Starting Point: Montreal
Total Miles: 500
Resorts: Tremblant, Mount Sainte Anne, Le Massif
Min. # of Days: 5
Road info: mtq.gouv.qc.ca/en/information/conditions/index
First of all, I'm not gay. Let's just get that out of the way. Mildly curious? Um, no—save for a few bizarre dreams (as if you haven't had one). But I have gay acquaintances and relatives and friends, and they're great, every one of them: great dressers, tippers, people. Based on the so-called gay-percentage scale, I weigh in at around 20 percent (two matching lapdogs; a weakness for Danish modern furniture), maybe 28 percent if I'm walking my lapdogs in New York. So that's me: not gay.
Neither is my friend Clif, but his late father was. So Clif knows about gayness. And what he knows right now, as we zip along Québec's Highway 117 toward Tremblant in a royal-blue Honda Element, is that, as far as any of these French Canadians are concerned, we may as well be on our honeymoon. Clif made this clear when he greeted me in Montreal with a weak bro-hug. And he'll continue to do so as we spend the week driving 500 miles through Québec, skiing three resorts, and refueling a friendship that's been stymied by geography and time. He'll also mention our everyone-thinks-we're-a-couple-status each time we check into a hotel, shop for shoes, or take a tandem dip in several luxurious hot tubs throughout the province.
Québec was settled by the French in the mid 1500s, and since then they've slashed the place with 82 ski areas and thousands of miles of highways. The signs are in French, and soot-covered, and when it's gray outside—which is often—there's no view, and hence no way to get your bearings. But when Québec is sunny, it's the kind of place that makes you want to turn up the Stones and step on the gas, even if you're driving an Element. Which is exactly what Clif and I are doing—when we're not skiing or appearing to be lovers.
We've picked a mountain from each ski-resort genre. Our first stop, Intrawest-owned Tremblant, is the Whistler of the East. Mount Sainte Anne, just outside of Québec City, is the midsize Keystone. Which makes its neighbor, Le Massif, the A-Basin. Maybe it was just luck, but all that business about rock-hard Eastern skiing—well, it's a bunch of hooey, so far as Clif and I can tell. For every patch of tooth-chipping ice, there's a boot-deep stash. For every spine-shortening bumpfest, there's an unpeopled high-speed groomer. And for every cluster of jumpersuited older men who seem rude, but are really just displaced Frenchies, there's a group of cooing, flirty ladies.
Even if you're straight—as I most definitely am, let's be totally clear on that—you should drive around Québec and go skiing, no matter your companion's gender. Here's how.