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Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

Tremblant is a French word that has its roots in Algonquin legend: Trembling Mountain

The mountain trembled, as though shaken by an angry god, during the Laurentian Shield’s release from the weight of the arctic glacier.

Heading north out of Montreal, it’s hard to believe that you’re anywhere near mountains worth skiing. Montreal is flat, flat, flat. But about 30 minutes into your drive, you catch glimpses of oddly shaped hills bursting out of the flatness, almost like giants trying to punch their way through the ground to catch a breath of fresh air. Suddenly, you are surrounded by these funky hills, and it occurs to you: there are ski trails etched out of the trees, and beautiful homes dot the hillsides. This is just the beginning of what turns into a breathtaking drive through and around hills, mountains, valleys and lakes.

Tremblant is the highest peak in the Laurentians. Slopeside, you’ll find a European-style village that gives you everything you need while vacationing here (but don’t miss a visit to the nearby tiny town of Mont-Tremblant, just a few miles from the resort). When the brightly colored tin roofs of the mountain village glisten in the sunlight, they look like a bag of Skittles spilled across the snow. If you’ve ever been to Quebec City, you’ll be convinced it’s been moved to the mountains. Village designers wanted to blend manmade structures with nature, to provide intimate surprises with every turn, and they succeeded. The landscape changes with virtually every step: glimpses of the mountain, or the lake at the foot of the mountain, or welcoming courtyards overlooked by colorful balconies, or rows of roofs tumbling down the mountainside like dominos towards the lake.

This is one of the historic peaks in North American skiing. It began in the 1930s—in 1932, if you count Tremblant’s founding from its inaugural Kandahar downhill ski race; or in 1938, the hectic year that Philadelphia millionaire Joe Ryan hiked to the top of Mont Tremblant, purchased it and opened North America’s second true winter resort (Sun Valley was the first, two years earlier).

The complete resort experience includes the old village of Mont-Tremblant and the picturesque town of St. Jovite, dripping with Quebecois culture and the French language. Though the employees speak English, the native language here is French, and you will earn big smiles from locals if you give it a try. You get all the fun and excitement of trying out a foreign language with none of the frustration of not being understood. The entire experience is steeped in romance, so you’ll win extra brownie points if you bring your lover here. Plus, there’s little or no jet lag for North Americans. Keep in mind though, that the summit consistently registers the coldest temperatures south of Hudson’s Bay.

Mont Tremblant charges a “resort royalty,” which is, in effect, a 2 percent tax.