With a teenage son who is really into snowboarding, we decided to take a ski vacation over our kids’ Christmas break. New England is always spotty on whether there will be good snow in December, so on the advice of a friend, we decided to head into Canada and explore Quebec’s Mont Tremblant!
Great choice! Arriving just after a major storm, and receiving a couple inches of snow every night, the conditions couldn’t have been better.
Mont Tremblant is about a 2 hour drive northwest of Montreal. Wanting to avoid planes this season, we drove from Boston, which is a 6.5 hour drive. NYC is about 8 hours.
In practice, some day-after-Christmas traffic added about an hour to this for us, mostly in the final stretch.
There are plenty of accommodations both in the village and in the vicinity. Since we had never done the whole “ski village” experience before and we found availability, we stayed right near the main lifts at Place St. Bernard. While this was fabulous for ski-in ski-out, near the base of the Cabriolet gondola is almost as good if you don’t mind one extra hop. Keep in mind that walking around in ski boots is quite uncomfortable – our son tells us that we should switch to snowboarding for this reason!
Since we were skiing/boarding, we purchased our lift passes in advance (at a small discount) when we booked the lodging. We did see a few folks who purchase a single use pass to the top of the mountain. On a clear day, the views are quite nice!
There are tons of other activities to consider as well: ice skating, tubing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, a sleigh ride, and more, though we just stuck to skiing/snowboarding. The village does have plenty of shopping and restaurants, if that’s your thing, and is a delightful area to hang out.
While Mont Tremblant is far enough north that you are more likely to have good conditions than not, you will still want to check the mountain report to plan your day. Trail and lift closures due to wind, storms, and other problems may affect your plans. One woman told me that her cross country ski lessons were cancelled due to too much snow! If you want to see what various parts of the mountain look like, check out the webcams!
As you plan your vacation activities, here are various maps that will help you navigate the mountain.
To our delight, other than a few minor snowflakes, the entire drive from Boston to Mont Tremblant Village was snow free! Road trips are always risky in the winter, but given the 2022 Christmas week airline trouble, this ended up being a smart decision.
The border crossing was quite easy, with no apps or covid card checks required (as of 12/2022, double-check this). Since we crossed just before noon, we found an A&W for lunch. The boys always love adding a delicious root beer in a glass mug to their hamburger.
Eventually we made it to Mont Tremblant! While Place St. Bernard is quite lovely, their checkin wait was quite lengthy. There was only a single agent working at 4pm, but apparently our patience snagged us an upgrade!
The checkin was at the bottom of the village, but our room was right next to the ski lift, so we decided to just leave the car where it was and walk to our fabulous room! It was a 1-bedroom apartment with an extra loft for the boys and a balcony overlooking the village square!
The main down side to having a balcony is that if there is snow, a crane will come at 6am to clear it. Quite noisy and a little strange! That said, after a clump of falling snow almost hit John in the head later in the week, we do see why it is necessary to have the cranes clear the balconies and roofs.
Once we had rested a bit, we moved our car to the appropriate garage (room key required for admittance), put all our ski gear into the lockers, and brought our stuff up to our room. Then we went out to explore!
Our first stop was the very tiny general store (Magasin General), to pick up some breakfast items. Throughout our stay, we discovered that bread and eggs would run out quite frequently and that hot chocolate packets were non-existent. After wandering around the town a bit, we settled on La Maison de la Crepe. Yum! The savory crepes were delicious, but the dessert crepes were even more impressive!
The rest of the evening was spent exploring the village. We really liked the freshly carved ice bear!
Skiing Day 1
In the morning, John wanted to hit the slopes as soon as they opened, but there were a lot of logistics so it didn’t quite work out exactly the way he hoped. Jeremy has his own skis, the boys had season rentals, but I needed to rent a pair of skis. James also needed to get to his ski lessons shortly after the lifts opened.
It is possible to rent skis from the village, but by driving a few minutes down the road to Below Zero Rental, price was about half. There was only one person ahead of me when I picked up the skis, and no line when I dropped them off. Quite pleasant!
By the time I returned and got my gear on, Jeremy had dropped James off for his ski lesson and we met at the Express Gondola to the top of the mountain. It had been 7 years since I had skied, so I was a little nervous. Fortunately, it came back to me quickly and I had a great time skiing from La Crete to Nansen Haut to Nansen Bas!
Of course, I was a little slower than John preferred, so after doing one run together, Jeremy and John left me to my own devices and they went out to explore the rest of the mountain. I did another run, then decided to rest a bit before picking James up from his lessons.
A quick lunch ended up being a little more difficult than we expected. There’s a quick serve restaurant at the top of the mountain, but the village is nearly all sit down places. The premade sandwiches at the grocery store looked somewhat unappetizing, while another sandwich shop we were eyeballing turned out to be vegan. We ended up picking up some poutine (when in Rome, and all) and pastries at Beavertails.
John was eager to get back to the slopes so Jeremy and John set out again. I decided to see how James took to skiing and after two runs on the bunny slopes, we set out for the Flying Mile lift that would take us halfway up the mountain. He did a great job skiing La Passe to Nansen Bas!
A call to Jeremy and John resulted in us meeting back at the top of the mountain, where we skied down together. The three boys flew down the mountain, while I took my time.
At the bottom, we were ready for a rest, so we decided to fix a problem with James 3rd ski lesson. They forgot to include the pass in our envelope! After talking to the center, we learned that this is a frequent problem that they resolve by simply checking his name off a list at the start of the lesson.
We split up again and James and I did an easier run, while Jeremy and John did a harder one.
By this time, the lifts had closed – 3:30pm being the cutoff time, so we decided to get cleaned up and find dinner. During Christmas vacation, the resort is quite crowded and we discovered that even at 5:30pm, some restaurant lines were quite long.
Eventually we settled on Le Shack for dinner. I had some amazing salmon and the boys thoroughly enjoyed their hamburgers!
The rest of the evening, was spent wandering the village and resting in the hotel.
Skiing Day 2
Day two is always harder than day one. I was a bit sore, but decided to go ahead and try to ski a few runs since I had already bought a multi-day lift ticket. One morning run ended up being enough for me.
Jeremy was also dragging his feet, but he had John pushing him to get out the door and to the gondola line before the lines built up too much. They alternated skiing together and splitting up when John wanted to try something a little harder than Jeremy was in the mood for. We had given John an AirTag and told him to stay around other people in case something happened. It’s hard to know what to do when your teenage kids surpass your skiing ability!
James enjoyed his morning lesson and was delighted that they spent most of their time on the greens rather than the bunny slopes.
For lunch, we decided just to make grilled cheese sandwiches in our hotel kitchen. Staying right near the slopes made this quite practical. We really like staying in places that have cooking facilities as it makes family breakfast and other simple meals much easier.
In the afternoon, I was moving too slowly for James’ tastes, so we let John go on his own, while Jeremy took James to the greens on the other side of the mountain and skied Franc Sud to La Algonquin. It was a bit steeper, but James did okay!
To return, there was a choice of taking the Le Soleil lift back to the top of the mountain, or the Casino Express Gondola back to town. They chose to go back to the top and ski back to the village. John spent the afternoon skiing the blues and blacks, making friends in line and picking up an occasional snowboard buddy. It worked out well for everyone!
Not ready for dinner, we walked through the village and stopped at a few shops to look at better ski goggles. At the bottom, we decided to take the Cabriolet Gondola back to the top of the village. It is free (even if you don’t have a lift pass), and a good way to rest tired legs or avoid walking in ski boots.
Starting to feel hungry, we decided to go to the bistro portion of La Forge Bistro Bar & Grill. The food was good and the boys particularly enjoyed their wagyu burgers, but in general we preferred Le Shack from the night before.
Afterwards, we took another walk through the village, enjoyed the fire pits, and picked up a yule log dessert at the grocery store as well as some more breakfast and lunch items.
Skiing Day 3
On our third day of skiing, all of us had more energy again! In the morning, James enjoyed his ski lessons, I discovered that I did better doing half runs from La Passe to Nansen Bas, and Jeremy and John enjoyed skiing together.
We had lunch in the hotel together, then headed back out for more runs. Against my better judgement, I decided to try skiing Franc Sud to La Algonquin (still admittedly a beginner slope), but I quickly discovered that I was too tired to manage the steepness with the snail pace that I like to ski. It took me a long time to get down, but the boys loved the “gentle” slopes that allowed them to pick up more speed than the other side of the mountain.
The Le Soleil lift had a long line to go back up, but eventually we made it up. From here, Jeremy and James set out together, while John (faster) and I (slower) each took independent paths back down the mountain.
As we wrapped up, I returned my skis to Below Zero Rental, while Jeremy took the boys to Beavertails for hot chocolate.
We noticed on each subsequent day that the restaurant lines seemed to get longer, earlier. In the evening, the line was too long at the pizza place that we wanted to try, so we decided to make frozen pizzas from the grocery store at the hotel. To our surprise, they were quite good! What a relaxing and enjoyable evening.
Departure & Montreal
In the morning, we had a leisurely breakfast in the apartment, then packed up. Checkout was supposed to be done by phone, but they were clearly swamped and not picking up the phone.
On the way home, we made a lunch stop in Montreal. Since we had been here before, we had some idea of where to go without a lot of planning. A walk through the Old Port was delightful! If we hadn’t been so tired, we probably would have also made a stop at the Biodome.
After admiring some native crafts at Galarie Images Boreales, we stopped for lunch at L’Usine de Spaghetti, which was both cute and tasty. To our surprise, we learned that Charles Dickens wrote his original notes for The Tale of Two Cities in the back room of the restaurant that was there at the time! Definitely a place worth visiting!
Eventually, we wandered back to the Old City and continued our road trip back to Boston!
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Mont Tremblant!
Feel: If you are looking for a destination ski resort in Canada with a great village feel, consider Mont Tremblant.
Conditions: Mont Tremblant is far enough north that chances are high that there will be decent snow conditions.
Crowds: While Mont Tremblant is fairly close to Montreal, it is quite far from many other major cities, leaving it not quite as crowded as other ski resorts of this caliber.
Cost: The strong US dollar in 2022 helped in this regard. When looking at costs for ski lift passes, remember that prices are listed in Canadian dollars (1 US$ = 1.37 CA$ when we visited, though quoted prices do not include the ~15% sales tax, nor the 3% resort fee). If you want to stay in the village, expect lodging costs to be high, but a very reasonable value compared with something comparable in the US. The further away you stay from the village, the more reasonable hotel rates will become.
Let us know if you visit Mont Tremblant! We want to visit again and would love to hear about your experience – particularly hotels, restaurants, and activities.
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