In Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains, the snow can start falling as early as October and last into May. Blanketed in powder for much of the year, the region’s peaks are justifiably famous for skiing. But farming? Definitely not. It’s simply too cold. Jonathan Casaubon and Geneviève Côté are challenging that. They own Farouche Tremblant, a new agri-tourism destination that produces an impressive array of fresh (albeit hardy) produce: cabbage, kale, beets, carrots and more. For anyone curious about the couple’s Nordic farming methods, they have built a series of architectural guest cabins as well as a café that serves up much of their bounty.
“Farouche” is French for “wild” — an apt description of how the two found their 40-hectare property. It was covered in a forest of scruffy evergreens that left the soil acidic. The pair was lucky, though, that the ground is sandy, which provides good drainage for the farm. “We’ve been slowly adding organic components to rebalance the acidity and improve the soil composition,” explains Côté. “And we use tunnel greenhouses to extend the growing season in spring and fall.”
The “Tremblant” in the retreat’s name refers to the region and the mountain that faces the property, a peak nearly synonymous with a massive ski resort of the same name — one packed with five-star hotels and luxury condos, many clad in brightly coloured stucco and styled as if they were in a twee European village.
In poignant contrast, the structures at Farouche are all starkly minimalist and fashioned from regional, rustic woods such as eastern white cedar and eastern hemlock. The design was conceived by Atelier L’Abri, a Montreal-based studio with extensive experience crafting modest, remote homes and cottages.
Farouche is L’Abri’s largest hospitality project to date, encompassing the café, four micro-cabins, an outdoor hot tub area and a barn clad in natural hemlock and topped with a charcoal steel roof that houses charmingly human-scale tools such as a push tractor (“We embrace technology and machines to make our work easier, but to a degree where we have as little impact on the environment as possible,” says Côté). Yet the scope of the structures and their relationships to one another is highly intimate.
“We put the cabins close together,” says L’Abri co-founder Francis M. Labrecque. “That way, as you go out of your cabin, maybe walk to the café, you are seeing other people, having conversations. It’s very social.” The cedar shingle–clad guest cabins are stripped to their most essential elements: Each single-storey A-frame is appointed with a gas fireplace, a sofa and a bed with integrated storage. A winding footpath links all the structures, which recede into the landscape. The idea at Farouche is less about whiling away hours indoors, and more about exploring all the wonderful things nature offers.