The father of modern scuba diving Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born in Bordeaux in 1910. At that time there was no dive center in France and neither worldwide. With Emile Gagne, he developed the first independent regulator, the Aqualung, in the clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea. You’ll understand that France is the birthplace of scuba diving and one of the best destinations for this activity. To dive in France, the most beautiful dive sites in France are located on the long French coastline of over 5400 km which offers many disparities with sandy coasts, marshes and mud flats but also rocky shores. To dive in France, there are many possibilities between the clarity of the Mediterranean, the many historical and recent shipwrecks, the vast networks of caves, dry, drop-off or dips penny ice. To find a dive site in France or to find or book a dive center in france is rather easy but let’s see together what are the best dive sites in France.
The Glénan islands, heaven for divers and wreck lovers – FINISTERE
Want to dive on a trendy dive site in France? The Glénan archipelago located in the department of Finistère is fashionable among divers. These isolated islands, classified natural reserve, seduces by their wild natures. Glénan, the granite coast, is subject to strong wind, tide and currents. However, the beauty of the turquoise waters of opal reflections actually make its water look like a real tropical oasis. Under water, there is a lush marine fauna and flora. Crustaceans and other invertebrates are present in large number in the crevices of rocks but it is not rare to surprise them during their outings. The flora, consisting of giant kelp give divers the curious impression of swimming in a sunken jungle. But the magic does not stop there; Glénan islands are also a sanctuary for some gigantic wrecks like The Pietro Orsoleo, a huge Italian cargo ship of 140 meters long. You’ll understand that you will find in the Glénan islands some of the most beautiful dive sites of France.
The harbor of Brest and Conquet, wild coastline – FINISTERE
Limiting your scuba diving experience in the Finistère to the Glénan islands would be an unforgivable mistake because Brittany hosts, in its waters, some of the finest diving spots in France. The coastline between the harbor of Brest and Conquet offers extraordinary reliefs with varied screes drop-off, cracks and cavities. On these dive sites, you will probably meet with the main species of the Atlantic Ocean, like lobsters, crabs, pout, bars or congress. Also present in large numbers, the wrecks attract many divers curious about history. The most spectacular wreck is undoubtedly the old destroyer Dellec, sunk during the Second World War. The Émile Allard wreck is also a very popular dive.
Belle-Île-en-mer – MORBIHAN
To dive in France, this island of 85 km2, located in the turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean is a beautiful destination to start. The largest island in Brittany is overlooking the sea at an average altitude of 40 meters. The rocks of the island are composed of a friable rock mostly made of shale that has undergone intense erosion from the sea giving it this jagged appearance. Water has also drawn the seabed surreal landscapes, mixture of caves, faults, canyons and tunnels of all kinds. The colorful flora of the area colonized rocks giving it a false air of tropical garden ! In the many gaps, fish patiently wait for dusk to hunt. Other aquatic creatures inhabit these cracks like lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans. Finally, be aware that two beautiful wrecks are lying near the coast of Belle-Ile: the trawler Philippe Eric and the Hanan.
Relive D-day and world war II – NORMANDY
Another great destination to dive in France: Normandy. In dark and cold waters rests hundreds of historic shipwrecks including a large proportion that comes from the famous Allied landings during the Second World War. Others are the result of shipwreck, sunk on the rocks of the region. The D-Day Museum at Port en Bessin offers to wrecks lovers a great resource to document. Among all these vessels, the Empire Broadsword, the USS Meredith III, the Fort Norfolk and the Courbet are the most successful among divers because of their excellent preservation, their abundant marine life and the ability to step into their entrails. You will meet all the marine fauna of the Channel consisting of lobsters, sea spiders, congress and bars. Also be aware that most of the wrecks are accessible to beginners as they respect the depth limit imposed by their certifications. The average depth of the wreck is usually between 12 and 25 meters. Many dive shops in France offer to dive on these wrecks.
Tignes lake, immersion under ice – SAVOIE
Here it is not about discovering the best dive sites in France but to live a fabulous experience. Who has never dreamed of plunging his face in the mirror to see the wonderful show of light passing through it. Good news, ice diving is growing rapidly, and its practice becomes much more accessible, particularly in Tignes. Dive shops in France recently opened around the lake to offer this unique experience. Of course, ice diving requires special diving equipment, adapted to cold, so here you obviously won’t dive with a wetsuit or a small mask. This is a good opportunity to learn to dive in a dry suit which introduces different concepts about your buoyancy. Once equipped, you slip into a hole cut in the ice to discover this particular universe. From there, you will see that the magic happens …
Mecca for cave diving – LOT ET GARONNE
Cave diving lovers, it is not always easy to find a dive shop in France for this activity. For cave diving the region including New Aquitaine Dordogne and Lot et Garonne. Most of the best dive site in France for this discipline are held in this part of south-western France. There are numerous cave systems at the surface and underwater. The most famous are covered with beautiful cave paintings. The water in this caves, carved into the limestone is crystalline, providing an ideal visibility for the practice of scuba diving. It is important to have experience in cave diving because the difficulty in these caves may be pretty difficult because of the density of tunnels, passages adjustment, narrow walls and sediment on the bottom.
The National Parc of Port Cros – VAR
The Region of the Var or Côte d’Azur has a large National park,that includes the islands of Hyères, part of the island of Porquerolles, the islands of Port-Cros, the island of Bagaud, the one of the Gabinière and the rock of Rascas is probably the most popular marine park among divers wishing to dive in France. This reserve is a sanctuary for the abundant marine life of the area. It includes some of the best dive sites in France with all the fauna of the Mediterranean including groupers, bream, moray eels, scorpion fish but also a colorful flora composed mainly of shining sea fans hanging on steep walls. The Port-Cros Park is famous worldwide for hosting some fabulous wrecks as the Donator, often considered as the best dive site in France. This freighter of 78 meters sank in 1945. It is located at a depth of about 50 meters that attracts each year thousands of divers. Marine life is abundant on and around the ship’s carcass and the wreck is covered with sumptuous soft corals. Other famous wrecks deserve a wreck dive as the Greek, the three masts Togo or even the submarine Rubis.
The Riou Archipelago, pearl of Provence – MARSEILLE
If you travel to dive in France, be aware that on the shores of Marseille, there is, in single file, the uninhabited islands of Maïre, Jarron, Jarre and Riou Plane completed by few islets. This group of islands with exceptional natural heritage offers divers an underwater spectacle of beauty: various reliefs, steep walls, impressive wrecks and lush wildlife. In this unique archipelago, you will find some of the best dive sites in France as “The Imperials”, succession of drop-off covered with red gorgonians where it is not uncommon to see pelagic fish passing bass, sea bream, dentex, barracudas …. Don’t forget to dive on “the Pharillons” which is a great dive site that consists of a majestic drop-off of 45 meters beneath which you will discover the rare and beautiful white gorgonians but also magnificent arches carved into the rock. “The great Conglou”, today partially forbidden is still a mecca for diving in Marseille with its drop-off, its multitudes of gorgonians and its fault 30 meters.
The Gulf of Porto, the beautiful island jewel – SOUTH OF CORSICA
The Gulf of Porto is located on the western side of Corsica and it’s a great place to dive in France. The unique geology of the Gulf makes it a popular curiosity for tourists visiting the region. Volcanic rocks or magmatic rocks make the whole fascinating, above and below the water surface. The steep cliffs plunging into the depths are covered with red porphyry offering a breathtaking spectacle. At the end of the Gulf of Porto, we find the protected marine reserve of Scandola registered as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1975. This peace haven protects a remarkable biodiversity especially on the dive site of Mucchilina Punta Capo Rosso. Lovers of big fishes will be delighted to dive with barracudas, liches or groupers.
The Lavezzi Islands – SOUTH OF CORSICA
The Lavezzi islands are often considered to have some of the most beautiful dive sites in France. This archipelago of islands and reefs of granite is located at the southernmost point of mainland France that is to say, about 10 kilometers southeast of Bonifacio. This archipelago is particularly difficult to access because of the many reefs in the zone but also because of strong currents rushing through the Strait of Bonifacio. Yet, diving on its dive sites is possible but dive shop prefers outings in the morning, when the turquoise sea is calm and clear. Underwater, the boulders are superimposed in a fascinating ballet and, at the same time, offering many hiding places for dusky groupers families.
You will understand that there is several choices and different type of dives in France. It is time to make your choice, where would you want to dive ?