The Glenan International Diving Centre - CIP

CIP centre de plongée des Glénan @ Laetitia Scuiller

The clear waters and wealth of the Glenan seabed have placed the archipelago among the best diving destinations in the Atlantic. The International Diving Centre (CIP) is renowned for its quality training and its collegiate atmosphere.

A reference for professional divers

The CIP’s success is due both to its exceptional affluent seabed and to the avant-garde pedagogy, developed by one of its founders, Roger Weigel, diving coach and acrobatic wrestler at times. The collective thinking and aquatic know-how are at the heart of this pedagogy which remains connected to French diving federation’s rules, but nonetheless offers innovative progress such as regular meetings between teachers to observe trainees development or aqua-group work restricted to 2 or 3 students to foster their expansion. A special interest is allocated to optimize the students’ (aquacity/aquaculture)…

The ‘CIP Spirit’ recognized worldwide

Pioneer deep inside, the CIP swiftly suggests more defined trainings like those for ‘trimix’, induction trainings for the physically handicapped, historic submarine diving, or undersea Biology. Soon, European coaches stop-by Glénan to experience the ‘CIP spirit’ which became a recommendation, and where some divers even joined the Cousteau team. Even today, well-known submarine photographers and videographers such as Claude Rives or Didier Noirot, and various federal monitors, keep on transmitting the values acquired in the archipelago emeralds undersea.

An organization adapted to the island environment

The center shelters its divers in dormitories found at the heart of an old farm and in huge circumstantial tents. The diving equipment and compressors are stored in a side of the farm and a construction belonging to the General Council of the French department of Finistère, located next to the dock, acts as living room to the trainees. An aluminum vessel, the Pierre Marie and a previous trawler, the Corto des Glénan supply and carry students on the diving sites throughout the season.

Pioneer in sustainable development

With regards to the ecologically aspect, the CIP has remained unchanged for 50 years: same organization and same concern for water and energy saving, supplied to 30% by the wind, the rest being provided by a generator. ‘It has been roughly 50 years since we settled on this extraordinary location. We realize our opportunity and we do our best to help protect the archipelago,’ explains Laurent Cayatte, regional trainer and director of the business since 1985, surrounded by his wife, 3 other employees and various volunteers on roster during this period.

The CIP hosts on a yearly basis nearly 1,200 students, representing more than 6,000 dives and submits around 150 diving patents out of which 35 to 40 are federal coaching. Overall, 70% of the running of the business comes from training sessions.

According to Laurent Cayatte, CIP looks forward towards investing in the infrastructural development rather than to host additional trainees. ‘We have several schemes in the pipeline such as the acquisition of an electric compressor, the construction of a stormwater outfall and new houses. Additionally, depending on subsidies, we would like to convert the ranch into an “ecomuseum” to notify visitors about the exclusive nature of the archipelago and to share the marvels that we see under water,’ stresses the manager, with a dreamy eye.

Preserved and teeming seabeds and full of life

Situated at the end of a nonstop line of shoals up the Groix Island, the archipelago consists of worn crystalline rocks (two-mica granites) having numerous rounded shapes. The archipelago is well-known for its crystal-clear waters due to strong existence of marl along with the offshore waters, inflowing the Concarneau Bay all along the islands and away from urban or industrial extracts.

Underwater hunting is prohibited in two thirds of the archipelago. A seemingly successful rule according to the CIP instructors’ team, who has noticed an increasing number of mature fish in recent years. ‘We can for example perceive bigger “vieilles” than before in some sites,’ confirms Laurent Cayatte, who, however, regrets the fact that net fishing is still authorized.

Eelgrass and marl beds support a rich biodiversity

The archipelago is distinguished by two stands of heritage found on soft bottoms. The Glénan eelgrass symbolize one of three major sites of Zostera marina in Britain, while the marl beds, created by solidified calcareous red algae (Lithothamnion corallioides, Phymatholithon calcareum) is one of the richest marine habitats in terms of biodiversity. Both play a fundamental breeding site role, of feeding and shelter for many species. The marl beds look like large underwater areas where exist nearly 800 animal species and above 100 algae species, browsed by several amphipods and herbivorous gastropods, which by their biological nature, feed the world scavengers (small crustaceans and marine worms). Divers can find many species of fishes and crustaceans like bars, congers, lobsters, torpedo rays, soles, mullets, cicadas, John Dory, trigger fishes, gurnards, octopus, sea hares, monkfish and dogfishes, and looking in between the stones they can observe crabs, cake, Galatea, targeurs, blennies, gobies, tripterygions, abalone…

The vast variety of archipelago’s undersea is made up of plateaux and drop-offs and the wealthy submarine flora and fauna attracts divers addicted to ‘bio’. The diving sites are well spread throughout the archipelago and one can always dive regardless of the weather.

Rich and varied seabed

Laon Egen Hir, the most well-known dive site of the archipelago

Found at the southeast of the archipelago, Laon Egen Hir is one of the famous diving sites. Between 0 and -18 meters appears a collection of stones where divers can notice a chain of caves covered Corynactis, splendid charming and colorful anemones. It’s a real pleasure to rush in the many gaps between algae and sponges to meet the entire classical archipelago’s wildlife. There are many live or transiting species such as spiders, crickets, sea and striped mullet torpedoes, octopus or Saint-Pierre.

‘Les Bluiniers’ named ‘witches’ pot’

Another must see site for professional divers, the ‘Pic Jules Bonnot’, still called ‘Les Bluiniers’, is a highland which ranges between -20 and -40 meters deep at the west of the archipelago. Divers discover a unique biological curiosity named ‘witches’ pot’, a sort of 1 to 3 meters cylindrical holes produced by a turning pebble, in ancient times where the Odet’s river flowed. It is common to find spiders and crabs stuck in big pots unable to escape the smooth and curved walls. Divers particularly enjoy the mineral site where they can admire congers, coquettish, nudibranchs, Bonelli, Corynactis, Axinella, feathers, gold, yellow and kingfisher, white and red.

Exploring wrecks of Glénan

Many wrecks are found in the archipelago and fascinate underwater archeology and history cohorts. The Orseolo Pietro Wreck is one of the most well-known. The Italian cargo measuring 142 meters long and 18 meters wide was requisitioned during the 2nd World War by the Germans, who filled it with food, weapons and tools to Japan. The primary target of a regiment of 20 British aircrafts of the RAF, the vessel remained in Concarneau’s channel prior to being sunk a mile from the north of the Penfret Island in 1943. According to history, divers engaged in the French resistance managed to open the hull to retrieve the products. Today, the wreck peacefully rests in the archipelago and is shown by a surface float. Positioned on muddy sand between -17 and -30 meters, the wreck is slightly tilted to starboard. Guidance on the wreck is not obvious, especially as  the holds have been destroyed and the upper parts leveled. It is therefore counseled to master the basic information before visiting the wreck. The bow, in the north-west, rolled to starboard. The propeller shaft, ornamented by sea fans, comes to be an important guide to move to and from and remains an impressive rudder. No need to look for the propeller which no longer exists. However, no one should miss the 3 caterpillar trucks located on the front. Cables stretched to 20 feet deep are vital to join the front and the back boat from the central part which includes a huge unrecognizable engine. The wreck is occupied by bars, old, blennies and congers. An imposing shoal of pouting swirls around the ruins and accompany visitors throughout the dive. Changing, the visibility can sometimes be limited or excellent.

Other wrecks lie in the archipelago like the Arab (ex-Jean Bart), a 35-yard corvette lost in 1796, of which only a few guns, the anchor and pieces of copper and lead remains; the Mustang and Ellé, two steamers lying between -5 m and -15 m for the former and between -10 m and -20 m for the latter, or the Aliah, a 43 m Holland cargo lost in 1940. This wreck is found at -38 meters on a sand bed. The bow is upside-down and occupied by some congers.

Things to remember

A renowned diving destination ★★★

The site: The Glénan archipelago consists of 9 islands and numerous cays that stretch 6 km from east to west and 4 km from north to south. Only located at 18 km off Finistère coast, the Glénan were first occupied by monks, pirates, soldiers, lobster fishermen and farmers, and is used today as water sports by the trainees of the International sailing School of Glénans and by CIP divers.

Geographic and biological features: Located at the end of a continuous line of shoals, the Glénan archipelago consists of eroded crystalline rocks that take multiple rounded forms and form a spectacular seascapes. The archipelago is famous for its clear waters through the strong presence of Maerl and the offshore waters that enter the Bay of Concarneau along the islands and remain well away from urban and industrial discharges. Two thirds of the archipelago are preserved from underwater hunting.

A pioneering dive center for sustainable development ★★

Presentation: The International Diving Center Glénan (CIP) is the only center located in Saint Nicolas. This is one of the oldest French training centers diving which celebrated its 50 years of activity. A veritable institution, this sports association type law 1901, was born in 1960 under the leadership of a group of friends passionate about the seabed of the archipelago.

Environmental policy: The center was established in rudimentary conditions related to extreme insularity of the site. Back to basics and elements that has increased tenfold motivation of its founders, sixty-eighters in the soul and pioneers in sustainable development. Today students learn the CIP beyond their training dive, to live in community and to respect the exceptional site they discover. Saint-Nicolas, the night goes in dormitories or in an old farm in the tent, the water conservation and electricity is required and not want to miss his turn dishwashing water Sea! Electricity is supplied to 30% by wind power, the rest being produced by a generator. A spirit of solidarity sought by instructors and trainees who come here to draw a way of life based on exchange.

Awareness of environmental protection: Diving travel dates in a nature reserve, respect for the environment is an integral part of everyday life for divers, whether submerged or on land. The briefing and debriefing are very comprehensive and informative about the seabed and marine biodiversity. The instructors insist on respect for marine ecosystems and remain vigilant to blows nuisance fins, balancing divers who are, of course, told to do nothing in collecting funds and touch the plants and animals only with the eyes ... Internships marine biologies of very good quality are regularly offered.

Awards and recognition: Over the years, the IPC extends its reputation on its exploration groups, but especially to his answer sessions federal and state certificates recognized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports that allow access to the profession and to its professional diver courses recognized by the INPP. Divers trained in CIP immediately inspire a form of respect. If diving conditions are sometimes sports – because of the weather and access to sites – is especially rigorous training and the spirit of solidarity that have forged the reputation of the CIP from the French diving community and European.

A complete service that has proven for 50 years ★★

The boats: The ‘Men Du’ old wooden trawler 13 m long, recognizable by its bright colors well holds the sea in bad weather and can carry 40 people. The ‘Bakunin’ is an aluminum boat, 12 meters long, designed for diving and can carry 32 people. A tire 6.50 meters long, nicknamed ‘Jean Louis’ is also available and can carry 10 people. An inflatable dinghy and an annex plastic are planned to recover the divers coming out a bit away from the boat.

Training center: The CIP provides diving courses ranging from simple introductory to professional training, including the preparation of the patent of state and diver training (class B and 1 mention subclass 1A mention B), plus first-aid courses, snorkeling, recycler and marine biology.

Organization of diving: the stay is punctuated by two daily dives supervised by federal monitors and organized for school placements. Explorations are naturally programmed after a refresher dive, and autonomous groups of divers are made according to levels.

Accommodation and meals: The weekly stays are provided with full-board accommodation in dormitories or tents. The trainees have the immense privilege of enjoying a full week in this beautiful nature reserve. While most residents are addicted to bubbles and fish, accompanying non-divers are nonetheless welcome to the CIP and thereby regulate their accommodation costs in full board.

Reception of people with reduced mobility: introductory courses for the physically disabled people are programmed each year.

Our assessment

Landscape / Environment
Quality service
Sustainable policy

Useful Informations

Price « from »: 38.00
* The introductory dive is 38 equipment provided €/person. The minimum age for a baptism is 12 years (the Glénan for reasons of insularity) The diver courses Level 1 and 2 are organized from € 386 ongoing training over a period of 4, 5 or 6 days from 08 to 12 dives. The accommodation and food are included in the courses price A fee of 37 euros for the week is requested for the diving equipment from at least two important elements (buoy, regulator, combination). The diver courses Level 3 and 4 are organized from € 579 in continuing education. Training of free diving, marine biology, wrecks, recycling are proposed.
Opening period:
The CIP site on Saint Nicolas Island is open every year between April and October.