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Dive into the Magic of Winter in Authentic Quebec

October 17, 2023

Dive into the Magic of Winter in Authentic Quebec © Michel Julien
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There’s no beating around the bush or holding back when it comes to enjoying the winter delights of Authentic Quebec. Maybe just bring some mittens! Lanaudière and Mauricie, Montreal and Quebec’s friendly neighbours, lay out on a silver platter the most delightful attractions of the true Quebecois winter. And this white magic works whether you are in the city, by the river, in the countryside, or deep in the forest. Destinations, experiences and discoveries against a snowy backdrop: here are some frosty gems in the regions of Authentic Quebec!

© Jimmy Vigneux

Lanaudière in its Winter Quarters: Just Let It Happen!

The charming town of Joliette has always known how to take advantage of its location in the heart of the Lanaudière countryside, just about twenty kilometers from the St. Lawrence River. Winter gives more than one reason to visit this beauty. As the holidays approach, its gentle urbanity becomes more festive, and its downtown dresses up in wonder. People naturally flock to the Joliette Christmas Market (read further below). Between illuminations, decorations and events, the local artisan stands compete with tempting local treats. From November 24th to the end of December, another site will surely amaze both young and old. The Jardins en Lumières gardens of light invite Lanaudière residents and visitors alike to discover the Arômes & Saveurs lavender gardens in a whole new light. A sparkling one, since the gardens are lit up, the paths are torch-lit, and the forest becomes an enchanted world where one can take part in a playful rally. Perfect for an evening family outing, all the more so as delicious hot chocolate is included in the experience. Later in the season, throughout February, it’s the turn of Festi-Glace to set Joliette alight. Put on your skates to play on the giant skating rink of Authentic Quebec, a 9-km track set up on the L’Assomption River. Events and activities follow one another in a genuinely cheerful atmosphere. Joliette still has good times in store for its winter visitors. With its rich collection exploring Canadian art, European art, contemporary art and archaeology, the Joliette Museum of Art is an absolute must-see, as is the impressive Saint-Charles-Borromée’s Cathedral. For a stay within easy reach of downtown attractions, fine dining at L’Âtre Bistro and the cozy Albion microbrewery, we recommend the Château Joliette Hotel, which exudes its contemporary charm along the banks of the L’Assomption River.

© Simon Laroche

Other Winter Must-Sees in Joliette and Lanaudière?

Joliette Christmas Market is held in downtown Joliette from November 30 to December 23, 2023. In addition to its illuminated decor and entertainment, the Artisan Village offers the chance to discover the work of some thirty local artisans and producers. Original gifts and good memories guaranteed!

Les Aventures Liguoriennes, in Saint-Liguori, is the place to experience the thrill of dog sledding and learn to drive a team in a family atmosphere. The discovery of the 50 Alaskan kennels, the contagious passion of the team and the beauty of the snow-covered trails all add to the magic of the experience (2 to 3-hour rides and half-day packages).

The Forest of the Abbey (Val Notre-Dame Abbey in Saint-Jean-de-Matha) invites hikers all year round to explore its stunning trails through woods, mountains and fields, but also to taste local and forest products. In winter and during the sugaring-off season, these gourmet hikes can be enjoyed on snowshoes, complete with a tasty wilderness BBQ.

The Super Glissades Saint-Jean-de-Matha are simply unmatched for a healthy dose of frosty fun and thrilling experience. With 23 tracks spread over two slopes (“Family” and “Adrenaline”), the entire family is invited to slide like never before on traditional tubes and reach phenomenal speeds nearing 100 km/h aboard a snow raft, the legendary Cyclone or the famous TGV. On-site, you can also enjoy snowshoeing amidst a captivating winter landscape and cross-country skiing on over 40 km of trails, including several specially designed for skating. To make the most of this snow-covered paradise in the heart of the Lanaudière region, Auberge Matha, with its spacious and comfortable rooms, suites and condos, is the perfect place to stay. Bistro Matha’s mouth-watering menus also provide their fair share of gourmet comfort.

© Jimmy Vigneux

Two prime locations to truly experience Lanaudière’s winter!

L’Auberge du Vieux-Moulin offers guests a variety of accommodation options (rooms and suites, chalets, Coolbox), a 100% comforting gourmet cuisine, top-notch wellness facilities (pool, spa, treatments), and a wide range of outdoor activities, including snowshoeing, ice skating and ice fishing. Located in Sainte-Émélie-de-l’Énergie, this 4-star family inn is a must-visit for all-inclusive stays in Authentic Quebec.

Le Gollé Goulu uniquely blends farming and eco-responsible glamping nestled in its small valley, near Saint-Côme, at the edge of the vast forests of Authentic Quebec. From ready-to-camp tents to rustic cabins, you’ll enjoy a completely self-sufficient stay in contact with nature. The surrounding environment also invites you to embark on splendid walks on snowshoes or cross-country skis.

© Justine Laurier

At the Heart of Snowy Mauricie, Magic Is Guaranteed!

Trois-Rivières in Winter: An Experience Far from the Ordinary

Ever thought of discovering or rediscovering Trois-Rivières in the heart of winter? There are plenty of good reasons! For starters, neither the cold nor the icy caress of the St. Lawrence River really managed to lull the capital of the Mauricie region to sleep, a central stop on the King’s Road, the first carriage road linking Quebec City to Montreal, built at the end of the 17th century. The city’s rich heritage and its cultural attractions, such as the POP Museum and the Old Prison, can be explored with as much curiosity as in the warmer season. In Trois-Rivières, the art of hospitality and enjoying life never goes into hibernation. People love to enjoy the fine dining of downtown, its cozy cafes and its bustling nightlife. A dinner downtown followed by an evening at the P’tite Grenouille, the famous songwriter’s bar on Rue des Forges, will convince even the most timid of epicurean night owls. For its third edition in February, the ArtikFest electronic music festival will literally embody the Trois-Rivières winter. This major event is indeed held outdoors: two days of partying in the snow to the sound of the best DJs! And don’t forget to check out the program at the Cogeco Amphitheater, Trois-Rivières’ must-see venue which will give you an experience just as grandiose as in the outdoor theater but in a more intimate and warm atmosphere. But Trois-Rivières also knows how to relax, from a contemplative walk in the old port with views of the St. Lawrence River, the port and the magnificent Laviolette bridge, to the unmatched benefits of thermotherapy. For that, head to the KiNipi Nordic Spa & Accommodation, located on Boulevard des Forges. Here, rejuvenation comes not only from the thermal experience of Nordic baths (and the hands of massage therapists) but also through sleep and food. Yet another favorite address in Trois-Rivières to celebrate winter!

© Regens Martin

Other Great Plans for a Winter Stay in Trois-Rivières?

The POP Museum has been showcasing Quebec’s popular culture for just over 20 years, exhibitions always surprise and enlighten, as does the poignant guided tour of the Old Prison of Trois-Rivières next door. This winter, don’t miss the very playful exhibition “Attache ta tuque!”, or “Peaux d’âmes”, featuring works by contemporary artist François Bertrand.

The Hotel Oui GO! is the chic yet relaxed option to stay in the heart of Trois-Rivières. This urban hotel is housed on rue Notre-Dame in the Balcer heritage building, where historic cachet and contemporary design go hand in hand. Guests also love the comfort of its 28 rooms and suites, not to mention the homemade waffles for which its restaurant Le Gaufré1908 is famous.

At Hotel Delta Trois-Rivières, you can trust Marriott’s expertise for a comfortable stay close to downtown attractions and the Cogeco Amphitheater. Recently renovated, the rooms at the Delta by Marriott Trois-Rivières offer sublime river views. An indoor swimming pool, spa, Jacuzzi and a restaurant with flavors from the southern United States are also part of the experience!

© Damien Lair

More Great Tips for a Big Winter Cleanse in Mauricie

La Mauricie National Park is an excellent destination to discover the great outdoors of Authentic Quebec and play outside, even in winter, on a protected territory of 536 km². Reinvented by snow, this forested landscape dotted with about 150 lakes becomes the favorite playground of winter hikers, who explore over 54 km of marked trails on snowshoes, as well as cross-country skiing enthusiasts, on a network totaling 80 km. The Rivière-à-la-Pêche service lodge is the starting point for both networks. It is also the perfect base camp to warm up and rent snowshoes and hiking equipment. What’s more, La Mauricie National Park offers a way to prolong the experience with its accommodations, including thirteen ready-to-camp oTENTik tents, not to mention, for the more adventurous, winter camping sites to pitch a tent right on the snow.

The Maison Cadorette, located near the Mauricie National Park and Shawinigan, is an ideal base for any winter outing in Mauricie. The inn’s five rooms are very charming! Each room is carefully decorated and allows you to live an experience linked to the history that shaped the village of Saint-Jean-des-Piles.

The Pourvoirie du Lac Blanc Outfitter also offers winter enthusiasts a front-row seat to the snow-covered nature of Authentic Quebec, right in the heart of the Mauricie region, near Saint-Alexis-des-Monts. A resort that is both family-friendly, eco-responsible and full of energy, the Pourvoirie du Lac Blanc Outfitter stands out for its exceptional range of outdoor activities. Snowmobile or dog sled rides, helicopter overflights, clay pigeon shooting, snowshoe hikes with a trapper, ice fishing with catch tasting, forest survival expeditions and workshops… there’s no room for boredom. For accommodations, guests will love the rustic charm of the restaurant, not to mention the house specialties where local trout naturally takes center stage, but also the very Québécois warmth of the accommodations, whether you stay in one of the spacious chalets on the estate or in a room at the main inn. Guaranteed pleasure and authenticity!

The Auberge du Lac-à-l’Eau-Claire seems to have found the perfect balance between the call of nature and the comfort of a cocoon. In the beautifully rolling forested landscape that surrounds Lac à l’Eau Claire, winter comes with gentle adventures, such as ice fishing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on 7 km of trails, or ice skating. You can also pick up speed on a snowmobile, from an initiation to a multi-day raid, on a dog sled ride, or even go tubing to break the silence of the snowy forest with big bursts of laughter. Still, you’ll have to manage to leave their cozy accommodation, be it a 4 or 5-bedroom chalet, a fully equipped condo, a room at the inn or in one of the two estate pavilions, if it’s not the restaurant or the health club, with its large swimming pool, that are holding you back.

Le Presbytère Microbrewery is one of those places where you can savor Authentic Quebec and the creativity of its artisans. The old presbytery of Saint-Stanislas-de-Champlain not only houses a craft brewery producing 14 excellent beers but also the kitchens of Chef Isabelle Dupuis, who works with local and forest products. Feast your taste buds in a most convivial atmosphere!

© Auberge du Lac-à-l’Eau-Claire

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