Wanna take your sweetie on a Valentine’s 
ride she’ll never forget? Or maybe you are the sweetie and want hubby to take you snowmobiling somewhere extra special. Either way, look no farther than the Quebec and Charlevoix Regions of La Belle Province. Here, the recipe is simple: ingredients include first class hotels, gourmet meals, superb trails, mountainous scenery, and the Quebec Winter Carnival.

  We discovered all this and more at two very special snowmobile friendly hotels
(see our itinerary) - the Four Points by Sheraton Quebec (City) Resort and the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu at La Malbaie, an easy 200- kilometre ride on Trans Quebec Trail 3 in a northeasterly direction parallel to the St. Lawrence River. Believe me, you’ll be nothing but impressed by sledding in the lap of luxury!

  No matter whether you’re casual or avid snowmobilers, this ride works as the ultimate Valentine’s getaway. Each of the Four Points by Sheraton and the Fairmont Manoir Richelieu are ideally located for day-trip exploration of their respective regions, offering both shorter and longer loop options. We planned four days of day tripping on this tour, two from each hotel. Our only saddle bagging was the two days  to get back and forth between the two hotels. If you prefer not carrying your luggage on your sleds, another option would be to trailer from hotel to hotel instead as both of them have plenty of free parking available.


Exploring Quebec City & Area

  Our Snow Goer Canada couples crew consisted of Frank and Beth Crocco, Johnny Biasi and Trish Robinson, and my wife, Marsha, and I. We towed our Triton Trailers to the Four Points by Sheraton Quebec Resort (see Our Itinerary) timed to take in the Quebec Winter Carnival, the famous Ice Hotel and the charm of Old Quebec (see sidebar). Our first actual day of sledding was a 315-kilometre loop into a tourism sub-region of Quebec called Portneuf, located west of the city on the north side of the St. Lawrence. As there are many trail options in this populated area, this circle ride can be as short or as long as you choose. Trails are an interesting diversity of fields, hills and valleys, with lots of options for food and fuel, including at Saint- Raymond where we stopped. 

  Our second day ride out of the Four Points by Sheraton was a 160-kilometre eastern loop past the Sainte-Anne ski-hill via the very scenic Regional Trail 320. We finished off this ride on Regional Trail 369 through the panoramic hills north of the city and back to Trail 3. Two other good day ride choices are a 300-kilometre plus return trip north to L’Étape, and a short hop eastward across a narrow section of the St. Lawrence River to sample the  trails on the Île d’Orleans (We had planned to do this one, but for some reason the trail to the island was closed at the time.) Whatever your choices for snowmobiling in the Quebec Region, you’ll be looking forward to capping off a great day’s ride with your overnight stay back at the Four Points by Sheraton Quebec Resort!

Discovering Charlevoix

  I recommend sledding from the Four Points by Sheraton to Charlevoix’s Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu (see Our Itinerary) and back. We wanted to return by the most direct route (Trans Quebec 3) on your final day, so outbound to La Malbaie we chose different trails through Saint-Anne (Regional Trail 320) and Baie-Saint- Paul (Regional Trail 378). In fact, all of these trails comprise the Charlevoix Region’s “River Circuit” (marked inyellow on their 2015 trail map). On our way, we stopped for a homecooked lunch at the popular relais at the intersection of Trans Quebec 3 and Regional Trail 378. Much to our surprise when we passed that junction three days later on our return trip, it had burnt to the ground! Not to worry if they don’t rebuild; there’s food and fuel available in Baie-Saint-Paul (10 km on Regional Trail 378) or east of this junction on Trans Quebec 3 at Maison Chez Laurent. 
 

  Until looking at a map, I didn’t realize how much farther north La Malbaie is than the City of Quebec. That means the Charlevoix Region not benefits from higher latitude, but is also more consistently mountainous. In many ways, Charlevoix’s views and scenery are similar to what can be found in Gaspèsie, as are the descents from the high country trails to the towns and services of the St. Lawrence River lowlands.

  We had planned two daytrips from Le Manoir Richelieu. One was the 275- kilometre “Fiord Circuit” (marked in grey on the 2015 trail map). If sledding a fantastic, table top smooth, 30’-wide trail for 30 klicks is your cup tea, then you have to do this circuit if only to experience Regional Trail 83! The descent to the Saguenay Fiord near L’Anse-Saint-Jean for a spectacular overview of the Saguenay River also makes it worthwhile.


 
  Our second planned day trip was a 100-kilometre exploration of the local trails (orange on the map) around La Malbaie, including several amazing lookouts like Montagne de la croix de Clermont (Local Trail 64), Mont Thérèse-Casgrain (Local Trail 54), and Lac Gravel (Regional Trail 378). If you have the time, also check out some of the local trails that lead down to the St. Lawrence at places like Saint-Josephde- la-Rive, Les Éboulements or Cap-àla’Aigle. Unfortunately, we missed most of these sights when a major oneday storm snowed us in on our second day at Le Manoir Richelieu. But none of us complained much about being snowbound at what’s probably the most extraordinary place a snowmobiler could stay!

  The beauty of spending your Valentine’s week in the Quebec and Charlevoix regions is unbeatable snowmobiling, plus a great variety of trails and activity choices. The beauty of spending your Valentine’s week at the Four Points by Sheraton Quebec Resort and the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu is premium, snowmobiling friendly hotels where the pampering is as good as it get. And hey guys, if there is any such thing as “brownie points”, the beauty of playing cupid in Quebec is that you’ll bank a bunch of them with this ultimate Valentine’s getaway!


Quebec City Sightseeing
Story by Patricia Robinson & Beth Mednick-Crocco | Photos by Patricia Robinson


Winter Carnival

  We snowmobiled to the Four Points Sheraton at Quebec City during the Carnaval de Quebec (held annually on the first two weeks of February). It’s the largest winter carnival in the world and offers a wide variety of activities for all ages, from dogsled rides and canoe racing to ice lawn bowling and human foosball to an international snow sculpture competition. While at Carnaval, we also toured the city’s famous Citadelle – the largest fortification built by the British in North America. Built from 1820 to 1850, this unique historic site is an active garrison for the Royal 22nd regiment and sits at the highest point in the city, offering a fabulous view.

  From the terrace next to the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac Hotel, we rode the 45˚ angle funicular (hillside railway) for a panoramic view of the St Lawrence River and the to the lower town (known as Old Quebec City). Old Quebec City’s narrow cobblestone streets are lined with historic buildings that now serve as art shops, clothing boutiques, quaint pubs and unique restaurants. Here, we enjoyed fresh crepes for breakfast that won’t soon be forgotten, ate lunch at a pub in an old fur vault built in 1877, and savoured a delicious three course fondue dinner.

Montmorency Falls

  Located only a few minutes from Four Points Sheraton, Montmorency Falls is 83 meters (272 ft) high, 30 meters (99 ft - higher than Niagara Falls), and 46 meters (150 ft) wide. Mist from the falls creates massive snow mounds where no hills normally exist and ice climbers scale the walls of ice. From the gate, we walked to the base of the falls and travelled to the top by cable car to cross over the thunderous falls on a suspension bridge. Be sure to wear waterproof clothing if you choose to venture to the bottom of the falls, as you will get wet from the mist.

Hotel de Glace

  The 2014 version of this famous ice hotel had 102 rooms and took 6 weeks to construct. It featured a large bar area, chapel, carvings and sculptures depicting mythical and legendary characters, as well as outdoor hot tubs and saunas. If you haven’t seen this site before, it is worth taking a day tour.

 
  Special thanks to Robert Lancup 
(Tourisme Quebec City), Mitémo Chevalier (Tourisme Charlevoix) and Gillian Hall (Tourisme Quebec), Mily Ouellet (Four Points by Sheraton Quebec Resort) and Eric Quesnel (Fairmont Manoir Richelieu) for assistance with this tour. Craig’s tours are made possible by BRP (Ski-Doo), Gateway Powersport, FXR Racing, Split Rail Skis, Triton Trailers, and Woody’s Traction Products.

 
 Do you have any great Valentine's snowmobile stories? Please share it with us on Facebook and Twitter!

 

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