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The beautiful Laurentides region, also called the Laurentians, is the most renowned resort area in Québec and attracts a great many visitors all year round. Located less than 1.5hrs from the big city, it encompasses a multitude of lakes, wooded mountains and villages equipped to accommodate visitors. Montrealers "go up north" to theirTranquility and Harmony on the shores cottage in the summer to relax, go canoeing - in short, to enjoy the natural surroundings. The lakes, mountains and forests provide a particularly good setting for a variety of physical activities or outings. As the region boasts the highest concentration of ski resorts in North America, skiing gets top billing here when winter rolls around. The villages scattered at the foot of the mountains are both charming and friendly.

Located perhaps a little too close to Montréal, Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts has been overdeveloped in recent years, and condominiums, restaurants and art galleries have sprung up like mushrooms. Rue Principale is very busy and is the best place in the Laurentians to mingle with the crowds. A small mountain with a vertical drop of only 210m, Mont Saint-Sauveur ($34; 350 Rue Saint Denis, 227-4671 or 800-363-2426) attracts a large clientele because of its proximity to Montréal. It offers 29 downhill ski trails, a few of which are lit for night-skiing.

A considerable amount of money has been invested in The Mont-Tremblant Resort in order to put it on a par with the huge resorts of Western Canada and the United States. At the height of the season, 74 trails, including several new ones, attract downhill skiers to Tremblant's slopes (914m); in the summer the magnificent new golf course is just as popular. Not only does this place have the longest and most difficult vertical drops in the region, it also boasts a brand-new resort complex set in a cute little village of traditional Québécois-style buildings at the base of the mountain.

A route leads to the Parc du Mont-Tremblant (819-688-2281). The parc covers an area of 1,250km², encompassing the mountain, seven rivers and some 500 lakes. Hiking buffs can explore up to 100km of trails here.

Tranquility and Harmony on the shores

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