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The Laurentians (Les Laurentides)/Canada

Introducing The Laurentians (Les Laurentides)

The Laurentians, or Les Laurentides in French, are perhaps the best-kept secret of Montréal day-trippers. Just an hour's drive from the city, you'll find yourself amid gentle rolling mountains, crystal blue lakes and meandering rivers peppered with towns and villages too cute for words. A visit to this natural paradise is like putting your feet up after a long day.

Although sometimes criticized for being über commercialized, Mont-Tremblant offers outstanding skiing rivaled by only Whistler in the whole of Canada. Speckling the Laurentians are many more lower-profile resort villages, whose miniature town centers deliver an air of the Alps with their breezy patios and exclusive, independent designer clothing shops.

Expect higher prices and heavy crowds during high season, which includes the summer months and Christmas holidays. Check ahead for opening hours if you plan to visit in the winter months.

Nearly all towns in the Laurentians can be accessed via Hwy 15, the Autoroute des Laurentides. Old Rte 117, running parallel to it, is slow but considerably more scenic.