Saint-Sauveur is a real town with ski hills, as opposed to a cookie-cutter ski resort designed by a big conglomerate. This is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your tastes. I’m on the pro side. Yes, it involves more driving around. But in return you get a greater variety of restaurants and attractions and - more importantly - a better sense of place. It feels like you’re in an actual Québécois community, not an ersatz European village.
Take the homey La Crêperie à la Gourmandise Bretonne, for example. With wood-beam walls adorned with copper pots, a tin ceiling and a few lace curtains, the decor is rustic farmhouse, not chic lodge. Which is how it should be, because the food is as far from pretentious as you can get. The crepes here are massive. In more than 15 years of visits, I have yet to finish one. The fact that I get it filled with about two cups of cheese and eight slices of bacon and then drown it in maple syrup likely has something to do with that. Listen, do not knock that combo until you try it. Salty, fatty, sweet, crispy ... it may be a heart-stopping calorie bomb but it’s worth it. If that’s not to your taste though dozens of other fillings are available, including some vegetables. (But, really, why would you order broccoli?)
Once your lunch is settled, it’s time to do what most people head here for: ski. (Seriously, don’t hit the slopes right after eating a crepe.) The closest ski hills are Sommet Saint-Sauveur and the adjacent Avila, with a combined 40 trails, ranging from dedicated bunny slopes to double black diamond runs. Non-skiers who still crave the thrill of hurtling down a mountain can brave one of the area’s snow tubing parks. Be warned: These are not your preschooler’s tobogganing hills. Glissades des Pays d’en Haut boasts 37 slopes (some open at night), a chairlift and two sections that are for “experienced sliders" only. Little ones can take it easy at the Yeti Park, home to 12 gentle mini-runs.
When it comes time to put your feet up, the poshest option right in town is Manoir Saint-Saveur (from $175; manoir-saint-sauveur.com), about a two-minute drive from the mountain and boasting a spa and several restaurants. It’s often seen as a romance-focused escape, but a kids' club means it’s for families, too.
If you’re willing to drive a little further (about 25 minutes), you can get a taste of Quebec lake life at Estérel Resort (from $189 a night; esterel.com). Lace up some skates for a twirl around frozen Lac Dupuis or strap on some snowshoes and head off on paths leaving right from the hotel. Or, head to Parc Estérel, practically right next door, for 35 kilometres of cross-country trails. (All gear is available to rent on-site.) A Nordic spa circuit is onsite - and because of the lakefront location, you can go for the true experience by jumping into the icy water. Or simply curl up by the fireplace in your room (choose a suite on the Evolution side of the resort for a more modern escape) after an elegant dinner at Bistro à Champlain. Oh, but first be sure to indulge in a glass of wine. The restaurant’s wine cellar is home to more than 8,000 bottles, acquired from a now-closed Laurentian classic of the same name. If you’ve ever wanted to try a Pétrus 1953, a Château Margaux or Château Lafite-Rothschild, now is your chance. Or blow the budget on the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1990, one of the world’s most expensive vintages.
This is, of course, but a sampling of what’s on offer in and around Saint-Sauveur. You’ll also find an alpine coaster, a seated zip-line (yes, it runs in winter), snowmobiling, fat biking and - don’t think I forgot - poutine. Just maybe don’t indulge the same day as the crepe.
The writer stayed as a guest at Estérel Resort. It did not review or approve this article.