Just back from a two week trip to Southern Brittany, staying near Quiberon. I'd asked a while back if anyone had recommendations but drew a blank so thought I'd write up a bit in case anyone else is going that way! Any questions, just ask but I've tried to cover the main points.
Brittany is a lovely part of the world. Took the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo, and then a 2hr drive to Auray, in the Morbihan department. Was with wife and baby, so not a diving trip, but decided to try and wangle a few dives whilst out there.
Early internet research indicated three dive centres, and tourist stuff when I got out there confirmed only the same three:
- Haliotis Plongée - north end of Quiberon
- Quiberon Plongée - South end of Quiberon
- Carnac Plongée - just to the east of Quiberon at Carnac
France wants dive medicals by a doctor, no self-certification allowed. I used Dr Alastair Wilcockson in Portsmouth who was really good - never had a medical before for diving, so blood pressure, urine check, BMI, spirograph test on the lungs and heart checked with an all clear certificate on the FFESSM (Fédération Française d'études et de Sports Sous-Marins) forms so there were no worries about translation.
Looking at the websites, Haliotis* seemed to be more set up for casual passing divers, so I emailed them before going out and booked a morning dive. Google translate is your friend for the emails - I can do French but its pretty rusty, and diving French was a whole new world...
Rocked up - weather was bad and blown out, but came back two days later when all was calmer and all went ahead.
Haliotis has a small building on the edge of Portivy, and runs a rib out from the harbour there. Everything was done in French, although when I struggled or looked blank, they did use some English. They did check my medical, my certification, and looked at my logbook. I was paired with a random French diver, but following the instructor who was keeping an eye on us whilst guiding another diver.
The west coast of Quiberon is similar to Cornwall; granite, with lots of gullies and outcrops, kelp forest, tons of jewel anemones, cup corals, lots of pink sea fans, snake locks in the shallower sections, couple of nudibranch (small white dorids - not sure exactly what), a few urchins, spider crabs, lobster, crawfish, prawns, congers, octopus etc. Max depth 20m, Vis was about 5-6 m, water was 18 degrees.
Really nice dive, very relaxed and worth doing.
Thought I'd try visiting Carnac Plongée as we were there a day later. The place was closed (despite having a sign saying open 7 days a week), didn't respond to emails, and only got voicemail when called. A day or so later, I got a call back saying they had closed for the year, so probably only operate in the high season. Managed to wangle another dive back at Haliotis a few days later, different location, but similar sea life. Another random French diver pairing, and now trusted to head off and explore by ourselves.
I'll try and post some images when I get time, but mainly shot video on a GoPro so will take a while to pull the right stuff off.
Cost: £85 for a dive medical, and diving was EUR 50 each time (EUR 35 for the dive, EUR 15 for kit rental)
Diving: lots of wildlife, similar to Cornwall / Devon, good vis, wish I'd taken my big camera
Other: Plan ahead and email first! Nice beaches for long suffering partners to wait patiently for you on. Don't expect much English to be spoken. Not sure that many English (or other nationalities) divers go there. July/August is their main season, October was definitely low season.
*not to be confused with Halitosis, especially when speaking to the owners...