Remember when you were a kid and tubing meant an actual inner tube, gently rocking on the waves at a provincial park or lake? Then it graduated to specialized tubes with handles and hooks for ropes for speeding behind boats. Now tubing is a downhill ski park staple. After a day on skis, getting the rush without using a single muscle – except maybe to raise your legs as you careen close to the snowbanks – is a simple thrill. And I indulge, more than once.
After a long hot shower (under the double showerhead) and a brief rest by the fireplace, it’s time for dinner at the elegant Martin Faucher’s Aux Truffes. Pan-seared Quebec duck foie gras is a must to start, and I can’t resist the Quebec deer with julienned Brussels sprouts, gratin of yellow beet, and basil bread. Mr. Faucher’s creations are a delight (how can I resist the impossibly tempting walnut stew with maple ice cream? damn this no-sugar diet!) and he may be the friendliest chef in Canada. A consummate host, he answered patrons’ questions about the menu, his philosophy and the source of his ingredients. Do ask to meet him when you visit.
Sunday dawns sunny, crisp and cold – it’s a good 10 degrees colder than the day before. But temperature is no obstacle to this runaway weekend. We rush to meet guide Yves Kirouac, a local legend who says he is a descendant of beat poet Jack Kerouac (born Jean Louis Kirouac to French-Canadian parents in the U.S.). He helps us strap on our snowshoes and gives us the basic tips (short steps uphill, digging in with the balls of your feet; fast baby steps downhill, lowering your body weight).
For Mr. Kirouac , though, it’s soon clear it’s about so much more than the mechanics. Being in the woods, exploring the flora and fauna, is a way of life – and he shares his insights as we leave the village behind, trekking past cedars (something in the bark is good for the prostate – long life, happy wife), by Douglas fir (the sap, mixed with boiling water, is a speedily effective laxative), around a solid tree growing on a large rock, its thick roots wrapping serpentine-like around the stone. As we make tracks, Mr. Kirouac points out the other prints in the snow (moles, fox, deer, squirrel). He shows us the chaga mushroom growing on a tree, and then makes a fire with only flint, a chip of chaga, and rolled-up birch bark stuffed with cedar bark he stripped from a tree. We’re wowed, and a deer ambles within five metres of us to witness Mr. Kirouac’s creation. It’s a magical moment.
While it feeds the yearning for downhill skiers who return year after year, Mont Tremblant is also a smorgasbord of opportunity for beginners. It’s been a whirl of a weekend, and though I am amazed to find I have the energy, I just don’t have time to try my hands (and legs) at ice climbing and dogsledding – they will have to go on the list for next time.
Back home, it feels like anything is possible. I’m mentally and physically revived, and my chiropractor says I’ve never felt more flexible – you can’t argue with that. Some people go to Tremblant to get in the groove, some go to get their groove back.
1-888-738-1777; tremblant.ca. Lift tickets cost $75.
Porter Airlines flies nearly every day to and from Mont-Tremblant International Airport. flyporter.com.
Courtesy shuttle to hotels in the pedestrian village is part of the airport service, which is covered in the airport fee (most all-inclusive packages include the airport fee). Make a reservation through Mont-Tremblant International Airport ( mtia.ca/en) to make sure you have a seat on the shuttle.
WHAT TO DO
Cross-country skiing :Ski de fond Mont-Tremblant: For classic and skate-skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking and trotinette des neiges (kicksledding) on more than 25 square kilometres of forest, meadow, lakes, streams and the River La Diable. 539 Chemin Saint-Bernard, Mont-Tremblant; 1-819-425-5588; skidefondmont-tremblant.com. Adult rate: $17 to ski, $9 to snowshoe. Rental for classic skis, boots and poles is $23.50.
Snowshoeing: To book a guided experience with Yves Kirouac, go to tremblantactivities.com, select winter, and then choose the Fireman Snowshoe Tour. Or call 1-819-681-4848. $53.
Downhill skiing: For information on runs and mountain conditions, go to tremblant.ca or call 1-888-738-1777. Lift tickets cost $75.
WHERE TO STAY
There’s a range of accommodations in the pedestrian village, including the Westin, Fairmont Tremblant and the Quintessence. Visit the Tremblant website to compare rates and amenities.
WHERE TO EAT
Aux Truffes Restaurant: Place Saint-Bernard, 3035 Chemin de la Chapelle; 1-819-681-4544; auxtruffes.com.
L’Avalanche Bistro Lounge: 127 Chemin Kandahar; 1-819-681-4727; avalanchebistro.com.Report Typo/Error
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