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where we stayed, what we did, where we ate...
The second largest ski area in Quebec after Mont Tremblant, offers 66 trails, night skiing, a gondola, and views of the St. Laurence River.
I chose this resort for a 4-day, 5-night ski vacation for our family of intermediate skiers because it was a good value, especially given the US vs. Canadian exchange rates. Also, I thought it would offer enough skiing variety to keep us interested for four days, and I was counting on more reliable conditions than you often find in New England in late December / early January. Finally, I knew our kids would enjoy venturing to a foreign country, especially my daughter who is taking French in school. It's great to be able to drive your own car across the US border - in fact, we probably spent less than $100 in gas to get there and back from Massachusetts.
Mont Ste-Anne definitely lived up to my expectations. 45 of the 66 trails were open while we were there, with a combination of natural and man-made snow. The conditions were a bit icy the first day, because it had been warm and rainy the day before. Temps started out in the 20's and fell to the single digits (fahrenheit) while we were there. We layered up and mostly rode the gondola or the detachable quad with bubble covers to keep warm, and drank lots of chocolat chaud! We all had a blast. The kids even took a lesson and improved quite a bit. Lift lines were reasonable for a holiday week, and dwindled to almost nothing on New Year's Day morning.
We purchased lift tickets that were good for 3/4 days of skiing - in other words, you can ski any three out of four consecutive days. This is a good deal if you know you will want to take one day off to see other local sights (such as Quebec City) or if you might want to skip skiing on a bad weather day.
Condo accommodations for Mont Sainte-Anne ski resort in Beaupre, Canada.
We stayed here because we like to have a kitchen and some room to spread out. Our "mezzanine" condo had a small kitchenette, murphy bed, sectional sofa (with sofabed), fireplace, and a small dining nook on the first level and a sleeping area (open balcony, not a private room) with a queen bed on the second level. Each level had its own bathroom with shower (no tub). The four of us were quite comfortable and you could probably fit six people into one of these condos easily.
The condo building had an indoor pool, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, sauna, exercise room, and game room. We used the pool and indoor hot tub, which was quite popular after skiing. Ski lockers were provided on the basement level. Shuttle bus service to Mont Ste-Anne was provided, but we drove our own car.
The first day we were there, there was a power outage in all of Beaupre due to high winds. We had no electricity for 16 hours. The condo staff provided us with free candles, firewood, and a bottle of wine to help us weather the hardship. We spent most of the day in Quebec City, where the electricity was on.
The only complaint I had about this place was with the elevator -- there was only one and it was broken a couple of times. Luckily, it was running when we checked in and out, because it would not have been fun to lug our stuff up and down 3 flights of stairs.
Keep in mind when visiting Quebec that French is the dominant language -- most signs and written materials are only in French. However, most of the people we met spoke pretty good English. We would always start out with, "Bon jour, parlez vous anglais?" and they were happy to switch to English for the rest of the conversation.
Online discounts on advance purchases of lift tickets and skiing accommodations.
I had read about Liftopia in the Boston Globe's skiing guide, so I checked it out. I was able to get a 16% discount on our multi-day lift tickets for Mont Ste-Anne by purchasing them in advance online.
If you use Liftopia, make sure your plans are firm -- they are pretty clear that there are no refunds. However, in our case, we had purchased 3-day tickets to start on December 29th -- the day of the blackout. Mont Ste-Anne was closed all day that day, so they allowed us to start our tickets on the 30th instead. But we made that switch at the resort, not on the Liftopia site.
We ate here for lunch during our day in Quebec City. We stopped in at Cafe Victor first, but it looked like we'd have to wait a while for a table. Le Hobbit turned out to be a great alternative. The kids enjoyed their burgers with goat cheese and bacon, and I liked the three cheese pasta and my bowl of cafe au lait (even though my husband laughed at me for ordering a bowl of coffee). My husband didn't like the deer burger though. The fries that accompanied the burgers were thin and crisp and the salads were nicely dressed with a mild dijonnaise. Our waiter was friendly and skillfully juggled three languages (French, English, and Spanish) to accommodate his customers. The service was a bit slow but we were in no hurry.
Restaurant at the base of Mont Ste-Anne offering fondue, european pizzas, and more.
We went here for a dinner out on our last night, after cooking in the condo for three nights. We had fondue for appetizer (cheese with bread), main course (surf and turf in broth with wine), and dessert (chocolate with fruit). Everything was delicious! We could have used a hotter broth and/or an additional fondue fork (we got one each) for the main course, as it took a while to cook and eat one piece at a time. We got 3 servings of surf and turf to split between 4 people, which was just the right amount. For the cheese and chocolate courses, we split one serving between the four of us -- again, just right for us.
Decent family dining at reasonable prices with some Quebec favorites.
We ate here when we first arrived in Beaupre after driving all day - we were looking for something simple, fast, and inexpensive and we got it. I had the Beaupre panini and the rest of the familly had burgers - everyone was happy.
The place looks a little swankier from the outside than it actually is -- I would put it in the same category as Applebies, TGI Fridays, etc.
This is an indoor farmer's market in Quebec City offering fresh vegetables, meats, groceries, ice wine, chocolate, jewelry, art, crafts, and various other gift items.
We found convenient parking across the street and spent over an hour wandering through the market, sampling various products and practicing our beginner French with the merchants (they are also willing to do transactions in English). We bought some cards with photos of Quebec City and knitted tuques (hats) for the kids. We sampled the ice wine, chocolate cherries, and raw milk cheese. The grocery store at the end of the market offered an impressive variety of spices and we were also impressed with the sausage selections.