Hands down, Le Massif has the best on-hill food in the country; no poutine, indeed nothing fried, is served in its six restaurants and cafeteria. It also lays claim to the best powder in the East: light, dry and fluffy. On a storm day, you'd think you were in the Kootenays. But it's the view of the St. Lawrence one is constantly skiing into that is so wonderfully distracting; so all encompassing.
Old-school, narrow, eastern runs cut through the steep bois like meandering roads - not broad, clear-cut boulevards. They mix wonderfully with everything from gentle glades to Mont à Liguori, a more western-feeling off-piste treed area where the Charlevoix's famous powder collects. New this year at Le Massif de Charlevoix: an eight-passenger, 10-minute base-to-summit gondola, as well as a new Magic Carpet, and for little graduates the Summit Platter (a pole dangling from a cable with a plastic disc on the end to put between your legs and drag you up the hill). Another $200 million in improvements are yet to come.
Whether or not your children are in French immersion, they can't help but absorb the language, food, music, chocolate and culture in this part of Quebec. After some comparison skiing at nearby Mont-Sainte-Anne one day, stop in at the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré cathedral for a little solemn reflection - or to heal whatever ails you. A spring break festival brings a clown, torchlight parades and other activities to the ski hill from Feb. 28 to March 4.
APRÈS FOR KIDS
Less than an hour away (and soon to be linked by train) is 403-year-old Quebec City, where it's almost impossible for children (and you) to not learn (and recall) some of the country's most important history lessons. The city's massive walls come in handy for corralling kids too.
APRÈS FOR ADULTS
Le Massif's summit lodge après-ski parties are infamous. And afterward, Baie-St-Paul - the delightfully true-Quebec town (and birthplace of Cirque du Soleil), with its myriad art galleries and restaurants - awaits. Or tour one of several artisanal fromageries in the heart of the Charlevoix. You'll forever be embarrassed to eat Kraft cheddar.
Single-day lift pass: $64, student $48, (7-12) $35, under 7 free.
WHERE TO STAY
The 150-year-old romantic L'Orange Bistro has two rooms upstairs to let, a memorable alternative to yet another beige-carpeted condo in ski country. From $150 a night for two, it includes a three-course dinner and all taxes.
Air Canada and WestJet fly to Quebec City, but only Porter Airlines gives you a beer - and takes your skis free. Find ski-and-stay packages at lemassif.com/en/planifier/forfaits.
I'm editor at Ski Canada, I can't play favourites! But I like to ski at my favourites…
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