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Dive Review of Bormes Plongee in
Other Locations/France

July, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Vincent Reed, CA, United States (1 report)
Report Number 4434
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
France, Andros, Nassau, StLucia,Hawaiian islands, Aukumal, Cozumel,
Bonaire, Monterey, Channel Isl, Coronados,North Carolina, Oregon, Sonoma
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
54   to 64    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 70    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Buddy diving required; first dive with my son, was limited to about 80 ft.
On my second and subsequent dives limited to 150 ft and lite-deco. Limits
based on CMAS rules.   
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Tropical Fish
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
4 stars  
The coast between Toulon and Nice on the Med is southern France is a
wonderful experience, with as much to photograph above water as below. With
over a hundred wrecks in that area, if you enjoy photographing wrecks, they
are here. The islands of Port of Cros, Pourquelles and others are off the
coast. They are marine reserves and very similar to diving Californias
Channel Islands. One of the drawbacks I ran into was fickle visibility.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars    
1 stars   
4 stars    
This was my second trip to the Med coastline of France. Growing up reading
Cousteau's adventures in 2005 this was a pilgrimage back to the roots of
SCUBA and a chance to visit the Museum of Oceanography in Monaco. The
Cousteau Calypso was homeported to Toulon and it is the current location of
the French Navy Dive School. In 2005 my son Eric and I dove the 1881
gunboat wreck, the Tromblon. It was in good shape, full of congor eels and
and errie greenwater dive. The dive operation from Saint Mandrier (near
Toulon) was excellent! We vowed to return. July 2008 we did, stayed in La
Lavandou and dove with two operations, Bormes Plongee and Lavandou Plongee
(plongee = diving).

French diving is truly its own tradition, where CMAS rules. The handsigns,
boat rules, some of the gear configuration ...and of course dive briefings
in barrs and meters... were new to me the first go-around. Passing around a
thermos of expresso at the end of the dive among the nicer and consistent

EU rules require a dive medical clearance. The internet always refernces
this, but this trip I did encounter it. The shop signage was pretty
unambiguous about this applying to all. Luckily I had that documentation
because the dive that followed at Port Cros was not to be missed.  

My son Alex was able to join me on one dive. While his high school French
is better than my decades-old efforts, language was never a serious
impediment to diving, safety, or on-board camaraderie with any of the dives
in France. Although he was the only kid on the boat, they treated him

The dive off Ravellier island, a tiny island off Port Cros was in a marine
reserve, with abundant large black grouper, jelly fish, pennant fish,
occasional nudibrancs, and a myriad of small fish schooling in and out of
the steep landscape. No large coral formations, but cliffs, ridges and blue
water. Dove here another day with La Lavandou Plongee getting deeper down
the wall and encountered more and larger groupers, swimming just an arms
length away....up to eight at a time.  

The dive on 1945 La Grec (more correctly, La Sagona),a cargoship, was a
classic wreck dive. The stern intact but the bow demolished by a WW2
remnant sea mine. The massive propellor sits at 47 meters. Some light
penetration to the engine room was easy enough. The ascent was a liveboat
hanging deco (NOTE: If you travel light, bring your dive computer AND your
reel with SMB, all the rest you can rent).The ride out and back was flying
in the Bormes Plogee RIB. 

The wreck Spahis, sunk in 1883, was actually the third wreck of the
afternoon dive, although the first two were so shredded as to be more like
debris fields than wrecks. The debris fields were fun to search, octopi
peering up here and there to observe.The Spahis itself is very photogenic,
its bare ribs at a 45 degree angle siloutted against surface sun when
looking up the seagrass incline. My only qualm about that dive was would
have preferred more time on the Saphis and less time in the other areas.
The wreck sits in 25 meters but parts of the dive are deeper.  

My hope this trip was to dive the Rubis, but on my limited schedule I
couldnt work that out. That sub wreck will have to wait for the next trip.
I had tried to get a hotel near a diveshop closer the Rubis dive area, but
along that entire coast hotels book full very early except for those in the
obscenely expensive range. In August it's even worse.

Lastly (my editorial) Please don't go to this area and expect it to be like
American diving. It is not! Get into the culture of it. That is a big part
of the fun. 

The dive shops all book one-dive trips. Each trip is booked, paid
seperately..this can give you a S.I.T. of a couple hours. Even the rentals
are per trip. This means those modestly priced rentals can actually get

Great dictionary: L'Anglais tel Qu'on le Plongee  by Patrice Bourdelet. Not
necessary but very helpful. Lastly, this year different from previous, dive
shops not taking VISA, but cash only. With ATM limits on per-day cash
withdrawals, and an eye on the exchange rate, have to plan for not having
plastic backup. 

The CMAS system seems to consider PADI AOW as the minimum certification
standard. In each shop I've talked with (six) they seem relieved not to
have to deal with an OW card (including for my kids), even at shops with
giant PADI Center stickers on the front window. The Bormes shop does do
Tech diving (TDI affiliated) off season, including mix and CCR. One of
those local wrecks is a bit deeper than 200 fsw. 

There are a few sources on diving in France. The British magazine DIVE
occasionally describes it. The US magazines and sources seem pretty blank
on the area (amazing!)If you can read French, recommend: 100 Epaves en Cote
dAzur (100 wrecks of the Blue Coast)by A.Joncheray at 
The publisher has a collection of books about the area. French div mags
are: Plongeur International and Plongee. 

In France an intro dive is called a "baptism" true!
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