There is nothing quite as breathtaking than the dramatic changes brought by Summer into Fall. The explosion of colors, cold air creeping in and the golden light cast upon everything the sun touches. This is of course if you’re lucky enough to catch the small window of opportunity to experience Fall at its best! And what better place to do just that than in the province of Quebec through the Laurentian Mountains.
Having spent a few days exploring the city of Montreal, it was time to give up our tourist status and transform into explorers of the local lands. We hired a car for the weekend and headed out towards the mountains. If you’re familiar with this blog, or you have read about me, you’ll know just how much the mountains are an important part of my life! But for this trip, I was probably more interested in catching the Fall colors and ambience that French Canada so beautifully has to offer.
Welcome to the Laurentians!
The Laurentians (Laurentides in French) is an area of Quebec that is hugely popular for its outdoor activities and vast, wide open spaces. North of Montreal, it is home to a number of major communities including the famous ski resort of Mont-Tremblant. And whilst this town is a postcard perfect destination, there is a lot to see and do along the way. It only takes 1 hour 20 minutes from Montreal to Mont-Tremblant, passing by Saint-Jérôme and well, a lot more other Saintes! Our stop: Sainte-Adèle, a little village also famous for its slopes and hotel industry.
Hotel Le Chantecler is one of the most striking aspects of Sainte-Adèle, set on the lake and surrounded by what becomes the pistes of winter. But whilst this iconic hotel looks an incredible place to stay, we had taken the plunge and decided to launch ourselves into the Air BNB community for the first time. As a result, we found ourselves secluded in the woods with running water directly from the source and a tranquillity that was all too welcoming. Our decision to stay in Air BNB accommodation was affordable and perfectly located. It is also the perfect option for a simple stop-over on the way to your final destination. Or, even as a local for a small weekend getaway.
What to do?
Activities in the Laurentians’ mostly depend on the time of year that you visit. However, as I mentioned before, you will find that the majority of what this stunning area has to offer happens outdoors. From the miles of hiking and bike trails exploitable to the quaint town in which to dine, we found ourselves in traveller’s haven. Especially during one of the most aesthetically pleasing times of the year. I had originally considered a day in the towns well known Nordic spa; Auberge et Spa Beaux Reves. But whilst I would have loved to have had such a unique experience, we couldn’t refuse making the most of our time exploring the nature of Sainte- Adèle. So instead, we took to the mountains on Horseback. A fantastic experience that was so much fun and gave us sublime scenery to feast our eyes upon. This was definitely the highlight of our weekend! In the evening, as it was the end of September, we were able to participate in the town’s beer festival. This was the perfect opportunity to taste not only some of the local breweries produce, but to discover a range of hydromel. Rum, vodka, whiskey…all of which made locally from a little, family business.
Aside from the stunning autumnal colors, Sainte-Adèle is a great place if you’re a lover of nature. During one of our short drives out along the windy roads and through the forest of trees, we came to what looked like a charming park. An alley of trees alongside the road with fields that extended way beyond. Apart from one other car, we were once again isolated in the tranquillity of the Laurentians. As the car came to a halt and we descended, we were welcomed by a small herd of deer, who weren’t afraid to show their curiosity! I have never got so close to these gentle animals who quite happily took leaves from our hands and licked our fingers in return. Continuing through the park we stumbled upon lake as well as a small gathering of deserted buildings, resting before the rush of winter tourism.
The heart of the Laurentians
After checking out the ‘Saintes’ of the Laurentians, our trip wouldn’t have been complete without a glimpse of one of the most exciting ski resorts in the province; Mont-Tremblant. Even though it was inter-season, the hustle and bustle of the town that I like to call a mini ‘Whistler’ was enough to get us buzzing. Of course a couple of days isn’t nearly enough time to have some real fun, especially in the September rain. But simply having a browse around the shops and restaurants of the village left us wanting to return under more vacation like circumstances.
The perfect getaway
Although a trip to the Laurentians was not exactly the focus of our trip to Montreal, it was certainly the best weekend getaway we’ve had. It’s one of those places that has so much to explore, yet is so relaxed and serene that anyone would be quite happy to call it home. Or at least a home away from home. If you’re heading to the area any time soon, make sure to check out the local ranches or riding centers, as a horse ride here is absolutely a must. And if you do get around to relaxing at that Nordic Spa I mentioned, let me know what it’s like 😉.
Have you been to the Laurentians? What was your highlight of this awesome place? Let us know in the comments section below!