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ISSUE 20 ARCHIVE - FRANCE DOS AND DON'TS

Traveller

DO

Know that our cross Channel cousins have their DON'T own version of diving training. It’s time to forget your PADIs and BSACs, and even newcomer RAID, the only thing that works out there is called CMAS. The M is marine, the A probably aquanautique and the S must be to do with Scuba. I am lost on the C. Maybe Chateaux, like the wine and the big properties they flog to German bankers.

DO

Be impressed with the plethora of sub-sea shopping trolleys off the south coast. These are no ordinary trolleys – these are “chariots” or “sha-re-O’s”. Carrefour and Les Mousquetaires are way better than ASDA and Morrisons any day. Class.

DO

Have an extra-marital affair and ask your dive instructor to be your mistress or lover. It’s in the constitution as France’s presidents have deftly demonstrated over the last 300 years. To not try to juggle a mistress is deemed as rude and they will refuse to stamp your log book if you do not.

DO

Look hard for the Dive Shop. You will see the boat on the quay side, but darn, the pointy arrow to the shop takes you 500 metres up windy streets and when you have found it, the sign on the door indicates a 3 hour lunch break. Better to sit in their boat and eat some cheese. They will eventually come and assume Le Rosbif is on enough benefits to pay them to haul the kit down to you.

DO

Take your own SatNav when renting a car. If you hire one, it is impossible to get it off the French settings and you will have to “turnez a gauche après deux cent metres”. What! – go where? When? I’m lost.

DO

Bag up a “meduse” – yes they may kill you but the humble jellyfish is the latest designer food worth more than abalone on a Parisian plateaux. They only end up looking like mucous on the beach anyway.

DON’T

Worry about getting a dive medical on a CMAS medical form. You may need them for some dive areas like Marseilles. The form asks 2 questions. Can you dive? Answer YES. Are you healthy? Answer YES- as long as you are. Facile.

DON’T

Call it the English Channel if you are checking D-Day wrecks from the Southside. La Manche is the correct name. The Sleeve, literally. How dull. The only thing sleevey about that piece of water is the holes in the cuffs round about Calais. But that’s enough politics for one day.

DON’T

Forget that what we call a French letter – they call an English letter. Thank God for e-mail.

DON’T

Call it a RIB. Over there it’s a Zodiac. You know after the serial killer from San Francisco for which the movie of rehabilitated Mr Downey Jr.? Nope? – well they donlove a horoscope in France, Cancer the Crab – today au gratin washed down with Clos Saint Magdeleine for your surface interval, Monseiur.

DON’T

Do a shore dive in the Languedoc. It took me 40 minutes of walking out backwards before I hit 2 metres depth at Valras-Plage. My increased heart rate wasn’t the exhaustion – I had left my wife in the 10 euro a Coke beach bar with my wallet.

DON’T

Ever go out of season. Strewth – what was a pumping Après Dive town full of Euro hotties of both sexes with pop up bars and clubs in August, becomes a retiree hotspot in September. The only fun then is watching cosmetic surgeons handing out business cards on the topless beaches to the over 65’s.

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