoyed a stroll and a late lunch in old town QC at Les Frères de la Côte before continuing 30 minutes northeast to our modern ski-in ski-out accommodations in Espace Nordik at Château Mont-Saint-Anne. The spacious and inviting living room lobby with a roaring fire set in a grand cast iron fireplace was bustling with families and après skiers when we arrived. The next morning it sat quiet and light filled with the promises of a sunny day on the slopes.
Contemporary meets cozy in the Nordik Studio rooms, where exposed concrete walls juxtapose soft brown couches, light wood furnishings and a sleek kitchenette. Thoughtful touches within the rooms that I loved: the white subway tiled bathroom walls, lots of entrance-way hooks to hang ski gear, a wide full length mirror, the Nespresso coffee machine providing extra frothy cafes, and thick, luxurious bedding to melt into at the end of it all.
Shortly after checking in, we were ready to hit the slopes. We boarded L'Etoile Filante (the shooting star) gondola directly outside the hotels back door as dusk fell and arrived to the summit as the sun was setting in the distance behind the Laurentians (mountain range). We both remarked how this was our first time ever night skiing - neither of us realizing the other hadn't been. The terrain was well lit and freshly groomed offering corduroy cruisin', meanwhile, the stunning views of the Saint Lawrence River partially illuminated below stopped us in our tracks. Night skiing at Mont-Sainte-Anne was a blast, an ideal way to kick off a winter vacation and get outside after hours in the car.
Later that evening we enjoyed dinner at the Châteaus warm and relaxed Bistro Nordik. Sinking into wide, plush gray chairs near a toasty fire, I sipped my favorite french apertiv Ricard ($8) and we shared a lovely Salmon Tartare ($14). My entree, the Mountain Herb Crusted Quebec Lamb Medallions ($42) with a honey berry demi-glace and an array of delicate vegetables was perfectly executed and nicely showcased the regional cuisine. We ended on a traditional sweet note with Lavender Crème brûlée ($9).
Breakfast views at the Château's common dining room were something to look forward to every morning, and so was the buffet food. Poached eggs with hollandaise and spinach, french toast, crispy potatoes, a plethora of fresh fruit and soft cheeses - this was definitely the most impressive breakfast spread of all the hotels on our trip.
Our day on the mountain set under a bright winter sun and bluebird sky further highlighted the dazzling Saint Lawrence River views. With warm and welcoming local guides Chantal and her daughter, Veronica, we were in good hands. They challenged us with steep and fast double blacks off the Panorama Express Quad, made sure to take us to the "secret trails" off La Corde Raide Tbar, and fulfilled the mogul and glades quota on La Buissoniere and La Yahoo. Veronica and her Mom embodied a joie de vivre and we loved getting to know them and their mountain. They noted these were some of the best conditions all year - with recent fresh snow and no cold rain to follow in its tracks! (As had been the unfortunate case with prior storms.) The four of us had lunch at the base lodges second floor bar where we cheersed with Hoegaarden pints.
After lunch we made some more turns and were thankful not to miss the Cabin au Sucre off La Pichard trail for a maple taffy. The steaming maple syrup is poured onto the snow where you roll it up with a wooden stick - et voila - a sticky, sugary-sweet maple taffy pop!
The outdoor hot tubs are where it's at for après - we sipped on cans of a local microbrew called Archibald, purchased from the well stocked convenience store inside the hotel. Later that evening we ventured into Québec City for an excellent meal at Restaurant Toast. The bison tartare with whipped foie gras was one to write home about. On the road the next morning we made a quick stop to take in the towering (30 metres higher than Niagra!) Montmorency Falls. The visitor center and cable cars are not open in winter, but the breathtaking falls is certainly worth a closer look.
2000 Boulevard du Beau Pré,