By Matt Houghton

From a cultural perspective, Quebec is profoundly distinct from the rest of Canada. There are many reasons the French language being the most obvious. Without drowning you in information, allow me to sum it up by saying that going to Quebec is like stepping into another country, even though it’s all actually part of Canada. Got it?

From a snowboarding perspective, Quebec is also different. It has played both a key role in developing snowboarding in Canada (early snowboard pioneer Louis Fornier is credited along with Jeff Grell in developing the collapsible highback), and in producing some of our biggest pro snowboarders, from Marc Morriset and Martin Gallant, to JF Pelchat and Emanuel Krebs, to DCP and Etienne Gilbert. And that’s not even touching the most recent wave of talent. If you haven’t yet heard of Yan Dofin, Matt Dano, Max Legend, or Reno B, you can bet your ass you will soon.

Quebec is home to snowboard factories and head offices for snowboard companies, the biggest snowboard contest in Canada (the Empire Shakedown), and leading video companies (Sugarshack Productions); it has legitimate mountains close to its cities, outstanding terrain parks, and some of the best rails and urban jibs in the world. It’s consistently cold in the winter and it snows. A lot. In other words, snowboarding and Quebec go together like fries, cheese curds, and gravy. And while that cliched reference to poutine (a culinary delight unique to Quebec) will cause a few French Canadian eyes to roll, it hammers home my point.

And on a last note, if you’ve been known to party once in a while, and let’s be honest, what snowboarder hasn’t there’s nowhere outside of Ibiza that can even touch this place.

Where To Ride In The Montreal/Laurentians Area:

Mont Tremblant – Whistler Of The East

The biggest and best resort in the Laurentians, Mont Tremblant, is close enough to Montreal (90 minutes’drive) that it’s easy to reach for day trips, but is also popular for vacationers throughout Eastern Canada. Set up like an alternate version of Whistler (both resorts are owned by Intrawest), there’s a pedestrian village packed with hotels, bars, shops, and restaurants, all of which are within walking distance of the main gondola. With over 2,000 feet of vertical and 94 runs, this is the place for high-speed groomers and misty tree lines when there’s fresh snow. There are three parks (helmets are mandatory) and a Superpipe serviced by a diligent park crew. Come prepared to party, as the bar and club scene goes off.

Distance from Montreal: 90 minutes
Ticket Price: $58
Best For: The complete destination resort experience and intense nightlife
Web site: tremblant.ca

Mont Saint-Sauveur (and Mont Avila) – Park And Ride

Located closer to Montreal than Mont Tremblant, Mont Saint-Sauveur draws a heavy crowd of city shredders thanks to its well-designed and challenging terrain park. There’s a good reason the Empire Shakedown, Canada’s biggest snowboard contest, is held here—the resort has a reputation for doing it right and can accommodate huge crowds. With lights set up for night riding, Montreal riders know they can show up at nearly any hour and find a badass park waiting for them. A lot of riders and industry reps actually skip the commute and call the area home, as Saint-Sauveur is a cool community unto itself. The vertical doesn’t compare to Mont Tremblant (which is a little further up the road), but loyal locals couldn’t care less, since 99 percent of their time is spent in the park anyway.

Distance from Montreal: 45 minutes
Ticket Price: $45
Best For: Easy access to excellent park riding
Web site: mssi.ca

Val. St. Come – Low Key Park

This resort is further off the radar than the two listed above, but is worth the effort to visit. The park set-up offers good variety and is always in excellent condition—the park staff has a well-earned reputation for their meticulous attention to detail (eect perfect take-offs and landings). It’s also lit up at night for sessions after work or school. When you stray from the park, you’ll find a slew of fun stuff to ride, from small cliffs and tree jibs to rollers and glades. For those seeking a lower-key scene with legit riding, this is the place.

Distance from Montreal: 60 minutes
Ticket Price: $32
Best For: Reliable park riding and good vibes
Web site: valsaintcome.com

Where To Ride In The Quebec City Area:

Mont Sainte-Anne All Snowboarding

Many Quebec snowboarders overlooked this resort—one of the biggest in Eastern Canada—in the past, but this has changed thanks to its recently revamped terrain park. Boasting a full, top-to-bottom run packed with park features, Mont Sainte-Anne has truly combined the chance to burn your legs (thanks to 2,000 vertical feet) while linking trick after trick on the jumps and jibs. With a more European quality than the Laurentian resorts near Montreal, Mont Sainte-Anne feels like another world and is an easy drive from Quebec City if you want to combine city life with all-mountain shredding. Expect great views, consistent snow, and plenty of runs (64) to cruise on when you’re not focused on landing a Cab five over in one of three parks. Remember, Canada’s legendary 418 crew (DCP, David Aubry, Daniel Migneault, et cetera) got their start here, so you know it’s worth a visit.

Distance from Quebec City: 30 minutes
Ticket Price: $55
Best For: A fun overall resort experience
Web site: mont-sainte-anne.com

Stoneham Pro Training Grounds

If you’re wondering how Quebec consistently produces so many talented riders, it’s time to expose Stoneham as their training ground of choice. With the biggest pipe in Eastern Canada and four (four!) parks to choose from, it’s no wonder this resort is one of the best-kept secrets in snowboarding. Emanuel Camirand, Stoneham’s savvy park builder, has years of experience and knows how to please riders with innovative features and jumps of varying size to learn and push limits safely. Like Sainte-Anne, Stoneham is also an easy drive from Quebec City, making it a popular spot for city shredders keen on a few hours of park riding at the end of the day (the parks are fully lit for night riding). Big events are held here, such as the annual Rumble contest, and regular riding series like the 418 Chronicles go down on a weekly basis.

Distance from Quebec City: 30 minutes
Ticket Price: $45
Best For: Nonstop park laps under the lights
Web site: ski-stoneham.com

Le Massif – The Place For Freeriding

Perched on the edge of the St. Lawrence River (or the Fleuve St-Laurent in the local parlance), Le Massif is a legit freeriding spot with a steep pitch and challenging terrain. Back in the day, before the lifts and lodge were developed, you could actually take a bus from the bottom of the runs to the top, riding untracked snow when storms blew in. The resort has all the modern amenities you need today, but retains its original rugged appeal. And bring your camera, ’cause the view can’t be beat.

Distance from Quebec City: 45 minutes
Ticket Price: $52
Best For: Western-style riding east of the Rockies
Web site: lemassif.com

Etienne Gilbert’s Best Day Ever

While Nitro pro rider Etienne Gilbert spends most of his winter days filming in the Whistler backcountry, he never hesitates to hop a plane home to return to his roots. Here he breaks down his ideal day of shredding in Quebec City.

A perfect winter day in Quebec start like any other place—with a foot or two of fresh snow overnight followed by a bluebird day without wind. I’d wake up not too early, somewhere around eight o’clock, in a warm place with my girl by my side. I’d have a nice breakfast at home with coffee, fruit, and some toast au creton dipped in maple syrup. (I also love maple syrup in my coffee). Then I’d meet up with a small crew of friends to go shoot a fun street rail spot. After a one to two-hour session, everyone would get a couple of tricks they’re stoked on. The photographer and filmer would nail the shots and we’d finish off by hitting some random jib feature. We’d all go for some food after at Cosmos restaurant, where we’d obviously get the prettiest waitress. After that we’d head out to one of our friend’s places in Stoneham to watch the footage and hang out for a while. Then we’d all get back into our gear for a night park session right after the groomer is done cleaning everything up. We’d all learn a new trick, then we’d go out to Le Pub OZone for some sushi and a night of partying. We’d leave the bar at last call, around 3:30 a.m., and go for a poutine at Chez Ashton!

Around Town

This regional report covers two distinct areas, Montreal/Laurentians and Quebec City, each of which can be very different from the other. Montreal has a greater mix of English and French residents, so you’ll find it’s a little easier to get by if your grasp of the French language begins and ends with oui. Montreal is a cosmopolitan place, and its cool urban culture extends up through the Sauveur to Tremblant corridor. Expect friendly people, beautiful girls, and everything you’d normally find in a big city. Quebec City shares many of these qualities, but has the fore-mentioned European vibe that truly has to be experienced to understand. The old-world architecture has an àƒ¬am I still in North America?àƒ® quality. Speaking of which, don’t count on as many people speaking English here; step up and learn some basic French so you don’t come across as an ignorant North American.

Eating

While you can find everything from take-out to fine dining, certain dishes are crucial to sample, like authentic Montreal bagels, smoked meat sandwiches, and of course, poutine.

Le Petit Caribou
The mandatory party stop in the village at Mont Tremblant.
(819) 681-4500, ptitcaribou.com

Bourbon Street
The local’s recommended party stop in Sauveur on Highway 117.
(450) 229-2905

Foufones Electriques
The original punk-rock bar in Montreal complete with a mini-ramp for skate nights.
(514) 844-5539, foufounes.qc.ca

St. Hubert
Be sure to come here for a rotisserie chicken dinner at any number of its locations, which French Canadians claim as far superior to Swiss Chalet (the equivalency throughout the rest of Canada).
st-hubert.com

Pub O’Zone
The party spot of choice in Quebec.
1096 3e Avenue, (418) 524-4855

La Belle Province, Chez Ashton, and Le Cosmos all come highly recommended by local riders for a meal in Quebec.
La Belle Province: 980 Rue Bouvier, (418) 627-7222
Ashton: chez-ashton.com (Three locations in downtown Quebec.)
Le Cosmos: 575 Grande AllàƒË†e Est, (418) 640-0606, lecosmos.com

The Empire Shakedown
April 4-5, 2008

Held at Mont Saint-Sauveur every spring, it isn’t just the biggest snowboard event in Quebec, it’s also the biggest in Canada. This contest has set the standard for everyone else to follow with innovative jump and rail setups, which always outdo the previous year’s setup. A who’s who of Canadian and international pros show up, but don’t be surprised if an unknown local takes home the cash—the riders are just that good here.

Other notable events include the Rumble at Stoneham (which always draws a lot of talent and offers a big cash purse) and the Spin Symposium festival at Mont Tremblant, which is like an eastern version of Whistler’s annual World Ski And Snowboard Festival—expect contests, concerts, parties, and an overall good time.

Sleeping

Like any other resorts, it’s always more economical to roll with a large group so you can share costs on a condo. You’ll find plenty of options within and around the village at Mont Tremblant or at Sauveur to suit a variety of budgets; having a kitchen to cook meals in is an added bonus. You can also stay at the HI-Canada Youth Hostel in Tremblant (1-866-425-6008,ter a one to two-hour session, everyone would get a couple of tricks they’re stoked on. The photographer and filmer would nail the shots and we’d finish off by hitting some random jib feature. We’d all go for some food after at Cosmos restaurant, where we’d obviously get the prettiest waitress. After that we’d head out to one of our friend’s places in Stoneham to watch the footage and hang out for a while. Then we’d all get back into our gear for a night park session right after the groomer is done cleaning everything up. We’d all learn a new trick, then we’d go out to Le Pub OZone for some sushi and a night of partying. We’d leave the bar at last call, around 3:30 a.m., and go for a poutine at Chez Ashton!

Around Town

This regional report covers two distinct areas, Montreal/Laurentians and Quebec City, each of which can be very different from the other. Montreal has a greater mix of English and French residents, so you’ll find it’s a little easier to get by if your grasp of the French language begins and ends with oui. Montreal is a cosmopolitan place, and its cool urban culture extends up through the Sauveur to Tremblant corridor. Expect friendly people, beautiful girls, and everything you’d normally find in a big city. Quebec City shares many of these qualities, but has the fore-mentioned European vibe that truly has to be experienced to understand. The old-world architecture has an àƒ¬am I still in North America?àƒ® quality. Speaking of which, don’t count on as many people speaking English here; step up and learn some basic French so you don’t come across as an ignorant North American.

Eating

While you can find everything from take-out to fine dining, certain dishes are crucial to sample, like authentic Montreal bagels, smoked meat sandwiches, and of course, poutine.

Le Petit Caribou
The mandatory party stop in the village at Mont Tremblant.
(819) 681-4500, ptitcaribou.com

Bourbon Street
The local’s recommended party stop in Sauveur on Highway 117.
(450) 229-2905

Foufones Electriques
The original punk-rock bar in Montreal complete with a mini-ramp for skate nights.
(514) 844-5539, foufounes.qc.ca

St. Hubert
Be sure to come here for a rotisserie chicken dinner at any number of its locations, which French Canadians claim as far superior to Swiss Chalet (the equivalency throughout the rest of Canada).
st-hubert.com

Pub O’Zone
The party spot of choice in Quebec.
1096 3e Avenue, (418) 524-4855

La Belle Province, Chez Ashton, and Le Cosmos all come highly recommended by local riders for a meal in Quebec.
La Belle Province: 980 Rue Bouvier, (418) 627-7222
Ashton: chez-ashton.com (Three locations in downtown Quebec.)
Le Cosmos: 575 Grande AllàƒË†e Est, (418) 640-0606, lecosmos.com

The Empire Shakedown
April 4-5, 2008

Held at Mont Saint-Sauveur every spring, it isn’t just the biggest snowboard event in Quebec, it’s also the biggest in Canada. This contest has set the standard for everyone else to follow with innovative jump and rail setups, which always outdo the previous year’s setup. A who’s who of Canadian and international pros show up, but don’t be surprised if an unknown local takes home the cash—the riders are just that good here.

Other notable events include the Rumble at Stoneham (which always draws a lot of talent and offers a big cash purse) and the Spin Symposium festival at Mont Tremblant, which is like an eastern version of Whistler’s annual World Ski And Snowboard Festival—expect contests, concerts, parties, and an overall good time.

Sleeping

Like any other resorts, it’s always more economical to roll with a large group so you can share costs on a condo. You’ll find plenty of options within and around the village at Mont Tremblant or at Sauveur to suit a variety of budgets; having a kitchen to cook meals in is an added bonus. You can also stay at the HI-Canada Youth Hostel in Tremblant (1-866-425-6008, hostellingtremblant.com) if you’re truly light on funds ($28 CAN and up), or at lower-priced motels further from the resort in the village of Ste. Jovite.

In Montreal, expect the full gamut of pricing, from spendy, high-end hotel rooms to more affordable motels and inns. Just expect to be further away from the downtown nightlife if you go cheaper, although this will likely get you closer to the resorts.

Similar options exist at Mont Sainte-Anne and Stoneham, although Stoneham has fewer options than Sainte-Anne with less available rooms than you’d find at a larger resort. That being said, both resorts are so close to Quebec City that you may want to stay there to have the best of both worlds. Again, expect the usual range of motel and hotel prices that you’d find in any city.

Local Shops

Shred shops in Quebec are among the best in Canada—for real. French Canadians take their retail game very seriously, so expect top-notch selection and service.

Empire in Montreal
(514) 390-1212, thinkempire.com

Adrenaline in the village at Mont Tremblant
(450) 447-8933)

Axis in Mont Sauveur
(450) 227-9988

Underworld in Montreal
They don’t sell snowboards, but have skateboarding dialed with one of the best shoe walls you’ll ever see.

underworld-shop.com

DLX in Quebec
(418) 653-0783

Alternative Sports in Rimouski
(819) 681-5501

008, hostellingtremblant.com) if you’re truly light on funds ($28 CAN and up), or at lower-priced motels further from the resort in the village of Ste. Jovite.

In Montreal, expect the full gamut of pricing, from spendy, high-end hotel rooms to more affordable motels and inns. Just expect to be further away from the downtown nightlife if you go cheaper, although this will likely get you closer to the resorts.

Similar options exist at Mont Sainte-Anne and Stoneham, although Stoneham has fewer options than Sainte-Anne with less available rooms than you’d find at a larger resort. That being said, both resorts are so close to Quebec City that you may want to stay there to have the best of both worlds. Again, expect the usual range of motel and hotel prices that you’d find in any city.

Local Shops

Shred shops in Quebec are among the best in Canada—for real. French Canadians take their retail game very seriously, so expect top-notch selection and service.

Empire in Montreal
(514) 390-1212, thinkempire.com

Adrenaline in the village at Mont Tremblant
(450) 447-8933)

Axis in Mont Sauveur
(450) 227-9988

Underworld in Montreal
They don’t sell snowboards, but have skateboarding dialed with one of the best shoe walls you’ll ever see.

underworld-shop.com

DLX in Quebec
(418) 653-0783

Alternative Sports in Rimouski
(819) 681-5501