I was lucky enough to start skiing when I was just three years old. I spent most of my time carving the Toll Road (aka bunny hill) at Stowe Mountain Resort where my family had a country home. Fast forward to the past few years as we have been introducing our kids to mountain life. I didn’t know where to start when navigating Quebec ski resorts as I had very little experience on local hills. But with the guidance of my husband (a former ski instructor) and a winter spent with Rod Roy, we discovered some amazing hills for beginners.
Here are my top five:
Just a short 50-minute drive west of the city, Mont Rigaud is a fantastic beginner hill. While I hate to admit that the first time we pulled up at this hill I chuckled that it was the size of a pimple (ski snob!), it really was a fantastic place to start. They offer lift tickets by blocks of time (one to four hours) or just for the magic carpet so you don’t have to commit to being out the whole day. Plus, no need to worry about traffic on the Laurentian AutoRoute on your way home.
Part of Les Sommets, this mountain is one hour away from Montreal and surprisingly a hotspot for many American tourists. Last time we were at Morin Heights I rode the chairlift with a family from the States who made the trip just to ski there. My kids would make the trip just to ski there again too to go through the Teddy Bear forest! The mountain features ski-in cabins, a playroom for kids aged 18 months to 5 years old and an option for beginners to ski on the school slope for just $11.99.
Another mountain that’s part of the Les Sommets family, Mont Olympia is an hour away from the city. Little kids will love riding the magic carpet with their favourite characters lining the way up and down. And if you’ve never ridden a t-bar or are scared of them (like me!) this is the place to tackle your fear with two t-bars, side by side, that take you through the forest. Let’s just say, Alex and I had to use one of the “escape routes” halfway up the hill!
Just over an hour away, nestled off of the highway, this mountain is where many Montreal kids hit the slopes for the very first time. And for good reason. Vallée Bleue is very small with just two lifts and a magic carpet. One, two and four hour blocks are available. While the chalet is incredibly quaint looking from the outside, be warmed, it’s very small inside!
Also an hour away from Montreal, this is the hill where Alex first took a stab at snowboarding and the magic carpet terrain made for a perfect learning opportunity. One of the more comfortable chalets can be found at Mont Habitant, with two levels and perfect viewing opportunities to watch your little skiers. Family tickets are available as well as a parent pass for $150 to ski while your child is in lessons throughout the season.
Mont Blanc: While it is quite a drive (almost as far as Tremblant) and has more challenging terrain, the Jungle Magique indoor play centre and daycare is the perfect place for a kids’ après ski. Or better yet, a place to take the little ones who are not-yet-ready to hit the slopes.
Lift Ticket Tip
If you can, always buy your tickets online the day before to save a little bit of money. Tickets are usually more expensive on site.
Most of the hills mentioned above have group lessons that begin this weekend (January 6-7) but options for private lessons are also available. Or, like me, you could challenge yourself to a total body workout while screaming pizza and french fries down the hill…
Here’s to a wonderful ski season!