When it comes to rating ski centres in Canada, the writers at Ski Canada have the decided edge, based on their first-hand experience. In the publication’s 2018 Buyers’ Guide, the writers gave top marks to Mont Grand-Fonds, a short drive from La Malbaie and 14 kms by a free shuttle from Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu.

Mont Grand-Fonds

Adam Rutherford is the congenial Ski School Director

Adam Rutherford is the congenial Ski School Director, and his first comment was about snow, and the superb quality of the snow at Mont Grand-Fonds. “I grew up and lived on the South Shore of Montreal, and I was used to skiing and snowboarding on the hard-packed, often icy slopes in the Laurentiens and the Townships. Up here, we don’t get freezing rain – we just get snow, snow and them some more snow. Snow accumulation is measured in metres (or yards). We’re also back far enough from the St. Lawrence that we don’t get a lot of humidity. The regular snow falls and lack of humidity combine to make a very pleasant snow covering.” The Mont Grand-Fonds web site states that the average annual snowfall is 500 cms (5 metres) or 217 inches (18 feet).

Mont Grand-Fonds has slopes to suit all levels of skiers, plus the centre has cross-country and snowshoe trails. “For downhill skiers, we have challenging Double Diamond trails, as well as a good selection of intermediate and beginner trails. We’ve added five more glade slopes to respond to the increased interest in glade skiing.”  The mountain also has a ‘snow park’ if you have any acrobatic snowboarders in your group.

Mont Grand-Fonds

The high speed quad chairlift quickly
transports skiers to the summit

Adam goes on to explain that there are trails set up for people who like to use “skins” on their skis so that they can hike up the mountain. “It’s great exercise when you have the right equipment.”

“Our mountain is geared towards families – there’s nowhere to get lost because all the slopes meet at the same place at the foot of the mountain. Youth in their early teens can go off together, and the parents can keep in touch with them at the bottom of the slope.”

A new activity started this year as a pilot project called Au Claire de la Lune (By The Light of The Moon) has been a success. Guides take out a group of cross-country skiers for an 8 km trek under the starry night skies of Charlevoix. Without the ambient light that we’re used to in the city, the stars and their constellations are easily visible. At the midway point, the group stops and enjoys a meal while seated around a bonfire. “It’s more popular than we imagined,” commented Adam. “We alternate between skiing and snowshoeing.”

Mont Grand-Fonds

Snowshoe enthusiasts have 44 kms of scenic trails

Mont Grand-Fonds has 140 kms of cross-country trails, of which 44 are designated for skate-skiing (like they do in the Olympics). You can start out on a 1.1 km novice trail all the way up to 22.6 km trek designed for experts. There are four warming huts throughout the terrain where you can rest and rehydrate.

Snowshoeing is also popular and excellent exercise, and there are 41 kms of five dedicated snowshoe trails. The snowshoe routes go in the opposite direction from the cross-country trails, each starting from the main lodge at the foot of the mountain. You enjoy a leisurely 4km walk along the “Easy” Promenade trail – or if you’re really ambitious, there’s the “Extreme” Le Sommet 8.5 km track that circles the mountain.

So whether downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country, snowshoeing or all of the above is of interest, you can do it all at Mont Grand-Fonds. The rates for all activities are modest, and are available on the centre’s web site: www.montgrandfonds.com

Le Manoir RichelieuFairmont Le Manoir Richelieu has it all for your winter holiday

With the first snowfalls, Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu becomes the focal point for winter sports enthusiasts; with a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities for couples and families. The resort offers an extensive range of on-site activities, nearby cross-country and downhill ski centres; and is especially suited for multi-generational holidays. Guests enjoy the finest of winter holiday experiences by day; and exquisite 4 Diamond cuisine to create memorable nights.

Skiers have the option of taking a free shuttle service to Mont Grand-Fonds an ideal family ski centre with moderate rates and family packages. Cross country enthusiasts have a selection of 160 km of trails, plus 5 km of skating trails.

There are two outdoor ice rinks, one for pick-up hockey and another skating oval directly in front of the hotel. Sleigh rides of 15 – 20 minutes are complimentary, and those of longer duration into the village of La Malbaie are available at a modest $15 hourly.

The Multi-Sports Centre includes a fully equipped Spa with 13 treatment rooms, saunas, exercise facilities with floor-to-ceiling panorama windows, an indoor saltwater pool and… la pièce de résistance… two outdoor heated pools open all year!

Fine dining is a key ingredient for a successful vacation, and Executive Chef Pierre-Laurence Valton-Simard and his staff maintain the Le Manoir Richelieu’s Four Diamond status of culinary excellence, led by the resort’s signature restaurant, Le Charlevoix.

Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu is located on the North Shore of the St Lawrence, just outside the village of La Malbaie, about 90 minutes from Quebec City and a four hour drive from Montreal. For reservations at Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, please call: 418-665-3703 or online: www.fairmont.com/richelieu

Learn more by reading some of our recent feature articles about Le Manoir Richelieu:
Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu – magic moments in a Winter Wonderland
Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu – Five Star elegance in Quebec’s picturesque Charlevoix region
Spectacular views surround the golf course at Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu