Winter Wonderlands: Three Magical Days in Mont-Tremblant
As the holidays approach and ski season with them, folks may find themselves scrambling for exciting winter getaways that are remote enough to be interesting, yet close enough to be accessible. In such moments, Mont-Tremblant, the quaint resort town nestled in the Laurentian mountains, less than a two hour’s drive north of Montreal—offers east-coasters the luxury and adventure of more far-flung destinations, without the hassle. Whether you have kids in tow or are looking for a long romantic weekend with your significant other, three days in this Quebecois winter oasis will give everyone their needed mixture of adventure and relaxation.
Where to stay
True to its welcoming spirit, Mont-Tremblant is home to an incredible variety of comfortable, inviting, and tasteful accommodation options.
Couples looking for a romantic retreat will find cozy rooms and warm hospitality at several of the region’s B&Bs. La Chaumière de l’Anse, located just outside the Village that surrounds Tremblant Resort, offers couples easy access to some of the area’s finest skiing, running, and cycling trails—all of which can be explored only after enjoying the B&B’s indulgent French-Canadian breakfasts (croissants and maple-braised ham, anyone?). For an utterly unique Mont-Tremblant experience, check out Escale Du Nord. This stunning Scandinavian style guesthouse offers the guests in its five exclusive, hardwood-floored rooms free use of an in-house sauna and spa, and (as with La Chaumière) access to endless trail networks and potential adventures. This upscale retreat is conveniently located in the center of the Mont-Tremblant region, between the Village to the north and the downtown to the south. Of course, access to natural beauty and well-maintained trails is standard among Mont-Tremblant lodgings. Places like Hôtel Quintessence, Le Westin, or Maison Napoléon (to name a few) also offer boutique accommodations within steps of Laurentian adventures.
Photo courtesy of Maison Napoléon
Photo courtesy of Le Westin Resort & Spa Tremblant
If you have little ones running about and you don’t want to shatter the calm of a couple’s honeymoon, Mont-Tremblant has you covered. Hôtel Mont Blanc, for instance, has one-, two-, and three-bedroom condos designed with families in mind. Likewise, the Sommet des Neiges hotel offers spacious family suites, along with kid-centered facilities (including a dedicated playroom). In addition to traditional hotels, Mont-Tremblant is also home to many chalets and condos that can be rented for the long weekend as your family’s home-away-from-home. Check out Domaine Saint-Bernard or Domaine Summum Estate for a peak at what’s on offer.
It’s midday on Friday and you’ve just checked in to your room. Stomachs may be grumbling; energy may be low. Check out Le Sandwicherie Café and Bistro, just off the main road a few minutes southwest of Mont-Tremblant Village (where most accommodations are clustered), for a light and flavorful soup or sandwich, and perhaps a coffee.
Once you’ve been recharged after your journey, it’s time for a first adventure. One of the most exciting and interesting ways to explore the wintertime Laurentians is by fatbike—a mountain bike with extra-wide, low-pressure tires that spread out your weight across the snow. The Mont-Tremblant based guide service D-Tour offers private and group tours designed to introduce beginners both to the world of fatbiking, and to the hills, forests and fields through which the region’s many trail networks crisscross. If you’re a veteran fatbiker, you can also rent an electric from Cykel or Vélo Gare Tremblant who also offer standard bike rentals.
Photo courtesy of Vélo Gare Tremblant
The folks there will set you up and send you out on the P’tit Train du Nord trail, a 17 km out-and-back that runs from the Village in the north to the downtown area in the south. As the bike shop is on the southern end, we recommend taking the public bus there, cycling back as far north as you like (perhaps stopping for a coffee), and returning the bike before sundown.
Start your day off right: L’Arôme Café Bistro offers delicious, satisfying breakfasts and beverages ranging from French classics like eggs benedict and a selection of omelets, to sophisticated arrangements of local cheeses, cured meats, and pastries. Of note for coffee drinkers: early risers will be rewarded at L’Arôme, where Café Napoleon’s are often complimentary before 11AM.
Photo courtesy of L’Arôme Café Bistro
Now, a winter trip to Mont-Tremblant would not be complete without a bit of cross country skiing. Whether you’re an old pro or a total novice, a ski lesson, tour, or solo adventure is a great way to experience the unique forests and hills of the Laurentians—geologically one of the oldest mountain ranges in North America.
Though Mont-Tremblant is often associated with its alpine ski resort, there’s a gem of a cross country ski area tucked a few miles north of downtown area. Domaine Saint-Bernard —a dreamy ecotourism destination with rustic lodgings, a lake, an astronomy pavilion and over 1,500 acres of protected lands rich in diverse flora and fauna—offers its own 40-odd kilometer network of stunning, expertly groomed Nordic trails. Tickets, rental gear, and lessons can be purchased and arranged at Le Grand Saint-Bernard, in the center of the Domaine’s protected lands.
If you prefer the idea of a long ski adventure that arrives at a destination, the P’tit Train du Nord trail that we mentioned as a fatbiking option is also open and groomed for cross country. If you need to rent equipment for such a ski tour, stop in at the Ski Lab in Mont Tremblant Village. You can leave a car at one end of the trail or take the public bus back to your starting point.
Or, if you’re staying in the Village, have the rest of your gang meet you at the downtown end of the trail, where you can all reconvene for a nutritious recovery lunch at Le Sushi Shack. There you’ll find delicious rolls for every palate and diet—from gluten free to vegan to protein rich meals.
Keep the healthy activities coming with a relaxing afternoon trip to one of Mont-Tremblant’s renowned spas (all of which are in and around the Village). Spa Sans Sabots, located within the Hôtel Quintessence, is ideally situated on the shores of Lake Tremblant. This means you can soak in the icy surface of the lake while literally soaking in the hot tub or steam room, or as you enjoy a soothing massage or yoga session. If you want to do more than just look at icy water, be sure to try the Scandinave Spa Mont-Tremblant which sits alongside (and even inside) the Diable River. In true Nordic fashion, this one-of-a-kind spot is built around a series of outdoor pools, both natural and artificial, steaming and frigid. Altogether, the Spa’s collection of pools and waterfalls offers visitors a wholistic experience that cleanses and rejuvenates both mind and body.
Photo courtesy of Spa Sans Sabots
Mont-Tremblant might be a small mountain town, but that hardly makes it a sleepy hamlet. Come sundown, both the Village and downtown areas come alive with palate-tickling eateries, trendy and fun bars, and even a casino. For a tasteful restaurant-bar combination, try Choux Gras, just down the street from the Resort. This culinary brasserie—opened in 2017—aims to pair big city flavors with small town charm. The result is a straightforward menu composed of precisely executed brasserie classics, each with the chef’s own innovative twist. Within Choux Gras you will also find the top notch Axe Lounge Bar, where a team of mixologists craft exclusive cocktails that often feature the finest local spirits. The Bar also offers a separate food menu from the main restaurant, so if you’re in the mood for more traditional bar fare—say, poutine and a burger—then you’re in luck.
If you have energy to keep the party going a little longer, stop by the Casino de Mont-Tremblant. There you can play slot machines and table games, have a drink, or listen to the live or DJ’d music that’s on every Friday and Saturday night. For sports fans, the Casino Bar is also a great place to catch the big game.
After an action-packed Saturday, it’s time for a chill Sunday morning. Enjoy a late, leisurely breakfast at Le 900 Café in downtown Mont-Tremblant, a B&B that’s open to the public, where fairtrade coffee, specialty breakfast/brunch sandwiches and warm Canadian hospitality are always on the menu.
Photo courtesy of Le 900 Café
Whether you’re a snow sports enthusiast or just curious, there’s one winter wonderland that you can’t leave Mont-Tremblant without seeing. Just north of the Village, on the far side of Mont-Tremblant itself, sits one of the oldest national parks in North America, sprawled out across 1500 km2. Not only does Mont-Tremblant National Park have the distinction of being Quebec’s first national park, but it is also home to over 400 bodies of water and over 40 km of groomed ski terrain. This means hours of fun cruising over bridges and around lakes, and discovering hidden vistas from which to take in the diverse landscape—plus, plenty of opportunities to see some of the park’s 40 species of mammals! On colder days, be sure to stop in at some of the five warming huts scattered throughout the parks trails. Also, if skiing is not on the agenda, snowshoeing and fatbiking are also permitted on the park trails. Ski and snowshoe rentals as well as trail passes can be arranged at the park’s discovery center. Fatbikes can be rented in the Village (here), or through a guided D-Tour experience.
After the weekend’s final adventure, and perhaps a final trip to the spa, treat yourself and your companions to a mouth-watering Mediterranean dinner at Le Petite Cachée, just outside the Village. There you’ll find stimulating dishes like curry and espellette cod cakes or clam buggatini with octopus, but also comforting staples like braised rib and a selection of house pizzas. Before bedtime, be sure to stop in for a nightcap at Le P’tit Caribou, a cozy, traditional Quebec pub.