Mont Tremblant: The Perfect Winter Getaway

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The base of the south side of Mont Tremblant.

A winter trip south makes me resentful of the cold when I return home. I prefer to stay north and embrace my cold-climate heritage. I recently had the chance to do so at Mont Tremblant. Now, to be transparent, this trip was sponsored by Mont Tremblant but that makes no difference. My enthusiasm for my winter getaway weekend there is absolutely genuine.

I love winter!

I love the activities, including skating, snowshoeing, and skiing, both downhill and cross country. I love the cold when I’m bundled up. I love coming inside for a hot chocolate and maybe a hot meal of comfort food that has been well-earned.

I recently enjoyed winter in all its glory at Mont Tremblant in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal.

A trip to Mont Tremblant gives you some of the best downhill skiing in eastern North America. But there’s more. There’s skating, tubing, dog-sledding, snowshoeing, and a tree-to-tree and zipline course. And, when you want to slow down a bit there is excellent cuisine, the casino for a little fun, spas, saunas, and shopping.

On top of all that, Mont Tremblant delivers a rich Quebecois experience. The joie-de-vivre is everywhere from the whoops on the slopes to the laughter in the bars. You have a real travel experience in a ski holiday.

 

Here I am with my ski instructor, Pierre. He fixed many details about my form.

Skiing at Mont Tremblant

You can rent everything you need for just about any outdoor activity at Mont Tremblant. You can even rent the outer ski clothing you need. On the left, a technician is adjusting downhill skis for a customer. On the right, people are preparing for an ice climbing lesson.

It had been three years since I had been on skis and possibly fifteen years since I had skied regularly. Taking a ski lesson was the smart thing to do.

I’m glad I did.

I met Pierre, my instructor, at the base of the mountain not far from the rental office and the Express Gondola. The first benefit of a ski lesson is skipping to the head of the lift lines, which we did. Your skis or snowboard sit in slots on the doors on the outside of the gondola. You take your poles with you inside and take a seat for the ride to the summit.

At the top, Pierre took me for a quick look inside the chalet. It has a small boutique for outerwear you may have forgotten. I picked up some HotShots which are little heaters for your mitts. Amazing! There’s also a cafeteria that is more affordable than the restaurants in the pedestrian village at the base, a lunch room for those who bring their lunch, and a spectacular view of the mountain and lake.

View from the chalet at Tremblant summit.

During the first 15 minutes of my lesson I was a little tentative on my skis. But with encouragement from Pierre and many tweaks to my form, I gained control and confidence on the mountain. I’m not an aggressive skier. I attribute it to the fact that I watched my mother break both her legs at the same time when I was 10 years old. But that may be a bit of an excuse. I’m just not an adrenaline seeker in any context. Yet still, that doesn’t stop me from getting out there! After my lesson I went back up the gondola for more.

I am most decidedly not an adrenaline junkie. Pierre took me on the gentle, 6 km Nansen run. It’s a beautiful, easy run around the side of the mountain. If I were a more aggressive skier I would have been up early for the First Tracks program which opens at 7:45 am and takes place on the North Mountain.

The next day, the Sunday of my weekend, I changed the pace and went cross-country skiing. I had seen the video of their trails online and definitely wanted to go. It was a brisk, beautiful day. I took a taxi from Mont Tremblant village to Domaine St. Bernard where there is a lodge with a ski/snowshoe rental, a small cafeteria, and a lunchroom for those who bring their lunch. But the real attraction is the trails. They are spectacular and dotted around them are refuges with stoves and picnic tables. Book a lesson in advance if you wish or just arrive and get a trail pass for $21 for the day.

There are over 75 km of groomed, cross-country ski trails at Mont Tremblant. Of course, there are short loops as well as longer ones. On the right, I’m in the stunning Grand Allee on a gorgeous day with the sun streaming through the trees. On the left, a chickadee is eating out of my hand. Across from where the birds are is a covered refuge with benches around a wood-burning fireplace.

Refuge Domaine Saint-Bernard

The other outdoor activity I tried out at Mont Tremblant was the Tree-to-Tree Course of bridges and obstacles and ziplines. The story there will be saved for its own post. Suffice to say, it goes down in my personal history as yet another story of me pushing my limits and actually finding the boundary. My only hope is that when you read it you will laugh with me, not at me.

Tree-to-Tree Course is another activity I did. I would have loved to try dog-sledding and tubing as well but there are only so many hours in a long weekend.

The ski lifts close at 3:30 pm and it doesn’t take long for everyone to find their favorite apres ski activity. As you can see, the pools filled up quickly at the Fairmont Tremblant. Having skied is not a requirement. There is also a free yoga class every other Saturday. Here are the yoga options.

Dining Out at Mont Tremblant

The pedestrian village at Mont Tremblant features a variety of restaurants, pubs, and shops. A section of the village is called Vieux Tremblant (Old Tremblant). Chalets that had dotted the mountain before Mont Tremblant’s development into a resort were brought together into the village. This makes Tremblant stand out from most ski resorts with an authentic charm.

A few recommendations.

  • Le Q.G. Resto-Pub‘s trout tartare was amazing. The photos below really don’t do the food justice.
  • La Diable Gastropub and microbrewery for pub food and some great beer on tap.
  • Casino de Mont Tremblant. This is a worthwhile destination for the food alone. They have a free shuttle to get you there as it is outside the village. Sit on the casual side of the dining room and take in the live music. It’s a very comfortable place to go solo.
  • The Axe Lounge Bar. Newly renovated at the Fairmont Tremblant, this is a great spot for lunch and to watch the slopes.

Scallops in a cedar reduction on the left and trout tartare on the right. A delicious meal at Le QG.

The line up of beer on tap at La Diable microbrewery.

This is a spectacular lemon meringue pie I had at the Casino de Mont Tremblant. The windows are made of white chocolate.

A really great veggie burger at The Axe bar at the Fairmont. You can see a view from the Axe further down the page.

How to Get There and Where to Stay

You can fly directly to Mont Tremblant from Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop Airport as well as Toronto Pearson Airport. You’ll only be in the air for an hour and five minutes. As for where to stay, there are many options.

In the village:

Elsewhere near the mountain:

Nightlife at Mont Tremblant

For some, a good dinner and hot tub is enough after a day outdoors. But many want to keep going. For them, there’s the Casino de Mont Tremblant. The very nature of the casino with its entertainment, restaurant, and gambling (it’s optional) make it a comfortable evening destination for solo travelers. But there are also pubs and live music in the pedestrian village. And for those who want to really keep going there’s skating and sliding in the evening.

The pedestrian village is alive at night as well.

A sample of the original Tremblant buildings that I mentioned above.

What to Do at Mont Tremblant If You Don’t Ski

Tremblant is a fine destination even if you don’t ski. I saw many people there who were not at Tremblant for the skiing. If it’s not the mountain that you want to enjoy, here’s what to do:

  • Snowshoeing. It really doesn’t take skill but it does offer a great day in brisk weather.
  • Dog sledding. It’s a rush!
  • Try your luck at the Casino. Go in the afternoon and gamble a bit then stay for dinner at the restaurant upstairs.
  • Shopping. There are a variety of shops in the pedestrian village. Watch for Lole, a good quality Quebec brand of women’s casual, fitness, and outdoor wear.
  • Go to the spa. You have a choice at Tremblant. I’d recommend the Moment Spa at Fairmont Tremblant where I had a wonderful massage. If you want more in the way of outdoor pools as well as treatment options, try Scandinave Spa.
  • The outdoor pools. Your hotel may have them or you could go to the Aquaclub La Source.
  • The Activity Centre. There are many, many more options through The Activity Centre at Mont Tremblant. From helicopter tours to fat tire cycling to ice climbing and much more. You have to check it out.

Shopping on the main street.

It was almost impossible to get a shot of this store that made sense. Nonetheless, look for Lole for casual, fitness, and outdoor wear. They are a Quebecois brand.

Spa treatments at Moment Spa, Fairmont Tremblant.

Casino Tremblant is more than just a place to gamble. They have a wonderful restaurant and entertainment as well.

View of the spa at the Fairmont Hotel and base of Mont Tremblant from The Fairmont Axe bar.

Reclaiming the Weekend with a Getaway

I remember when the weekend was a weekend.

Computers were too big to sit on my lap while watching TV. Netflix involved ordering a movie and waiting for it to come by mail. The internet was so slow and clunky that no one relied on it. Communications with clients stopped Friday afternoon.

But that’s not how I’ve lived these past many years as publisher of Solo Traveler. And it’s the same for many of you. Work is present in our lives seven days a week.

In addition to relearning how to ski, my weekend getaway to Mont Tremblant taught me to reclaim the weekend. I’m closing off this post at 5:24 on a Friday afternoon. Tomorrow and Sunday I relax!

This trip was sponsored by Mont Tremblant. Of course, Solo Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.

Last updated: 22nd January, 2018

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