How I learned to embrace winter in Montréal

February 25, 2020

My initial questions about wintertime

When I first arrived in Montréal, my very first question (like many of you, I’m sure) was, “How will I make it through Montréal’s famous winter?”

As a young 22-year-old from France, I arrived in Québec’s largest city in September 2019 to start school. Having spent most of my life in France up to that point, the move marked the start of a major adventure for me.

I chose to study and live in Montréal because of its cultural diversity, the unique student experience, and the city’s close proximity to nature. As soon as I arrived, I started contemplating winter—a season so special and unique that few people know about it if they’re not from here. Worried about the idea of winding up frozen in a city far away from my loved ones back home, I talked to locals who quickly reassured me and taught me their well-known saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes!”

Choosing the right clothes

The secret to surviving Montréal winter is to invest in good clothing! So I quickly set out in search of cozy clothes and strong shoes to brave the sub-zero temperatures.

Before you start shopping, be sure to seek advice from locals who can tell you which clothes and materials to choose. For my winter coat, for example, I was advised to buy something long that goes down to the knees, to keep my legs warm when the temperature plummets.

When it comes to shoes, look for waterproof boots preferably with good grips to prevent you from slipping on the snow and ice. And finally, for the all-important task of protecting your extremities, make sure you purchase a good pair of gloves and socks!

Time for some winter fun!

Once I was armed with the right clothes, I was ready to get outside and enjoy the winter! I took the opportunity to give ice skating a try, one of Montréal’s most popular activities. As soon as the snow starts to fall, there’s no shortage of ice rinks to practice your skating skills. I’m lucky enough to live across from a park, which has a lake that you can skate on when it freezes. Nothing beats skating outdoors, and a lot of the forest trails in Montréal and surrounded areas are well set up for the sport.

I also wanted to make the most of skiing in winter season. I love that you can ski without having to travel far in Montréal, although the closest hills are intended for families or beginners. I’ve been skiing for years so I’m looking forward to discovering resorts a little further away (like Mont-Tremblant) to really dive into the experience.

Tips to help you enjoy winter to the fullest

I’d like to close by sharing some tips to help you make the most of one of my now-favourite times of year in Montréal:

  • Consider buying your sports equipment second-hand. I found my ice skates in a thrift shop for only $15! Buying your own skates is much cheaper than renting them at the various rinks across the city. Be sure to check out Poubelle du ski, a great second-hand store where you can pick up a range of equipment and clothes at very affordable prices.
  • For skiing, be sure to check out night skiing rates which can be a great way to save. Mont St-Bruno, for example, offers Sunday night skiing for $35, which includes equipment rental!

I’m really looking forward to enjoying the rest of winter this year. And I can’t wait to go to the world-famous Winter Carnival in Québec City, where you can try dog sledding and a host of other activities … all with a beautiful snowy backdrop!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Montréal International.