Unplugging and unwinding in a forest refuge

New eco-tourism spot offers luxurious relaxation!

Those who know me well understand that one of my favourite things in life is a road trip. It doesn’t have to be far, but it should require looking at a map and possibly also involve snacks. While I’m happy to drive, I love being a passenger, partly because I adore navigating and also as I love to let my mind wander as I take in the scenery en route and savour the anticipation of the destination. Last week, my favourite co-pilot and I enjoyed a most unusual experience – a journey that was less than 85 kilometres round trip, but which seemed as though it took us worlds away from home. We were only gone for 40 hours, but it felt like 100 or more, thanks to our magical destination – the now six months old Terre et Neige in Val des Monts, Quebec.

This charming eco-tourism getaway spot came highly recommended by friends and the fact that it’s co-owned by Will, a hockey-loving woodworker from France and his wife Julia, a talented chef and Gatineau native, just added to its appeal. Both are fluently bilingual and incredibly friendly.

As we made the short walk to our A-frame cabin nestled in the woods on the 80+ acre property, we were quickly smitten by Terre et Neige. Our hosts’ enthusiasm for hospitality and love of the gorgeous parcel of land where they both live and work was infectious. Once inside the cabin, we were impressed by all the details that make it a charming and cozy refuge from the cares of daily life. Though small in size, it includes a petite but well-appointed kitchen, comfortable sitting area with highly-efficient wood stove, tranquil sleeping nook with an impossibly comfortable bed and a modern, lovely bathroom. The care and thoughtful attention that went into crafting the cabin’s interior design and décor was apparent and sent a strong message about how much Julia and Will care about every aspect of their business.

From the cabin’s front deck, we had easy access to our own outdoor fire pit and wood-fired hot tub (more on that in a bit) as well as a lengthy communal trail to nearby Lac du Castor which can be enjoyed on snowshoe or on foot, depending on the season. As we strolled through the gently rolling terrain, we were mesmerized by the serene hush of the forest and the pristine blanket of snow all around us. With birds to watch, animal tracks to decode, photos to take and restful moments of just soaking in the peacefulness of the environment, several hours outdoors seemed to pass in the blink of an eye.  

No trip to Terre et Neige is complete without experiencing the outdoor wood-fired tub that accompanies each cabin. The Canadian-made baths, assembled and maintained with care by Will and Julia, are attractive and comfortable to use. We thoroughly enjoyed the process of carefully tending the fire (the wood supply was generously made ready for us) for a few hours until the water was up to temperature, and it was absolutely heavenly to recline in the steaming bath under a brilliant canopy of stars.

As if providing the cutest little cabins (two are currently available and a third will be completed soon) wasn’t enough, Terre et Neige also offers amazing gourmet food experiences that are as delightful and memorable as the location in which they are enjoyed. Breakfasts are included in your stay. They’re delivered by Julia with a delightful explanation of the basket’s contents and any instructions for assembling, reheating or final minor cooking steps that might be involved in getting the meal to the table. The same applies for the optional lunch and dinner baskets; with each meal she is quick to acknowledge the local suppliers with whom she is proud to work to showcase the finest local and seasonal produce. Terre et Neige’s tag line, ‘taste the outdoors’, really isn’t a stretch at all and the owner’s commitment to sustainability in all aspects of the operation is strongly apparent in Chef Julia’s cuisine and presentation.

I usually love coming home after a road trip. I am always glad to have been away but I adore our house and typically look forward to getting back into my own kitchen and my own routines. But somehow, after escaping to Terre et Neige, I’m feeling a little bit of discontent as I can’t stop thinking about how I would rather be in a cozy cabin in the woods. We can’t wait to go back.

*note this is not a sponsored post.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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