Despite the fact that the days are getting shorter, fall remains my favourite time of year. I love the crispness in the air, the crunch of leaves under my feet and the smell of logs on the fire. Autumn is the perfect time of year to don your sweater and comfortable shoes and get out there and explore.
On our last trip to the Laurentians, my husband Dave and I arrived on the shores of Lac-Supérieur in the Laurentians in time to check in to our suite at Tremblant Elysium North and observe a lunar eclipse. After grabbing a few provisions, including a nice bottle of wine or two at the onsite L’Etalage Gourmand Marché, we settled ourselves on the deck with our cameras and to watch the show. As the earth slowly aligned itself between the sun and the moon, it cast a shadow across the entire moon, whose surface gradually turned red. That set the pace for the next few days, as we took our time discovering the Laurentians.
Less than 10 minutes from our hotel lay the gate to the La Diable sector of the Parc national du Mont-Tremblant Quebec’s largest provincial park. Stretching over 1,510 square kilometers, the park includes six great rivers and more than 400 lakes and streams. You can hike, bike, canoe or paddle, and discover the magic of the mountain on your own time.
If golf is more to your liking, then look no further. The Laurentians have 17 golf courses to choose from, all within striking distance from each other. In fact, this region boasts having three of the Top 100 Golf Courses in Canada and we played these gems.
Royal Laurentien was designed and built by owner Gabriel Menard but don’t let that fool you. This championship layout maybe the most picturesque in the region as it built in a valley surrounded by the mountains and features a water fall cascading down a rocky cliff on the 6th hole. Green fees range from CA$53 to $61 + $17 for cart rental in the fall season.
Le Diable maybe the most intimidating course of them all, with plenty of elevation changes and more sand then the Sahara Desert. Fortunately for Dave, most of the bunkers seemed to be on the left side which is ideal for his fade. The course was in great shape, offering flatter lies and subtle greens to offset the deep faced bunkers. The 15th hole is definitely Le Diable’s signature hole – a downhill par 5 with the lake in the background. Summer Green fees range from CA$119 to $139 but drop to as low as CA$69 to $99 with cart plus taxes in the fall.
Le Géant has a lot less sand but is challenging in its own right. A true mountain track, Le Géant takes full advantage of the natural terrain. The uneven lies on the fairway, rocky outcroppings, and large undulating greens definitely up the ante but when you get to the 18th, forget your score for a moment and from the tee blocks take time to simply absorb the stunning views of Tremblant. Green fees range from CA$59 to $139 depending on the time of year.
“Hot, cold, relax” is the key to maximizing the benefits of hydro therapy and I suspect, few do it better than the Scandinave Spa. As soon as I stepped under the waterfall in the first hot pool, I felt not only my muscles but my mind begin to unwind – though I have to admit that when I waded into the next pool, which came in at a cool 19C (67F), it literally took my breathe away. A few minutes later, lounging in a comfy chair beside the massive outdoor fireplace, I decided the 1-2-3 combination was as restorative as promised.
At first I was surprised that guests at the spa are asked to be silent during their stay, but found that this enriched the entire experience. While relaxing in a hammock beside Le Diable River under a canopy of trees I was sure I could hear Manitonga Soutana – the spirit of the mountain – if I listened closely enough.
Right now until September 27th Scandinave Spa is offering a Golf + Spa package. Play a round at either Le Diable or Le Géant and get a full day bath ticket for only $104.
So why not pack your bathing suit along with you clubs and plan on spending a morning, an afternoon or the entire day being good to you?
The third annual Tremblant Gourmand Festival runs until to the September 18th so if you can, spend a day or two exploring the artisan’s market, watching the cooking demonstrations, enjoying seasonal tastings from renowned chefs or gourmet samples from one of 14 participating local producers. But if you can’t make the festival, don’t worry; there is no shortage of first rate restaurants to satisfy all your culinary cravings.
The chefs at Coco-Pazzo are ‘slow’ aficionados who transform organic ingredients from local farmers into mouth-watering Italian sensations. While the Trotta Affumiata was literally a work of art, and the Strozzapeti rich and flavourful, Coco Pazzo’s signature dessert, the Torta Di Fromaggio Con Carmelo D’Acero – mascarpone cheesecake drizzled with Quebec maple syrup caramel – was undeniably the perfect finish to a perfect meal.
Feeling a little more adventurous? Le Rustique Restobar near Lac-Supérieur features wild game, local meat and produce as well as fresh fish. As the name suggests, the atmosphere is warm and inviting and Chef Bruno changes up the menu almost weekly to take full advantage of the season. It’s a wee bit off the beaten path but highly recommended by the locals and they were right. The rabbit rilette and smoked venison tartare were both amazing!
If you’re craving comfort after checking out the boutiques and art galleries in Saint-Saveur, pop into Le Rio. Known for their fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs, Le Rio’s menu is extensive and the service is fast and friendly. I’d highly recommend you pick-up a jar or two of their BBQ sauce to enjoy another day.
Speaking of flavour, if you are a foodie the new Fromagerie Mont-Tremblant on Route 117 is a must see. Featuring more than 20 award winning Quebec cheeses with names like Le Cru du Clocher and Tomme des Demoiselle as well as locally made sausages, teas and preserves that are unique to this part of the country. I took advantage of the opportunity to stock up before heading home and know that my family enjoyed the fabulous chacuterie board I assembled from my purchases.
Often life’s greatest pleasures are the simplest ones – a walk in the woods on a crisp fall day, a wonderful meal shared with family and friends, a chance encounter with a doe and her fawn. Every season has its own special beauty and fall is no exception. The summer crowds have left and the skiers have yet to arrive, so if a little R&R is in order, escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take your time to truly relax in the Laurentians.
For more information on the many pleasures of the Laurentians region of Quebec visit http://www.laurentides.com/en
Disclosure: I visited the Laurentians at the request of Tourisme Quebec and Tourisme Laurentides who have not reviewed or approved this post.