Quebec traveling tips

From late October to mid-April, Québec province becomes Canada’s icy adventure playground, and skiers flock here in droves to take to the slopes.

But you don’t have to be a pro on the pistes to get under the skin of this fascinating corner of Canada in winter. In fact, there are myriad winter activities on offer, such as dog-sledding, fat biking or tubing; or simply exploring the province’s unique identity in Montréal and Québec City – these cities can be at their most beguiling in the cold season, particularly if you time your visit to coincide with one of the big winter festivals, Igloofest or Carnaval de Québec.

 

Montréal

In place d’Armes, a historic square in Old Montréal, there is a pair of bronze sculptures standing on either side of the plaza. The first is a man clutching an English pug; the other is a woman holding a French poodle. The owners are turning their exaggerated noses away from each other, while the two dogs are staring at each other, eager to meet.

This take on Montréal’s mixed heritage says a lot about a city (and a province) characterized by dualities – it’s at once French and English, Québécois and Canadian, old and new, and all the more compelling for it. Montréal was recently voted the best city in the world to be a student, and with its laid-back attitude, hip neighborhoods, astonishingly good coffee, and lively drinking scene, it’s not hard to see why.

For an intimate exploration of the city’s streets, consider a local tour guide. Thom Seivewright (livinglikealocal.com) injects enthusiasm and knowledge as he shows visitors around his city. He tailors each tour to suit individual interests, but it’s worth asking him to show you some of the murals around boulevard St-Laurent, which are a riot of color and artistry.

Taking place each January or February, outdoor rave Igloofest (igloofest.ca), down at the Old Port, is the hottest ticket in town. Party-goers dig out their finest retro snowsuits for the electronic music festivities, held over four successive weekends.

 

The Laurentians

The Laurentian mountains are a one-hour drive or a slower bus ridefrom Montréal and are a paradise for winter sports freaks. There are few better ways to experience this wonderland of white than dog-sledding at the Kanatha-Aki activity center (kanatha-aki.com) at Val des Lacs. Brace yourself on the side of the sleigh as it careens through a maze of pines while a gang of huskies barks excitedly up ahead; the trees periodically open out, allowing you to drink in views of dramatic mountains or a snow-bordered lake along the way.