The Après-Ski Oasis of Cabin A

Ah, the Charlevoix region. Perched on the St. Lawrence River on the southern fringes of Quebec, not far from the border of Maine, it’s the sort of place well positioned for a dreamy winter escape. Strap on a pair of skis and take to the slopes of Le Massif, which boasts the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies; sample craft pours at the Microbrasserie Charlevoix; warm up in the steaming outdoor thermotherapy circuit at Le Germain Hôtel; indulge in local cheeses from Laiterie Charlevoix. The region is revered for its scenic landscape, primed for outdoor activities, and has become a popular tourist destination over the last century.

While there are plenty of hotels in the region, those in search of a private, more rustic alpine retreat will find the perfect sojourn in Cabin A.

Designed by Bourgeois / Lechasseur architectes, Cabin A welcomed its first guests in December of 2019. Ideally located on a steep site overlooking the St. Lawrence, it is a twenty-minute drive to the slopes of Le Massif.

The design team of architects and graphic artists (from Criterium) found their inspiration for this unusual cabin in a somewhat unlikely source: the International Code of Signals. This international system is used by seafaring vessels as a means of communication, utilizing flags, blinking lamps, radiotelegraphy, and more. The Alfa symbol—the first letter of the system’s alphabetical flag system—inspired the overall geometry of the structure. The ICS was used in further ways throughout, creating a design language that subtly evokes the nautical world. The triangulated roof, for instance, evokes the silhouette of flags facing the wind, while the wood panelling on the walls and ceiling of the interior living area nod to naval architecture and aesthetics. Outside, a large wooden terrace echoes the upper deck of a ship; its views of the river below underline this nautical-inspired choice, which pays quiet homage to the history of the waterway it overlooks.

The main entrance is situated on the left side of the inventive A-frame, accessed via a gangway of sorts. Guests pass beneath the sloping, wing-like volume of the roof to enter. Inside, a shared living space plays double-duty as a viewing gallery, offering 180-degree views of the river. The windows almost create the illusion that one is looking out from the bridge of a ship. A wood-burning stove keeps this airy space feeling cozy, as do the Russian plywood panels on the walls and double-height ceiling. (This pale birch is a motif carried through to the exterior, where it juxtaposes the dark metal roof and exterior cladding.) A long harvest table makes this area feel communal. It’s the sort of table friends can gather around to sample the day’s finds of artisanal breads, local cheeses and chocolates, and a bottle of regional wine.

Cabin A is designed to accommodate up to 12 guests. Three bedrooms and an open dorm—ideal for children—are accessed via a staircase off the entrance door, which leads down to a partially subterranean lower level. (Not unlike sleeping in the hold of a ship!) This level also features a central playroom and protected spa area, situated directly beneath the ground floor’s deck.

A boat ladder leads to an attic space that feels something like a secret hideaway.

Cabin A is a beautiful, functional resting place surrounded by snowmobile trails, mountain biking terrain, and of course, the ski slope. Looking for a family vacation spot or a weekend getaway with a group of friends? Reservations can be made here.

Love this nautical chalet? Check out the Dômes Charlevoix, the architecture firm’s first foray into reimagining hospitality offerings in the scenic Charlevoix region.


Photos via v2com
Photographer: Maxime Brouillet