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.
Skiing at Mont Tremblant
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.