BREATHTAKING VISTAS, SNOW-CAPPED PEAKS, RAGING RIVERS AND COLOURS FULL OF CONTRAST, ALL ON A GIGANTIC SCALE. THIS IS LAKE LOUISE, WHERE THE BEAUTY OF NATURE IS UNMATCHED AND GETTING THERE IS PART OF THE FUN, AND A VISIT THAT HAD LONG BEEN ON MY LIST.
A RECOMMENDATION OF NATHALIE GUILBERT FROM GROUPE VOYAGES VP
In the interest of getting this trip off to the right start, we flew first to Vancouver, where we had the pleasure of staying at the famous Wedgewood Hotel. Located in the heart of the city, the Wedgewood offers exactly the kind of comfort and intimacy one would expect from a Relais & Châteaux property. And since it was just us girls, we began with a little shopping, followed by a long walk on a glorious day.
Settled in the cozy, ornate dining room at Bacchus Restaurant, we were honoured to meet young chef, raw food specialist and local celebrity, Montgomery Lau, and taste his excellent cuisine.
The next morning, we were up at dawn and off to the train station for the legendary ride aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. I had heard so much about it, and it did not disappoint. We spent two days oohing and aahing as we passed from one spectacular place to the next on the iconic route to Lake Louise. Two memorable days getting to know the Canadian Rockies, marvelling at the huge, sparkling rivers and lakes, finding ourselves speechless with emotion before the majestic canyons, looking closely and finding wild animals in their natural habitat. All of this from the comfort of a beautiful car with giant picture windows, tended by friendly and professional staff who saw to our every need, and delighted in sharing some of the saltier tales of the region and the characters who had populated it.
It was a total sensory experience. There’s nothing quite like rolling through a spectacular landscape, flanked by mountains on all sides, while enjoying a leisurely meal of sophisticated food, prepared by the immensely likeable chef, Jean-Pierre Guérin, and his team. As he himself says, it’s a challenge to cook in such a restricted space and be constantly in motion. It doesn’t seem to affect his output in the least. When dinnertime comes around, travellers know they will be eating well.
As anticipated, we arrived two days later, ready to begin the next phase of our adventure at the celebrated Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Standing on the terrace of this jewel of the Rockies, we once again found ourselves facing a postcard view: Lake Louise itself, impossibly turquoise against a backdrop of soaring mountains. The town of Lake Louise is a hamlet in Banff National Park, with a population of 1,200. It has one little shopping centre housing a tourist bureau, a supermarket, a bakery and a few fast food restaurants. The number of places to stay can be counted on one hand.
While the area is famous for its skiing, we were surprised to learn that most people visit Lake Louise in summer, for the hiking, climbing and kayaking, among other outdoor activities.
Our stay was a priceless opportunity to reconnect with nature. I won’t soon forget the majesty… and the magic.