January 3, 2012

The Mountains Becken

Mont Tremblant is a short drive away – only 1 ½ hours by car, and depending on which way you drive from Ottawa, it can be quite scenic. Actually, whether you go through the hills in Gatineau and Ripon or Montebello, it’s still scenic. Mont Tremblant is so close, yet we had never been. Family and friends have condos/cottages there or go there frequently, yet we always went somewhere else. By June both The Honey and I were dying for a holiday and we set upon Mont Tremblant – it was close enough for a weekend, but far enough away from home.

Mont Tremblant is one of the places to go for skiing, but since we don’t ski it’s a place for us to do some hiking and relaxing. Here in Ottawa we have hills, and while they are a decent size the Gatineaus are not mountains. Locals may think they’re mountains, but I’ve seen the Rockies at Whistler and the Gatineaus don’t compare. Hearing about the mountains in Tremblant I was unsure what to expect – real mountains or big hills. Well, It was nice to see some mountains – not ginormous, but big enough to put a smile on my face.


With us looking for a getaway we just wanted to relax and wander around with no goal in mind. Upon checking into our hotel we were surprised to see a little kitchenette in our room (I hadn’t selected a kitchenette option since the booking said breakfast was included) and we wished we had brought some goodies with us for the fridge (gf and alcohol-wise). After settling in we wandered throughout the resort popping into some of the shops (not finding many deals) and checking out some of the restaurants for dinner and breakfast. We quickly noticed that none of the restaurants served breakfast. Back at the hotel I asked the front desk and was told that no one serves breakfast and that’s why every room has a kitchenette. I was screwed. We continued to wander around and checked out the village shop for breakfast goodies (if worse came to worse, we’d be back for yogurt).


Our first lunch was at Spag & Co. where I got a nice chicken salad. It was fresh and tasty and kept me full until well into the evening. The pool at our hotel closed early our first night (for cleaning) and so we continued to wander around working on those muscles going up and down the resort. At 6pm we noticed the shops were beginning to close down (yes, at 6pm on a Friday!!) making us concerned that the whole resort was going to shut down. We quickly found the SAQ and picked up a few beverages and then some snacks at the village shop. Thankfully the restaurants were staying open and after dropping off our purchases we returned to the base of the mountain to Le Shack. The menu was decent and there were a few options that could be done gluten-free. We settled in on the patio with a good view of the plaza and the stag. We had seen a schedule that some bands were going to play, but as the patio began to be packed up later in the evening, the bands weren’t anywhere in sight (and neither was a parade that we had also read about). It seemed as though this trip was going to be really relaxing. It was an early evening as we wanted to get a day in of hiking and figure out if there was anywhere to go for breakfast.

 With the fresh air we had an early morning (why does fresh air always do that?!) and ventured to a small café that we found in the tourist booklet (Brûlerie St Denis). They had a variety of items for breakfast, and for a price. There were two egg options that were quasi-gluten-free, and I’m sure if I asked, I could have had some substitutions. Instead The Honey and swapped his fruit for my bread. Breakfast was the perfect size, filling but wouldn’t weigh us down while hiking. We had come to the conclusion that getting some gf options wouldn’t be a problem, but it wasn’t going to be cheap (breakie for two with coffee was $35).

As we ate breakfast we saw a crowd of runners become larger and larger. There was a major event going on that weekend (and almost every weekend in the summer months) with running, biking and paddling. The shortest run was 13kms and the longest for biking was 100km – not for me thank you.  We made our way to the info centre where we got a map for the mountain paths and was assured by the attendant that the runners wouldn’t be on the same paths. We would find out later that he would be dead wrong.

We took the gondola to the top of the mountain where we couldn’t help but be awe-struck by the view: Mountains as far as you could see and varying shades of green; Lakes that were quite large looking so small; the sun shining made everything seem heavenly. We asked ourselves why it had taken us so long to come.

With our map we started down some trails and one of the nice things is there are so many and most join up to each other. It was great as we could wander wherever we wanted. Well, to a point. We were in ‘bear country’ after all.

It wasn’t too long when we began meeting runners. They were on the same trails and there wasn’t enough room for everyone. We would quickly step off the path to let them pass, but as an environmentalist it really irked me. At one point I had nearly stepped on a beautiful lady’s slipper when moving out of the way (thank goodness for a nearby tree that I could grab and shift my weight and feet). They are such beautiful flowers and so rare that it would have been horrible had I damaged it in any way.

It taught me to keep an eye out and we continually saw things of beauty.

How these people ran on the trails is beyond me as they were sometimes difficult for walking – stones, tree roots, uneven ground. When we met up with the utility road we walked along there for a bit (a small mistake) and without any tree covering we were in direct sunlight and it was so hot. Thankfully we had sunscreen that was not only a high SPF, but also sweat-proof. The road was also made of stones and rocks which made it very hard for walking. Even in our hiking boots it was really difficult. Maneuvering around and over roots and stones was better than the road and finally we found another trail. It gave us the shade we needed and the views were much better.

We came across little creeks and a waterfall that had smoothed all the rocks. The water felt so cool and refreshing.

At the end we were surrounded by butterflies. It was such a sight. They were flying around us and sunning themselves on rocks. We continually saw things we don’t see every day.

Hot and tired we made our way back to the hotel where we wanted to relax at the pool. Not only were we hot and sweaty (a pretty picture, isn’t it?), but our muscles were quite sore. After three hours of hiking a cool pool and loungers were what was needed.

Our tummies began rumbling and we realized we needed some lunch. We wandered to the cottages-turned-restaurants and went into Yahoo, a little pizzeria. While The Honey got a great pizza, I got the most delicious looking Greek salad. It was so fresh and crisp. We continued to relax a bit, The Honey sipping on his pint and me on my mini pitcher of Sangria – a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon. Later we ventured to the luge ride, which was a lot of fun (next time we’ll get the multi-ride deal). To end the day we took the last trip up the mountain in the gondola. It was so peaceful looking out over the mountains. I couldn’t help sighing.

For dinner we settled on Lafarge, at the base. Although it looked quite nice, the food was really disappointing. The Honey wasn’t impressed with his dinner and my chili was drowning in cheese (I’ve never seen that much cheese on chili!!). After dinner we felt like hanging out somewhere else. A few of the cottages were happening with good music, either live or via speakers, but they were both full. After wandering around a bit more the Devil Brew Pub finally had some free tables on their patio. Their beer list made me drool – all made there and so many kinds – unfortunately no cider or gf beer. The waiter was surprised when I got wine until I explained I was allergic to it (Oh how I miss having fabulous brewpub-beer!!!). Relaxing on a patio in the cool mountain air was a nice way to end a hot day.

Finding breakfast on our last morning proved to be a challenge. The little café where we had gone the morning before was full of cyclists taking up every table (either for themselves or their gear). It was their turn to tackle the mountain. We made our way to the top of the resort and the café there only had pastries so we ventured further to the Fairmont. We knew it would be expensive, but we also knew it would be delicious. The Fairmont had an elaborate buffet in their beautiful dining room and we dined well. While The Honey ate to his heart’s content on anything and everything, I had to be more selective and it was easy. I had an omelet prepared for me and I had some fresh fruit, smoked salmon and cheeses. I found that there was enough for me to choose from. Of course it was much smaller than the selection the Honey had, but I was still happy and content. And although it cost us $25 each, we left full and pleased with our breakfast.

Our stay at Tremblant was officially over as we packed up the car and made our way home through the mountains. It was a relaxing weekend and gave us a chance to get-away from our hectic lives. Now that I know a bit more, I know to bring some goodies with me, either as snacks or breakfast. Also, the Fairmont hotels are quite accommodating for their celiac guests, so if you call ahead, they may be able to have something special for you, even if you aren’t staying with them. Further afield in Tremblant Village(10 mins by car) is a health food store (Rachelle Bery) that has gluten-free foods and a Metro for groceries.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the lovely commentary about your trip to Mt. Tremblant. My husband and I are leaving tomorrow for the same type of trip and we are both GF. It really helps to hear various tips from like minded people who have the same dietary challenges. Your writing is descriptive and informative, thank you for an enjoyable read. S Ludvig

Pickles said...

Have a lovely trip!

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