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Charlevoix, QC family trip March 4-9

post #1 of 2
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Went to Charlevoix for the kids' spring break. We were two families, including adults ranging from very experienced to intermediate, and kids ranging from strong skiers to a snowboarder on his fifth day; a range of ages and abilities.

 

Our plan was to ski most days at Le Massif.  But on our first day, it was -20C so a few wanted to stay back at the hotel, so we went to Mont Grand-Fonds (www.montgrandfonds.com), which was close by.  I had heard of it before from a fellow ski-school student who raved about the microclimate that produced lots of snow.

 

MGF is fairly small - ~1100 vertical, one old chairlift and one T-bar.  There are 14 runs ranging from very easy to quite challenging, including some interesting very easy glade runs.  A few things stood out.  First, the layout of the runs was extremely good - nice fall lines with no "false flats" as they say on their website.  On the intermediate runs it was tons of fun to go very fast from top to bottom.  And the layout was such that we could all take different runs and end up in the same spot (the only chair!). Second, there was almost nobody on the hill.  We didn't wait for lifts all day.  

 

Finally, and most importantly, the SNOW!  Between us we probably have well over 1000 lifetime skier-days in the east, and none of us had ever seen snow of such consistent high quality in the east. We were there in a relative dry patch, but the snow was fantastic.  They average 5.5 metres (18ft) of snow per year and they make almost no snow (just a bit in the fall to open the season quickly).  The snow was dry and fluffy.  They leave a few runs ungroomed, and these runs were relatively hard moguls at this point, but still nice (if very difficult).

 

On day two we went to Le Massif.  It's unique because you enter and park at the top of the hill, and ski down to the base at the side of the St. Lawrence river.  It's incredibly scenic (but I didn't get good pictures there :( ).  The snow was good, but not as nice as Grand-Fonds.

 

But the problem was the crowds.  Lift lines were not too bad, but there were several "funnels" for lack of a better word where three or four runs all come together in a tight spot.  These got very crowded and dangerous with a lot of adult beginners who were in over their heads.  We were somewhat scared for the kids in this situation. As the day wore on, these funnels got very icy and unpleasant, too.  And, since they've closed one of their lodges for this season, the one lodge/cafeteria that was open was a crowded disaster.  The food, on the other hand, was great - the cafeteria doesn't serve any deep-fried food.

 

An interesting note:  There is some very challenging terrain off to one side that is not currently served by a lift (there is a chair there that apparently never runs and doesn't appear on the trail map). Because the chair doesn't run and the trails require a short hike, these trails are very quiet.  After the kids tired out, my friend and I took a few runs down this side and it was great.

 

Given this experience and the cost of lift tickets ($75 adult at le Massif, $50 at MGF) we went back to MGF for the other two ski days on our trip.  Le Massif is a bucket-list hill, and I'd like to go back without the kids, but Mont Grand-Fonds is definitely worth a day trip for anyone who's in the area already, and more than a day for families.

 

All this to say: if you are planning a trip to Le Massif, especially a family trip, consider the extra hour's drive to Mont Grand-Fonds.

 

Some photos from MGF (while not le Massif, nice views as well):

 

 

post #2 of 2

cool.. i've always been disapointed with le massif due to crowds and the funnels you are talking about... to me it feels even more crowded than Tremblant... (but maybe i was just unlucky both time i went). i need to try go there mid-week!

 

 

I've never to been to mont grand fond (it's on my to-do list, even more so now) but in that area there is also "Mont ste Anne" (my favorite montian in québec) and the "massif du sud" on the south shore of the st lawrence (also on my to-do list as it's supposed to be very nice snow and fairly low-key)

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