In northern France, the main diving area in the Normandy area specifically around the D-Day landing beaches and coastline of Britanny. Diving in these areas are specifically wrecks dives.
This region of France combines a 360-mile coastline, including the dramatically evocative World War II landing beaches, with a verdant interior of lush farmland, bustling market towns, and historic landmarks such as the cities of Caen, Bayeux and Rouen. Gastronomic delights abound, from fine cheeses to cider and Calvados.
Diving hundreds of wrecks in waters never much more than 25m deep make Arromanches a popular spot for diving, and Normandy Beach has become a popular place for divers. D-Day 1944 saw the sea covered with a carpet of ships, troop carriers, tank landing craft, cruisers, and even huge sections of Mulberry artificial harbours and hundreds of ships were lost over the following months of support operations.
Many dangerous wrecks have been cleared, but "The D-Day Wrecks" museum in Port en Bessin open from June to September and weekends in May, can give you a good idea of what there is still out there. In addition to WW2 wrecks, there are also some wrecks from WW1, such as the USSA, a cargo vessel sunk in 1917 by a mine and now lying generally intact at a depth of 27 metres although subject to strong currents and close to the shipping channel into Cherbourg.
- The HMS SVENNER, a destroyer operated by the Norwegian Navy and sunk by German E Boat on D Day itself and now lying at a depth of 30 metres.
- The SUSAN B ANTHONY, a troopship sunk on 7 June 1944 by a mine and now lying at a depth of 30 metres but with the superstructure at 20 metres.
- The EMPIRE BROADSWORD, another troopship sunk by a mine and now lying at a depth of 23 metres. Care is needed on this wreck as it is starting to disintegrate.
- SS Leopoldville - further west to Cherbourg, on Christmas Eve 1944, the SS Leopoldville carrying over 2000 American troops from the 66th Infantry Division, known as the Black Panthers, were being transported to France from England to support the Battle of the Bulge. Just 5 miles from Cherbourg she was struck by a torpedo. Due to a combination of delays, errors and mishaps over 800 men lost their lives.
- The STRATHALBYN, another cargo ship sunk by a mine, this time in 1916. Lying at a depth of 30 metres, the wreck is broken but still in large pieces and makes a good dive although care needs to be taken in the current.LI>
- In addition to these large vessels, there are numerous landing craft in depths between 10 - 40 metres.
- Further west to St Malo many sunken ships in the bay of Saint-Malo offer interesting diving sites.
- Many dive centres tend to be French speaking.
- The Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and there can be strong currents off both Normandy and Brittany. When added to the large tidal range, sometimes as much as 7 metres, care will be needed in dive planning.
- War graves - some of the wrecks in the Normandy area are war graves. Take advice on restrictions this imposes on diving.
|Diving season:||In reality April to October, but if conditions suit then year round|
|Water temperature:||Winter 7C (45F)|
|Summer 18C (64F)|
|Air temperature:||Winter 8C (46F)|
|Summer 19C (66F))|