With mountains and hundreds of beautiful lakes, the Laurentians, also known as les Laurentides, offer superb fishing, golfing, wonderful fall foliage, cool summer nights and gorgeous mountain scenery.
Visitors go to this region primarily to enjoy the French Canadian villages, which have charming accommodations and outstanding regional cuisine. Located north of Montreal, The Laurentians are also one of Quebec's prime ski areas. Though the resorts and mountains are small (by Rocky Mountain standards), the plentitude of amenities draws thousands of skiers yearly.
Northwest of Montreal is St. Eustache, where there are many historic buildings, including the Moulin Legare (a water-powered flour mill). From there, go east on Highway 640 and pick up either Highway 117 or the speedier Highway 15, which are the main routes from Montreal that pass through the Laurentians. About 30 mi/50 km to the northwest is St. Sauveur des Monts, a trendy resort village filled with restaurants, boutiques, a factory outlet mall and water parks.
Near the village are several ski areas, including Mont St. Sauveur and Mont Avila. Combination lift passes allow you to ski several of the resorts in one package. Night skiing is an especially popular activity on these slopes, with lots of lit areas available. The dining and shopping establishments in the St. Sauveur Valley are also top-notch and may be more of a draw than the ski conditions.
During summer in Piedmont, children will enjoy the Cascades d'Eau, a large waterslide park. The birthplace of mountain climbing in Quebec is Val-David, now also known for its art galleries.
Mont Tremblant, the highest peak in the Laurentians (2,130 ft/650 m), is home to the Parc de Recreation du Mont Tremblant, a place of lakes, rivers and waterfalls. The Mont Tremblant ski resort has been open since 1939, when North America's second chairlift was built there. The ski runs cater to everyone from novice to hotshot. The mountain overlooks the European-style village, which has cobblestoned streets lined with hotels and brightly painted buildings containing rental apartments, restaurants, bars and boutiques. Beginners will find an excellent teaching program on some of the lower slopes.
Near Mont Tremblant is Gray Rocks, a tradition for many English-speaking Montreal families who go to play tennis and golf in summer in addition to skiing in winter. Cross-country skiing is also very popular in the Laurentians: Many of the communities are linked by cross-country trails as well as by a 125-mi/200-km path that follows the bed of an old railway track. From spring to fall, the rail bed is a favorite cycling trail. The Laurentians begin 130 mi/210 km west of Quebec City.
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