Perhaps you recall that, two years ago, my sister in law and I spent three days riding our bicycles on the Petit Train du Nord. The route is a favorite along the Route Verte, Québec’s extensive network of bicycle paths – the only one if its kind in North America – that cover more than 5,000km. The Route, the only one of its kind in North America, offers cyclists scenic routes across most of Québec’s regions with accommodations located along the paths.
After a fabulous three days riding in Québec, we promised ourselves that we would return, but next time with our families. So, for the summer of 2013, we organized a family trip in honor of my dad’s 70th birthday.
For the occasion, we reserved all 6 rooms of the heavenly bed and breakfast L’Achillée Millefeuille to house our group of six adults and six kids (aged between 7 and 12) for 3 nights. The Achillée Millefeuille is located in the Village of La Conception, very close to the Village of Mont Tremblant, and is right on the “piste cyclable” (bicycle path) of Le Petit Train du Nord.
The house was absolutely perfect for our rambunctious group. Before dinner the kids could run around in the woods that surround the property. They chased kittens, scared the truly free-range chickens and ran through the garden full of vegetables and medicinal herbs. Off the main room of the B&B we enjoyed the wine and hors d’oeuvres that we brought, and we reheated some savory pies.
Day 1 – Cycling
After a delicious and copious breakfast, our group set off to discover the Petit Train du Nord bike trail. Our 7- and 9-year-olds were on their own bikes so we kept the ride short and rode to the Village of Mont-Tremblant for lunch. The bigger kids loved the independence of riding ahead and waiting for us.
The day was especially rewarding for my father, who was one of the founding members of Québec’s famous Route Verte. Isn’t it every person’s dream to see his grandchildren enjoy the fruit of his life efforts?
The village of Mont Tremblant (formerly named St-Jovite), with its bakeries, little shops and restaurants, was vibrant. When we were there, it was preparing for Ironman Mont Tremblant. In addition to the Ironman, the town of Mont Tremblant is host to many festivals throughout the summer. Music lovers come for Blues Fest, a famous jazz fest, FestiJazz and the Fête de la Musique. Then there are the art exhibits at the Salle Alphonse Desjardins Gallery or at the Place de La Gare. All of the exhibits and festivals are accessible by bike on the trail or the multi-use roadway.
If our troop had been a little more experienced in riding their bikes, we would have made it a little further out still on the bike path to visit the 1001 Pots ceramics exhibit in Val David. Alas, it was not be this trip. Perhaps another.
After the ride, the adults enjoyed showers, an “apéro” (apéritif) on the patio and massages in the gazebo. Then we set out to have dinner in the village. At Ristorante e Caffee Ital Delli, the pasta rivaled that in NYC and Naples.
Day 2 – Canoeing and Kayaking
The next morning, we were treated to a decadent crêpe caramel maple, homemade bread and a special healthy potion prepared by Suzanne. Fully satiated, we set off to spend the day on the Rivière Rouge kayaking and swimming. As my mom said, “I have to be 70 to try kayaking for the first time.”
For this adventure, we drove to the village of Labelle, about ten minutes away from our corner of paradise, to the Kayak Café, where Marion and her team send us off, with a light lunch, down the river on their canoes and kayaks. The Rivière Rouge is a mellow river with a few cottages along it. It was perfect for my parents who felt safe and close to civilization. We all had a wonderful time stopping at sand banks along the river and swimming in and against the current.
That night we celebrated my dad’s birthday on the terrace of the Kayak Café, overlooking the river, listening to Spanish guitar. Reflecting on the day, the kiddies fell asleep in our laps.
Day 3 – Summer Market
Our last pampered breakfast of the trip consisted of a fresh herb and orange omelette and a mousse of banana and avocado. After breakfast, we left our retreat to discover the delights of the summer market in Mont Tremblant’s old village, where friendly producers are happy to be there and share their “savoir-faire.” A perfect way to cap off our family trip together.
We enjoyed a wonderful few days at L’Achillée Millefeuille with my family to celebrate my dad – his birthday, his legacy and everything that he is about.
Next year, perhaps I will return in the fall for the Mont Tremblant Gran Fondo with girlfriends. We could stay at L’Achillée Millefeuille and have Suzanne teach us how to cook so wonderfully with fall mushrooms and apples. Or, perhaps, we will wait for the winter and discover cross country skiing on the Petit Train du Nord.