We had total blast! You, Denis and Pepe not only make up a great team, but are now an extension of our group. Send my best to them and tell them we can't wait till 2016!
Our first trip in 2014 with Gary and his crew of guides was over the top! Just got back from our second custom Gourmet Tour! His tours just can`t be describe by words alone. What I`m trying to say is, if you like snowmobiling as much as our group does, you need to book one of his many tours that he offers. From the hospitality of the Quebec people to the terrain that the Quebec provides, it is a experience you will never forget.! His tour company offers many different types of trips that will accommodate and suit almost all needs. If your group likes a short mile day or going a longer distance day, no matter what trip you book you will love it ! These trips are so memorable we talk about our past trips all year long and the memories come up in conversation all the time. That`s how good Gary`s trips are. Keep up the good work boys!! We will be back ! looking forward to 2016.
Motor City Snow Dogs
I have ridden with Bonvoyage before. Gary stays at VERY nice places and conducts a professional tour. He just likes to ride!! He is also very easy to deal with. If none of the tours on his website work for you,-call him and tell him what you want, he might be able to work something out.
Hope you are doing well. I wanted to tell you that Helen and I just got back from a saddlebag trip with Gary Pruitt of Bonvoyage Snow Adventures. We started in St. Raymond (just outside Quebec City) and headed to the Lac St. Jean area. We stayed at three different inns, and then came back to the starting Hotel Roquemont for the last night. Gary arranged very nice accommodations for us, each place had its own "flair” and was unique. There was a chef at each place or someone in the owner’s family studied culinary arts and prepared meals. All the food was fantastic! I think you would really have enjoyed it. We rode 150-175 miles all 4 days and never took the same trail twice. We had a great time until my sled cracked a throttle body boot and the result was complete motor failure (more on that some other time). We were 200 miles from the trailer but Gary made all the contacts and arrangements needed to get us and the sled back to home base. Well anyway, in one of our conversations we spoke of the trip with Lawrence and your name came up. Gary of course knew of you and believes you may have met once.
Snowmobiling in Canada
Story by Marshall Orr
Why would four senior citizens - friends since birth, leave their perfectly comfortable homes in Virginia and Florida to spend a week in Canada riding snowmobiles for 700 miles in below zero temperatures? Since there is not a reasonable answer to this, suffice it to say that they have been doing this for almost 40 years and simply don’t know any better.
Skip from Marco Island, along with Marshall and Tom from Virginia, have cabins on a small private lake in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York where they spend summer vacations and where they keep snowmobiles for occasions just like this. Every winter, they meet Tom’s brother Ed at his house near Albany and pack up the machines on trailers and take off to parts unknown in search of adventure and freshly groomed trails to explore.
The machines are like little rockets and can go up to100 mph. They have windshields, handlebars with a brake and throttle, and a continuous hard-rubber belt like a tank with medal studs sticking out to give traction and enormous braking power. Interestingly, because of all the surface area on the track and steering runners, a snowmobile exerts fewer pounds per square inch on a frozen lake than a person walking with boots and snowshoes. The ends of the handlebars where the hands rest are warmed, an electrical cord goes to the helmet to keep the face shield clear, and on some machines, there is a heater in the seat which is quite nice when the temperature is below zero.
Our trip this winter was to the wilderness of Quebec with over 21,000 miles of very well maintained snowmobile trails. We towed our machines behind two SUV’s with the required trail permit, Air- Medic coverage, satellite telephone, saddlebags to carry our clothes, and a U.S. passport to get back into the country afterwards. Our guide was Gary A. Pruitt of Bonvoyage Snow Adventures, an American from Connecticut who spoke French and guides groups like this during the winter months.
A basic day was to have a hearty breakfast in the hotel or B & B where we were staying, look at the map to see where we were headed, get packed with everything being either worn or put into the saddlebags, and head out. On this trip, we first took a tour of an Ice Hotel with 36 rooms an ice bar with Vodka already chilled, and a beautiful chapel in which some people get married. The hotel is built each winter, people pay $200-$400 per night to stay there, and the temperature in the bedrooms is a constant 24 degrees. Sleeping bags and candles are provided, and there are communal port-a-potties in one part of the structure. Food is available at a bed and breakfast outside the hotel and the whole Hotel de Glace simply melts each spring around April. None of us wanted to stay there.
Our trip was one huge clockwise loop covering 150-200 miles per day with us staying in cute places on the shores of frozen lakes each night enjoying home-cooked food, a roaring fire in the background, and the well-intended efforts of the French speaking owners to make us feel at home. In the smaller places, we were the only guests, which made it all the more intimate.
We had several mini-adventures including hiring a young man to drive one member with a hurt back and his machine 175 miles in a pickup truck and having the engine of one machine blow a cylinder, but these things are par for the course, test our creative and problem-solving skills, and make for good fish stories when we get back to civilization. The real payoffs are witnessing the incredible beauty of nature and the snow around us, being with good friends who refuse to show their age and become observers of life instead of participants, and the often unexpected pleasure of doing something you never thought you would, like taking a dog-sled ride with animals who absolute live for the privilege of being chosen to don a harness and pull 200 pound sleds (plus one of us) through the snow at up to 15 mph.
The machines are back in the barn now and we won’t see each other until the snow melts and we open up our cabins for the summer, but the memories linger and we’re already thinking about where we want to go next winter – our seasons of life.
How good is your French? Do you know the difference between good places to stay and "where did my sled go"? If you have a choice of trails, which one is the best? One is a bland shot through the woods; the other is an exciting climb to the clouds. Do you know which is which? I have dealt with Gary and he is very knowledgeable and a nice guy. Quebec is a very good place to ride; a guided tour is a good way to start.
Our trip with Bonvoyage was fantastic. We loved the coziness of the accommodations, the quality of the food and the warmth of the innkeeper at the auberge. Also, the snowmobiles and equipment were top rate and the scenery and the trails were magnificent. The Ice Hotel was truly unique and one of the highlights in scenery. The trip appealed to everyone in our group from 10 to 55 years old! Those of us who wanted to go faster were able to, while the rest of the group could go slower as well. We will certainly be back!
Hope Cohen, Host of The Chefs Kitchen
Snowmobiling in Quebec is a unique experience, with stunning scenery and an outstanding trail system. I’m a native Sweden, used to snow and nature, but I’m thoroughly impressed by the nature, trails system, people and infrastructure in general.
The trails are normally very well prepared and my best riding experiences ranks with driving a high performance race car at Nürburgring classic Nordschleife or the Spa-Francorchamps F1 circuit. In my book it is something that needs to be experienced to be understood.
I have been riding with Gary Pruitt of Bonvoyage Tours twice (so far) and I think it is Gary’s long experience of the trail system combined with his network in the local communities, together with his true passion for snowmobiling is what made my fantastic experiences possible. He not only makes sure that I get my passion for speed and aggressive driving; he also makes sure that everyone in the group is taken care of.
Not only has Gary been able to guide us down the best trails in the area, given the conditions of the day, he has also taken us to some great five star inns and hotels with four course meals that would do well in my adopted home town of Toulouse, France. Well, it has not always been five stars, sometimes very rustic lodges, but the experience and the atmosphere has been five star or more.
I am happy to recommend Gary Pruitt and Bonvoyage Tours, the only problem is that it is addictive and I know that you, as I, will be coming back for more once you experience it.
Lars GV Lindberg
Airline test pilot
Race car driver
President of AVTECH Sweden AB; and now passionate about snowmobiling
I know Gary Pruitt. I met him at the snow show in Syracuse last fall. He uses the name Bonvoyage Snow Adventures. I had him plan out a trip for my group of two guys and two women. He did a great job for us. We had a separate laminated map for each day, which included fuel and food stops. He rented us a satellite phone and made all of our reservations (they were very nice places). He did all of the leg work for our 5 day, 900 mile ride with no problems at all.. Gary is very knowledgeable of the area and I will definitely use his services again. This was our first trip to Quebec and I can't wait to go back next winter.
Lance, New York
We have talked about it and I think we both agree that all of the places we stayed were really great and all for different reasons. Lac Edouard was a hoot!! (Still lol) Loved the whirlpool tub (Battures), and everything about the Auberge Haute Gorges. The food was superior. Lac Edouard did not have the best dinner, but it was a really cozy dining room and ambiance. I think about t he high cliffs area every day! Especially when I am cold…haha just kidding. It was magnificent!!! The stops for gas/bathrooms were well figured out. Only that long ride down the cliffs could use a warming shed and toilet…can you arrange that?? Haha All in all, we think you did another great job as tour guide!!
Gail and Karen
We are back from our snowmobile trip to Quebec with tour guide, Gary Pruitt of BonVoyage Snow Adventures. We started off in the quaint town of St. Raymond which reminded us so much of a French Countryside Village. The romantic Hotel La Bastille Gary booked for us far exceeded our expectations. The rooms were well appointed and the meals were gourmet prepared by renowned Canadian Chef Pasqual. The trails were well groomed and wider than most we have ridden in the states. We snowmobiled from one Village to another and the scenery was just breathtaking. Views of glacial lakes, huge snow plains, farms, and pine trails that looked like the forests of Robin Hood. Gary’s experience was invaluable and he prepared the way for an unforgettable adventure.
Stephen and Linda
I had a great time! I loved riding the new generation of sleds and the smooth trails in Quebec. The line up of lodges and hotels you have is also very nice as was the food. Overall, I thought you did a great job of keeping an eye on everyone and making sure they were doing well and things were going as they expected. I really had a great time and I thought the entire service you provided through BV was great. I could not have gone up there and done that myself. I put the picture CD in the mail yesterday with some earplugs, you should be getting it soon. Thanks again, Gary, both Larry and I had a great time!
Summary of 2008 Snowmobile Trip to Quebec – 700 Miles!
Participants: Gary Pruitt, Bonvoyage Snow Adventures (our guide from Marlborough, CT), Ed (East Galway, NY), Tom (Weems, VA), Skip (Marco Island, FL), Marshall (Richmond, VA), and John (Longmeadow, MA)
Total Snowmobile Miles = 697.7
Total Days/Nights = 4/5
Monday, 25 February 2008: Begin on snowmobiles. Short trip to Hotel de Glace (Ice Hotel) in Sainte-Catherine. Gas stop in Riviere-a-Pierre. Continue to first night’s lodging at Domaine Lac Edouard; fill up on gas. 150.2 miles Rooms nicely furnished and comfortable, shared bath w/inconsistent shower water temperatures, very good food.
Tuesday, 26 February 2008: Ed was unable to ride today, so he arranged to have himself and his sled transported to the next hotel by pickup truck. The driver, an employee of Domaine Lac Edouard, could only speak French and liked to listen to rap “music”. The remaining five riders took off on trail 355 north toward Lac Saint-Jean. We stopped for lunch and gas at Lac Bouchette after 73.7 miles , 223.9 miles total so far. Trail 355 ended at trail 83, which we took northeast to Lac Saint-Jean. We followed trail 93 east through Saint-Honore where shortly after it turned north. We took a left turn onto trail 328 west which took us to Saint-David-de-Falardeau. A short distance off the trail led us to our hotel, where we were greeted by Ed and our hosts. This hotel proved to be the highlight of the trip. The family running the hotel, Marius, Leese, daughter and son were extremely hospitable and nice. Marius had designed the building and the family had helped in the construction, which was done with lumber felled and milled on the property. The auberge had only been open six weeks, so we were among the first guests. The daughter is the chef, and she is absolutely superb, both as a delightful young woman and exceptional cook. The meals were “to-die-for”, and the service and ambience were first class.
Wednesday, 27 February 2008: Ed was still not ready to ride so Gary led the four others on a short ride out trail 328 east to Parc national des Monts-Valin. I believe we turned north into the park on a trail called “Bras des Canots” for about 9 miles until we reached a right turn onto an uphill trail of about 3 miles taking us to “Pic Bellevue,” a mountain top overlook with a nearly 360 degree view over Quebec, but mainly to the south toward the Saguenay river and west toward Lac Saint-Jean. Unfortunately, the weather was cloudy with snow flurries, so we couldn’t really appreciate the views. We went back down the trail until we turned right (north) onto the “Bras” trail and traveled about 12 miles until we reached trail 93. We somehow traveled along trail 93 or another trail out of the park until we reached a lunch and gas stop in Lac Jolbert. For the afternoon, Ed joined us and we followed Charles west along trail 328 a short distance to try dog sledding. Skip and Tom’s rides were with one of the owners, riding standing up on one of the runners and traveling rather slowly. Marshall got to ride seated in the sled with the other owner and had a quicker ride. All survived the experience. We then returned to the Auberge and loaded up our gear for the “30 mile” ride to the next hotel. All six sleds departed and headed east on trail 328, until reaching trail 93. We stopped for gas once at Saint-Honore, then went south and east, crossing the Saguenay river on a couple of bridges and met up with trail 383. After a short distance we reached the town of Chicoutimi. Then we were picked up by a van with our six sleds loaded into a trailer for a short drive to the hotel. This is a modern first-class hotel with excellent accommodations and good food. The distance to this hotel from Auberge Carcajou was 56.1 miles (NOT 30!!)
Thursday, 28 February 2008: We again loaded up the van and trailer at the hotel for a short drive to reach the trail. This was our last day on the trail, with a predicted distance of 200 miles. All six sleds took off at a fast pace on trail 83 east and then right (south) onto trail 368. We crossed large open fields with a cold wind blowing first from right to left, and then into our faces as the trail turned west. We then continued southwest on trail 368. We turned left and south on trail 23 through the beautiful (and pretty wild) La Reserve faunique des Laurentides. This trail was excellent, and we traveled fast, stopping only at Restaurant Le Birdie, Ste-Petronill (not on map), located just for snowmobiles, all the way to a turn off for L’Etape, where we stopped for gas. From there we continued southwest on trail 23 for 10 miles when Gary’s leading sled broke down, possibly with a blown crankcase gasket – end of the ride for him!! Skip volunteered to town Gary back to an auberge L’Etape, so they headed back east. The remaining four of us headed down trail 23 toward Saint-Raymond: Ed leading, and then John, Marshall, and Tom. We still had a pretty long way to go, about 80 + km, or approximately 50 miles. The trail was very good, and we only stopped once at a warming hut until we hit a detour where the trail had been plowed for a logging road. About 40 km later, we arrived in Saint-Raymond, a welcome sight, and the Hotel Roquemont. Total travel for the day = 202.3 miles; total for the whole trip = 697.7 miles. We checked in and soon heard that Gary and Skip were OK at an auberge in L’Etape, but wouldn’t get to Saint-Raymond until around 10 p.m. We ate dinner and went to our rooms.
Friday, 29 February 2008: We all, including Gary and Skip, met for breakfast and exchanged tales of the trip, especially Gary and Skip’s adventure with the broken sled. We gave our thanks to Gary and then packed our gear and loaded up the cars and began the drive home.