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Le Massif Delivers Views & Vertical On The Edge Of The St. Lawrence River

Le Massif Delivers Views & Vertical on the Edge of the St. Lawrence River

Have you heard of Le Massif de Charlevoix? Virtually unknown outside of Quebec and southern Ontario, this mountain delivers long ski runs with phenomenal in your face St. Lawrence River views. Boasting the biggest vertical drop (770 m) east of the Rockies, this is a ski hill you’ll want to try.

Le Massif offers stunning views of the St. Lawrence River

Le Massif offers stunning views of the St. Lawrence River

John and I had the opportunity to ski here last week while on a short visit to the spectacular Baie St. Paul area – just 20 minutes away. (And you’ll want a few days here as well for the food and the art galleries.) The mountain, owned by Cirque du Soleil co-founder, Daniel Gauthier, is the only one I’ve ever visited that boasts a triple black diamond run. Granted it’s seldom open because the snow so rarely sticks to the steep faces, but over 50% of the mountain is geared to the expert skier. 

I prefer mellower skiing and stuck to the long intermediate runs in the centre section of the mountain. What surprised me was their length. It felt like they went on forever – a nice feeling for one used to the long runs in the Rocky Mountains.

Comfortable 8 seat gondolas keep you warm on cold days

Comfortable 8 seat gondolas keep you warm on the cold days

Great views from the gondola of the river

Great views from the gondola of the river

John and I were lucky to be paired up with Denis, a volunteer ski guide for the day. When you don’t have a lot of time, it’s a treat to be shown the best runs and the lay of the land. Denis is in his 60’s but skis like he’s 16, as does John so I spent the morning chasing them but left them and happily skied alone in the afternoon.

As a resident of Baie St. Paul, Denis is a wonderful ambassador for the area. In spite of his speed on skis, he is a patient and diplomatic man – qualities that were recently put to use showing Governor General David Johnston and his wife around the hill.

The St. Lawrence River is never far from your line of sight

The St. Lawrence River is never far from your line of sight

Le Massif in normal years receives huge quantities of snow. Right now it’s got the best skiing in eastern Canada. In an average year it receives 645 cms (21.2 feet) of snow – which is marvelous in every respect except for driving. We had a clear day on the drive which I was thankful for. Unfortunately there really is no ski-in, ski out property. Instead most people either drive 75 kms from Quebec City or 20 kms from Baie St. Paul – where you’ll want to stay in the lovely Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix.

The other unusual aspect to this mountain is their menu. You will find no fried foods; instead look for delicious entrées with a decidedly French bent. A big dining room with massive windows offering views of the river is an inviting place to sit – as is the bar, where you might want to hang out and watch the sun set at the end of the ski day.

Not your average menu at a ski resort

Not your average menu at a ski resort

You can rent equipment on the hill. Full day lift tickets are $75 – and half day tickets from noon on are available. Le Massif is famous for its short lift lines. Granted I skied on a weekday but we never waited more than a couple of minutes.

In chatting with people on the gondola the one phrase we repeatedly heard – “this is the most beautiful mountain in eastern Canada to ski.

I’d agree – and the snow here is awesome.

Map of Le Massif - with the only triple black run I've ever seen

Map of Le Massif – with the only triple black run I’ve ever seen

A big thank you to Le Massif for looking after us so well last week. Visit their website for more information.

Leigh McAdam

 

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has One Comment
  1. Cool…… we have skied and LOVE Le Massif! We had an awesome powder day there on our last visit and didn’t share a chairlift with anyone the entire day. It is the funniest sensation to come flying over a ridge with the overwhelming feeling you are going to ski right into the St. Lawrence! I understand in the spring, it is possible to ski and whale watch at the same time. LOVE the delicious menu and as you noted…. not junk food, but five star food. I agree. My favourite place to ski in eastern Canada.

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