Our Diving trip in Pyrénées-Orientales
by Lukas Joseph
Each year, about 80 million tourists come to France to discover our beautiful country. But France has an infinite number of stunning sites to visit. As French, it seems to us that a whole life would not be enough to complete its discovery. At Spotmydive, we had the chance to be invited by the Developement Office of Pyrénées-Orientales to discover the splendor of the Vermeille coast. This little part of France, at the extreme south of the Pyrénées-Orientales, between the beaches of Argelès and the Spanish border, has many assets to seduce holidaymakers and divers: 320 days of sunshine a year, wild creeks, hiking trails, hillside vineyards and a top scuba diving spot. No need to go to the end of the world to find a corner of paradise! Here is the story of the overview of our diving trip in the Pyrénées-Orientales: .
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Our stay – diving in the Pyrénées-Orientales
Starting from Paris, the Pyrénées-Orientales are only 5 hours away by train or 1h30 by plane. Upon our arrival in Perpignan, Beatrice was waiting to welcome us and give us the program and the agency’s vehicle. We then took the direction of Argelès sur mer to discover the first diving center: la Sirène Plongée.
First dive at Argeles sur Mer
The diving center La Sirène Plongée is located in the 5 stars camping baring the same name. Isabelle, the manager, is an indispensable figure of the place. Follower of an easy-going teaching method, she manages to encourage and calm even the most anxious divers. For our first dive at Argeles sur Mer, Isabelle decided to show us one of her favorite diving spots: le Cap Gros . After ten minutes of navigation, we docked the boat with a buoy. Serious things started then.
The water was, in September, at 18 ° C and an underwater suit of 7mm was not superfluous. Once under the water, we made a first observation: visibility is quite good, 10 to 15 meters. A school of sars greeted us, an octopus took its head out of its hole and some dorades swam in the blue. The concentration of fish and the diversity of species were quite impressive for the Mediterranean. 45 minutes later, we were already excited about this first try. We thanked Isabelle for her kindness and looked forward to the continuation of the program scheduled for the next day.
Diving to the cargo “le Bananier”
Cargo Alice Robert called “Le Bananier” is part of shipwreck diving mythic experience of the Pyrénées Orientales. Sunk by a torpedo in 1944, the ship was 47 meters deep on a sandy bottom. To explore this sunken monument, we went to the Archipel Diving Center in Argelès-sur-Mer. Eric, the owner has assembled a great team to join us, made up of friends and federal divers. The day began under beautiful supports, blue sky and sea of oil..
After about ten minutes of navigation on a zodiac, we arrived at destination. The briefing was denser given the deeper profile of the dive. The tone was given. Once in the water, no time to dream, a ray came to greet us during our descent.
Once past the first thermocline, the temperature dropped sharply to 15° and visibility was reduced to 5 meters. The diving lamps partially replaced the lost light and our exploration began. We did not want to miss the derrick, the 107mm gun in the front of the wreck and we must try to see batteries of machine guns and ammunition. We finished the dive with a beautiful smile on a radiant face. The good mood and friendliness extended around a warm lunch at the diving club .
Diving in Banuyls
We do not have time to extend our stay in Argeles sur Mer because we are expected at 2 pm at the Banyuls sea. About thirty minutes’ drive separates, indeed, these two municipalities. The program provides for two dives in the Cerbère Banyuls Marine Nature Reserve . To get there, we will dive with the diving center Rédéris Plongée, a real institution in the region. For the record, this nature reserve is the oldest in France and extends 6.5 km of shorelines and about 2 km offshore. There are more than 1,200 animal species and more than 500 plant species in 3 distinct Mediterranean habitats: the Lithophyllum corniche, Posidonia meadows and corals. Some of the diving spots are, without a doubt, part of the best dive sites in France . Also, we were eager to jump into the water.
The reserve’ dive sites are located 5 minutes from the port where we arrive quickly. The dive began with a festival of colors and shapes. The relief alternates between underwater peaks, canyons and small drop-offs.
In this grandiose setting, dense fauna and flora flourish. We can see anemones, coral, salema porgy, groupers, congers, sea drum, moray eels, octopus and many other species of the Mediterranean.
Visit of Banuyls and vignards
We then had the pleasure of visiting the hinterland with the representatives of the Banyuls Tourist Office. In a postcard setting, we went to discover the vineyards hung on the hillside. From the heights the view is magnificent, where the Pyrenees come to throw themselves into the sea. It is here also where is made one of the most refined wines of the South of France: the Banuyls..
In reality, we did not know what we were going to discover and the last dives made in the Mediterranean had left us with a contrasting feeling. At the end of these 3 days spent discovering the beauties of the Côte Vermeille, our expectations were fulfilled beyond our expectations. Quite unknown to divers, who prefer the Cros harbor reserve or the creeks of Marseille, the Pyrenees Orientales have nothing to envy to these last two. We were very surprised by the richness of the dive sites , the diversity of the species and the good preservation of the fauna. We must add some mythical shipwrecks , beautiful landscapes and a local gastronomy rich in flavors. All these elements cannot leave you unmoved. We hope to have the opportunity, one day soon, to return diving in the Pyrenees Orientales because we still have to discover many beautiful sites and tasty ingredients.
Béatrice Bantegny, Promotion Officer of the Pyrénées-Orientales
Nathalie from the Tourist Office of Argelès sur Mer – Antoine and Anthony from the Tourist Office of Banyuls sur Mer
Isabelle from the diving center La Sirène Plongée
Eric and his happy team from the diving club Archipelago Diving
Eric Delmas from the diving center Rédéris