Must you join an association de pêche to be able to fish?

What is a fishing association and do you need to be in one if you want to buy a permit for a department? How do I know where I can fish? P.H.

26 April 2017

Fishing rights in France belong to the state on major rivers – fleuves (see below) – and navigable canals or to riverside property owners elsewhere. If you want to fish in France, then you need a valid carte de pêche (fishing card), delivered by one of some 4,000 fishing associations, which have obtained or rented the right to fish in a certain local area. They are technically called Associations Agréées de Pêche et de Protection du Milieu Aquatique (AAPPMA). These are grouped into 94 department-level federations and one national one.

The simplest way to get a card is order it at It allows you to fish in the territory covered by the association, which should be able to provide a map. You can go for your nearest one geographically, or one in an area that interests you. Apart from this, associations often have reciprocal agreements to fish in other areas (for which you do not need to buy a separate card), for example between several associations, or among all associations of a federation.

There are also agreements allowing you to fish across large parts of France across many federations for which you need to buy a slightly more expensive ‘interfederal’ card. The site uses a
system of three logos to show if an association offers the possibility of extending your fishing to other departments (showing a map of France), other associations (showing two circles), or is only for its own area (one circle).

In everyday language un fleuve refers to large river and une rivière is a smaller one, but there is a more precise definition: a fleuve is a river that leads to the ocean or sea, whereas a rivière leads into a
fleuve. There are around 50 fleuves – the largest are the Loire, Seine, Garonne, Rhône and Rhin.

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