Visiting Mont-Tremblant With a Dog – Quebec, Canada
The bipeds are spontaneous. I don’t say this lightly. Allow me to prove it by sharing a snippet of conversation I overheard one morning, moments after the bipeds had awakened and made coffee. They were sitting on the couch, still in their pajamas.
Dad: What do you mean you’ve never been to Mont-Tremblant?
Mom: I haven’t. It just never seems to work out. [sips her coffee]
Dad: You’ve lived in this region how long?
Mom: Umm … Let me think … Since November 1997. Babe? Why?
Dad: Get dressed.
Mom: What? Now?!
Dad: Yes. Now. We are rectifying this situation immediately.
Like I said: spontaneous.
This is how, instead of spending the day on the sailboat as originally planned, the bipeds and I ended up in the car on our way to Mont-Tremblant on what started off as a sunny, glorious, early September day. The drive is about 140 kilometers (that’s 87 miles) away from Ottawa. In less than two hours, we had arrived … to a now very dark and overcast sky. But the adventure was underway and nothing was going to stop us!
Note: If you have not been to Mont-Tremblant in a while (or ever), you will be happy to know that the new road to Mont-Tremblant is awesome. The road has lost most of the crazy hairpin turns and squiggles, and is now a well-paved, more-or-less straight line.
Today, Mont-Tremblant is most famous for its ski resorts. But it wasn’t always the case. Some people may know Mont-Tremblant from further back in the day, when the town hosted Formula One, Can-Am, Trans-Am, and Champ Car World Series competitions.
The track, Circuit Mont-Tremblant, is still open. For those who love to drive very, very fast, you can rent a time slot and take your car on the track for a spin. Even better, some companies (such as Ferrari) host events at which you can learn race driving and then take out one of their models for a drive on the course. It’s expensive but I hear that it can be a thrill.
On our gloomy September day visit, we saw folks who were at Mont-Tremblant for its wealth of summer outdoor activities: hiking, cycling, canoeing and golfing, just to name a few. Mont-Tremblant also hosts triathletes training for Ironman competitions. (I’ll give that a pass: I haven’t found a bicycle small enough for me and I really dislike swimming!) Skiing and other winter activities will begin in Mont-Tremblant late in November, if weather cooperates. For those wanting to swing from the trees, Mont-Tremblant offers a new year-round Zipline and Ariel games course at Tremblant Adventure Course.
Despite the weather, we had a lovely time during our visit. The town is dog friendly; the shops let me in and the shopkeepers even came to pet me and chat. I was allowed everywhere in town as long as I was on leash, so we enjoyed the flower beds, fantastic pedestrian roads, and little courtyards found everywhere. Chipmunks were dashing across the pathways and there were plenty of birds in the trees chirping away. It did all feel somewhat artificial in the way I imagine places like Vegas or Disney feel. Yet, Mont-Tremblant also has charm. Thought has gone into planning and maintaining the resort and it is kept meticulously clean.
There is a funicular that takes you from the foot of the town to its center square. Rides are free. Although not dog friendly, the bipeds managed to talk my way on board, so give it a try: it worked for us! A much larger funicular takes you to the top of Mont-Tremblant proper, but this is not dog friendly at all and rides were about $16 per person at the time of our visit. That was a little too rich for us.
We were growing discouraged by the lack of sun and the no-dog status and high prices on the bigger funiculars, so we decided to find a place for lunch. This is always the test of dog friendliness for us when visiting a town.
The terraces were still open but the first post-summer chill was proving to be a little colder than we found comfortable for sitting outdoors. What, then, to do? Surprisingly, we found a place serving very good soups and Panini that allowed me inside! Mont-Tremblant went way up in our esteem at that point!
Refreshed and energized after our meal, we decided to burn off some of the calories. Heading towards the foot of the Mountain, we found a trail and set off for a climb.
It is important to note that all trails are marked with “no dogs” signs; nonetheless, we spotted three dogs – all much larger than me – heading onto the trails. So we decided to also ignore the signs and take the risk.
What a fantastic trail it was! We got everything: amazing big rocks, giant trees, waterfalls, little bridges, stairs and planks. When we made it about half way up, we stepped into a clearing and there, bellow us, was the town. What a sight with all the pretty colored roofs and crisp buildings. Behind the town is a lake with a little island, and deep dark forest all around. There was just a hint of the fall colors in the leaves already.
Mom mumbled something about wishing the sun was out for better photos (Mom, always with her camera). Dad hugged her and gave her a kiss; that put a smile on her face and stirred contentment with taking in what was before us. I heard the bipeds breathe deeply and sigh. We’ll be back; we will see this all covered in snow someday.
We finished hiking the trail. The forest smelled different than the one in the Gatineau hills closer to home. I had the most amazing time. I was like a crazy boy unleashed. The bipeds were careful, keeping an ear out for the sounds of bears. Yup, bears. Fear not, nothing happened and we returned to the town happy, well exercised and ready to head home.
We walked around the pedestrian streets one last time. Mom pointed out pretty details including some fun urban designs such as grass seats for an outdoor theater in a small side street courtyard. The bipeds grabbed some coffees and we headed back to our car in the parking lot. (Note: Parking at Mont-Tremblant is not free.) I settled in my booster seat and watched the scenery wiz past as we drove home … well, until I got sleepy and dozed off.
Why is being spontaneous so much fun? We always seem to have the best time when we do this. My theory is that when you travel this way, you don’t have time to build up expectations. As a result, you just live the experience for what it is and remain open to whatever might happen.
Have you ever gone someplace on a whim? Was it fun?