You may think I’m a little loopy for traveling to Quebec in the middle of winter, but there were two very convincing reasons for this trip.  First and foremost, I was there to visit my very special friends.  Secondly, I went to experience  the unique cold-weather activities and events that Quebec has to offer in the fullness of winter.  I live in southeast Pennsylvania, where there are many years in which we get zero significant snowfall and don’t even use our snowblower.   Ironically, the winter of 2010, when I chose to make the trek to Quebec, was not one of these years.   It was a year for the record books.

Ferry on the frozen river

There is one important secret to winter outdoor adventures:  the proper gear.   I had to be prepared for temperatures near or below zero.  Thankfully, I scored a quality ski jacket and ski pants on sale last year, and my hubby bought me a set of winter silks thermals.  And Lucie was prepared with everything else I needed…thick mittens, knitted hats with ear flaps, and a serious pair of snow boots.  In fact, I was so prepared that I was actually hot a few times while we were cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

Prior to this trip, I had never tried cross country skiing or snowshoeing.   Snowshoeing was quite easy to learn.  It didn’t take long to get the hang of it, and it wasn’t too strenuous.  Cross country skiing was quite another matter.  While I was able to get into a good stride a couple of times, it took a lot of concentration and coordination.  At one point, I got a little carried away and ended up horizontal on the snow, leading me to cry out to Lucie  “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”.  After a quick assist, we were back on our way.

Snow sculpting Everyone starts with a block of snow

I timed my trip to coincide with the Quebec Winter Carnaval.  Wow – what an event!  If you ever get the chance to do this, I would consider it an absolute must.  There are too many unique activities and experiences to mention, but I’ll try.  Snow sculpting competitions, a dog sled race, dog agility competition on snow, snow tubing, snow rafting, sledding, dog sledding, parades.   Oh, and this is just the activities that we had a chance to experience.  You may also want to check out the arctic spa (bring a swimsuit and a hat), zip line, canoe race across the frozen St. Lawrence River, concerts, and dance parties. Don’t forget the good eats, including beaver tails (like a sugar- and cinnamon-coated doughnut  in the shape of a beaver tail), or my personal favorite, maple taffy.  I seriously want to go back just so I can go to a sugar shack, get hot maple taffy poured onto a board covered with snow, and pick up the maple taffy with a wooden stick.  Messy, yes, but oh so good!

My favorite room at the ice hotel

Another unique winter attraction in Quebec is the ice hotel.  The creativity and artistry exhibited at this hotel, built every year in a new style, is quite fantastic.  Check out the themed rooms.  When we visited, the themes included undersea, Roman, the night sky, and roses. Personally, I prefer the daytime tour over the thought of staying there.  Although, I understand that if you stay there, you get a regular indoor room in addition to your ice room…just in case.  As you’re bedding down for the night, your hosts take you through the very specific process of taking a dip in the arctic spa before retiring to your ice bed.  Another fun option is to stop at the bar and have a drink out of a (recyclable!) ice glass.  There is also a small ice church, and a handy sugar shack (yum!).

One thing that we weren’t able to fit in on this trip was Montmorency Falls.  When I visited Quebec the first time, during the summer, one of our outings was to Montmorency Falls.  Sounds like a strange outing for the winter, right?  Well, in the winter, the water spray from Montmorency forms into a frozen mound at the bottom of the falls.  This large mound, nicknamed Sugarloaf, is quite a sight and really handy for sledding.

A trip is not complete without experiencing the local cuisine.  My friend Lucie raises a lot of her own food, and although it was winter, we were able to enjoy many foods raised on her land.  Some things that stick with me are the ground cherry jelly, strawberry sauce, and fresh carrots.  As we traveled the area, I had the opportunity to try poutine, which is french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. Wow!  Another reason to head back to Quebec as soon as possible.  I am becoming quite the foodie traveler, aren’t I?

Which of these activities sounds like the most fun to you?  What did I miss that I should see the next time I’m in Quebec?  Do cheese curds sound yummy or gross?  Join the conversation below!  Share your thoughts…

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3 Comments on A Canadian Adventure – Again!

  1. […] A Canadian Adventure – again! […]

  2. Mary says:

    @Lucie Both of those outings look like a lot of fun. I’ve always wanted to try snowmobiling, but I’ve never had the opportunity. Valcatier Village has so many options for snow tubing and rafting! We have snow tubing in Pennsylvania, but not on this level. I definitely have both of these places on my wish list.

  3. Lucie says:

    Mary, great story!
    For those of us that don’t have to commute every day, winter can bring many unsuspected joys. One of them is the quiet that it brings. When you own a large land and grow a lot of food by yourself, winter means peace and rest, which are always welcome after working very physically on the gardens for several months. Obviously, the snow can be very enchanting for travelers that have not really ever experienced any. I would list ‘Valcartier Village’ as another fun activity to do in the winter. Check this link out: http://www.valcartier.com/default.aspx?LA=EN. It’s a bit remote from the center of the city but definitely worth going for those that enjoy outside activities.
    One other fun activity would be horseback riding or horse sleigh. There are a few places around Quebec that offer these kinds of activities. Check this link out: http://www.equitation-quebec-l.....roang.html

    Hope we get to enjoy many more adventures together and that you know that my door will always be wide open for you my friend.

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