Category: Quebec

Canada’s next hot islands: Iles de la Madeleine

Newfoundland and Haida Gwaii are hot right now, but my prediction for the next hot destination? Iles de la Madeleine. Until now this small archipelago between PEI and Quebec, out in the middle of the St. Lawrence has made the news because of the annual seal hunt in the area, but it becoming a must-visit multisport destination. Try various wind sports with Aerosport, go cave kayaking, or try ice kayaking in winter. But there is more to do than just outdoor adventure: En Route magazine is raving about the cheese, the food, the artisans, the massages, the accommodation. Everything you need after a full day of being out on the land and water.

Fly in from Quebec, or in summer, take a ferry from PEI. Highly recommended.

Tripadvisor top 100 hotels

Together with their top destinations, TripAdvisor also published their top 100 places to stay. Canada has three entries in the top luxury hotels:
17: Fairmont YVR airport hotel
27. Hotel Dominion 1912, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
95. Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

I would have rated the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver or Chateau Lake Louise higher – I wouldn’t don’t see an airport hotel as a wonderful place to stay, no matter how luxurious.

The rest of the top 10 luxury hotels in Canada:
4. Auberge Saint-Antoine, Quebec City, Quebec
5. Loews Hotel Vogue, Montreal, Quebec
6. Hotel Nelligan, Montreal, Quebec
7. Four Seasons Resort Whistler, Whistler, British Columbia
8. Hotel Gault, Montreal, Quebec
9. Le Place d’Armes Hotel & Suites, Montreal, Quebec
10. Sofitel Montreal, Montreal, Quebec

Some interesting hotels among their top 10 hidden gems in Canada:

1. Harbour House Hotel, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
4. Alpine Village – Jasper, Jasper National Park, Alberta
6. Mt. Engadine Lodge, Canmore, Alberta  <- keep an eye out for this lodge. Up and coming.
8. Patricia Lake Bungalows, Jasper National Park, Alberta
9. Chateau Beauvallon Mont Tremblant, Mont Tremblant, Quebec
10. Artisan Inn, Trinity, Newfoundland and Labrador <- another property to keep an eye out for. Very cool place.

Hut to hut trekking in Canada

We usually associate hut to hut trekking with Europe, or New Zealand. But in a recent article, National Geographic Adventure magazine did highlight two such treks in Canada. In BC, Wells Gray Adventures organizes multi day hut to hut treks – in summer on foot, and in winter on ski.

Meanwhile, Quebec offers the self guided grande traversée in the Chic Choc mountains. You’ll find well-appointed huts along the way, with shuttles available to ferry goods back and forth. Aside from that, the new Chic Choc mountain lodge offers luxury in the middle of the mountain range.

Bike and Boat vacations in Quebec

Latitude 45N has launched a great new tourism experience: using a boat to support biking tours in Quebec. You bike by day, while the boat moves your luggage (and bed!) to the next stop. You eat (very well) and sleep on board at night. They will even supply hybrid bikes, “configured in such a way as to ensure that you are sitting in a comfortable position that will allow you to take full advantage of the tourism experience and not miss anything.” Brilliant idea, and the first of its kind in North America.

They borrowed the idea from Holland, and in fact have added some Dutch twists, like Dutch snacks.

Snowshoeing in Montreal

A monster storm walloped Montreal this weekend – I happened to be stuck in it. Rather than trying to avoid the huge mounts of snow, I decided to take my snowshoes up to Mount Royal. It turned out I was not the only one with the idea. The mountain was full of people enjoying the foot of fresh powder. Snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, or just walking, it was refreshing to see so many Montrealers out enjoying the snow. A few were even snowboarding on a small hill. All this in the middle of the city, within sight of downtown. The mountain is highly recommended for a brisk winter ski or snowshoe.

It goes to show that all major Canadian cities are unique, in that they have natural areas on their doorstep.

Snowmobiling along Quebec’s lower north shore

Earlier, I talked about the Relais Nordik, the ship that plies Quebec’s lower north shore in summer. It turns out that an even better way to experience the remote community along this rugged coast is by snowmobile. There is no road in the area, but in winter, they link all communities by snowmobile road, complete with road signs and all. Check out this great article in Canadian Geographic.

Where do I sign up?

Cycling Quebec

Quebec is promoting cycling in the province, in a serious way. On August 10th they’re opening the Route Verte, a series of cycling trails totalling 4,000km (!). They run from one end of the province to the other, and even take in the Iles de la Madeleine. Not all sections are complete, but when done, it will be the second-longest cycling trail in North America. Of course, the Trans-Canada trail, at 18,000km, will be even longer when it is done. But for one province, 4,000km of cycling trails ain’t bad.

Canada is quickly becoming a killer cycling destination.

Working ships: Quebec’s north shore

I just returned form a week in Quebec, attending Canada’s largest tourism trade show. After the show I travelled through the region NE of Quebec city for a couple of days. I came away from the show with enough excting experiences to fill my blog for months, but I’ll highlight a few in the coming days.

One experience that I had no idea existed: The Nordik Express. This working ship plies the waters of the St. Lawrence’s north shore, stopping at all the small ports along the way to unload goods and people. Many of these small towns have no road, so the ship is their main way of contact with the outside world. The company’s website has a number of great suggestions for excursions. If you are taking the round trip (one week), they suggest taking a bike to explore the towns along the way. The route is also a great way to travel from Quebec city to Newfoundland, or better yet, a way to complete Quebec/Labrador’s great road trip: Quebec-Baie-Comeau-Fermont/Labrador City-Happy Valley (Labrador). From there a ferry to Cartwright. From there drive to Blanc-Sablon, and take the Nordik Express back to the road head at Natashquan. Drive back to Quebec city.

For the ultimate east coast road trip, at Blanc-Sablon you’d take a ferry over to Newfoundland, drive to the southern end to catch the ferry to Nova Scotia, and then make your way back through New Brunswick and the Gaspe to Quebec city. That would be an amazing way to see Canada’s east.

The River Frogs

It’s spring, so you’re ready to drag out the canoe, raft, or kayak. But how about donning a wetsuit and taking on the rapids of the Richelieu river in Québec? Bring on the Aquafête, an annual celebration of spring in Montérégie, Québec. At the end of April, 2,500 people don their wetsuits and jump into the river, letting the current drag them 2 km downstream. 25,000 people show up to cheer them on.

Chasing the weather

Nat. Geographic Adventure magazine (March 2007) has an article of (bad) weather-related experiences. It lists Alaska as the place to go for a cold weather tour. I am sure we could come up with something similar in Canada – Dawson City regularly hits -50 in winter!

For storms, Tofino is the place to go. The Wickanninish Inn gets a mention, as does Surf Sister Surf School.

The Quebec ice hotel is mentioned as the place to sleep on ice.