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My name's Laurent and I live in Bordeaux. I have dived since 2002 quite often into the Atlantic ocean near Spain and in Mediterranean and Red seas. I'll try to plan a diving trip in Bahamas by the end of the year and begin a Nitrox course through IANTD or Padi.
I am also one of the administrators of a French website specialized in scubadiving : www.plongeur.com
So if you want to plan a diving trip into the vineyards , do not hesitate to contact me.
As you are RoI I'm guessing PADI OW? If so you will have no problem in finding centres that will take you on (accompanied) dives to 18M. As to low-cost well that is a different matter...
Usually its about €30-40 a dive. You will need a medical certificate of less than one year old. Without it you will not be able to dive. This is French Law. Ideally you should have a French Medical Certificate, but most centres will accept one from another EU country.
Very good diving can be found round Marseille and further east. The Cote Bleu is worth a look and there are a couple of PADI centres there.
West of the Carmargue the viz turns to poo until you get west of Agde.
Marseille, Giens, Toulon, Saint-Raphaël, Cannes, and on and on
I'm originally from Cannes, but I now live in the US. I bring my gear every time I come home and never once was asked to show a medical statement. I understand it's the law, but not too many dive operations let the lack of medical clearance get in the way of doing business. As for PADI vs FFESSM (CMAS), more and more dive operations are both, especially in diver-friendly regions such as the south of France. I started out as a CMAS diver but since moving to the US I've become PADI (Divemaster) and finding a spot on a boat's never been a problem. In Cannes, I like to dive with Sylvie and Patrick (their boat is the Sylpa, get it?) of the Plongée Club de Cannes and in Théoule (just west of Cannes in the Estérel region) with Armand Ferrand. If you go to Cannes, Juan les Pins or Antibes, try to go to the Iles de Lérins. There are some good clubs in Saint-Raphaël, Agay, the whole region will have a lot of choices too numerous to list. Don't expect big animals, but some cool walls and if you're up to it, some deep wrecks. One dive in the morning, one in the afternoon. As far as prices, they're more or less all the same between 30 and 40 euro per half day, but each club (or dive operation) also sells "carnets" of 5, 10, 15 dives whereas the price per dive decreases. Wish I could go... Make sure you reserve if you go between July and August...