Long heralded by Quebec powder skiers as a secret snow stash (storms can deposit a Utah-like three feet in one day), Le Massif was recently purchased and modernized by one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil. The upgrades include new high-speed lifts and a revamped summit lodge, from which skiers can practice their own Cirque tricks, notably on runs like La 42, a double black diamond strewn with frozen waterfalls and VW-size moguls. For mellower thrills, cruise down La Bouchard, a fast, groomed, tree-lined slope, before taking a break over hot chocolate and tarte au sucre (sugar pie) at the base lodge.
Unlike nearby Mont St. Anne, the fiercely vertical Le Massif has almost no flat “dead spots,” a boon for snowboarders looking to ride rather than traverse slopes. Another plus: Most Americans tend to ski closer to Montreal, which keeps Le Massif’s lift lines shorter. Most après ski usually takes place in the small, family-run lodges around Baie Sainte Paul, such as the Coeur du Loup (Wolf’s Heart) pub, where you can hustle a game of pool, down some fondue, or do the hustle at the nightly disco. Raucous mountaintop parties, fueled by local microbrews and Quebec City rock bands, kick off at sundown at Le Massif’s Summit Chalet Pub.