Ottawa to Mont Tremblant
February 2, 2009 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Drive from Ottawa, Ontario to Mont Tremblant, Quebec mid April. Suggestions?

We have never been to Ottawa or Quebec before and will be attending a conference at Mont Tremblant Quebec in mid April.
So we are thinking of flying to Ottawa and renting a car from there and taking extra time for a tour.
We have Ottawa figured out but can you recomend what to do along the rest of the route; culture, scenery,
outdoor recreation , food are our priorities.
I assume winter is over by then so no driving issues?
Also, our French is poor to non-existent.
posted by canoehead to Travel & Transportation around British Columbia (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can look up our usual route and post it later, but we normally cross to Gatineau, take the highway as far as possible, then go through Thurso, to Montebello, turn left. Through Lac-des-Plages, then follow the signs. It's only 2 hours. Winter should be over by then, but early spring storms are not uncommon. If you stopped in a small community along the way, you may find some unilingual Francophones, but you'll have no difficulty at the resort (assuming you're staying somewhere near the hill...). There is lots to do at the resort itself - let me know if you need suggestions ahead of time.

Along the way ....

- Montebello might be worth a visit if you like the idea of a fancy hotel in a massive log building - it's a good stop for lunch, etc. Fairmont is having assorted sales at the moment so might be a good time to book, if you wanted to really break the journey and stay here overnight.

- Very nearby, Parc Omega is surprisingly good fun. It's a nature reserve with many deer, bison, wild boar, mountain goats, bears etc. You buy bags of carrots (or bring your own, much cheaper) and feed them to the animals through the car window (not the bears! - along with the wolves and coyotes they're in separate enclosures, most other animals just wander free). However, I note that you're from Alberta, so if you're more used to wild animals than us Ontarians, this may not be so exciting to you. There are short hiking trails at a couple of points. But I should caution you that the animals do tend to get impatient if you're slow giving them carrots so if you don't want your rental car scratched up by hooves or horns, might be best to give this one a miss.

- The parc lineaire can be good for hiking/biking etc. Though mid-April might be slushy / wet, depending on how much snow we get between now and then, and how early spring is.

- If you want nature/scenery, you could also look at visiting Mont Tremblant National Park which is some way away from the resort, and rather different!

- There's not much else along the way that distracts us, though St Jovite can be worth a visit.
posted by valleys at 1:35 PM on February 2, 2009

It's not "on the way" to Mont Tremblant but it's not far out of the way. Wakefield, Que is great. It's picturesque, English, and has one of the most popular (with musicians) venues in the country The Black Sheep Inn. There is also foodie restaurants and such.
posted by Gor-ella at 1:58 PM on February 2, 2009

The most direct drive is actually kind of boring. However, on the way Chateau Montebello is kind of neat as mentioned above may be a good stop for something to eat. Disclaimer: I've stayed there, but never tried just stopping for a bite. Also seconding Parc Omega which is just up the road from there, do a Flickr search for photos.

Tremblant itself has a network of bike/hike trails, although they will likely be still under snow at that point. If so, there's still lots to do. The hill might still have a few runs open, there's an indoor pool and spa facility, cinema, lots of restaurants and some nightlife. There's a few restaurants between Mont Tremblant and the old Mont Tremblant town.

If I were you, I'd make Tremblant the base camp, and explore out from there. Be prepared for high prices though if you look at the activity guides.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 3:43 PM on February 2, 2009

Our usual route, as mentioned above:
- cross your preferred bridge and follow signs for Hwy 50 North
- As you approach Buckingham, look for signs for the 148. There are a couple of options, I think. We usually take the first one.
- Go East on the 148, through Thurso (hold your nose!), Plaisance and Papineauville.
- When you get to Montebello, the entrance to the Chateau is on your right, if you wish to go there.
- Turn left onto Route 323
- Parc Omega is a couple of km on the left. It's pretty obvious.
- Follow 323 through Lac-des-Plages. I think it's right at a 3-way stop, but it's pretty obvious.
- They've been doing construction on the next stretch of the 323 for a couple of years. We haven't been up yet this winter, so I'm not sure what state things are in. It's an interesting drive in bad weather - lots of hills and bends! So they've been building a wider/straighter road to make it safer.
- When you reach Hwy 117, you can turn left on the highway just for a short distance, and follow the signs for the resort. St Jovite is straight ahead.

Let me know if you need any other info.
posted by valleys at 10:08 AM on February 3, 2009

Thanks everyone for the info, its hard to know what to ask as we've literally never been in Quebec before. Looks like it would be better to go later in the season but that's not an option.
I might just ask if there are any interesting towns along the way to poke around?
posted by canoehead at 1:12 PM on February 3, 2009

While I'm tempted to say no, there are not interesting towns to poke around ... for someone who's not been in Quebec before, any of them have the potential to be interesting to you. Now I think of it, I've never really been through Buckingham as the 148 skirts it. There might be stuff to do there. Driving through, the all seem very similar - a grocery store, an SAQ, a hardware store, a fast food stand (poutine!), a few other stores...

If you're not in a hurry, stop anywhere and take a look around. Not many other people do and the locals might appreciate it.

Thought it might be worth stopping at least once along the way for provisions. Be aware that EVERYTHING you buy at the resort is going to be relatively expensive and will have a 'resort improvement tax' (I think 2%) added on top. If you want some of your own food / liquor / whatever, stock up en route.

St Jovite is likely to be more interesting than any of the other smaller towns, just in terms of food, stores etc, solely because a lot of people go through there.

One other thought - If your travel is flexible, especially if you can book your flights in individual legs, why not see if you can spend a couple days in Montreal and fly home from there? For your first time in Quebec, that might be a better use of your time than trying to find excitement en route from Ottawa to Tremblant!
posted by valleys at 1:24 PM on February 3, 2009

That's an interesting idea - to fly back from Montreal. I would have to see how that would work with a rental car.
posted by canoehead at 5:58 PM on February 3, 2009

You might find some interesting towns off of HWY 15 which runs between Montreal and Tremblant. Sainte-Agate-de-Monts, Sainte-Adele, Saint-Sauveur, ... I've only gone that way a couple of times, but there's definitely more in the way of developed towns versus the direct route which is through the sticks. Takes longer, but you could also use it as an alternate route, taking the 148 on the Quebec side, or 17 on the Ontario side (crossing at Hawkesbury), through Lachute on the 50 over to the 15, then go up that way. And/or if you go with the Montreal suggestion, take the time on the way back. Or on the way up, take the 417 from Ottawa, swinging by Montreal on the way (2-2.5hr drive), have some poutine or smoked meat sandwich, then head up the 15 to Tremblant.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 8:01 PM on February 3, 2009

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