If, like me, you were a fan of Jacques Cousteau’s adventures, you probably enjoy spending your free time in, around or under the sea, but if you’re a beginner or looking for something more family-friendly, you might want to consider scuba diving swimming.
There are some great places to do this in France, listed in more detail on the Snorkelling Report website for details how to get there and what to see, safety tips and perhaps most importantly, where to eat and drink afterwards.
The list below includes mainland France only. The French départements et régions d’outré mer, which arguably include some of the best sites in the world, must be left for another day, but can be found on the website.
So, for starters, we can go to Corsica.
Corsica has some of the clearest waters on the entire French coast, with many places worth visiting. One of the best sites Kala Akhiarina.
Located on the west coast of the main island, Cala Acciarina is part of the Lovetti Islands, a small archipelago located near Bonifacio.
Protected by a marine reserve for 40 years, it boasts some of the most pristine waterscapes and thriving marine life in Corsica. Natural pool in the village Cala Achiarina is there just across the street from a beautiful (though often crowded) beach, making it an ideal spot for beginners. It’s also a great place to get close to wildlife: the fish here are particularly inquisitive.
For more experienced snorkelers, you should visit Cala Della Chiesaalso in the islands of Lovetti, recommended.
Another great place to stay in Corsica is near the beach Palambaja.
The site is located in southern Corsica, approximately 5 kilometers south of downtown Porto Vecchio. It is part of the Bouches de Bonifacio Marine Reserve, where fishing has been regulated since 1999: therefore, fish density and species diversity are particularly good.
Mainland France has a range of habitat types to suit different snorkelers.
First, in Cannes you will be able to find Cannes Underwater Museum. Comprised of six monumental sculptures depicting portraits of local residents submerged near the island of Sainte-Marguerite, the site adds magic to the underwater world of the French Riviera. Free access from the shore, this is a special place with artistic, but also ecological accents, aimed at protecting and providing a haven for marine life.
Further west you will find Pointe de l’Ehuy.
It is considered one of the most beautiful places for scuba diving on the French Riviera. Located at the foot of the red cliffs of Esterel, it offers a turquoise sea where exceptional marine biodiversity thrives, highlighted by a short snorkeling trail.
Here you will find not only the usual Mediterranean species (sea bream, sole, wrasse), but also rarer fish such as brown scarp, scorpena or dark bass. A must visit place if you are in the area.
Octopus quite common in this place, which is protected by a marine reserve.
Another of the most unusual places can be found in the shallow waters of Yera, on the river north-west side of the Hien Peninsula.
This is the location of the old archeological excavations The Roman port of Olbia.
With shallow archaeological remains located a few tens of meters from the beach, Olbia offers a unique diving experience. Between history and nature, you will be free to explore the old Roman harbor and 19th-century wrecks, which are home to many Mediterranean fish.
To the south of the Isle of Presque-des-Jeans lie the Aul d’Hierre. The largest island of this group is Porquerolles, which, together with its neighbor Port Cross, presents some of the best places to observe the Mediterranean marine fauna in its most natural form.
Snorkelling-report is recognized as the first place in the entire Mediterranean Sea Plage de la Palud at Port Cros is not to be missed.
Located in the Port Cross National Park (the oldest National Marine Park in the Mediterranean, first opened in 1963), hundreds of sociable fish, long accustomed to human presence, traverse the calm, crystal clear waters.
Visitors can also explore the diversity of marine life thanks to the snorkeling trail that has been laid out in the bay. This is one of the very rare places in France where you can see a brown poor and dark bass at the depth of diving.
Further west, beyond Marseilles, the coastline is not the best for snorkeling due to the wide sandbars.
However, as you reach the border with Spain, rocky headlands emerge.
Before you go there, you should go and see the seahorses Ponton de la Bordelez at Etang de Tau, near Set. In recent years, the population of these magical fish has increased dramatically, and encounters with them are always unforgettable. Often they can be found near the shore, in just a meter of water.
The last site on the Mediterranean coast located in the center of a marine reserve established in 1974.
The Plage de Peyrefit (Peyrefite beach) is the most popular place for scuba diving on the Vermeil coast. It is located between Banyuls-sur-Mer and the border with Spain, in a well-sheltered rocky inlet where a path has been laid for scuba diving.
The long-established no-fishing zone has attracted many larger specimens, including some huge ones, especially bream, sorghum and saddled sea bream.
Perhaps you are wondering about the rest of France? Unfortunately, there were few entries made on the website for the Atlantic coast due to rougher seas, poorer visibility and slightly cold water.
Having said that, a place worth visiting can be found south west of Kemper in the Etocs Archipelago. This is one of the best places in Brittany to snorkel with gray seals. Attracted by the rocky islets and fishy waters of the small archipelago, a dozen seals settled in this protected area. Kayak to the islands and jump into the water to swim with these curious creatures!
Gray seals can be very inquisitive and approach snorkelers.
Well, it’s a tour for now, and don’t worry about being Tamalov (diver) to take part, it’s great for the whole family. If you’d like to learn more and even contribute your own reports and photos of good dive sites, then join the other enthusiastic members at www.snorkeling-report.com
See you in the water.
Nigel Thomas is a keen snorkeler and participant Scuba diving report a site managed by Guillaume Astejean, as well as Diving resort.