Photo Essay: Winter Wonderland in Montreal and Mont Tremblant

December 30, 2013

This year we spent our Christmas Eve with my boyfriend’s family in Montreal, and on Christmas morning headed to Mont Tremblant for a few days of skiing. The Canadian province of Quebec borders New York state, and Montreal is only about a six-hour drive from New York City. This geographic closeness belies the distinctness in language, climate, culture, and of course, food.

The Québécois are notoriously proud of their heritage, and the moment you cross the border you see their flag everywhere (white cross on azure, between four white fleurs-de-lis). Apparently the fleurs-de-lis are not taken from the royal flag of the Bourbons, who used golden lilies, not white ones, but the French influence is still palpable. On our first day at the resort, we got into an elevator with another visitor, who started asking my boyfriend about the lifts. When boyfriend answered in French, the man asked, “Vous êtes canadien ou américain?” Hearing his answer, the man said with relief, “Canadien? C’est bon!”* Perhaps only a minor episode–but as someone who moved halfway across the world at a young age, I’d learned to observe and make inferences about national character; and this man’s clear satisfaction at speaking to another Québécois even in an elevator, spreading across his Gallic face, was the quintessence of the French Canadian spirit.

That is not to say, however, that people in Quebec are not also generous, almost universally polite, and generally open-minded, especially in Montreal. Most people in Montreal are perfectly bilingual, which makes travel easy, and there is no lack of vegan food options in this eclectic and bohemian city. Most organic stores (look for the word biologique) carry lots of vegan, gluten-free, and other healthy options. In restaurants, say that you’re “végétarien.” (“I don’t eat dairy”: Je ne prends pas de produits de lait.) On packaged goods, look for these labels: sans produits de lait (dairy free), sans beurre (butter free), biologique et naturel (organic and natural).

But most of all, nature lovers will find plenty to enjoy in the mountains, which are not as high and majestic as those on the West Coast, but full of charm and soft, ice-free snow.

 

*-Are you Canadian or American? -Canadian? That’s good!

Mont Tremblant

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2014, Mont Tremblant is one of the oldest ski resorts in North America, with a charming pedestrian village right at the foot of the slopes. You can even ski down straight from the peak to your hotel.

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The snow-covered village is decked out in holiday spirit, including elves and once, a white-tailed deer that came down to search for food!

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After a morning of skiing in fresh, powdery slopes, we stopped for lunch at Fluide

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Vegan Thai coconut soup

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Vege wrap with nut pate and sea veggies. yum!

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In the afternoon we went to another cafe for some mulled wine, perfect for warming up after a cold day on the slopes

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When you get tired of skiing, there is free ice skating on a lake from morning to night

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Our hotel, Ermitage du Lac, was right next to the charming Chapelle Saint-Bernard (right).

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If you’re still hungry after dinner, there are a couple of options (skiing burns a lot of calories!): poutine, which is French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds, and sweets. You can get maple candy that’s made by pouring syrup on top of fresh snow and rolling it after it hardens. (I got a taste of poutine by getting the fries with veggie gravy and no cheese curds. Delicious, but definitely an indulgence.)

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Voila! now you have a maple candy!

Instead of driving all the way back from Mont Tremblant to New York City (at least an 8-hour drive), we stopped by Montreal.

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Our friends insisted that Aux Vivres on boulevard Saint-Laurent is the best vegan restaurant in Montreal, so we had to check it out.

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One thing I noticed about vegan food in Montreal is that vegepate is extremely popular.

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We opted to do the take out. I ordered their signature Dragon Bowl: shredded beets, carrots, turnip slices, sprouts, greens, and grilled tofu on a bed of brown rice, served with their famous dragon sauce. I’ve had lots of bowls in my day but this was a 10/10.

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My boyfriend had Aux Vivres burger, which was served with delicious Montreal cole slaw and perfect potato wedges.

 

Plan Your Trip

Mont Tremblant

Ermitage du Lac: 4-star boutique hotel. Continental breakfast, comfortable rooms and free ski valet.

Fluide Juice Bar: Open for breakfast and lunch. Organic, raw, vegan, and vegetarian options, and extensive juice menu. Soup of the day is very good, as is the raw vegan brownie. 🙂

Spag & Co: Hearty, excellent pasta and pizza menu. The vegan fettuccine primavera with grilled vegetables and garlic sauce is delicious and perfectly al dente. We may or may not have gone here two days in a row.

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Aux Vivres: Casual and light-filled dining room with open kitchen, and good take-out option. Try the Dragon Bowl, or their famous vegan BLT sandwich on chapatti (Indian flat bread).

 

How did you spend your Christmas week, peaceful dumplings?

Also in Travel: 7 Dream Adventures for Nature Lovers

New England Charm, Hiking, and Apple Picking in Connecticut

Vegan Vacation in Portland, Oregon

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Photo: Peaceful Dumpling

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Originally from Portland, Oregon, Juhea now lives in NYC with her Oreo cookie cat, Zeus. When she is not writing, she enjoys running in Central Park, yoga, and teaching Barre classes. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, Google+ and Pinterest.

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