South of France Practicalities: Accommodation, Diving Operators, Qualifications...
For deep wreck diving (40m and plus) you will have to have a qualification of at least CMAS 3 star equivalent. If you haven't been diving recently to these sorts of depths you might be required to be accompanied by an instructor. France is firmly a CMAS country, and as such PADI is less well recognized. However, don't fear as these are commercial dive operators and as long as your log book is decent you haven't too much to worry about.
A dive qualification is not enough any more. France has become much more like Spain with a requirement for a medical certificate of fitness to dive less than one year old. When first diving with a dive boat you will be asked to present this. Without this you will most likely not be permitted to dive. An alternative may be a log showing a good amount of recent diving activity, but do not count on this if you don't want to be disappointed.
BSAC members can obtain a diving medical form (Form B) from BSAC headquarters to be signed by their GP.
Most of the clubs on the coast have some abilities in English, or there will always be someone on the boat who can help you out with translations.
For wreck dives you can easily hire a 15 litre bottle with dual valves with transformable DIN and normal exits. The normal set up for diving in France is twin regulators on a single bi valve bottle, so that you have an independent air source. This set up is a legal requirement for dive instructors in France.
The French will think nothing of 15 minutes in water deco, which given that you have warm water, and little to no currents and calm conditions isn't that difficult. With the Eperlan dive operators a safety bottle is provided, and lines for deco at 3 and 6 meters.
The sea temperature at the surface ranges from around 9 oC in January to 23 oC in August. June to September are the warmest months in which to dive.
Be aware that in France you will not necessarily be following a dive master about the dive. If this is not how you are used to diving, and it concerns you, then check before signing up for dives.
The Eperlan is based in the port of Cavalaire Sur Mer, on the side of the port which is nearest to the town's main streets. You can turn up in the morning to join the dive if it is out of high season, or book in advance (high season is second half of July and August). The boat normally leaves at 8.30am, but best to be a bit early especially on the first day. Claude and Jules are the skippers who run this boat. They have a great sense of humour, are easy going, but expert at what they do. They know the wrecks intimately, and will ensure you have a great dive.
Port de Boulouris
31 rue de Périgny
Run long weekend dive trips to Nice, Antibes and St Raphael.
"I learned to dive with Diamond Diving and would thoroughly recommend it. I went on as many subsequent dives as I could fit into my schedule. The instructor/dive buddy was very friendly and professional. The whole experience was one I will not forget. The boat staff were friendly professional and efficient. Very reasonable price and worth every penny."
"I did a long weekend of diving with Diamond Diving. We were really well looked after. It was good value for the money. They organized a really nice hotel and did all of our airport transfers.
I highly recommend them!"
Quai Lunel - Port de Nice
26 Bd Stalingrad
50 bd Franck Pilatte
35 av Ste Marguerite
50 bd Franck Pilatte
Dive Center close to the Spanish border. Dutch, English, Spanish, French and German spoken. Provide courses for PADI, SSI and ANMP.
Diviing school based in a four star resort since 1988. BSAC advanced instructor, PADI and CMAS instructor. Diving boat operates in Banyuls national park. Kid's school from 8. Family diving set up.
Esplanade Du Port
Run an Air Station, all be it small, in the Lot area and organise accommodation and diving requirements for all groups, families and instructors.
Accommodation is easy to find, however be careful in the high seasons of second half of July and August. There are numerous camp sites, hotels and abundant flats, cottages and houses for rent. If your French is good enough you can try an excellent publication which is on line to search for direct owners who rent property - http://www.pap.fr/. If you prefer bed and breakfast see below.
Lot Cave Diving Centre