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Dive Review of Bormes Plongee in
General Travel/Other Locations/France

Bormes Plongee, Jul, 2008,

by Vincent Reed, CA, United States ( 1 report). Report 4434.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments 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 traditions.

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 wonderfully.

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 expensive.

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!

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 Coast
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather Seas
Water Temp 54-64°F / 12-18°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 40-70 Ft/ 12-21 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
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.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals N/A Tropical Fish N/A
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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
UW Photo Comments 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.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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