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.

Snorkeling at Port Cros and Porquerolles, France
The Port Cros-Porquerolles National Park boasts the most preserved snorkeling spots of South France (left, view of Porquerolles Island; right, a school of salema porgy at Baie de la Palud, Port Cros Island)

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.

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 (Plage de la Palud, Anse de la Fausse Monnaie) are without equal and will delight even the most experienced snorkelers.

Red starfish and calanque - Snorkeling in France
(left) The red starfish, here photographed at Calanque du Four à Chaux, is one of the most colorful species of the Mediterranean Sea. (right) The Calanque de Port Pin, near Cassis.

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 snorkeling South of 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).

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This page covers the continental Mediterranean French coast. For Corsica, see the special page. The French overseas departments and territories also have dedicated pages: Réunion Island, Mayotte, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Polynesia.

New snorkeling spots to share in South France?

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More than 170 spots have already been published on Snorkeling Report, but there are still many spots to be added! You too can contribute to populate the map by sharing your favorite snorkeling spots around the world. The more snorkelers will contribute, the easier it will be for you, and other snorkelers, to find sites and enjoy the underwater world!

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This reference identification guide includes all the 860 marine fish species that may be encountered while snorkeling in coastal Western Europe and the Mediterranean.

Where to spot them?

Discover on which snorkeling spots you are most likely to see your favorite species
Our favorite spots in South France

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