On-line Guide: South of France's chicest snorkel spots
Posted Jul 2018 in Go & Do
Think you need scuba tanks to explore the Riviera’s azure seas? Not at all! Spend the €40 dive fee on 8 bottles of Carrefour rosé instead. A mask and snorkel are all that’s required to spot octopi and sea bass just a short swim from shore.
A wetsuit isn’t necessary either: from June to November sea temperatures don’t dip below 20ºc. In July and August they top 25ºc.
Curiously, some of the Cote d’Azur’s most desirable addresses boast the best snorkel spots. A dearth of tourism, plus the fact that villa housekeepers have been known to throw leftover lobster to the fishes, guarantees sea life aplenty.
Even if you can’t afford Europe’s most expensive real estate, a peek under the waves costs nothing. Here are three secret snorkel spots where you’re as likely to spot a celebrity as you are a scorpion fish.
- Plage les Fossettes, Cap Ferrat
Cap Ferrat’s ultra-exclusive Paloma Point crumbles into three fabulous public beaches: Paloma Plage, Plage les Fosses and Plage les Fossettes. Les Fossettes recently received the ultimate gift for snorkelers: a 200m-long sentier sous-marin (undersea trail) that criss-crosses the deserted bay. The course runs between five buoys. Below each one a sub-aquatic notice board details five different Mediterranean biotypes like Poseidon Grass, where urchins and starfish abound, and rock bottoms, which lichen sponges call home. Plages les Fossettes faces both ocean and sun, so look out for deep sea feeders that frequent the shore at dawn and dusk.
- Crique des Pêcheurs, Monaco
The Principality isn’t the most obvious place for a snorkel sortie. Its Casino once enticed visitors to jump into the water dressed in eveningwear rather than with a mask and snorkel (the infamous ‘suicide terrace’ near Place du Casino was thankfully filled in decades ago). But Monaco’s waters form a protected marine reserve. The nation’s finest snorkel site is off the secret beach of Crique des Pêcheurs. This former fisherman’s outpost sits directly under the Musée Océanographique, which commands the Rock of Monte Carlo high above. For access follow the signs for the open-air amphitheatre (English-language films are screened here alfresco all summer) then hop over the sea barrier to the beach. The creek is sandy, silent and about as understated and un-Monaco as you can get. But below the water you can expect to spot shoals of saupe, massive grey mullet and the occasional striped bass!
- Plage des Galets, Cap d’Antibes
Plage des Galets is the Cap d’Antibes’ secret beach. Abutting the Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc, where summer rooms are booked up years in advance for a minimum of €1,000 per night, it’s a locals-only stretch of shingle shore. Jackfish, scorpion fish, rays and nudibranches flourish in these seldom visited waters.