Expérience maneige

If your child has ever wanted to try out snowboarding/downhill skiing, but you don’t want to drive 45 minutes or shell out for rental equipment, this is a great FREE introduction for kids between 5 and 8 years old.
For the second year in a row, we’ve been saying “we’ll take you snowboarding!” to the 7-year old, and still haven’t made it out to an actual ski hill.  So this activity was a chance to let him strap on a board and get a feel for the sport. 
Expérience maneige is located in municipal parks (we went to Centennial in Dollard-des-Ormeaux which is snowboarding only, some are ski), and under the supervision of animators, kids will do warm up exercises, get a feel for the equipment, and practice some mini hills and ramps. While at Centennial Park they just stayed on the little ramp you see in the photo gallery, some locations (such as Centre de la Nature Laval) also have a crazy carpet with a larger slope to come down. You can even go during the FALL to Centre de la Nature Laval!
The intro is about 60 minutes and boots, ski/snowboard and helmet are included. Hot chocolate is not, bring your own for your future Olympic daredevil!
No reservations are required, but is is first come-first served, so you may need to wait depending on how busy it is. The posted sign says that groups depart every 20 minutes. 

After your initiation, you’re given a booklet with info to reserve a free lesson at a real ski hill (Rigaud is one of them.)
Note that the english link provided (experience.mysnow.ca) was NOT working when I wrote this post. After calling the customer service number I got the correct website address.
Go to this webpage
Create a profile, register your child, and reserve their 60 minute FREE group lesson and equipment rental. You’ll have to check the list of participating ski hills and reserve at least 36 hours in advance.

Expérience maneige runs weekends until mid-March for most of the parks, and at participating locations is also running for some dates during spring break. If you have questions you can call 1-844-837-7117 and see THIS PAGE for all the details and the link for the participating parks. Centennial Park in DDO is the only Montreal island location and is weekends only. 

My son and his 7-year old cousin liked their afternoon of snowboard/playing, but prepare to be underwhelmed if you’re expecting them to go down an actual hill. Their dads brought them (they’re both snowboarders) and my husband was like “Meh” when I asked how it was. I rolled my eyes at him. Whatever. An afternoon outside, in the snow, doing something physical AND we get to have a free lesson on a mountain! That’s pretty cool. 

The chalet-maneige is located right beside the playground at Centennial park, you can access the parking lot at 3000 Rue Lake. 
After you’ve done your lesson, there’s also a lovely skating, a huge sledding hill, a warm chalet with picnic tables, a huge walking trail around the lake, and ski/snowshoe trails through the woods. 
You can read these other posts to see more pictures of the park:

Sledding post
The park in summer

Expérience maneige from StrollerMom on Vimeo.

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