A cabin in the woods.
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I have always thought staying in a chalet in the snowy woods is terribly romantic and very Canadian. I guess that makes me the demographic Quebec Parks are aiming for. They have just built several new Nature Chalets in Tremblant, Mont Valin, Yamaska and Mont Orford, which sleep just two or four people. The days of mucking in and staying next to strangers in larger hostel-type cabins are becoming a thing of the past (though hardy types do still do this). Personally I love the privacy of your own cabin and also the proximity of a bathroom at all times. Heaven.
|Sarah Rogers interviews me for the CBC|
We are in Mont Orford Park in the Eastern Townships, just over an hour's drive from Montreal. Our cabin is called Le Felton, named after William Bowman Felton, an English naval officer granted land here in the 18th century. My first duty is to be interviewed by the CBC radio's Quebec AM programme who want to look around our cabin (husband making tea in background) and talk about my blog. Then reporter Sarah Rogers and I went for a walk to nearby Stukely Lake - and I take photographs as the sun sets. (To hear more about the chalet and my blog listen to my CBC interview here.)
I find myself talking about all those essentially Canadian experiences I have had - only to find out my Canadian friends have not, such as staying in the Ice Hotel or skiing in the Canadian National Ski Marathon. I also mention how Brits go a bit misty eyed when they think of Canada - the woods, the moose and the maple syrup. It reminds me of the look on male friends' faces when my husband tells them he's about to chop some wood. They practically race him to the axe.
Our bedroom in the loft
Sarah leaves us alone and we explore the lake a bit more and wonder if we could have skated it - it's very smooth under a light dusting of snow- probably caused by a melt in the unseasonably warm weather a few days ago. We tuck in to good hearty Quebec fare for dinner - tourtiere and microbrewed beer from Sherbrooke. The chalet has a propane powered stove - which looks just like a wood-burning one and later when we go to bed up in the loft we can see the firelight flickering on the ceiling.
|Off for a walk|
It's mid week and we are the only occupants in the five new Nature Chalets here. There are no signs of life around and absolutely no noise. A perfect getaway. Next morning we ask at the Welcome Centre and find the weekends are fully booked well ahead of time. On our doorstep in the woods are 50km of cross-country ski trails including skate skiing routes. Snowshoe trails range from 2 to 16km and there are walking trails and special equipment so that those using wheelchairs can get on trails too.
|Snowshoes keep you up.|
We use the rental snowshoes left in our cabin and take to the trails - taking care not to step on the ski tracks when we crossed a trail (very annoying). I never realised why you had to wear snowshoes until I once finished a walk in deep snow, took one off and my leg disappeared up to my thigh. That was when I discovered they spread your weight and prevent you from sinking. (Obvious to Canadians, not to obvious to a girl from Newcastle). For exactly the same reasons as I love to be in the woods in the summer this chalet is perfect in the winter. There is something about sitting in your window gazing out into the maple trees, watching the red squirrels running around, that connects you to those Canadians who lived like this generations ago. I told you I was a romantic.
Read about a stay in the Ice Hotel.
To hear more about the chalet and my blog listen to my CBC interview here.
More info on the Parks Quebec Nature Chalets which start at $165 a night.