Continental France has a Mediterranean shoreline of over 560 miles (900km). Made up of a range of marine environments (rock, sandy beaches, small and large islands emerging from the waters), it has fine snorkeling opportunities, particularly in the reserves and National Parks.

This page covers the continental Mediterranean French coast. For Corsica, see the special page. The French overseas departments (Réunion Island, Mayotte, Guadeloupe, Martinique) also have their own pages.

Choose a spot on the map below to see the detailed description:
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The Mediterranean is a relatively small and enclosed sea (1% of the world's ocean surface), but is a major source of biodiversity. It is estimated that the Mediterranean contains 8% of the world's sea life, with an endemism rate of nearly 30%. Neptune grass seabed, in particular, provides a remarkable environment that is simple to explore from the French coast. Although it is easy to come across wrasse, sargo, bream and starfish in the French waters, you can also see congers, moray eels, barracudas or groupers in certain areas.

The best snorkeling areas in France are in the rocky parts of the coast: the Calanques range (between Marseille and Cassis), the Giens peninsula and the Îles d'Hyères, the Esterel range, the Maures range or the Côte Vermeille, near the Spanish border. The French Riviera, consisting mainly of rock, offers many spots of varying quality. On the other hand, fine snorkeling is not to be expected on the vast sandy beaches of Languedoc-Roussillon, for example.

Snorkeling Report France
Giens Peninsula, red starfish at Calanque du Four à Chaux, and Anse de la Fausse Monnaie

The snorkeling must in France is the Port Cros National Park. This small island, which has been a National Park since 1967, has sea beds that are among the Mediterranean’s best preserved and richest in fish. Some spots (Palud Bay, Anse de la Fausse Monnaie) are without equal and will delight even the most experienced snorkelers.

A large number of underwater paths have been laid down around the French coast. With their information panels, they are an original way to explore the sea bed and to discover the Mediterranean's biodiversity. Among the most popular underwater paths are Palud Bay in Port Cros, the Calanque du Port d'Alon in Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Cerbere-Banyuls, Cap d'Agde and Carry-le-Rouet.
When to go to France?

The Mediterranean climate is mild and sunny, and the temperatures are generally clement. On the coast, average temperatures range between 70 to 80°F (20 to 25°C) from June to September, and from 55 to 70°F (14 to 20°C) the rest of the year. July/August is the peak period for tourists in the region, and you can expect high visitor numbers on some parts of the coast.

Water temperature varies between 65 to 75°F (18 to 24°C) from July to October, and around 60°F (15°C) in May/June. Outside these months, snorkeling is limited by cooler water temperatures, unless you have an adapted wetsuit.

The wind, blowing in gusts over some parts of the coast, should be taken into account before a snorkeling trip in the Mediterranean. It can lead to dangerous conditions in the sea (waves), but which are also less pleasant (cold).

CDC France EN

Where to spot them?

Gilt-head bream

Mainly at Port Cros (Plage de la Palud, Anse de la Fausse Monnaie)

Salema porgy

On all spots

Ornate wrasse

Common at Port Cros and Porquerolles

Mediterranean rainbow wrasse

On all spots

Red starfish

On all spots, common at Plage de la Palud

Common two-banded seabream

On all spots

Snakelocks anemone

On all spots

Painted comber

On all spots


On all spots

Neptune grass

On all spots


On all spots

Thicklip grey mullet

On all spots

East Atlantic peacock wrasse

On all spots