There may not be a more historic region in North America than Quebec City and Charlevoix of Eastern Canada. First discovered in 1608 by renowned world explorer Samuel De Champlain, this area quickly became a key seaport and the cradle of French civilization in the new world. Located on the shores of the mighty St Lawrence River, this destination is ripe to be discovered by foodies, history buffs and nature lovers alike. With skiing nearby at Le Massif and Mont Sainte Anne is an après ski delight as well.
A trip to this central Quebec region promises four centuries of Canadian heritage along with an equally time-honored tradition of fine lodging and amusements beyond the typical tours and museums.
Le Château Frontenac is the granddaddy of accommodations in Quebec City, and the perfect place to stay in winter. Our trip was in the celebrated month of February, on the heels of the world s largest winter Carnival. Another ideal Quebec lodging destination for ski and stay packages is Le Germain Dominion.
As we approached the ancient city, we immediately spotted the dramatic copper spires of the landmark Frontenac castle along the icy St. Lawrence. Dating back to 1893, this epic five star hotel towers over Quebec City's historic district, within the stone ramparts of the largest remaining fortifications in North America. These original stone walls encircle the 2.9 mile perimeter of the illustrious old city where the hotel is located.
Le Château Frontenac is its own glorious monument, overlooking the St. Lawrence River and the oldest commercial port in America. The stone entry archway to the Château features the coat of arms belonging to the Count of Frontenac, the hotel's namesake and Governor of France during the 17th century exploration of this new territory.
As you enter the famous hotel, a grand lobby leads to stone and mahogany corridors of boutiques and galleries for the well-heeled inhabitants. As there are more than a few lounges and restaurants, you never need to leave the confines of this historic castle.
You are well advised to have the costumed bellmen assist you in finding your room amongst the 18 floors and 618 rooms of every shape and size. A few of the larger suites are set in the spectacular window lined circular turrets that create the unique rooftop profile that is so recognizably Le Frontenac.
You can make an aerobic workout of the endless mazes of hallways, or visit the indoor pool, spa and fitness center, which was added in 1993—the most recent of many expansions to the hotel over the past century.
Since our visit was in the winter, we kicked off our outdoor activities with a crazy toboggan ride, Dufferin Terrace. Just outside Le Château, we grabbed our long wooden toboggan (a relic from childhood memory) and embarked on an icy hike up a long plank of stairs. At the top, we climbed aboard our sled, while the attendant held us back. He then released us to plummet down the frozen track alongside the River.
For the less adventuresome, browsing the city s boutiques, cafes, and museums can elevate the heart rate. A $1 ride on the Funicular transports you in style (and saves you from a longer walk and many stairs) to Quartier Petit Champlain, where you can visit the glass blowing factory, and witness the well-preserved old port.
Within a half hour of Le Château Frontenac, you can partake in countless on-snow activities, from dog sledding, skating and snowmobiling, to cross-country and alpine skiing at nearby Stoneham and Mont Sainte Anne ski areas and Le Massif. The easy drive to these Quebec Ski Resorts, from such a palatial setting, is the likely reason Conde Nast Traveler readers rated Le Château Frontenac the #2 Ski Accommodations in all North America.