An Introduction to the Winter Wonderland of Mont Tremblant – Learning to Snowboard in Québec

Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

A village of candy coloured buildings sprinkled with a dusting of crisp snow; in the distance, gingerbread style houses nestle between the masses of pine trees; surrounding this, a never-ending canvas of blinding white hills and slopes, populated with weaving coloured speckles of the most discerning of winter sport enthusiasts.  This is Mont Tremblant – a quaint village in the Laurentian mountains of the eastern Canadian province of Quebec, and a destination that marked my very first experience of what a true winter really is.

Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

I’d never seen this much snow, experienced temperatures this low or even stepped foot on ski slope of any sort before. I shivered a lot and said, “It’s so cold” more times than I can remember, but nothing can take away the awe you have when you step out into a winter wonderland. For me – a city lover, an Asia enthusiast used to bustling traffic and hectic street life, and a hiker who has climbed through national parks and small mountains – this was a whole new world and it was very inviting.

Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

Why Learn to Ski or Snowboard in Quebec?

While Alberta’s tempting Rocky Mountains and British Columbia’s abundance of ski resorts may put Mont Tremblant in the shadows a little, I wouldn’t be too quick to push it aside, especially if you are new to the winter holiday scene. Bustling without being overwhelming, and full of action without making you feel too inadequate, Mont Tremblant’s Snow School is an ideal place to learn how to ski and/or snowboard. For those more experienced, there are 95 runs to tempt you across the peaks and I envy your skills – the view of the landscape below, from up high in the cable car, looked absolutely magical.

Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

Mont Tremblant is also a great option for those wanting to explore the eastern side of Canada (being so close to Montreal) or to combine with a US city holiday (being a short flight from New York and Washington DC). Plus it’s only a seven or eight-hour flight from Western Europe, if you are looking for a winter break further afield.

Besides, Canadians are known for embracing and making the most of winter, so who better to learn from than them?

Learning How to Snowboard

On our first morning, our group of four virgin snowboarders got fully decked out at the rental centre before meeting ‘John JPK’, our instructor for the two-three days we had scheduled in the get a taster for this cool sport – apparently, it’s easier to learn how to snowboard then it is to learn how to ski.

Learning to snowboard in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

What JPK was soon to realise is that I am stubborn, hate failing and that I have a really poor sense of balance. Not really the ideal combination of sorts, but you soon learn that you are not alone – everyone on the specially designated novice slope is learning and no one passes judgment.

Still, despite the little screams, the tight hand squeezing, the numerous falls I dubbed as ‘bum sledging’ and the frustrated tantrum that I threw on day two where I sat on the slope and refused to move because, “I just can’t do it so what’s the point?” these guys from the Mont Tremblant Snow School made learning fun. Broken down into simple steps, where encouragement is delivered with humour, you soon pick up the basics.

Learning how to snowboard Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

JPK’s quotes of “Are you a ballerina or a cow girl?” “Are you an orangutan or a human?” and “Be a duck!” soon stuck in my mind in relation to how to adjust my posture, move my body and stay balanced. He drew pictures in the snow in explanation and remained smiling even after I had stopped the blood flow in his hands from holding on to dear life when he tried to push me to freestyle freedom.

snowboarding in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

With an instructor’s patience, despite your potential lack of it, you can actually learn pretty quickly. I’m proud to say that I got down that small slope on a few occasions by myself and, for that achievement, I became a little hooked. I’m already thinking about exploring the possibility of snowboarding again in the future although I am keen for one-on-one tuition. If you are serious about learning quickly, a group instructor, while the cheaper option, can be limiting. I personally need to do something over and over in order to pick it up and waiting around can soon damper your enthusiasm to keep going. Others may like the camaraderie of a group, but it’s certainly something you need to think about.

Après Ski

Mont Tremblant wasn’t heaving with a thriving entertainment scene as I was expecting of a ski resort. Post 3pm, when everyone is coming back from the last run on the slopes, the bars and restaurants are filled with a social hum that’s more relaxed than raucous. When the sun goes down and the village is awash in a pretty yellow glow, friendship groups gather for dinner and a few beers.

beers in Mont tremblant, quebec, canada

In a part of the village that once housed the very first chalet houses, a couple of bars pump out the tunes a little louder, so not all is lost. If you are looking for the quieter end of resort life, head here during the week like we did but if you are after a thriving scene of nightlife madness, this isn’t the place where you will find it (although annual festivals do take place here).

Adventure Away From the Slopes

You could easily spend a week learning and experiencing the other adventurous offerings of Mont Tremblant or stay for two weeks or more and experience the various ski villages and surrounding peak runs before spending some time in the stunning city of Montreal.

Being in a winter haven isn’t just about experiencing skiing and snowboarding. If booked in advance you can choose from a whole host of adventurous activities including tubing at the base of the mountain, dog sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling and snow shoeing in the surrounding forest area. In Mont Tremblant, you are never bored.

snowshoeing in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

On the other end of the scale, time spent in the stunning and energising Scandinave Spa and its dry saunas, outdoor hot baths and icy, circulation pumping, Nordic plunge pools are a much needed remedy to the winter workout you will experience daily. It was a perfect refresher after a couple of heavy sporting days.

Canadians know how to make the most of winter and Mont Tremblant is no exception to the rule. In its 75th year of operation, it’s still going strong as a must-see destination for daredevils, inquisitive beginners to the snow scene and eager nature enthusiasts. Will I try snowboarding again? Absolutely (with some intensive lessons to start). Am I a winter holiday convert? I’m certainly getting there. I’m just glad I got a head start from a province of Canada proud to pass on its enthusiasm for a chilly season I’ve spent much of my life dismissing.

winter in Canada

Things to Know:

  • Mont Tremblant is approximately a two hour drive from Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, where cars and limos can be organised
  • Prices for ski and snowboard equipment rental, available from nine outlets on site, begin at $39.99 upwards, with a minimum half day rental. Ski lift ticket prices start from $59 for a half day rental and $79 for a full day pass
  • There are various snowshoeing trails to experience, with prices starting from $15.99 for a two hour trip
  • Access to the Scandinave Spa costs $48, not including massages

My visit to Mont Tremblant was a part of the #LoveWinter blog trip created and managed by iambassador in partnership with the Canadian Tourism CommissionTourism Montreal and Tourism Quebec. All opinions remain my own and I’m still learning to love winter – the Canadians just know how to embrace it and turn it into something positive. 

Comments

  1. says

    Good on you Becki for trying something new and getting out of you comfort (warm) zone. I’m more of a warm temperature person myself too but I love snow so much. Getting a little dose of cold and snow once in a while is fun but I could never live in it.

  2. says

    Good for you for trying to snowboard and not giving up! It isn’t the easiest thing in the world from what I’ve heard. I’m embarrassed to say that even though I live in the Toronto area, I’ve never tried snowboarding before! I keep saying that I will each year but never end up going. Maybe it still isn’t too late in the season to try! I’ve going skiing a few times in the past and really enjoyed it. I went tubing last year at a ski resort and that was quite fun! But yes…snowboarding shall be in my future, you’ve inspired me! I’m glad that you’ve had your dose of winter and got to experience all of the snow! Even though we embrace the snow here, I certainly can’t wait until Spring to come – I’m more of a Spring/Summer person myself! Thanks for posting and I hope that you enjoy your time spent in Toronto – can’t wait to see what you end up doing here! I hope you get to see Niagara Falls as well, and be sure to try out some of the Niagara wines, too!

  3. says

    It looks like you had a great time and brrr indeed. I love those little quotes from JPK, he clearly helped you in the end and you managed to do it. It sounds like a lot of fun and a great resort.

    The prices you quote I think back up the idea that skiing is not really a cheap past time. With all the special clothing, goggles and gear it can soon add up.

  4. says

    Does a lift go right through the village? It is pretty cool if your pictures really show it justice on how integrated the area is with its buildings. Usually ski towns are at the base and are not too spread out having to walk some to enjoy the apres ski festivities. Looks like an amazing place to learn to ski/snowboard!

  5. Keith says

    Nice article and pics Becki.

    Angela, not sure if you are questioning or complimenting Becki but, I’m pretty sure the first photo is showing the cable cars going right through the village.

    Also the snowshoes look great and a big help for hiking in the winter

  6. says

    The town looks so cute, all the colourful buildings are adorable :) I’ve not tried snowboarding before, having two left feet I’ve always been a little scared, but everyone I know who’s tried it strongly recommends it, so think I’m going to have to try it one day! Well done for not giving up, you’ve inspired me :)

    • says

      I have a terrible sense of balance and actually started to pick it up after two days. I need more intensive training though. Next time, I WILL master it and get on one of the big slopes. I hate missing out!

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