Without a doubt, the province of Quebec boasts some of the best skiing and culinary delights in the country. Last week I visited the exciting Mont-Tremblant, and this past week I experienced the quiet serenity of the Eastern Townships of Quebec where, once again, I was totally surprised how close world-class skiing was to Toronto.
The Eastern Townships are only an hour drive from Montreal and once there you’ll quickly find yourself immersed in the old Quebec country charm and in harmony with nature. There are four ski resorts in the area all within 50km of each other: Mont-Orford, Owls Head, Bromont and Mont-Sutton.
I visited Mont-Sutton which is famous for glade tree skiing, and ranked No. 1 by many trade magazines in Canada. Almost half of their 60 trails are glades, but they still offer a great variety of trails for all levels of skiers, including a Family Zone.
Mont-Sutton, in particular, is known for its epic dumps of snow and powder with stunning scenery from glade runs like Caprice, Surprise or Kangourou.
If you’re into the European lifestyle where you can ski from your mountain side chalets, Mont-Sutton offers four. The series of chalets, called Chalet Alt, start at 400 meters above the base lodge, with a second at 520 metres, a third at 680 metres, and the last one at 840 metres, right at the mountain top.
What I also really liked about Mont-Sutton is the family-owned atmosphere where everybody is friendly. The base chalet is comfortable and has a spacious cafeteria along with a very large ski boutique. Apres is also very popular at Mont-Sutton’s Le Bar Tucker which has a large wooden bar with comfortable chairs and tables.
Before you head up the mountain to Mont-Sutton, you’ll go through the beautiful quaint town of Sutton, with all its old town charm. The main street has a great variety of specialty shops, all owned and operated by local residents, which is refreshing in the world of chain outlets. Chocolate shops, little cafes, amazing meat and cheese shops and of course the famous Montreal bagel at Bagel Round Top. Also try Mollies and La Rumeur Affamée for great meals anytime of day or night. There are a number of smaller hotels, Inns, and Bed and Breakfast for every budget. I enjoyed staying at the Auberge Sutton Brouerie, on Principale Street, which is part of the popular micro brewery, Sutton Brouerie, with reception located at mid-restaurant. There are six beautifully renovated suites all with spacious two levels, modern bathrooms and super convenient for a walk-through town.
There are two magnificent, one-of-a-kind restaurants in the area that I have to mention. The first, Vignoble du Ruisseau, a family-owned winery just 6km from Sutton in the mountain-side area of Dunham, 300 meters up the Sutton mountain. They feature local cheeses, meals and wine specializing in award winning Vinifera grapes, which are only grown in cold weather. Try the French onion soup with a presentation of local cheeses and bread.
The other restaurant of note was in Bromont, called Le Chardo, right on Shefford St in Bromont, just a 20-minute scenic drive from Sutton. This uniquely chef inspired restaurant features everything Quebec. Head chef and co-owner, Anthony Mesko with his wife Amelie said, “when in Rome”, so I started with something I never imagined eating, frog legs. Once I got over the thought of eating Kermit, it didn’t taste bad and as everybody says, like chicken wings. My next course was something only Chef Anthony could pull off, Wild Boar Ravioli with a variety of locally grown herbs, then his take on lemon pie that you’ll find nowhere else.
If you’re looking for a quieter ski holiday where a lot of nature mixes nicely with a lot of fun, then Mont- Sutton is your destination.
This is one of my greatest fears and narrowly missed disaster, a gondola fell off the cable at Mont Sainte-Anne during a routine morning check with nobody on it. The resort is now closed until government agencies inspect the gondola as well as the other lifts. All southern Ontario resorts are ready for the Christmas break with full or near full operation.
Keep your tips up and ski safe. Glenn Crouter, podcaster, Head for the Hills and Ambassador Canadian Ski Council.
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