Last January, some friends and I decided to take advantage of the MLK Jr. holiday to go on a ski trip to Mont-Tremblant, a resort outside of Montreal. We had such a great time that I took another group up this year for the same long weekend to recreate the trip. It has now become a tradition, and I already look forward to going back next year!
What to Do on Your Weekend Getaway to Mont-Tremblant
1. Stop in Montreal for Lunch/Dinner
Chances are if you’re driving to/from Mont-Tremblant, you’ll be passing through Montreal. I highly recommend eating at Creperie Chez Suzette, located right on the main street of the historic city center next to quaint shops and cafes. They serve savory (try the Laurentienne) and dessert crepes, quiche, fondue, French onion soup (my personal fav), snails, or whatever suits your fancy. Crepes in Quebec are a little different than what you might have tried in France. Here, they drench them in sauce (usually bechamel) and it’s delicious. This spot was recommended to me by an old co-worker, and I love it so much that I’ve since been back 5 times. The interior is cozy, the service is excellent, and the comfort food warms up your soul, especially on a cold winter’s day.
When I stroll down the streets of historic Vieux-Montreal and hear French being spoken all around me, I feel like I’m back in Europe for a moment. The architecture, the sidewalk cafes, and the food all remind me of France, until I notice the Canadian twists like maple-flavored everything, poutine (french fries with cheese curds and gravy), their accents, and of course the fact that the people are all super friendly!! It’s amazing that I need only drive 5 hours from Boston and I feel like I’m a world away.
2. Explore the Pedestrian Village
The pedestrian village at the base of the ski resort is so picturesque. You can find everything here from cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, condos, hotels, upscale boutiques, and even a movie theater! Even in mid-January, all the Christmas decorations are still up and everything looks so festive and wintry.
3. Stay at a Hotel in the Village
We’ve stayed both times at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tremblant. I like it because it’s the best value for groups of friends. Most rooms have a living room with a fireplace, separate bedrooms and kitchens, and views of the village. They have convenient garage parking and a hearty breakfast is included. The location was perfect…right in the heart of the pedestrian village, and close to the free gondola that takes you and your gear to the base of the ski lifts. The hotel has lockers for your skis/boards, as well as a hot tub and sauna for après-ski.
4. Go Ice Skating and/or Snow Tubing
If you do stay at one of the hotels at the resort, included with your stay is free access to the skating rink and skate rentals, snow tubing, and early access to the ski slopes! Definitely take advantage of this. At night from 6-9 pm, the beginner’s hill is transformed into a hill for snow tubing. They have a side where you can slide down on a sled and another side for single and double tubes. They play upbeat music and while you’re waiting at the top of the hill, you can enjoy the view that overlooks the village and the surrounding countryside.
There is a lake behind the village where you can go ice skating in the evenings. The lights, music, and scenery make a really great atmosphere to ice skate to your heart’s content.
5. Try the Local Treats
No visit to Canada is complete without trying the local treats. Poutine, of course, is always on the top of my list. Other things you can find in the village are maple-flavored anything (think popcorn, fudge, ice cream, etc), dessert crepes, chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and the famous Queues de Castor (Beavertails). Beavertails are pastries made out of fried dough in the shape of a beaver tail with various toppings. Also fun to try is frozen maple taffy. They pour maple syrup for you outside on fresh snow, then give you a popsicle stick. You place the stick on the syrup and wait 45 seconds for it to freeze, then you roll it up around the stick and voila, a delicious frozen treat.
6. Winter Sports – Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, or Dog Sledding
Tremblant, located in the Laurentian mountains, is one of the largest ski resorts in Canada and has been rated the #1 Ski resort in Eastern North America. The snow is great, the views are incredible, and there is a good variety of beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs. Even if you’re not skiing, you can get a ticket to go up the gondola to drink a hot chocolate and relax at the mountain lodge at the top with sweeping views of the valley and lake below.
There are so many options of things to do at the resort for sport lovers – you’ll never get bored! There are also opportunities to go dog sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or alpine touring. It’s so cold in Canada, but I love how everyone just embraces the winter and makes the best of it. So fun!
7. Go the Scandinavian Spa
After a long, fun day of skiing, there’s no better place to go than to the nearby Scandinavian Spa to experience The Baths or a massage. The baths experience is very relaxing. This Scandinavian tradition is to first warm your body in either a sauna, steam bath, or hot tub to release toxins, then to rinse in cold water for 10 seconds either in the Diable river, cold pool or shower, or under a cold waterfall. It’s certainly a shock to the body (especially in the winter!) but it helps close your pores and increase your blood circulation. The last stage of The Baths experience is to relax or sleep in one of the relaxation areas, such as the solarium, a Finnish reading room, in gravity chairs or hammocks, in the Swedish relaxation room with cushions and blankets for a power nap, or even by the outdoor fireplace. Then, you repeat this cycle over and over again for as long as you want. Oh, and did I mention that you do all this in complete silence? It’s heavenly.
My favorite hot tub was the one with the powerful waterfall that you can sit under and get a really good neck and shoulder massage. My favorite relaxation room was the large room with the gravity chairs and loungers. The relaxation rooms are all amazing, some with floor to ceiling windows with views, leather reclining chairs, blankets, white noise, and even aromatherapy oil scents. They give you towels and a bath robe (for a fee), and they bring around water, tea, and fruit to enjoy while you’re there. The pathways are heated, so all in all it’s a very comfortable experience, even when it’s cold and snowy outside. Everyone should experience this–it’s amazing–and probably the main motivating reason to go back!
Many people find it difficult to travel in the winter or don’t like to, but I highly recommend finding a place like Mont-Tremblant that truly embraces the season and has something to offer everyone. I love that it’s not too far away from Boston, and that I can make my escape from the snowy streets of the city to the snowy slopes of the mountains and enjoy the quaint village and practice my French.
If you’re going skiing and to the Spa, you’ll save a lot of money if you buy their “Ski and Spa” package online in advance. You can also save significant time and money if you rent your equipment online and fill out the rental form in advance.
On your way out of town, I highly recommend a stop at Creperie Catherine for breakfast or lunch. They have delicious crepes and a nice atmosphere. It’s a great way to end a fabulous ski weekend getaway and where you will find yourself saying à la prochaine fois (until next time)! Because there will be a next time, believe me. 🙂