La Mauricie National Park © TQ/L. Bath

The seasons

See Québec from four different angles: summer, fall, winter and spring. Bask under the summer sun, feast your eyes on fall’s vivid hues, revel in a winter wonderland or get caught up in spring fever. Four spectacular seasons in which to fall in love with Québec!

Summer

Take advantage of summer to explore Québec along its country roads. Rediscover the joys of swimming, admire lush gardens or cast off on a cruise along the St. Lawrence. From June to September, it’s time to get out and play. City dwellers make the most of the warm weather with a seaside or lakeside holiday, a family trip to a theme park or an exhilarating day out on an adventure course.

For Québecers, summer is time to kick back and cut loose. With festivals in every region celebrating music, dance, the circus arts, comedy or terroir products, there are endless possibilities for good times, from marvelling at fireworks and hot air balloons to taking part in sandcastle competitions!

Getting away from it all

Leave the city far behind as you head for the Côte-Nord, Gaspésie or the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, seaside destinations par excellence. Go further still with a trip to Abitibi-Témiscamingue, land of innumerable lakes and endless forests, or even Baie-James, a true wilderness area.

Summer is a time for . . .

Montréal’s average July temperature is 21.3 oC, the highest in Québec. Though the humidity can make things feel somewhat hotter, Montréalers revel in their pleasant summers that turn the snow and cold into distant memories!

Fall

Fall in Québec sweeps in with a burst of colour, aroma and flavour. As September draws to a close, the forests don fiery hues as the leaves turn their characteristic reds, yellows and oranges. Vines and orchards are laden with fruit, while clouds of snow geese fill the skies in a spectacular pre-Christmas pageant. With its dry, crisp air and brilliant blue skies, fall is the perfect time for long rambles through the hills and leisurely bike rides along country roads.

Dazzling hues

The changing of the leaves each fall is due not so much to the cooler temperatures as to the decreased light resulting from shorter days. In the maple tree, the accumulation of sugar in the sap is what accounts for the brilliant red of the leaves, whose hue varies depending on the soil composition.

Fall favourites

  • Golf greens fringed with red
  • The glowing reds of the cranberry harvest in the Centre-du-Québec
  • Tours of the vineyards and cider works
  • The great gathering of the snow geese on the banks of the St. Lawrence
  • Festivals of colour, forest rambles, mushroom hunting in the undergrowth

Indian summer, a term used to describe a string of uncommonly warm and sunny days in the fall, can occur anytime between early October and mid-November.

Winter

Each year from November to March, Québecers embrace an invigorating season. And since snow doesn't last forever, better make the most of it while it’s around! Whether the weather is frosty, foggy, fabulously snowy or dazzlingly sunny, any time is the right time for fun and festivities. Discover the many exhilarating and imaginative ways Québecers make the most of winter!

Staying warm

Starting in November, the temperature hovers around freezing and the chances of snowfall increase correspondingly. In this context, a warm coat, boots, a scarf and gloves are absolute musts. From mid-December to mid-March, the temperature ranges from -5 °C to -20 °C but can change without warning within a 24-hour period. If you’re going out to play, be sure to wrap up warmly: snow pants, puffer jackets, boots, hats, mittens and so on.

 

  Average temperatures in ºC

(January)

    Snowfall  

(cm)

Montréal -10 185
Québec -12 300
Gaspé -10 318
Kuujjuaq -24 255
Rouyn-Noranda -18 281
Saguenay -15 252

 

Snowy season discoveries

Designed to maximize the joys of winter, the Village on ice in Roberval rises each winter on the frozen surface of Lac Saint-Jean.

Spring

Mid-March in Québec normally signals the first stirrings of spring—a moment of great excitement! The days get longer, the sun feels warmer and the snow begins to melt. Returning from their winter migration, the snow geese form immense white Vs against the azure skies. In the city, the ever-popular Bixis and food trucks set up for another season while the outdoor patios fill with happy patrons. Spring is a time of renewal when just about anything goes!

Rising sap

As freeze turns to thaw, the sap starts to rise in the maple trees. Following Amerindian custom, the first settlers learned to tap the sugar maple and boil its sweet water down to a thick syrup prized for its flavour, colour and clarity. This seasonal ritual is now at the basis of a thriving industry and flourishing cuisine.

Before it can be processed, the sap is collected drop by drop through spouts inserted into the trees. Syrup producers of old would hang pails from these spouts, emptying their contents regularly into horse-drawn barrels. Times have changed and today many sugar bushes use a network of tubes connected to a pump that carry the sap to an evaporator. It takes roughly 40 litres of sap to produce one litre of pure syrup!

Sugaring off

Each spring, Québec’s sugar shacks, most of which are close to the urban centres, lay on their annual feast—an experience popular among families and groups, not the least for its copious quantities of traditional home cooking. On the menu: baked beans, omelettes, ham, tourtière (meat and pork pie), oreilles de crisse (crisp salt fried pork) and a scrumptious selection of maple desserts, including the famous tire—hot taffy poured on snow and then pulled on a stick before it hardens. While you’re there, don’t pass up a sleigh ride through the underbrush! Some sugar shacks are open to the public year-round; maple products, in turn, can be purchased in food stores at any time.

What we love about spring

  • Catching the noisy return flight of the snow geese and Canada geese
  • Indulging in some serious pampering at a spa
  • Going white-water rafting with friends late in the season
  • Heading to the countryside to admire the flowering orchards
  • From the shore, hear the ice on the river crack

Québec is the world’s largest exporter of maple products. These are sold in close to 50 countries, with the United States, Germany and Japan leading the way.