Tremblant, Quebec – It is amazing what $1 billion will buy, even in Canadian
funds. Tremblant ski resort, 90 minutes northwest of Montreal, looks and feels
like a centuries-old Alpine village, but it is all new in the past decade thanks
to a mountain of money.
Tremblant’s magnificent makeover has catapulted the humble 1939 Quebec ski
hamlet to world-class resort status with a sophisticated mountain village unlike
any other in the East. An avalanche of awards for the posh slopeside design
confirms that the transformation has been tasteful and top-notch.
Our first view of Tremblant’s charming ski village brought a flashback of
Zermatt, Switzerland for my husband and I. The
car free village is brightly
colored, bustling with boutiques and pubs connected by snowy sidewalks. Our two
kids were eager to explore the storybook alpine setting, and stretch their
Above the twinkling lights, and attractive architecture, we viewed Mont
Tremblant – partially lighted for night skiing. While not the towering Alps, it
is a suitably sized Eastern mountain at 2,871feet, and an easy stroll from our
To acclimate ourselves to the French-Canadian setting, we splurged on fondue at
the cozy La Savoie our first night. While we tried to parlé a bit of Francais,
we were relieved that everyone speaks English too. Still, you can
rationalize the trip as educational and multi-cultural.
In the morning, we hopped on the VW Cabriolet, a clever open-air cabin that whisks
you over the village in a most scenic fashion to Tremblant’s spiffy base to
summit Gondola. The temperature on this January day was –15° Celsius, whatever
the Fahrenheit equivalent - it felt nippy.
We soon discovered that Canadians are très serious about their skiing, from
their matching technical Descente ski suits (leave your duct-taped woolies in
Maine if you want to blend), to their urgency in the lift line (something they
inherited from their Euro-cousins). We kept our kids close and survived the
opening bell crush for a 10-minute trip in our “telécabine” up the mountain.
gondi deposits everyone at the top of Tremblant’s four-sided mountain, with 627
acres and a generous 2,100’ vertical drop, making it Quebec’s largest “ski
Tremblant's South Side faces the village. Here we skied an assortment of ego-pleasing
wide trails like Kandahar and Grand Prix, and rode the Flying Mile Quad over the ParcGravité -which was loaded with the usual treacherous terrain park elements.
The North Side, the mountain’s backside, features a few pitched boulevards, a
couple of narrow old liftlines, and the hair-raising steeps of Dynamite – the
steepest trail in Eastern Canada at 40-degrees, which was not open for our visit
The Edge is a tucked-away pocket where we schussed black-diamond glades, bumps
and jumps. Versant Soleil, Tremblant's most recent expansion
(with a new quad for 2014) gets the most
mid-day sun, as its name implies. With a picturesque mix of tree runs and
naturally undulating trails, this mountain section has its own distinct flavor.
No need to worry about getting enough runs in. High-speed quads climb every
face. The modern lift layout gets its work out on weekends and holidays, when
Tremblant sees its share of Montrealers. Among the 95 trails, we found a few
quiet stashes. Tremblant’s snowmaking arsenal is impressive, with chilly temps
this far north – they blow optimum man-made snow.
Tremblant's On Mountain Dining, we liked the Summit Lodge “Le
Grand Manitou”, which offers splendid views of the surrounding Laurentian lakes
and mountains. Ensuing days, with a little savoir-faire, we skied into the village for a
European gourmet repast at a charming café, for less.
for non-skiers is a good pick. Not only can you
rendezvous for lunch; the village shops, pottery studio, and movie cinema well
keep the no-boarders amused while you carve out your day on the hill.
Après Ski at Tremblant the attractive pedestrian zone really comes alive from late lunch
into the wee hours. Remember the French coined “après-ski.” Bars like Le Shack
pump out music and liquid cheer for satisfied skiers. The youngsters line up at
Beaver Tail Cafe for the Canadian version of fried dough, shaped like . . . you
guessed it, a beaver’s tail. Lovely ladies in fur browse chic boutiques, while
Toufou –Tremblant’s oversized reindeer mascot - parades through town shaking
little skiers’ hands.
For kids “La Source Aquaclub” is a Laurentian lake themed
Disney-like amusement park of indoor wading pools, trees, rocks, a rope swing,
and waterfall. It is a big splash with the children.
At the end of our four-day sojourn, we were only beginning to embrace the joie
de vivre. Sure, we had skied a variety of vertical, we had swung from the
branches at the Aquaclub, we had poked around cutesy shops, and dined on
delicious cuisine. But I still desired a double espresso at a café, the kids
wanted to mush a dog-sled team across Lac Tremblant, and my husband craved the
cliffs of Dynamite.
As we packed up the SUV for the long trek home, we all dreamed of a Tremblant
encore. Before you apply for Visas, book airfare, and fly over the pond – try
Tremblant, Quebec for a mini-Euro ski trip.