Respites for the mind, body and soul in Quebec

Lysa Allman-Badwin | 5/1/2014, 1:33 p.m.
Our next spa stop was Spa Natur’Eau, an oasis that far exceeds your wildest expectations.
The Spa Natur’Eau terrace features three whirlpools, a Nordic bath, waterfalls, comfortable chairs and recliners and a stone-surrounded stove fireplace.

Auberge du Lac Taureau is a four-star log cabin-style resort nestled in a forest setting on the shores of majestic Lake Taureau.

Auberge du Lac Taureau is a four-star log cabin-style resort nestled in a forest setting on the shores of majestic Lake Taureau.

In the first part of our spa-themed sojourn in the Lanaudiere region of the province of Quebec, we were rubbed and scrubbed at two fabulous spas, Kinipi Spa & Bains Nordiques and Auberge le Baluchon. Our next spa stop was Spa Natur’Eau, an oasis that far exceeds your wildest expectations.

What was once a barely accessible, mountainous, dense forest has been transformed into an amazing spiritual haven designed for complete relaxation and rejuvenation of the mind, body and soul. Featuring dramatic cliffs, vivid flora and jaw-dropping panoramic views, Spa Natur’Eau encompasses a three-story log chalet, with the second and upper floors highlighted by an intimate living room, spa boutique, treatment rooms and specialty baths. The lower level has the cafe, dining room and men’s and women’s locker rooms and showers.

Spa Natur’Eau’s piéce de resistance is the outdoor terrace, featuring three whirlpools, a Nordic bath (cold plunge), waterfalls, massive boulders, sitting areas with comfy chairs and recliners, a stone-surrounded stove fireplace and a yurt—a circular, domed tent thought to have been originally used by the nomadic peoples of central Asia, but also said to be of Russian and Turkic origins.

The Pavilion building offers a sizeable relaxation area, Finnish sauna, large, glass-enclosed shower with dual rain heads, a Hammam (similar to a Turkish bath) and an aromatherapy room.

The overall decor is a nod to the Native American tribes that once roamed the Canadian landscape, lending a very powerful yet soothing and welcoming vibe. A consciousness of gratitude, expansiveness and tranquility is accentuated by the magnificent mountain vistas and valley below speckled with dazzling colors every season of the year. It’s clear that Spa Natur’Eau was a true labor of love, demonstrated in the meticulous details found in every facet of the grounds, buildings, interior and exterior design elements, landscaping and personal touches. The staff genuinely regards every guest with utmost care and personalized attention.

Take me, I'm yours!

Services here include warm herbal wraps; body scrubs; paraffin wax hand and foot care; chair, Thai, pregnancy and couples massages; facials; manicures/pedicures and more, in addition to full use of the property amenities.

I enjoyed a marvelous foot reflexology therapy alfresco near the edge of the cliffs from Marina Mermaid (yes, that’s her real name!), a joyful, intuitive healer who has spent years in the healing arts and clearly loves her craft. The experience was more than just a treatment for my feet, rather something deeper to realign my body, spirit and connection to the earth. The Spa Natur’Eau experience is truly one-of-a-kind.

Authentic outdoor Quebec

Just when I thought I had already died and gone to heaven, we drove about an hour further (two hours from Montreal and three hours from Quebec City and Ottawa) to Auberge du Lac Taureau (auberge means “inn” in French), a four-star log cabin-style resort nestled in a woodsy setting in the gorgeous Saint-Michel-des-Saints countryside.

A true outdoor playground set on the shores of majestic Lake Taureau for individuals, families and romantic and group getaways, the resort offers a wealth of activities year-round, including fishing, hiking, wildlife observation, ATV trails, tennis, archery, mountain biking, golf and swimming. Guests may use kayaks, paddleboats and sailboats, plus there is snowmobiling, ice fishing, dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hockey, ice-skating and broomball. The resort has 100 spacious and inviting rooms and 50 suites and condos designed to suit a variety of tastes and lifestyles, each offering distinctive views of the 37-square-mile lake, surrounding woods and ponds.

Gastronomic pleasures take place in the Bistro Le Boreal, serving a delicious variety of continental classics with a French twist, as well as in their signature Le Grand Pic Restaurant, which draws folks from all over the region for their outstanding three-, four-, five- and seven-course meals. Very reasonably priced for the quality, portion sizes, presentation and upscale service (at only $42, $46, $51 and $66, respectively), the menu features dishes like onion and port wine soup; beef bavette marinated with pears, oranges, pepper and Bordeaux wine sauce; filet of Beef Carpaccio with olive oil and sun dried tomato pesto; bison slow-cooked stew with green pepper corns; pan-fried pork ribs with a wild mushroom crust and roasted garlic and rosemary sauce; tiger shrimp, goat cheese with sundried tomatoes and leeks cooked in pastry; blue potato gnocchi with a basil Vodka sauce on a nest of sweet roots julienne; and pan-fried polenta crisp duck fat liver with dark chocolate sauce and salt flowers. The food was out of this world!

Dessert is a delightful adventure as well, with their maple and nut créme brülee served in a poached apple; gingerbread cookies with Fir tree mousse with dark chocolate ganache; and praline mousse with spiced meringue, just to name a few.

Just say aaaah!

You know you must be in Canada when one of their luxurious spa treatments is a maple scrub! Yep, you got it, a cream made with pure Canadian maple syrup smoothed all over your body, followed by a sugar scrub sprinkled over that like it was coming out of a parmesan cheese shaker—and all of this scrumptiousness was going on at 8 o’clock in the morning!

Cecile, my massage therapist, rubbed it all together ever so gently but with enough pressure to infuse it into every inch of my skin. The scent wafting around the room was so heavenly, I left like a delicate crepe being prepared for the restaurant dessert menu.

In her very cute, halting English, Cecile said, “If you go out in the … er … forest … the wild animals will eat you!” I couldn’t agree more, ’cause I was ready to taste my own damn self!

After I was scrubbed from top to bottom, front to back, she carefully wrapped me in a light sheet and led me next door, where a waiting warm shower tenderly removed the tiny sugar granules, leaving me with the softest, most delightfully fragrant skin.

Grinning like I’d just won the lottery and skipping on cloud nine, I somehow made my way back to the condo into an Adirondack chair on my roomy private deck overlooking the lake. It was the perfect vista from which to enjoy and reflect upon this glorious, unparalleled resort experience.

It ain't over 'til it's over

We’re not quite ready to leave the beauty and majesty of Quebec until we’ve delved into two more destinations in awe-inspiring Canada!

Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications including as the cultural travel writer for www.Examiner.com and as a senior travel writer for SoulOfAmerica.com, an Afrocentric travel website. Lysa can be reached at lallmanbaldwin@kc.rr.com.

Resource list

  • Auberge du Lac Taureau: 877-822-2623, 450-833-1919, www.lactaureau.com/
  • Auberge le Baluchon: 800-789-5968, 819-268-2555, www.baluchon.com
  • Kinipi Spa & Bains Nordiques: 888-954-6474, 819-693-9999, www.kinipi.ca (Note: Although the website is in French, there are English-speaking staff members who can answer any questions you have over the phone and while at the spa.)
  • Spa Natur’Eau: 866-697-4864, 450-835-1300, www.natureau.com/en
  • Tourisme Quebec: 877-266-5687, www.bonjourquebec.com