Photography Destination: Mont Tremblant, Quebec
August 1st, 2016
There are a number of “in vogue” photography destinations at the moment: Iceland and the Patagonia region in Chile immediately spring to mind. But not every photographer can afford the expense of such a trip. If you live in North America, however, let me take you on a journey to one of my favorite spots to visit and shoot…Mont Tremblant, Quebec.
Quebec is unique among the various States and Provinces of North America. While it is technically bilingual, the primary language is French, not English (though expect most people in the service industries to be fully conversational in English). There are some unique cultural influences as well, which result in a unique quaintness and charm that I find refreshing. There are places in Quebec that seem more European than North American, and you would be excused for thinking that you were somewhere near the lower reaches of the Alps when in Mont Tremblant.
The scenery is breathtaking. Whether looking up the mountain, at the rolling hills of the Laurentian Mountains, or looking back down on the valleys from the heights, you will find yourself repeatedly entranced by the scenery. I’ve visited the area five times now and never fail to be blown away again by its beauty. Every season brings something unique. It stays very lush in summer due to the regularity which which weather systems roll through the region, but prepare yourself for some rain.
Fortunately it never seems to last very long, and the upside as a photographer is that the changing weather patterns result in a lot of unique environmental conditions that produce far better photos than bland cloudless days. It also feeds a number of beautiful waterfalls all around the area.
As the weather system moves on there is often a period of transition with exquisite light. I’ve seen a number of fantastic sunsets in Mont Tremblant.
The only thing to watch for is if you get a clear day get up the mountain so that you can shoot the amazing vistas accessible from the top.
There are a number of options for getting to the top. The Mont Tremblant region is an athletics paradise. It is one of the top downhill ski destinations in Eastern Canada or the Northeast Region. There are a broad variety of ski runs of varying degrees of difficulty, and a great chalet at the top of the run.
If you visit in other seasons you will find that it has many kilometers of dedicated trails for hiking, running, cycling, skating, or cross country skiing in the winter. Mont Tremblant hosts an annual Ironman event. The lakes and rivers in the area are great spots for kayaking or canoeing along with motorized water sports. A number of beautiful golf courses and tennis clubs add even more options.
I’ve never cycled in a better place than Mont Tremblant! The picture above is one of the stretches of multipurpose trails (not road!) that traverse hills, runs along rivers, and through gorgeous forests. We’ve encountered deer and foxes along the trail. If you don’t want to bring a bike along there are quality bikes available for rental at reasonable rates in the pedestrian village. Those same multipurpose trails turn into equally compelling cross country ski trails that are groomed during the winter.
A number of options for getting up the mountain involve hiking (moderately vigorous hiking), but there are also several gondolas that service the top of the mountain. My wife and I have hiked a number of the trails up or down the mountain, and my new favorite after this last trip was the Caps trail which travels through a number of beautifully unique ecosystems on the way up or down. Pausing to take a photos is a good excuse to catch your breath!
If athletics aren’t your thing, Tremblant is still a great destination. One thing that gives it unique charm is that there is a very large pedestrian village at the base of the mountain. It is loaded with shops (everything from athletic gear to art to furs!) along with a host of great bistros, restaurants, coffee shops, and dessert options. I’ve had many great meals in the area! Al fresco dining is very popular during the milder months and further adds to the European feel.
If you don’t feel like walking (it is fairly steep from one end to the other), there is the fantastic (and free) Cabriolet skycar that will transport you from the bottom to the top of the village (and vice versa).
I love being able to arrive at Mont Tremblant, park my car, and not get back in it until I’m leaving (always a bit sadly!) Everything you want is right there! Keep your camera handy, because the charm of the pedestrian village will keep you snapping. The landscaping everywhere in the warmer months is fantastic, so there is a great diversity of flowers and plants that will catch the eye.
Even during the winter months there is still a lot of charm to walking around the village (bundled up) and enjoying the quaint setting or some great food!
There are all kinds of hotel properties scattered through the pedestrian village, from small boutiques to the signature property – the Fairmont Tremblant. This massive hotel has hosted many a celebrity in its day and anchors the village on the upper end.
You’ll find plenty of options for lodging, eating, and recreation right there, and there are a number of unique activities on site for families and adults. If you are there in the mild months, be sure to check out the Luge (think of a motorless go-cart on a track winding its way down the mountain). It is loads of fun!
It is also common for some kind of entertainment to take place in the evenings, from concerts to other shows. These are outdoors and free, so the pedestrian village is the place to be at night!
If you do venture out, check out Creperie Catherine for amazing crepes (and good food, period!) I’ve discovered a number of other great restaurants in the towns and villages around the area, too. Another favorite destination outside of the village is the amazing Scandinave Spa with its Scandivian baths, steam rooms, saunas, and even river access (be sure to dip in the hole in the ice in the winter!) The misty, moody days that sometimes roll through the area are the perfect time to visit!
While a visit to Mont Tremblant isn’t cheap, neither is it overly expensive…particularly when compared to travel outside of North America. I always leave feeling like I have had a great experience for my money. While the area is obviously geared for tourism, it is done in such a way that it doesn’t feel like a tourist trap or kitschy at all. It feels…well…classy, and the extreme beauty of the natural setting will leave your soul refreshed.
Just be prepared to spend some time editing those photos when you get home…you’ll take a bunch of them! Here’s a few more of mine:
Canon EOS 6D DSLR Camera (Body Only)
Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD (in Canada) (Use code AMPLIS52016DA to get 5% off)
Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD (USA and World)
Canon EOS M3 Mirrorless Body
Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM
Adobe Lightroom CC Software for Mac and Windows (Boxed Version)
Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud 1-Year Subscription
Alien Skin Exposure X (Use Code “dustinabbott” to get 10% anything and everything)
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