Academic Trips & Language Classes
If you're itching to dust off your notebooks from high school French class, the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM; tel. 514/987-3000, ext. 5621; www.langues.immersion.uqam.ca) offers French immersion courses for 1 to 3 weeks in either July or August. Students can opt for on-campus housing or stay with a host family. One session integrates French instruction with jazz events during the renowned Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Programs are geared for persons 18 and up, beginners through intermediate.
Adults and teens alike can combine an array of activities with French language immersion in Québec City through Edu-Inter (tel. 514/613-0102; www.learningfrenchinquebec.com). Year-round sessions can quench an amour pour le français by combining language programs with skiing, cooking, horseback riding, or sight-seeing.
Adventure & Wellness Trips
Bike touring is wildly popular and well accommodated in Québec. The province inaugurated the Route Verte (Green Route), a 4,000km (2,485-mile) bike network, in the summer of 2007. Many inns and restaurants along the route actively work to accommodate the nutritional, safety, and equipment needs of cyclists.
Vélo Québec (tel. 800/567-8356 or 514/521-8356; www.velo.qc.ca) was behind the development of the Route Verte and offers excellent biking information. It also offers guided bike tours throughout the province, coordinating meals, accommodations, and baggage transport.
The gorgeously rural Charlevoix region, an hour north of Québec City, is the perfect place in which to take an eco-tour. Charlevoix was designated a protected UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1988 and is subject to balanced development and cross-disciplinary research into conservation. For tour suggestions, check with Aventure Ecotourisme Québec (www.aventure-ecotourisme.qc.ca), an association of tour operators that provides outdoor adventure programs with a focus on environmental care and preservation. It is governed by a commitment policy which member companies promise to respect. It is partner to Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (www.leavenotrace.ca), which educates operators and tourists about how to minimize the environmental impact of recreation. Aventure Ecotourisme also offers vacation planning.
One association member is Mer et Monde Ecotours (tel. 866/637-6663 or 418/232-6779; www.mer-et-monde.qc.ca), which puts on kayak trips in Charlevoix that take clients close to the whales who converge in the region each summer. For more information,
Food & Wine Trips
In Montréal, Europea restaurant (tel. 514/398-9229; www.europea.ca) offers 1-hour cooking lessons for C$45 per person (click on "L'Atelier" at the website). Europea knows of which it teaches: The title of Chef of the Year was bestowed on chef Jérôme Ferrer by the Société des Chefs, Cuisiniers et Pâtissiers du Québec in 2007.
Also in Montréal is the École de cuisine Mezza Luna, with Italian cooking classes by Elena Faita-Venditelli. She runs the packed-to-the-rafters cookware (and sportswear) shop Quincaillerie Dante, 6851 rue St-Dominique (tel. 514/271-2057). In 2008, Faita-Venditelli was named "l'Ordre national," the most prestigious honorary distinction in the province. Call tel. 514/272-5299 or visit www.ecolemezzaluna.ca to inquire; note that classes are often booked months in advance.
In the Laurentians, about an hour north of Montréal on the way to Mont-Tremblant, guests of L'Eau à la Bouche can opt for a weekend package that includes hands-on kitchen training with chef/owner Anne Desjardins. Call tel. 888/828-2991 or 450/229-2991, or visit www.leaualabouche.com.
In Québec City, the famed restaurant Laurie Raphaël (tel. 418/692-4555; www.laurieraphael.com) has a fancy public kitchen on its premises (along with a small boutique of cooking equipment). From September to May, chef/owner Daniel Vézina gives 3- to 4-hour cooking classes here on Saturday afternoons for C$185 per person (cost includes a meal, plus wine). Reservations are required. Also in Québec City, Les Artistes de la Table (tel. 418/694-1056; www.lesartistesdelatable.com) offers 4-hour custom cooking classes in the first floor of a gorgeous neoclassical building from 1850. Serious cooks will want to walk by just to peek at the kitchen through the vast windows. Cost is about C$120 per person.
If you have a car, the Route des Vins (Wine Route), 103km (64 miles) southeast of Montréal, is a pleasant vineyard tour that goes past Vignoble de l'Orpailleur (tel. 450/295-2763; www.orpailleur.ca), Domaine Pinnacle (tel. 450/263-5835; www.domainepinnacle.com), and Le Cep d'Argent (tel. 877/864-4441 or 819/864-4441; www.cepdargent.com), all within Cantons-de-l'Est, the region that specializes in cider and ice wine.
Foodies will also want to take a look at the website for The Gourmet Route, www.parcoursgourmand.com. The site promotes "gourmet tourism" and lists some 50 growers, processors, gourmet restaurants, and stores. An interactive map, at www.parcoursgourmand.com/eng/mdl-carte-parcours.asp, is especially useful for seeing what farms are nearest.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.