France’s best beaches and leisure areas named for 2019

Candidate beaches must adhere to a certain set of criteria including waste management, water cleanliness, and environment protection

The best beaches and harbours in France have been announced, as the 2019 Pavillon Bleu list has named this year’s winners across the country.

The full list of new winners for 2019 - revealed today, Wednesday May 22 - can be seen on the Pavillon Bleu (Blue Flag n English) website - along with an updated list of the best sites nationwide.

It includes beaches such as Seignosse in Estagnots (Landes); Plage Centrale in Banyuls sur Mer (Pyrénées-Orientales); and the Maguelone east and west beaches in Villeneuve les Maguelone (Hérault).

Among the new inland sites to be recognised, are the Base de Loisirs at Souppes sur Loing (Seine-et-Marne), the Etang de Vieure (Allier), and the municipal beach Amphion les Bains, in Publier, on the banks of Lake Geneva (Haute-Savoie).

An interactive map of the full list of new Pavillon Bleu sites can be seen online here.

The Pavillon Bleu d’Europe initiative was launched in 1985, and rewards good beaches and harbours with inclusion on its list.

In 1995, the initiative was extended to interior communes, and began to be applied to leisure areas of water and pleasure harbours, under a different jury.

Candidate communes must put forward their beach or harbour to be considered for the award, after which it will receive a number of visits and tests to check that it meets requirements. Towns pay a set fee to apply, depending on the number of inhabitants.

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They will then receive checks on issues such as the number of rubbish bins, recycling centres, drinking water points, seawater analysis, health of the sea, accessibility, building maintenance, and other factors.

Key criteria include clean water, good water management, a proper clean-up and waste management system on the beach and surrounding area, and a generally clean and responsibly cared-for environment.

They must also be aware of local surroundings, and the flora and fauna that must be protected. Towns and beaches that encourage visitors to act as cleanly and responsibly as possible will also be rewarded.

Sites will be re-inspected regularly to check that they continue to meet requirements, and can be stripped of their Pavillon Bleu listing if they fall short.

The number of communes involved has grown considerably in the past three decades; in 2014, 150 communes (389 beaches) and 94 harbour ports were “labelled” with Pavillon Bleu approval in France.

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