More than 500 beaches and marinas across France have been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag environmental label, it has been announced.
As the country's beaches prepare for what locals hope will be an improving summer season, with French holidaymakers urged to staycation amid concerns over Covid-19, the cleanest beaches and ports in France have been revealed.
This year, 43 new beaches have obtained the label, as well as 10 marinas, the organisation said.
Occitanie again tops the clean beaches ranking with 130 Blue Flags, followed closely by PACA, with 126. The Mediterranean coast regions are way ahead of their nearest rivals - Nouvelle Aquitaine has 51 flags, and Pays de la Loire 48.
Several criteria govern the awarding of the label to a beach or a marina.
A beach must have 'excellent quality' bathing water, a policy of prevention and limitation of green algae and a policy of combating illegal dumping.
Marinas must guarantee " the cleanliness of the water body ", regularly analyse the water, and limit the circulation of motorised vehicles and treat waste.
Beaches must submit a paid application for Pavillon Bleu (which translates as "Blue Flag") status. After they have applied, the beaches are then judged on criteria such as water quality, how well cleaning and rubbish are managed, how environmentally friendly the beach facilities are, and the accessibility and safety of the beach.