The Reserve Marine Naturelle opened in 1974 and covers 650 hectares of sea between Banyuls and Cerbère.
Since then, it has successfully provided a protected space for threatened species of sea-life to flourish and to allow the public to appreciate and enjoy the richness of the 12000 fish and shellfish, plus 500 sea-plants that live in its 6.5 x 2 km coastal strip.
This “Sentier Sous-Marin” (Underwater Trail), organised by the Conseil General, is a sub–marine paradise.
The area is marked off, no boats may enter and no fishing is done.
Masks and snorkels can be hired and the trail of 250 metres has buoys at intervals, each with an underwater notice listing the different species that may be seen.
Did you know that your swim around the Réserve Naturelle can be accompanied by a commentary even though you might have your head underwater? This is done with a special snorkel that transmits good quality sound by bone conduction – through the teeth!
Bone conduction was actually discovered by Ludwig van Beethoven. He was almost completely deaf but managed to hear the piano through his jawbone by attaching a rod to his piano and clenching it in his teeth, bypassing the eardrums and ‘transmitting’ directly to the cochlea.
Cliffs shelter the bay of Peyrefite from the Tramontane wind and the slope is gentle, making the start of the route well within one’s depth. On one side of the beach vineyards run to the cliff edge, on the other, cork trees provide shady picnic spots.
Advice and information is available in the summer from a Reception Hut on site