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 car-cramped legs.
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 suite.
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. The 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 station.”
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 lift lines, and the hair-raising steeps of Dynamite – the steepest trail in Eastern Canada at 40 degress, which was not open for our visit – phew!
The Edge is a tucked-away pocket where we schussed black-diamond glades, bumps, and jumps. Versant Soleil 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.
Tremblant 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.