I took the plunge, I dived my head under the water and the whole world was underneath me.
Small fish darted out from shadow and larger fish swam out ahead. The water was cool but I could feel the warmth of the sun heat the surface.
I breathed slowly and calmly through my snorkel and set off exploring the rocks with strong strokes.
It was beautiful here and I could hardly believe I was meters away from a bustling city.
The soft green seaweed coated the rocks and spiky black sea urchins hid, threateningly in corners. I watched a crab scuttle under a rock.
The noise here is disconcerting, the sea is silent yet deafening at the same time, it roars in my ears and yet I cannot distinguish any one sound. You can forget everything under here and just focus on the deep blue sea.
That is one of the things I like about Marseille, being able to instantly escape into the blue Mediterranean after the hustle and bustle of the city gets too much.
I was at one of my favorite beaches, a tiny, rocky cove in the Cornish, hardly a beach at all, just a stretch of pebbles, which the sea gently lapped, the surrounding cliffs protecting the water from the famous mistral. From the shore you can see the mountains rising up, across the large bay.
I finished my underwater tour and scrambled out, dripping and picked my way to my towel, where I lay, catching the sun in my bikini.
I looked around at my fellow sun bathers. I do not think I will ever stop noticing the lack of tops on beaches here. The French have such a refreshing and open attitude to the female body, whatever your age, weight, colour of skin, there is nothing stopping you from going topless. Just on the beach mind, I am not 100% sure of the law but if you walked down the street like that you would probably be arrested.
Another dripping figure emerges from the water, carrying a snorkel and mask, just in bikini bottoms.
Just the other day I had been discussing it with a fellow female friend. She told me her husband would never allow her to do it. “Not that he is controlling or over jealous,” she hastily reassured me, “It is just, he would not want all those guys seeing me topless.” I understand that.
“It would be cheaper though,” she continued, “you would only have to buy half a two piece and the top is always more expensive.” I laughed at that, it was true, why should men have the advantage of cheaper beach clothing?
I have heard it is really nice, swimming topless, like being even freer in the water. I will try it, one day. But until then, I shall stick to my bikini. I am English so it is ingrained for me to be shocked by nakedness and it is a habit which is hard to give up.