Put your weight towards the toe of your binding – more forwards then backwards – that’s right. Now imagine you’re holding a box – a breakable gift – and ski,’ said my guide, Jean-Luc. Wearing a helmet, goggles and face mask, Jean-Luc looked like an Alpine version of Top Gear’s the Stig. In reality, he’s a ski host at the resort of Tremblant in Quebec, eastern Canada, who’s there to show holidaymakers like me around the slopes. I hadn’t been skiing for a while and I needed to rediscover my skiing confidence, but soon, thanks to Jean-Luc’s pointers,I was whizzing down the well- groomed, long, intermediate slopes of Tremblant North Side, helped by forgiving Unlike in many European resorts, the easier runs aren’t relegated to the bottom. so you get a marvellous feeling of travelling and can soak up the magnificent, far- reaching mountain views as you go.
CONQUERING THE DOWNHILL
Jean-Luc suggested lunch away from the busy Grand Manitou restaurant where we’d had a morning hot chocolate. He led me to Le Refuge, a wooden hut tucked in the trees on the Sunny Side area. Its small menu doesn’t detract from its charming, cosy ambience and if you’re lucky you’ll be serenaded by Richard, a former mountain guide, who sings and plays guitar.Feeling warm and replete, we layered up again to head back into the bracing -17°C mountain air. This time, we headed for one of the many express lifts to the South Side (there are four mountain faces to explore) to try the blue runs there. As the afternoon progressed, Jean-Luc said. ‘You know, your skiing is fine – you can easily do black diamonds!’ They’re for advanced skiers, while double black diamonds are for experts. Before tackling my first black diamond, Jean-Luc gave me another tip. ‘Don’t look down when you’re on steep slopes. Keep your eyes on the trees as you turn and you won’t be scared.’ It worked well – I was feeling more at home on my skis. ‘Keep up the good work,’ yelled Jean-Luc as he raced past me on our final black run to the village. As I caught up with him, breathless with elation, we high-fived.
Travel to Mont-Tremblant Canada Photo Gallery
With a total of 96 runs and 14 lifts in its four sectors, Tremblant has plenty to keep most downhill skiers and snowboarders busy for a week, but with loads of other activities on offer, I didn’t want to miss out. The next day. I swapped my carving skis and short poles for skinny cross-country skis and long poles. My guide. Pierre-Alexandre, took me by car to nearby Domaine St Bernard (taxis are readily available too).There, you’ll find trails for all abilities through forests, alongside lakes and beside Le Diable river. I’d tried this type of skiing a few times before, so Pierre-Alexandre and I followed a delightful 4 km loop through the trees, making an off-piste detour. It’s hard work making your own tracks than on a groomed trail, so there’s no chance of feeling cold! The path was undulating, with the chance for lovely descents and thigh-burning climbs, herringbone style. Back on the trail, we came to a clearing in the forest with benches and a log fire where skiers rest. It’s teaming with wildlife here, so bring seed for the birds or a carrot for the deer. Stand still with the seed in your hand – a bird will land, perch on a finger and peck away or the deer will take a carrot from you. It’s a magical experience.
Not content with two activities. I also tried snowshoeing! Putting ‘tennis racquets’ on your feet and hiking up the mountain among the silver birches is an energetic alternative to skiing. I went on a group excursion to look for snow holes where deer spend the night, plus fox tracks and woodpecker holes. Our guide, Richard, was like a Canadian Bear GryLls and took delight in showing us how to make a native fire using a mushroom that grows on trees| bark, twigs and a ‘flicker’ – two metal rods rubbed together – to create a flame.
TIME TO RELAX
There’s so much going on in Tremblant that s finding time to relax is a must, and the lovely Scandinave Spa is the perfect place for chilling out. Set in the pine forest beside the river, it’s a series of saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, cold pools and showers and relaxation rooms where total silence is the rule. The spa specialises in hydrotherapy where hot and cold water is used to stimulate the body to help relieve stress, soothe aching muscles and improve circulation. You start in a hot tub, sauna or steam room for 10-15 minutes, submerge yourself in a cold pool or plunge into the icy river, then relax for 10-15 minutes. The Zero Gravity Pavilion was my favourite spot to do this – lounging on a reclining chair covered in a blanket while sipping ginger tea. listening to soothing music and gazing at the deer outside was truly uplifting. You repeat the cycle three or four times and leave with your body tingling and mind alert.
Apres-ski in Tremblant isn’t wild, but the town’s so compact that it’s lovely to wander around the colourful purpose-built village with a French feel. It’s mere minutes from your hotel to the restaurants, ranging from Asian fusion food at O Wok to fine dining at the upmarket Fairmont Tremblant hotel (creme brûlee to die for!), and bars – don’t miss the seven-beer sampler menu at Le Diable microbrewery. You can also go ice-skating, dog sledding, mountain biking, snowmobiling, tubing and ice climbing. In my short stay. I’d got a real taste of Tremblant’s delights, but there’s so much to do I can’t wait to go back.
A week B&B in the Marriott Residence Inn, Tremblant, with Crystal is from £880 pp inc flights and transfers; crystal ski.co.uk. Or book direct: a studio at the Marriott is from around £73 per night. Return Air Canada flights from London Heathrow to Montreal start from £460.96; aircanada.com. Mont-Tremblant Express shuttle from airport to resort; skyport international.com.Visit tremblant.ca and quebec original.com.
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