I’d read about a resort town north of Montreal which was listed as a great place to experience the foliage of the Laurentian range, so I made my way in the morning to the lakeside town of Mont-Tremblant. Mont-Tremblant town is a beautiful small town on the lake with nice shops, cafes, and cottages, while further up the road is the village of the same name which is a designed ski resort town on the edge of the national park of, you guessed it, the same name.
Now, big surprise here, I have never been skiing and but imagine I’d like the sitting by the fire part of ski trips. I have, however, been to many a ski slope in summer to enjoy the trails. This town reminded me of a Disney World entrance, a little too cohesive and colorful, where you know everything is overpriced and a tourist trap, but you don’t mind because that’s why you’re here. So cute.
I took the free gondola to the base of the mountain, chose a hiking route, and set off up the steep slope overlooking the town. Once I left the main path it was very peaceful with a barrage of orange and red leaves at every turn for quite some time. I happened upon a family of deer near a waterfall, obviously used to people because they did not care one bit that I was crossing right by their fawn. Up and up, with occasional views of the town, lake, and hills, until finally the top opened up with its many ski lift termini and shops. Windy but picturesque. I imagine it would be gorgeous in the snow, but the leaves are a hard sight to beat.
Going down was… less fun. The route was called the ‘Grand Prix de Colours’ so I thought to myself, great, I’ll take this meandering route up and then the color path directly back. Bad idea, Mary, did you forgot this was a ski slope and it would be straight down?? Yes. Yes I did. My knees were unhappy with me after shuffling down trying not to slide on the gravel and inadvertently body sled down.
Anyway, after that nice jaunt went into Montreal city for the evening. Found a place to shower for free during open swim time at a University student center (side note: forgot my towel in my excitement to be clean. Had to dry off with my dirty hiking shirt. Hey, it worked…) in the pool locker room and was actually mistaken for a student. Ha! Not today, wrinkles.
Walked around the neighborhood getting a sense of the city nightlife, which was super slow, so much that I didn’t want to be the only person having a snack or drink in the place, until around 9 when then everything was crazy crowded and I didn’t want to awkwardly be shoved into a corner in the throng of Friday night fun. If it were a primarily English speaking area I think it would have been different but the weekend corwn plus language barrier was one too many for me, so I got some take out vegetarian poutine to get the Montreal experience (spicy mac & cheese variety at the manager’s suggestion), ate in a pedestrian street park, and then parked by a riverside park for the night.
Did a little tour of the ciry the next day, drove past this weird building, the giant Ferris wheel, the biodome thingy, the Notre-Dame Basilica, through some of the enclosed shopping and subway areas, and just around town.
Aside from poutine, the other Montreal food thing I wanted was the bagels. I’m not 100% sure what makes these famous, like NY bagels for the water, but my best understanding is something to do with a honey-water poaching? Anyway, chewy and delicious. Went to some famous place in Mile End neighborhood which was in the middle of filming something while I was there. If you’re watching French language Canadian food or travel shows and see me in line for yummy bagels, let me know! The place was full of people taking Insta-shots there, so I escaped and went to the local grocery store for supplies then drove to a neighborhood at the top of Mount Royal for lunch in the van on the rainy day. Super classy. Super delicious. The other 2 flavors were my Montreal memory to go!
I like the city, some neighborhoods better than others, but it wasn’t a place I could see myself in longterm. I had weird alternate life moments here… during that college tour I liked McGill University, applied and got in, and strongly considered going. Like, very strongly. But at the time I thought I wanted to teach in public school and wasn’t sure how easy it would be to transfer a Canadian degree to a US school system licensing requirement, so went with a totally different school in the US. Actually applied after my freshman year to transfer to McGill and got in again, but by the time their decisions were sent I’d already paid for my year at Muhlenberg so passed it up again. I wondered whether I would have liked it better going here in Montreal for those years, and I will obviously never know, but it would have been fun. I’m glad I made the friends I did, because some of my best friends now are Berg friends, and financially it ended up well, but maybe right now I’d be speaking French in this McDonalds where I am for free internet. In any case, happy to be where I am but always wondering…
Stopped off at a winery south of the city on my way out of town, which happened to be having a harvest festival so wine tastings were free- woo hoo! The wine was… not superb. This region is known more for cider, but with all the French speaking my brain was trying to do it was in French wine mode. But the setting was all the essential #basic fall. A good way to end the day.