We had originally reserved a place at in the town of Mont-Tremblant about 10 km away, but at the last minute were able to get a three-night reservation at la Chouette - a ski-in, ski-out condo in the ski resort village. Although this reservation cost a little extra, it was a wash because it included breakfast, lunch, and a $100 discount with pre-bought lift tickets.
We arrived at Tremblant from Montreal around noon. It was a calm sunny day, at -8 C (about 18 F). We bought half-day tickets ($58 CDN) and on snowboards hit the main Versant Sud (south face) lifts, and one run on the Versant Nord (north face). Although there hadn’t been any new snow for about a week the snow, conditions were ideal and the lack of wind made it a warm up day. Averaging about 30 minutes a run (5-10 min lift-line, 10 min lift, 5-10 min quad-burning ski run), it had the right ski-rest ratio.
We regrouped at the room and then hit “Spag & Co” for an early, carb-packed pasta dinner. When we asked the waitress for places to party she said in her Quebecois accent, “There is but one place to go - le Petit Caribou!” We returned from dinner, cleaned up and prepared for the evening. We found the club at around 9 pm - it was spinning trance and had relatively small crowds. Instead we hit the Bar de l’Epoque, an 18+ club with a $10 cover that included 2 drinks and coat check. After polishing off the beverages, the place really started to look like a 14+ club and we moved on.
The notorious le Petit Caribou did not disappoint - there was a $5 CDN cover, and at around 11 pm the crowds really started to gather. The music had switched from trance to hip-hop and the dance party began. We reveled until 2 am and returned to the room happy and satisfied.
Up the next day at 7:30 am, we were ready for first lifts up the mountain. We took the gondola at 8:30 am to café at the base of the north side, hoping for breakfast with quick service and small crowds. It was a beautiful, calm sunny day at about -2 C (28 F). After the continental breakfast we headed to the lift that would bring us to a face called Le Edge. Our timing was perfect; the lift that serviced Le Edge opened at 9:30. This face had lots of expert terrain: bumps, advanced and intermediate glades. After doing several bumps and glades runs, we were tired and ready for some lunch and some blue cruisers.
After having burgers, fries and a Quebec specialty for lunch - poutine (french fries with cheese curds and topped with gravy), we hit the Versant Soliel (sunny face). It had some blue and black cruisers with the option of bumps. The only concern was this face turned into a massive sheet of ice as you approached the lift. We returned to the north side to hit the terrain park for some big air, and finally stuck to cruisers for the rest of the afternoon.
After a couple more runs, we returned to our rooms. We shopped around for a little bit in the massive alpine-village-themed resort. With over 15 restaurants, it was easily 3-4 times larger than the village at Snowshoe Mountain. It had its own two-screen movie theatre, several gear shops, as well as real estate offices. We ended up smoking some Cuban cigars near an outdoor fireplace, and eventually dined at the Microbrassarie de la Diable (devil’s microbrew) on some yummy European-style sausages, bratwurst, and tasty micro-brewed beer. After three days in a row of skiing (including Jay Peak the day before), we were a bit tired and crashed pretty early.
The first two days had picture-perfect weather and the only complaint was the lines. We expected it to be somewhat busy, and it turned out to be the busiest days Tremblant has ever had - an employee said that there were 14,000 people the first day, 14,500 people the second.
This all changed on the third day, New Year’s Eve. Rain. Fog. Three of us slogged out to go skiing and riding in 4 C (40 F) degree rainy weather. We decided that the quickly-changing weather probably played an important motivation for the resort offering a discount for pre-paid lift tickets. We had prepaid, so to get maximum value we braved the sloppy conditions. Thankfully there were no lines and the 8 person enclosed gondola ride that serviced the Versant Sud from the base of the village gave us enough time to wring out our soaked gloves. Considering the 20 km/h (15 mph) winds and that we couldn’t see more than 15 feet in front of us, it actually was a pretty good day -; we were limited to the cruisers but actually got the most runs in this day.
After skiing, we left the artificial ski mountain village to check out the Mont Tremblant Village, an area about 5 km away. There were several equipment stores, real estate offices, and several nice restaurants with special New Year’s menus. When making reservations it is important to note that Mont Tremblant Village (5 km away), the town of Mont Tremblant (10 km away), and the Mont Tremblant Resort Village (at the based of the mountain) are three different and distinct areas.
We headed back to the resort village and hit the creperie for dinner and New Year’s festivities. Because of continued inclement weather, the New Year’s extravaganza was moved up to start at 8:30, and included a trick and synchronized skiing show put on by ski school instructors, followed by a fireworks show that reflected on the slopes. We continued to revel late into the night, encountering $75 CND cover at le Petit Caribou (pass), $50 CND cover at Bar de l’Epoque (pass), and $20 CND cover at The Microbrewery (yep, pass). We ended up celebrating the New Year at the pizza place’s bar and in the resort village where, with no cover, they still gave out free champagne.
The trip felt like a slightly artificial version of a trip to the Alps. Although we were at a French-Canadian Ski resort, nearly all the guests we encountered were primarily English speakers. It turns out that many people were on holiday from Toronto (6 hours), and Ottawa (2 hours), as well as from places in the US.
After planning and having Tremblant trips fall through for two winters in a row, there were a lot of expectations built up for this trip. After finally making out, my expectations were met - good skiing, a psuedo-euro experience, crazy partying, and a New Year with my best friends. You know it’s been a good vacation when you get back and have to take a week off to recover from it!
Jon Hsieh is an avid twenty-something skier and snowboard rider. He loves glades, bumps, and the après ski. In his spare time he enjoys cycling, rock climbing, and running.