Rx for Winter: the Laurentians for non-skiers

Photo credit: Nancy Berman

If you’re a skier, you have a ready-made strategy for making it through a Montreal winter. And God bless you for having the energy and strength and determination and money to schlep all of that equipment up north every weekend and join the crowds on the slopes. I admit I’ve had years where I’ve done this, and it does make the winter pass quickly and invigoratingly. But it costs a fortune, and you have to be organized, and you need transportation, and you need to suspend your disdain for the cold.


But if you choose not to ski, or skate, and you’re simply beyond trying to enjoy frigid temperatures and icy precipitation, it behooves you to carefully devise alternative methods for surviving until May. That being said, sometimes you can’t get out of an invitation to join friends or family at a chalet, and chalets can be of interest to the winter-hater, especially if they have a fireplace and a well-stocked bar and a hot tub. And if you find yourself in that situation, take advantage. But if you are coerced into venturing outside, and if you insist on resisting the ski slopes, then you need some advice. And my advice is: avoid Tremblant, unless you are very wealthy and very good at entertaining yourself in a contrived village with very little to do or buy and a movie theatre that only opens when the slopes close.


Photo credit: Nancy Berman

Photo credit: Nancy Berman

If you have the choice, choose somewhere closer to St. Sauveur than Tremblant. Because unless you love outdoor winter activities, there’s nothing to do in Tremblant that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, whereas in Sauveur, you can at least go shopping, either at the outlets or in the funky little boutiques, and drink and eat good food at a more reasonable price.


Lest you think me a curmudgeonly party pooper, I will mention that with a bit of planning, you can spend a lovely day snowshoeing anywhere in the Laurentians. But it is imperative that you plan ahead: buy, rent, or borrow your snowshoes ahead of time, choose a path and destination, and, most importantly, pack adequate nourishment and water. You are almost guaranteed to see deer if you venture into the wilderness, or even just onto a side street. And getting up close and personal with wildlife can sustain you for a few whole days of winter, especially if you’re prone to anthropomorphizing. If you’re a novice, try to recruit a more experienced hiker to navigate (and possibly find you equipment and, if you’re really lucky, even prepare the picnic).


But then be sure to retire to the chalet and resume your festive activities.


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