Long and rigorous, the white season of the capital of the French-speaking Canadian province does not push its inhabitants into hibernation, on the contrary. So we put on our “tuque” and “mittens” and we too went outside to play.
Cross-country skiing replaces running
In this month of January, on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, the average temperature is between -8 and -18 ° C, but here, the cold is not a valid reason to cancel the daily practice of a sport of endurance. Thus, instead of sneakers, Quebecers put on their cross-country skis and set off with gusto on the groomed loops of the city. In the Saint-Charles River Park, a classic and very accessible cross-country trail is maintained daily for more than 8 km, along the districts of Limoilou, Saint-Sauveur and Saint-Roch.
Likewise, on the Plains of Abraham, a huge urban park and historic site south of Old Quebec, 14 km of trails are designed for different levels, with a view of the river. This site is also recognized by the world elite of the discipline and received a stage of the World Cup cross-country skiing.
Extreme sports are urbanized
There is a sport whose practice seems inconceivable elsewhere than in a wild and mountain environment and which nevertheless has its place in Quebec: the icefall. Facing the Île-d’Orléans bridge, the Montmorency Falls located 5 minutes from the center attract a large number of tourists throughout the year. The place is spectacular and the 83 m falls are 30 meters higher than those of Niagara! On the cliffs that surround the waterfall, the ice here offers fans of climbing with crampons and ice axes routes ranging from 40 to 100 meters for all levels (grade 2 to grade 5+). A climber arrived at the summit all smiles and shares his feelings with us: “It’s extraordinary, the exhibition is ideal, you have the fall which ‘clashes’ next to it… It’s crazy! And all this in the city! “
Now is the time to test an equally extreme activity: the ice canoe, on the Saint-Laurent. What was originally a means of transport between the shores of Quebec and Lévis, has become a sport in its own right, with its licensees and its competitive circuits, the best known of which has been taking place for 67 years in the occasion of the Quebec Winter Carnival in February. With an experienced crew and incredible equipment: neoprene socks and boots, shin guards, crampons and… A life jacket (!); we find ourselves on the frozen banks, facing a canoe 8.60 m long and 100 kg. The rowing crew must cross the river pushing the canoe over a maze of ice and when it becomes liquid again, jump into the boat to row between real icebergs: they call this “trotting on the pack ice”. A memorable experience, loaded with adrenaline and tested in sport mode at -30 ° C. But it can also be experienced in much milder conditions, by letting yourself be carried by guides, hot chocolate break included!
Skiing takes everyone back to childhood
While walking under the snowflakes, we discover at the bend of every street corner skating rinks from which resound the cries and laughter of young and old cracking the ice. In Quebec City, there are 96 outdoor skating rinks.
These fields are also the places where the sport that flows through the veins of every Canadian is played: hockey ! There are so many of them coming home from school, in the evenings or on weekends, to put on swimsuits and protections, to grab their cross to pass the puck at full speed. These neighborhood skating rinks, often free, alternate hockey schedules with slots for free skating practiced by the whole family.
And who says sliding says of course tobogganing and this, whatever the age: on the one hand the emblematic slides from Terrasse Dufferin, which have made young and old shout, facing the Château de Frontenac, since 1884. And a stone’s throw away, the largest winter games center in America: the Valcartier Village. A site of 43 tracks shaped and dedicated to pure and simple sliding, on huge inner tubes … Or how to find your 10 years in a slide.
Certainly this country is synonymous with wide open spaces, nature, wild, beautiful is omnipresent and it only takes a few minutes by road to dive in, follow in the footsteps of bears, fish in frozen lakes and drive your dog sled. … But the simple joy of playing in the snow and sliding on the ice, Quebeckers know how to seize it in the very heart of the city, and thus keep the spirit light!
Good addresses in Quebec
The Plains of Abraham: free access to the 13.9 km of slopes designed for beginners, intermediates and experts. Two heated relays as well as an equipment rental point are also available.
835, avenue Wilfrid-Laurier – Quebec City, QC. Phone. : +1 418 649 6157. www.lesplainesdabraham.ca
Pointe-aux-Lièvres website: the track stretches for 8 km, from the Aqueduct footbridge to the Dufferin-Montmorency bridge, along the edge of the Saint-Charles river. A rental trailer is located in Pointe-aux-Lièvres Park. Free access.
332, rue Domagaya – Quebec City, QC. Phone. : +1 418 691 4710. www.societerivierestcharles.qc.ca
Due to work on the Montmorency Falls site, ice climbing is currently impossible. But many other sites exist outside the city, such as Saint-Alban in the Portneuf Regional Natural Park, ideal for beginners and intermediates, about an hour’s drive from the center of Quebec.
And also : initiation and improvement in Climbing in the city in a magical setting in the heart of downtown Rivière-du-Loup.
Aventurex, 5300 Boulevard Sainte-Anne, Beauport, QC. Phone. : +1 418 647 4422.
A 3 hour outing, set according to the tides, includes supervision, equipment, basic training on the technique and terms of coxswains and one hour on the river. Count 185 Canadian dollars per person.
Canot à Glace Quebec, Salle du Quai du Cap Blanc – 615 Boulevard Champlain, Quebec. Phone. : +1 418 438 2996.
Place D’Youville, there is the city’s unmissable ice rink, with music and light shows outside facing the Capitol. Free access, skate rental 8 dollars.
995, place D’Youville – La Cité-Limoilou. Phone. : +1 418 641 6256.
The Quebec City website provides daily information on the state of its many rinks: www.ville.quebec.qc.ca leisure section.
The Dufferin terrace : at a height of 80 m, the view of the Château Frontenac, the Saint-Laurent river and the Lower Town is breathtaking. A tourist essential that allows you to go all the same at 70 km / h! $ 3 a slide.
Place Terrasse Dufferin, Quebec, QC. Phone. : +1 418 528 1884. www.au1884.ca
Valcartier Village : an amusement park atmosphere but terribly effective in terms of sliding. Laughter and adrenaline guaranteed. From $ 26 the entrance, also open in the evening.
1860, boulevard Valcartier, Valcartier. Phone. : +1 888 384 5524. www.valcartier.com
Air France, Air Canada or Air Transat offer several flights per day from Paris. To reduce the price of the ticket, opt for a Paris-Montreal and join Quebec City by bus (on average 3 hours by road).
OR SLEEP ?
Very nice boutique hotel ideally located in the heart of the historic Old Port district. Unparalleled welcome and service and a tastefully decorated and very comfortable room. At the same time warm and elegant atmosphere. We love hot chocolate and tea served at will throughout the day. From $ 163 per double room.
Hotel Le Germain, 126 rue Saint-Pierre, Quebec. Phone. : +1 888 833 5253.
The historic 1900 theater reopened its doors last fall, completely renovated and equipped with a hotel with 109 luxurious rooms, with panoramic views of the Old Town and the Laurentians. From $ 119 per night in a double room.
Le Capitole, 972 rue St-Jean, Quebec. Phone. : +1 418 694 4444.
This is the address that is on the rise at the moment. The menu is unique and comes in 5 courses. Seasonal and local products are in the spotlight: lobster from Gaspésie, strawberries from Quebec, organic vegetables from Charlevoix… And the chef, French, blurs the boundaries between the room and the stoves and the servers and cooks. Menu at 70 dollars.
Restaurant Arvi, 519 3rd avenue. Quebec. Phone. : +1 581 742 4202.