It was 11 in the morning. We’d just checked arrived at Mont-Sainte-Anne and were on our way to Rang St. Julien, a place where you can fo cross-country skiing near Quebec City. I felt a little unsure as I’d been pretty sick the day before and hadn’t regained all my powers yet (you know, turning invisible, mind reading, flying).
Then again, we didn’t think it would be that tiring. In fact, Boyfriend even thought that it would be a bit boring. Boy, was he wrong!
Cross-country skiing near Quebec City at Mont-Sainte-Anne
The first thing we noticed when we arrived at Rang St. Julien was how light everyone was dressed. We were wearing the same as we’d worn to explore Quebec City, plus ski pants. That means I was wearing my Icebreaker merino woolen long sleeve shirt, another special long sleeve shirt, a fleece long sleeve shirt and a woolen turtleneck. Oh, and of course also a hat and thick skiing gloves.
Pierre, our guide, looked at us a bit funny and suggested I’d leave at least one item behind, so I got rid of my fleece long sleeve. Still, I was literally overdressed for cross-country skiing, or ski de fond as they call it in French-speaking Canada.
We headed out onto what was the easiest trail of the entire cross-country skiing terrain. It was one of the easiest because it wasn’t that hilly and there were slopes on the sides of the track where you could put your cross-country skis in so that you wouldn’t have to worry about going straight.
You know I used those babies.
Boyfriend and I started full of courage, but we quickly discovered that xc skiing wasn’t as easy as it had looked. Sure, it’s not that hard to move forward on flat terrain, but if you want to cover more than an inch each time you move forward, you better have some technique.
Classic cross-country technique vs skate ski technique
Pierre explained to us that there are two techniques for cross-country skiing or two kinds of xc skiing. One is called the classic technique (the diagonal slide) and it’s the one I had heard of, where you “just” have to slide one foot forward, then the second, and so on. This technique looks a bit like sliding nordic walking in the snow.
You get me, right? :-)
If not, here’s a video:
The other technique is what I call the V-technique, but what is officially known as the skate ski technique. It requires you to lift your feet more so you can really pick up your ski, place it diagonally in front of you and push yourself forward like that. Here’s a good explanation of it:
Although both are separate techniques and there are competitions for both, we used the diagonal sliding technique on flat terrain and the skate ski technique on some of the small hills we had to get on. I can confidently say I didn’t master the skate ski technique at all.
We also soon found out why everyone was dressed so lightly to go cross-country skiing: this sport is hard! I do mean that in a good way. It’s a sport that forces you to use all of your muscles (I first wrote “mussels” here, which would’ve been more appropriate in my case). You train your legs (those take you forward), your abs (to keep you upright) and your arms (to use the poles).
I absolutely loved it and besides the full exercise I got out of it, that also had to do with the location. Rang St. Julien is so big that you can xc ski for quite a while without crossing anyone.
We, however, crossed a bunch of kids as we were on the easiest trail, clearly used to teach 8-year olds the sport.
When there were no kids in sight, however, there was nothing but white all around us. A few trees here and there, a small hill that blocked our sight a bit, but all we saw was nature. If I’d live in Quebec, I’d come cross-country skiing here weekly.
Even Boyfriend, who hadn’t really looked forward to this activity, was clearly won over. He was impressed by the technique necessary to xc ski in a right way and hadn’t thought it would’ve been so hard to get it right.
Honestly, there couldn’t have been a better way for us to start our winter sports adventure than here at Rang St. Julien.
Rang St. Julien
Where to stay at Mont-Sainte-Anne
We spent a few nights at the lovely Chateau Mont-Sainte-Anne. Right at the foot of the mountain and just an hour’s drive from Quebec City. The spa area of the hotel consists of a massage center, a gym, an indoor pool, a heated outdoor pool, outdoor hot tubs, and a sauna. The outdoor pool and hot tubs can even be used in winter.
The on-site restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with local products.
Free parking is available right out front and WiFi is free throughout the property. Pets are welcome.
Want to stay at Châteaux Mont-Sainte-Anne too? Check more reviews, prices, and availability here.
How to get to Quebec, Canada and Rang St Julien
Quebec City has an international airport welcoming flights from all over the world. If you’re coming from Europe, you might have a short layover somewhere else in Canada or in the US.
To check all of your options and find the best flights for your trip, do a search on Skyscanner.
In Quebec City you don’t need a car but once you want to venture further to places like Rang St Julien, a car makes traveling so much easier. Have a look at RentalCars.com as they compare hundreds of car rental sites so you can choose the best rental for your needs.
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We received a free tour at Rang St. Julien so that we could write about our experience here and tell you what it was like to go cross-country skiing at Mont-Sainte-Anne. In all honesty, it was FAB!
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