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Day 4 – Club Med Charlevoix

Our day got off to the usual start with an 8ish wakeup, followed by another great breakfast – and a debate.

What were we going to do today?

The leading choice was a visit to Baie-Saint-Paul, where we could stop by a bookstore, visit a café, and perhaps pick up a new pair of Blundstones for my son’s ever-growing feet.

But looking around at the other families dressed in ski clothes – wolfing down their artisanal mini-pancakes in anticipation of a day on the hills – we began to reconsider.

Even after breakfast ended, we still hadn’t decided. So the kids took in the juggling class while the adults put our heads together to weigh our options.

I went down to the Le Massif desk to see if they had any updates on the hill status and / or how much trudging would be required to make this work. Grooming had apparently broken up much of the ice and there was a working chairlift for the top third of the hill. We wouldn’t be able to ski down to Club Med but we could take the gondola down, have a short walk and then ride the magic carpet back up to the top. Far less trudging than we’d feared.

Phase 1 of Operation Finally Go Skiing

But… it was -11 C and conditions were only set to improve as the week went on, so it made perfect sense to head into town today.

So naturally, we decided to go skiing.

The morning was not without its little annoyances. First off, I couldn’t get into my locker – after many failed attempts, I finally learned that the locker had been emptied and that our equipment was stored in the ski rental office. No idea why. But we got that sorted out quickly enough.

Then we got down to the gondola – where we couldn’t figure out how the passes worked, and had no idea where to go. Reaching the chairlift required us to traverse flat sections – the bane of all snowboarders and the skiers who end up dragging them along. Everyone was rusty, and there were icy patches.

It was also breathtakingly beautiful. And it felt so, so good to get back out there again.

Source: Le Massif facebook page

We managed about 4 runs before we decided we’d had enough for the day, and made our way back down the gondola. As expected, we had a bit of a slog to get from the gondola to the magic carpet.

It took perhaps 5 minutes across flat terrain – not as bad as we’d feared. Then a quick trip up the magic carpets, and we were back at Club Med.

Then, back to the locker room. A few minutes later, our gear was stowed and we were on our way back off to lunch. Very civilized, indeed.

Lunch today included the usual offerings plus tacos. They were excellent.

The family whose infant daughter was watching music videos at top volume? Less excellent. But thankfully they wrapped up before we did, and so most of our lunch was spent in relative peace and quiet.

We also haven’t had any kind of issues finding tables at the buffet restaurant, and we’re often able to get a seat right by the window.

I went off for my power nap, while my wife and daughter headed down to the pool. Teens’ club was mostly out on the hill but there were enough kids around that our son found ways to keep himself occupied until Passworld officially reopened at 3 pm.

Then my wife had to deal with her least favourite vacation duty – laundry.

The good news was that Club Med has self-serve laundry, so we would not be required to have the hotel dry clean our items at the cost of $8 per sock.

The bad news? It costs almost $20 to run a single load of laundry – and you need to go get tokens from the front desk.

To make matters worse, a $10 token was not enough to dry our not-very-large load of essentials. So my wife had to go back to the front desk again to get another token. They comped this one at least. (And woe betide anyone who tried to get my wife to pay $20 to dry a single load of laundry.)

The process took several hours, but finally it was done – and we’d be kept in socks and long underwear for the remainder of the trip.

Then we were off to Le Chalet for a bit, where I spotted Big Foot:

Then it was time to head off to the theatre in advance of Aerial Circus Lessons.

We had noticed during juggling that there were far fewer children around, and that those present were better behaved. Could the weather hold the key to reducing the rampant rambunctiousness? Were we only an open ski hill away from peace and civility?

Ha ha… No. If anything, the children were worse behaved compared to previous evenings.

Even so, our daughter deeply enjoyed the lesson and got to attempt the suspended hoop three times during the lesson.

We then headed back to Le Chalet for a bit, and tried to relax – despite the two young girls who somehow managed to concuss one another during our brief but memorable stay. (I jest. No one who is concussed could possibly scream that loudly.)

We then left Le Chalet for our fondue night which was at… Le Chalet! Seriously, it’s not at all clear how premium meals work at Club Med. Even the staff weren’t entirely clear where we should go. But they figured it out, and we were led off to enjoy a sizeable spread consisting of soup, salad, fondue and dessert:

Sweet potato soup with crispy onions

Salad with parmesan, balsamic and honey dressing. I found it a bit too salty, but my wife really enjoyed it.

Fondue or fondue-not – there is no try.

The fondue was a bit of a gamble, as our kids hadn’t tried it before – but they ended up enjoying themselves immensely. It was also a lot of fun as we ended up dripping cheese everywhere, dropping pieces of bread in the pot, and so on.

Though fun, it wasn’t exactly cheap – it worked out to $45 per adult and $30 per kid, at a total cost of $150. But it was less than it would have cost to take our kids out to a meal in town, and we saved ourselves the hassle of having to get into the car to go somewhere.

(Our world-exploring travel skills are clearly on full display this week.)

Our son wanted to do group snowboarding lessons tomorrow, so I went to go sign him up for that – he’s old / experienced enough to count as an adult, so I don’t need to register his equipment at kids’ club. He can just go outside at the appointed time (8:30 am) and head off. The registration process was simple, only took about 5 minutes.

He again headed off to teens’ club while my wife, daughter and myself went off to get a little bit more to nibble on. (The fondue was filling, really, but who can resist checking out the other desserts?) We also found duck breast sous vide atop sweet potato puree. It was really, really good.

We followed that up with a serving of pouding chômeur (aka maple pudding cake, though the literal translation is akin to ‘unemployed man cake’) which was also excellent.

It’ll be an earlier start tomorrow, so we’re going to skip the Family Show in which the kids’ club get to demonstrate all they’ve learned over the past week.

But while we are nestled in our soft little beds, the staff of Le Massif are fighting to reclaim even more precious territory…

Ready to check out the Club Med Charlevoix? Contact me at ryan.aldred@gmail.com for a friends and family invitation that will save $100 off the cost of your trip.

(Not available for Last Minute deals. Other limitations may apply.)

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