Southern France: Best of Mediterranean diving

by   Profile Herbert   When 1st May 2017
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Large grouper - seen in the marine reserve (c) Andreas Wackenrohr
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One of the famous wrecks nearby: the Donator von(c) Nicolas Barraque
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Wreck: Le Grec (c) Nicolas Barraque
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Beautiful Gorgonians (c) Andreas Wackenrohr
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A bay in Giens (c) Andreas Wackenrohr
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Grimaud and it's old castle (c) Andreas Wackenrohr
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Dive boat of Divin' Giens: Ar'Guevel (c) Andreas Wackenrohr
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Hansi Hähner - owner of Divin' Giens (c) Andreas Wackenrohr
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Diving in the marine reserve of Port Cros (c) Nicolas Barraque
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Diving in the marine reserve of Port Cros (c) Nicolas Barraque
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Diving in the marine reserve of Port Cros (c) Nicolas Barraque
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Diving in the marine reserve of Port Cros (c) Nicolas Barraque
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Diving in the marine reserve of Port Cros (c) Nicolas Barraque

World-famous wrecks and a marine reserve

When in the Mediterranean, be sure to visit Côte d'Azur in southern France, where the "Presqu'ile de Giens" peninsula stretches out into the open sea – this is where you'll find Mediterranean diving at its finest. The world-famous wrecks and a marine reserve here means a rich diversity of marine life.

If you don't have a caravan, you can rent a fully furnished mobile home or holiday apartment. Needless to say, a popular spot at the resorts is the swimming pool. With the temperatures in the Mediterranean what they are, this pool offers a refreshing spot to unwind after an exciting day of diving. It is just as refreshing to enjoy the sunset at the beach bar overlooking the coast, with a chilled beer in hand. If you are lucky, you might spot a flock of flamingos at the salt marshes in the evenings.

The dive sites here offer the full range of diving options. Whether your passion is for wrecks, marine life or just for the dive experience itself, you are guaranteed an unforgettable experience. Where wrecks are concerned, the possibilities are extensive, from a sun-flooded cement ship at moderate depth to more demanding wrecks much deeper. The diversity of marine life at the wrecks is simply unbelievable. Of course, those who dive here should have the necessary training and certification.

Once you have taken the plunge, the stunning scenery surrounding wrecks like the Donator can be rather addictive. (See info section: Dive Regulations in France) For those who savour being surrounded by schools of fish, this is the perfect marine paradise.

More than 50 years ago, the national park of Port-Cros was established. Along with it, the waters around the island was designated a marine reserve where fishing or harpooning is prohibited. The positive results of this is immediately obvious, with schools of fish literally swimming across in front of you. While it would be hard to top the large groupers at the La Gabinière wreck which approach divers without any fear, let's not forget the large conger eels, moray eels and cephalopods that populate this vibrant dive location.

Topside, the landscape boasts impressive natural beauty. Travelling along the coast yields impressive views of the sea and nearby islands, and the rugged coastline with its small bays. Not far away is Saint Tropez, a destination popular with the jet-setting crowd. This is where the rich and famous are known to make an appearance from time to time. The charming village of Grimaud, with its ancient, visible fortress, is only a short walk from here.

Don't forget to visit the areas beyond the coast. Here, you'll find the quaint villages of Provence, where time seems to have stood still. The delightful herb-scented landscape is a fitting way to conclude your dive holiday in a unique way.

Wrecks and Stunning Dive Sites

There are about 30 dive sites with fixed buoys and six wrecks without a buoy.

Depending on the diver's certification level, about 20 dive sites and a total of ten wrecks can be dived. Four of them can only be visited by divers with the appropriate training.

According to Hansi Hähner's (owner of Divin' Giens – the local Dive Center) observations, the fish population has increased significantly in recent years. Compared to many other diving areas, the fish population here is significantly larger than what a diver in the Mediterranean would normally find. This shows what a thriving marine area can do for tourism. Even outside the protected areas, the fish population is much more than in other places. This is especially true for fish species that are sought after, like the grouper. These fish are increasingly being spotted outside these zones, a clear sign that the protected area is too small for the existing population.

Encounters with the sunfish (Mola-mola) have increased in recent years. In late spring, around the beginning of June, they tend to appear in the warmer waters. If Lady Luck places you in the right place at the right time, you'll get a chance to admire these peculiar fish up close.

Trips to the Port-Cros Nature Reserve are available once a week as a day trip. Divin' Giens is open from Easter to November. In the late autumn, the water is still pleasantly warm at 22 degrees Celsius, and the number of guests is low.

Further information: www.divingiens.com - www.international-giens.com/en
Dive Sites Infos nearby Giens
Diving the "Donator"

Dive regulations in France

From time to time, discussions abound in the dive community that one can only dive in France with a CMAS-Brevet. This is, of course, not true, as divers certified by associations like SSI or PADI can also dive here. However, it is important to note that some dive sites require perfect diving skills due to their location (currency, depth).

In France, there are state regulations and tests for commercial diving schools. The link explains how the legal aspects are regulated and the locations where one, depending on skill level, is qualified to dive.

Read more here.

Written by
Profile Herbert
Date
When 1st May 2017
Where
Location Giens, Hyères, Frankreich

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