Montreal is known as a party city, an art and culture city. Skiing? Sure. But surfing? Yup! It’s got it all. We chat with local river surfer and board shaper, Chloé Mocombe, about where to surf and what to do in Montreal.
Tell us a little about yourself, Chloé. Where are you from and what do you do for a living?
I'm from Montreal, Québec in Canada. For a living, I am a freelance social media manager, early childcare educator, and with my boyfriend William Pichet, we have a handmade surfboard company called Ananus Surfboards.
How did you get into surfing?
Six years ago, I learned surfing in Costa Rica, and I just didn't stop. Came back to Montreal and went straight to the river. I needed to continue surfing, keep playing in the water, and push myself.
Tell us a little about river surfing. Is it popular in and around Montreal? What’s the scene like?
River surfing is getting bigger and bigger. Not only in Montreal, but I think all around the world. People are exploring rivers and have found something magical and pretty unique. For Montreal, it’s still a little bit underground, but it’s totally getting popular.
River surfing is so different. It’s a static wave so to catch it, you need to paddle into the current and swim down the river with your surfboard. If you miss it, you need to get out of the rapids, walk back and start again. It’s really challenging and makes you practice your perseverance. Depending on the time of day, you can have a lineup of 5 to 30 people during a warm and beautiful summer day. River surfers can practice all year long, it’s just more dangerous during the winter because of the ice. It’s really not recommended...it’s pretty dangerous. But, believe it or not, during the summer, we surf in bikinis, and it’s just magical. Gliding forever on a standing wave.
How far is your drive, and where do you go to surf the coast?
When I need the ocean, I pack the surfboards into the car and go off for a surf trip to Maine. It takes around 5 hours to get there, the off-road is scenic. Especially because we drive before the sunrise, so when you are in the white mountains of the USA, the sun rising up between the trees is beautiful. When you are getting close to the ocean, you can just smell it. It gives me goosebumps.
Is it a pain to drive across the border to surf?
No! We pass the border around 3:00-4:00am. The border guards probably think that the French Canadians are just really crazy about surfing in the USA.
What’s a quick and dirty explanation of the Montreal lifestyle and what Montreal is all about?
We live around the weather. Everything that we do is planning around the that.
Do you feel like you have a strong Quebecoise identity?
I'm half Quebecoise and half Haitian. Of course, my accent is what people recognize when I'm traveling.
Where to caffeinate
Boutique Archive has the best hot chocolate.
Where to eat
Hamburger & Poutine at Chez Tousignant
Or lunch at Brasserie Harricana
Where to go out at night
During the summer, I love to chill at Aire Commune. It’s an outside get-together place where everybody at the end of the day comes for a drink, to meet new people, and listen to good music. We had surfboard pop up a couple of times, and we always had a blast.
Bar Suzanne, drinks are super delicious and the vibe is pretty unique.
Where to river surf
Habitat 67 or Vague à Guy.
Take a river surfing course at KSF during the summer or go with an experienced person.
Where to surf nearest the coast
Kennebunk Beach, Maine
Ogunquit River, Maine
Higgins Beach, Maine
Where else do you like to go in winter?
Hike to the cross of the Mont-Royal. The view of the city is pretty amazing.
Walk on St-laurent street to see the murals.
Check out Habitat 67, for the standing wave of course, but the building is really well recognized for his architecture.
We have a lot of festivals in Montreal, especially during the summer: Montreal International Jazz Festival, Osheaga Music Festival, Francofolies of Montreal, Murals Festival...
Any parting advice?
Every year, Boutique Archive organizes a surf-swap in Quartier Villeray. The whole Montreal surf community comes to hang out. We exchange surfboards, eat some tacos, and drink Montreal microbrewery beer or kombucha. It's a big event for Ananus Surfboards, because we have the chance to introduce our new surfboards. The owners of the shop are two lovely people who have good taste for design and clothing.
Check out Ananus Surfboards for more info!