Ours to Discover

Ours to Discover: Quebec – The Laurentides

From mountains to fields, this diverse region of the province is fertile with recreational activities and food products

By Dean Lisk Wheels.ca

Mar 21, 2022 5 min. read

Article was updated 2 months ago

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In this four-part series, Wheels takes a road trip through Quebec, learning more about the people, culture and history of Ontario’s eastern neighbour. We learn why La Belle Province is “Ours to Discover” this winter and beyond. This week, we wrap up the series by exploring the Laurentides region.

The Laurentides region of Quebec is split between its mountainous north and the rolling plains in the south – fertile grounds for recreational activities and agriculture. Located near its centre is Mont-Tremblant, a vacation playground full of ski hills, lakes and trails waiting to be explored. In the south, the area around Mirabel is ripe with local products, including fruit orchards, vegetable gardens and beekeepers.

DAY ONE


In the morning: Fill up on breakfast at La Traite restaurant in Wendake’s Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations before leaving for Mont-Tremblant. Drive west on Autoroute 40 toward Montreal before merging onto routes 640 and then north on 15. Depending on traffic, the journey will take under four hours.

In the afternoon: Arriving in Mont-Tremblant Village, check in at the Fairmont Tremblant. The resort is conveniently located at the base of the ski hill, steps from the gondola and with easy access to the community’s restaurants and stores. The hotel features 314 guest rooms including 62 suites with views of the ski hill, woods or village. Amenities at the Fairmont include a fitness centre, indoor and outdoor pools, onsite lounges and restaurants, and an equipment rental service if you didn’t bring your own skis.

Quebec

A short walk away is the pedestrian-only village, but that doesn’t mean you only need to go on foot. Le Cabriolet, an aerial bucket-shaped lift, runs from the Place des Voyageurs opposite the main parking lot to near the base of the ski hill, giving you a bird’s-eye view of the village. Walking down Rue des Ramparts, be sure to take a moment to admire Vieux-Tremblant, a collection of historic buildings that were moved to the village from the area.

In the evening: Stop for dinner at La Pizzateria in the village and enjoy one of its many pies, such as its Mexican pizza with onions, calabrese sausage,  hot peppers, olives and mozzarella, or its coriander shrimp topped with ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.

DAY TWO


In the morning: Fuel up for an active day with breakfast at the Fairmont’s Le Comptoir Cuisine Italienne. It’s The Giant features two eggs, bacon, ham, sausages, baked beans, sautéed potatoes and toasts, or try the crepes filled seasonal berries and topped with maple syrup.

Head to the summit of Mont-Tremblant. The Algonquin people who lived in the area called the mountain Manitou-Ewitchi-Saga and believed a mysterious being – Manitou – would make it tremble. Tremblant is French for “trembling,” and the region has experienced earthquakes.

Quebec

Ride the Panoramic Gondola to the top of the mountain, which reaches an elevation of 875 metres. The ride includes views of the village and Lac Tremblant at it heads up the slope. At the summit, you are awarded with a 360-degree panorama of the region, including the Parc National du Mont-Tremblant which stretches 1,510 square kilometres to the north.

In the afternoon: Mont-Tremblant is a winter playground, with various outdoor activities you can take part in. There are 102 ski trails on four slopes to try out, depending on your skill level. If you need help or have questions, look for one of the volunteers wearing yellow jackets.

For those who want to try something different, the area also offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, tubing and fat biking, and skating. You can also head out on and dune buggy tour, where you navigate the winding mountain trails on the edge of the national park.

In the evening: Stop for dinner at the Fairmont’s Choux Gras Brasserie Culinaire and enjoy dishes that range from pan-seared salmon and veal osso buco to a seafood platter piled high with lobster, octopus, scallops, snow crab and more.

DAY THREE


In the morning: After breakfast at the hotel, begin your drive south by following Autoroute 15 and then turning west on Route 158 just past the city of Saint-Jérôme. After a few minutes you will arrive at Les Serres Bertrande, a specialty grocery store.

The family-run business stocks food items by local producers, including maple-pepper jelly, balsamic glazes and tomato ketchups and confits, as well as small home decor items. It is known for its tomatoes, which are grown in a greenhouse on site. Be sure to try one of its famous tomato sandwiches.

Quebec

Continue your tour of local producers by visiting Route des Gerbes d'Angelica in Mirabel. Started by 15 friends who bought 94 acres of land in 2008, it is a collection vegetable and flower gardens. The self-taught farmers turn their products into marinades, flavoured oils, sauces, frozen prepared meals and freeze-dried and crystalized products.

In the afternoon: Before beginning your drive back to Ontario, pick up a few products from the region to take home. Intermiel is an apiary and meadery where you can learn all about the process of harvesting the honey from its 5,000 hives. Its selection of products are made using all parts of the honey-making process, including fresh liquid honey, honeycomb, ointments and candles. There is also a mead tasting area to sample different varieties, like it’s Médiéval, which is aged in oak barrels.

Quebec

Next drive the short distance to Les Vergers Lafrance in Saint-Joseph-du-Lac. The family-run business includes a sugar shack and 30 hectares of fruit trees – apple, pear and plum – and vines. Apples are the real stars here, with more than 20 varieties, some available year-round at its store. It also sells ciders and spirits featuring the apples from its orchards (a cidery is located a short drive from the shop). Be sure to pick up a bottle of its ice, sparkling or still ciders to enjoy at home while reliving your memories of Quebec.

Quebec

The Toronto Star has partnered with Bonjour Quebec to bring you this road trip series. The writer travelled as a guest of Bonjour Quebec, which did not review or approve this article.

Side trip


If you prefer waiting until morning before driving back to Ontario, spend the night at L'Oasis de l'Île, a calming retreat on a small island in Saint-Eustache. It features 21 rooms and a relaxation area with hot and cold baths, a whirlpool pool and dry sauna.

 COVID-19 need to know


Consult the provincial website for the most up-to-date information and contact individual businesses to confirm how they’re currently operating.

For the drive


Enjoy you travels through the countryside by listening to traditional Quebecois folk music, like the songs of La Bottine Souriante, a Juno-award winning group that first formed in the late 1970s.

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