So in March 2018 I went to Quebec in Canada, where I wandered through Quebec City and experienced my first Mont-Ste-Anne ski resort adventure.
I’d been stressing about this at first as I’d never skied or snowboarded before. I traveled with my then-boyfriend, who had much more experience with snowboarding. Scenes of him sliding down the slopes for hours at an end while I sat at the bottom of the hill, tired and cold, kept me awake for a couple of nights.
Luckily I soon found out that Mont-Sainte-Anne has a lot more to offer than just ski slopes. This resort is great for a getaway both in winter and summer.
Good to know: The Mont-Sainte-Anne ski resort has since become a part of Delta Hotels by Marriott and now looks better than ever!
Mont-Ste-Anne Ski Resort in winter
Ski and snowboard
When you go in winter there are of course the slopes.
With a summit altitude of 800 meters (or 2,625 feet), Mont-Sainte-Anne’s altitude doesn’t sound as impressive when you compare it with ski resorts in France or Italy. However, it's still one of the three biggest resorts in the whole of Quebec and has plenty to offer to visitors each year.
There are 69 trails covering 77 kilometers (or 41 miles). 19 of those trails are lighted for night skiing and form the biggest vertical drop for night skiing in Canada.
The Mont-Sainte-Anne ski resort also has a great beginner zone. There’s one really small, almost flat hill and one wider beginner's hill to let you practice your moves. No need to worry about tricky lifts here, as both beginner slopes are equipped with “magic carpets”. It’s the perfect place to teach kids how to ski or, in my case, to take your first skiing lesson.
If you want to learn how to ski or snowboard, Mont-Sainte-Anne is a great place for that. 21% of the trails are categorized as “easy” and another 46% as “difficult”, which is just one step up. The remaining trails are either “more difficult” (20%) or “extreme” (13%).
But according to my ex-boyfriend, even the extreme trails weren’t that difficult in comparison with the most difficult trails he’d ridden in France, Austria, and Italy.
Mont-Sainte-Anne doesn’t only have regular trails. For the stuntmen and women among you, there are also three different snow parks (the XL Park, the Grande Allée, and a beginners park) and one boardercross course. Three of these are open to everyone, but for the XL Park, you need to buy an additional pass.
Also, take into account that you need to wear a helmet if you want to enter these parks.
The ski and snowboard season at Mont-Sainte-Anne runs from mid-November until the end of April. Mont-Sainte-Anne skiing conditions are usually best between December and mid-March, although that can change from year to year.
Just 8 kilometers from the base of Mont-Sainte-Anne, at Rang Saint-Julien in Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, you’ll find the Mont-Sainte-Anne Cross-Country Skiing Center. With 200 km of groomed trails and 191 km of trails for skating stride, it's ranked as the top cross-country ski center in Canada and it holds second place in North America.
I went cross-country skiing there one morning and boy, it was a workout!
The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Rang St. Julien was how light everyone was dressed. I was wearing the same as I'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, 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 on so that you wouldn't have to worry about going straight.
You know I used those babies.
I started full of courage, but I 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 there are two techniques for cross-country skiing and 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 — 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 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.
My group, 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, and a small hill that blocked our sight a bit, but all we saw was nature. If I lived in Quebec, I'd come cross-country skiing here weekly.
If you want to go snowshoeing near Quebec City, Mont-Sainte-Anne is a great place for that. The Mont-Sainte-Anne trail map includes two large snowshoe trail areas. The area at Rang Saint-Julien covers 37 km of trails; the area at the base of the mountain consists of 7 trails covering 29 kms.
Both pistes offer trails of different difficulty levels, from “easy” over “difficult” to “extreme”.
I dressed warm and tried out the one at the base of the mountain with trails covering 29 km in total. Because this was my first time walking around on racket-like shoes with huge spikes in the front, I chose the 3 km-long “Jaseur” trail, which was marked as easy.
I know, I know, 3 km isn't much at all, but I had no idea how hard or easy it would be and figured I could always do another track later.
It turned out to be so much fun! I'd secretly looked forward to snowshoeing as this was something that didn't involve sliding or taking chairlifts. I thought it would feel clumsy walking with the snowshoes, but it wasn't that hard.
The dog sledding company Les Sécrets Nordiques is located at the base of Mont-Sainte-Anne as well. In fact, when you go snowshoeing at Mont-Sainte-Anne you’ll pass the kennels. Don't be surprised when they start going wild. That seems to be what they do when they see any kind of movement.
Only open during winter, the Mont-Sainte-Anne Ski Museum gives us a peek at the skiing history of Quebec. There is no mention of the museum on Mont-Sainte-Anne’s website though, so make sure to confirm if it’s still open to visitors when you get there.
Mont-Sainte-Anne summer activities
Mountain biking at Mont-Sainte-Anne
When summer starts, snowboarders and skiers turn Mont-Sainte-Anne over to the mountain bikers. The mountain bikers get to choose between cross-country trails, all mountain trails, downhill trails, and the pump track.
I know, you can’t really use snowshoes in summer, which is a bummer, but you can still go hiking at Mont-Sainte-Anne. There are different Mont-Sainte-Anne hiking trails, both on top of the mountain (you can take a gondola to get there) and leading up and down the summit.
And a Mont-Sainte-Anne trail map:
A special mention goes out to the Mont-Sainte-Anne hiking trail Chemin des Chutes, which takes you along three rather small waterfalls. We did a part of this trail in the snow and it was so beautiful. One warning: it involves a lot of steps.
The 4-star Le Grand Vallon Golf is 18 holes, 72 par course with 6,618 yards of fairways. It opens at the beginning of May.
The cross-country skiing terrain at Rand Saint-Julien doesn’t close in summer. It’s equipped with a 4,9 km long multi-purpose track which is great for rollerblading.
Summer and winter
And if that’s not enough, there are also some activities you can do both in winter and summer, like paragliding, canyoning and relaxing at one of the nearby spas.
Where to stay at Mont-Sainte-Anne ski resort
I spent three nights at the Château Mont-Sainte-Anne, right at the base of the mountain.
The Château Mont-Sainte-Anne has a grand lobby which is nice if you want to hang out for a while, as well as a bar where you can have a nightcap or a drink before dinner.
Besides that, the hotel also has its own movie theater, a playroom for kids, a playroom for older kids, a gym, an indoor pool, a sauna, and an outdoor pool (only open in summer).
There were also two outdoor hot tubs that my ex-boyfriend wanted to try on our first night there. As they were located below the hotel room, we agreed that I’d stay upstairs to take a photo of him in one of the tubs. So he went down and I positioned myself on the balcony, waiting for him to come out.
The situation got a bit weird, though, because it took him much longer than I’d expected and there already was a lady in the tubs, who now saw a small girl who kept aiming her phone at her… Fortunately, she seemed to get what I was aiming for once he appeared.
After I took the photo, I immediately posted it on Facebook as the WiFi in the studio was great. There was great WiFi in the entire hotel, something I appreciated.
Oh yes, I stayed in a studio… and I loved it. I had a separate bathroom, a kitchenette, a small living room-like area with a couch (which could be turned into a bed), and a television.
And then there was the bed. Oh boy, the bed. It was huge. Well, it was “just” king-size, but I’d never slept in a king-sized bed before!
Oh, and did I mention there was a welcome waiting for us when we arrived? Yeah, there was candy. And chocolate. With marshmallows. They sure knew how to win a piece of my heart!
Food at Château Mont-Sainte-Anne
For breakfast there was a menu with several items to choose from:
That menu is only offered when there are less than 100 people at the hotel though. When there are more, there's a breakfast buffet. You could get, for example, a healthy granola bar with fresh fruits or a smoothie. Or maybe a yogurt from the store, as they ran out of smoothies one day.
The lady running the breakfast also told us that the granola bar wasn’t homemade, but bought — just in case that makes a difference to you.
I had pancakes twice, but the first morning with apple and raisins and other fresh fruit and the second morning with blueberries.
Looks good, doesn’t it?
Breakfast was nice, but the poor lady running it couldn't keep up. I think she was close to going on her pension and she seemed so incredibly stressed. Even when there were just six people waiting for their breakfast, she didn't know what to do first and it took a pretty long time to get served.
The Château Mont-Sainte-Anne also has its own restaurant, which is supposed to be great. I didn't try it because I had my kitchenette and preferred preparing dinner for myself while I was there. I had been sick the weekend before and I didn't want to risk anything, so I just ate rather dry and basic food for the rest of the trip.
Want to stay at the Château Mont-Sainte-Anne as well? Check here for more review, prices, and availability.
When to go to Mont-Sainte-Anne ski resort
April is the last month of the winter season. The snow season at Mont-Sainte-Anne closes off with the Spring Madness Festival, after which the tracks close until around the third week of May when the mountain biking season starts.
Le Grand Vallon Golf Course usually opens around May 9 already, but the gondolas don’t operate again until the beginning of June.
Every weekend from September 20 until October 13 there’s the Fall Festival, after which the resort is a bit quiet again until the start of the winter season, in mid-November.
How to get to Mont-Sainte-Anne ski resort
Address: 2000 Boulevard du Beau Pré, Quebec, Canada
From Quebec City
To get from Québec City to Mont-Sainte-Anne ski resort, take Highway Dufferin-Montmorency [#440 East] and Route 138 East, following indications for Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré and Mont-Sainte-Anne. In Beaupré, follow Route 360 to Mont-Sainte-Anne.
If you don't have a rental car, a shuttle service is offered daily from downtown Québec City and comes to pick you up at your hotel.
If you'd like to get a rental car — which is recommended to explore the Quebec province — have a look at RentalCars.com. They compare hundreds of rental car companies so you can get the best deal.
Flying to Quebec
Quebec has an international airport but if you're coming from Europe, you might have to switch planes somewhere in the States or Canada.
Check Skyscanner for a good overview of your flight options.
Don't forget travel insurance
Plan for the best, prepare for the worst. Travel insurance has you covered in case (part of) your trip gets canceled, you get sick or hurt abroad, and sometimes even when your electronics break or get stolen. I always make sure I'm covered on every trip I go on.
Don't have travel insurance yet? Check out SafetyWing. They offer super flexible plans that you can even sign up for while you're already on your trip. On top of that, they were the first travel insurance to cover COVID, and when I got COVID, they reimbursed all of my expenses without making a fuss. Their customer support team is great and I can personally recommend them.
PIN FOR LATER
We received a 3-day stay at Mont-Sainte-Anne to review the resort and the activities it offers. You can be sure this hasn't affected my opinion of the place.
Tim | UrbanDuniya says
I can’t ski to save my life, but this is still an interesting post!! :p and of course, it’s great to finally “meet” your boyfriend!!!
Hahaha, thanks Tim:)
Doing anything downhill on snow scares the crap out of me… but snowshoeing looks like SO much fun! Nice and tranquil :) Although also possibly exhausting.
Indeed possibly exhausting:D
The easiest trails were really cool and doable. Don’t know if the hardest trails would’ve been doable:D