Marseille the capital of recreational diving
History of diving
The year 1936 marked the launch of a new recreational and underwater activity in France: recreational diving. All the essential elements that make up a diver’s equipment are created and personalities emerge: Yves le Prieur, then Philippe Tailliez, Frédéric Dumas and Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
But already in 1934, in Marseille, François Cluzot opened a department dedicated to diving equipment in his shop on Cours Lieutaud, the future mythical “Au vieux plongeur”. Pierre Vogel took over in 1967 and for 50 years this shop was the Ali Baba’s cave for divers from France and abroad. The same year, Georges Beuchat launched his company manufacturing underwater equipment and Marseille was to become the home of a sports federation dedicated to diving in 1948.
During the Second World War, two dives marked the year 1943. First of all, Georges Commeinhes, inventor of the very first breathing apparatus, dived on 30 July at Estaque and reached a depth of 53 metres with his regulator with integrated face mask. Not forgetting Frédéric Dumas who reached -62 metres at Les Goudes and who, with Cousteau and Tailliez, formed ‘the trio of mousquemers’ (the three musketeers of the sea).
In 1952, Captain Cousteau conducted archaeological excavations on Roman wrecks at the Grand Congloué site in Riou and the young Albert Falco, 25 years old, who had grown up in the Sormiou cove, boarded Calypso as a deckhand and never left.
Immersion in the world of silence
The coastline of the Bouches-du-Rhône is home to an abundance of underwater relics that bear witness to the history of the department, and particularly of Marseille.
In Marseille, divers can discover ancient amphorae, ancient and modern shipwrecks and numerous military aircraft from the Second World War. Not forgetting the multitude of drop-offs, caves, arches and wells that make up a varied natural underwater landscape that seriously competes with the climbing cliffs, valleys, peaks and caves of the Calanques massif.