The mountains north of Montreal are an untapped resource. In the fall, the leaves weave quilts of fiery color. In the winter, a blanket of snow (read: ice) envelops the trees and hills. In the summer, the mountains are a playground for hiking, watersports, horseback riding, and general outdoorsiness. But I rarely hear of people from my city heading up to these mountains – The Laurentians – for a getaway. With such beautiful terrain, what’s the hold up?
Because it’s COLD. I’ve been to the famed Quebec ski resort Tremblant in the dead of winter to snowboard. While I’m glad I went because I love to snowboard, it was by far the coldest most miserable cold I’ve EVER experienced. EVER. (I’m sorry Quebec, but you know it’s true!) It was even colder than anything on my trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. So, like really really cold. And icy too. I was terrified for my life on nearly every run on the mountain. I kept saying to myself, “Self, if you make it down this mountain in one piece, vow you will come back here in the summertime and see what it’s like without all of this ice and wind.”
This summer, I finally got my chance. After a whirlwind 20 hours in Montreal spent eating baguettes, we arrived at Auberge du Lac Morency for a weekend of family and French-Canadian mountain goodness. And it was just that.
So what is there to do in these mountains? I’ll tell you.
The mountains here are more like the Adirondacks than they are like the Rockies in the west, but there are still some great trails with some fantastic views. Depending on where you are staying, they range from easy to strenuous. We went on a few walks – one which had a nice view over Morency Lake (Lac Morency for you Frenchies.)
Get out on the water.
There are quite a few lakes in the Laurentians so you should probably find someway to enjoy them. Swim, canoe, kayak, peddleboat, waterski – whatever. Just pick one. As I love paddleboarding and kayaking, I spent a bit of time paddling around the lake as well as sitting in a kayak to the middle of the lake just to take in the stillness.
They do make wine in Quebec. And the Auberge du Lac Morency grows grapes on site and will be making their own wine very soon. For now though, the hotel’s director (and sommelier) has put together a very impressive wine cellar on the property. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are into wine.
But more impressive, even for this wine lover, was the local beer. Quebec brewery Dieu du Ciel! knocks it out of the park with their stouts, in my opinion. If I’m drinking beer, it is usually a stout. Heading to the brewery to try their Péché Mortel and Aphrodisiaque brews on tap was a nice treat.
The microbrewery in St-Jérôme sells bottles by the 4 and 6 pack and also serves great food in the restaurant. It’s essentially on the way in or out Montreal from the general mountain area, so stopping here for a beer or a meal is easy.
Relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Quebec is not warm for much of the year so when it is warm, spend the whole time outside. Sit in a chair, hang by the pool/lake, dine al fresco. Take in a summer sunset or two.
As I am always surrounded by urban sprawl at home in Brooklyn, I cherish my time out in nature. Hence lots of flowers photos.
It’s not hard to appreciate the details of the Laurentian mountains when they are so pretty. But for such a limited amount of time.