By Ambassador Thomas Silva

The days are getting longer again on the French Riviera. I found a perfect parking place for my car, which is more than rare in Nice, so it will stay there for a while. I don’t have anything planned for this April saturday so it’s decided, I’m testing a new thing, the bike-freedive-packing.

Although the weather is mild, the Mediterranean is not yet warm for the summer. 15 or 16°C at the most. So you have to be well equipped to spend an hour in the water. Perched on my terrace in Nice, I turn the problem over in all directions and finally come up with a setup that seems ideal. In the saddle bag, the wetsuit, and outside, the fins, mask and snorkel are held in place by elastic bands. In the front, my waterproof case, well stowed. In the middle, in the frame bag, the classic repair kit and the weights, 5kg. It’s a pain to carry on the climbs, but without it I’m stuck on the surface.

So here I am, proudly riding the bicycle-freedive-cle. Horribly heavy. Especially since the region is not particularly flat. I take the direction of Monaco. The formula 1 grand prix is coming soon and the circuit is being installed. It’s not every day that you can ride a bike, loaded with flippers, in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton.

Once this small personal pleasure is accomplished, I take the direction of the Cape d’Ail to carry out my real mission.

Here I am on the beach, I have plenty of time, the weather is mild, I decide to start with a short 20min nap. It degenerates and I wake up 1h30 later, with a sunburn on my legs.

Well rested, here comes the long awaited moment of the dive. I am in a small cove, surrounded by cliffs and at this season, there are very few boats, ideal to observe fish that are not disturbed. At the edge of the beach the water is very turbid, but the further I go from the shore, the better the visibility becomes. I started to swim along the cliffs, the water is shallow, about ten meters, so I could dive and stay a few seconds at the bottom to observe, touch and be amazed before going back up to take a deep breath of air. Between two rocks, a small fish that probably thinks it is invisible lets me approach it.

On the way back, I decided to move away from the cliff and the bottom disappeared little by little in a deep blue. While I was swimming without any landmark, a moving mass gradually became visible. I approached a magnificent school of fish which let me cross it without flinching, each fish moving away from me before taking back its place as soon as the evasion maneuver was over.

Back on the beach, the sun is declining, it is time to load everything again before taking the road.

Experience validated.