Winter storms cause severe erosion on Aquitaine coast

La Teste-de-Buch was one of the worst-affected areas after the storms (Dune du Pyla)

The strong winter storms of Bruno, Carmen and Eleanor have had a significant impact on the Aquitaine coast, with some beaches seeing erosion of up to 13 metres.

Bruno, Carmen and Eleanor affected France in quick succession between December 2017 and the beginning of this month (January 2018).

The most-affected areas include Soulac-Sur-Mer, Lège-Cap-Ferret and La Teste-de-Buch, according to reports by news source 20 Minutes, with the biggest setbacks - where up to 13 metres of coastline have been washed away - were in places that were already identified as “fragile”.

Wind speeds at La Teste-de-Buch were said to have reached 132kph at the peak of the storms, with waves as high as nine metres’ tall, with the coast at Cap-Ferret losing between five and 13 metres after Storm Carmen.

Even lesser-affected areas such as the Arcachon basin (between Corniche and Salie Sud, near Bordeaux), saw a setback of between one and five metres along its coastline, and a significant drop in sand stocks.

Now, community collectives are seeking to put in place greater preventative measures, such as sea walls or extra sandbanks, with Vital Baude, coastal manager of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, commenting to 20 Minutes: “Globally, we must prepare for more and more of this type of weather, which is likely to become more intense and frequent.”

And yet, while 13 metres from a coastline may sound like a lot, other local commentators appear far from alarmed.

“It is quite normal,” said Cyril Mallet, engineer at observatory l’Observatoire de la Côte Aquitaine. “This is nothing compared to the storms of 2013/2014 [which took off 20-40 metres from some areas]”.

Already, preventative measures put in place after Storm Carmen were able to protect the coast from the worst effects of Storm Eleanor in Aquitaine especially, just days later.

The region is seeking to take further preventative action to protect any existing buildings from the erosion, and will work to ensure that any new buildings are not in danger, rather than trying to shore up the coastline everywhere using harsh measures.

“We prefer to relocate rather than protect with harsh equipment, the efficiency of which could be quickly undermined and become very expensive,” explained Baude.

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