Above-ground swimming pools in France: rules, prices, installation

They are cheaper and easier to install, but above-ground pools must still meet regulations

Above-ground pools are typically cheaper to install than an in-ground pool, but are still subject to regulations

Did you know that above-ground swimming pools are subject to certain rules in France, potentially including planning permission and taxes?

What is an above-ground swimming pool from a legal view? 

An above-ground swimming pool is a semi-permanent structure, which is built or assembled above ground. It is defined as a self-supporting structure made of metal or wood. 

They are less permanent than a fully in-ground pool that requires excavation work. The Service Public website defines this as “if it cannot be dismantled without demolishing it”.

They are also typically cheaper to install than an in-ground pool.

What are the main types of above-ground pools in France? 

  • Self-supporting pools: Usually inflatable but larger than a paddling pool, and designed for adults. Easy to install and dismantle.

  • Tubular pools: Made up of a steel structure covered by a strong liner.

  • Steel or tank pools: Galvanised steel structure, very sturdy, can last for years.

  • Wooden pools: Very natural look, can last for years, but often the most expensive type.

Do I need planning permission for an above-ground pool?

It depends on the size of the pool.

  • Less than 10m²: No planning required, unless your local authority has specific rules.

  • Greater than 10 m² and less than or equal to 100 m²: A déclaration préalable de travaux (preliminary works declaration) must be submitted to the local council. This enables the local authority to check that the pool complies with the planning regulations in force in the area. This is usually subject to a one-off taxe d’aménagement fee.

  • Surface area above 100 m²: Planning permission is required. 

Read more: New shed or pool at your French home? Remember the taxe d’aménagement

When applying for planning permission, you will need to provide details of the size and characteristics of your above-ground pool, as well as plans, or images of the planned project. You must get permission before any work begins, or you may be required to later undo all work.

Your specific local authority may have different planning permission rules when it comes to size, so it is advisable to double check your area’s requirements.

What are the pros and cons of above-ground pools?


  • Relatively easy to install in comparison to in-ground pools: They do not require excavation or tiling, or underground installation of pipes and filtering systems. 

  • Easier to dismantle and move: You can also take them indoors for the winter, store, clean, etc, and even take them with you when you move house.

  • Easier maintenance: Above ground pools are often smaller and shallower, with more accessible cleaning systems.

  • Cheaper to install and maintain than a typical pool: The cost typically is less than for an in-ground pool.


  • Limited durability: They tend to last less in comparison to in-ground pools.

  • Often less attractive than a typical pool: Above-ground pools stand out more and their supporting structures may be less attractive and not blend in so well.

  • More difficult to get in and out: They are typically quite tall and require a longer ladder.

  • Tend to be shallower and smaller than typical pools: This can restrict activities such as swimming, diving, or playing.

  • Limited customisation: Fewer options in terms of shape, size, and add-ons.

  • May take longer to warm up or cool down: They are more open to the air and elements in comparison to typical pools.

How much does an above-ground pool cost?

The cost can vary considerably, but smaller pools can cost as little as €100-500. 

Larger, more durable models are usually €500-€3,000, while high-end, more aesthetically pleasing models could cost up to €8,000, plus filtration tools and accessories such as covers and pool hoovers.

Regulations in France on building above-ground pools

Regulations on above-ground pools are set out in the Code de l'urbanisme and the Code de la construction et de l'habitation

Key points say that the pool:

  • Distance: Must be installed at a minimum distance of three metres from property boundaries, unless special provisions have been made in the local planning scheme, le Plan Local d’Urbanisme.

  • Safety: Must be fitted with an approved safety device to prevent drowning, particularly for young children. This may include a protective barrier, an alarm, a safety cover or a pool enclosure.

  • Water: Must have water that complies with health standards, and the pool’s owner is responsible for regular water treatment, filtration and disinfection.

Drought: What are the rules on above-ground pools?

Above-ground pools are subject to the same regulations as below-ground pools during drought alerts, and the rules depending on the level of drought in your department (vigilance, alert, crisis, etc.).

In most alert and crisis zones, it is forbidden to fill, empty or replenish swimming pools, even those above-ground.

For example, in June 2023, Bouches-du-Rhône was on ‘heightened alert’, and the prefecture issued a decree that banned the “filling and emptying of private swimming pools over 1m2”. The rules also applied to garden water features, and water games.

It is possible to collect rainwater at other times of the year and use that to refill a pool. It is always permitted to use rainwater for outdoor activities such as refilling a pool or watering plants, even during times of drought.

Read also: France drought: sales of above ground pools banned in parts of south 

What are the tax rules for an above-ground pool?

You must register your above-ground swimming pool with your local tax office (cadastre des impôts) if it has a surface area of more than 10m2, and/or “if it cannot be dismantled without demolishing it”.

    Generally, taxes are due for a pool that - to use the Service Public definition again - “cannot be dismantled without demolishing it”.

This may include taxe d’habitation - if you still pay this tax; for example, if you are a second-home owner - as having a swimming pool may affect your property’s valeur locative cadastrale (VLC). For the same reason, your pool may also mean an increase in your taxe foncière.

How do you maintain an above-ground pool?

Even above-ground pools require maintenance, especially if they are to remain installed for months or years. 

This includes:

  • Water filtration: Plus the cleaning or replacing of filter cartridges.

  • Checking for pH and chlorine levels (or other disinfectant): Using chemicals or other methods to adjust and maintain within recommended levels.

  • Regular removal of debris (leaves, insects, etc.): Typically using a net or pool hoover.

  • Regular brushing of the sides and bottom of the pool: This removes deposits, algae and dirt.

  • Monitoring the water temperature, transparency and any colour changes: And taking action if any problems occur. 

  • Covering when the pool is not in use: This prevents water evaporation, temperature loss, and debris build-up.

What accessories does an above-ground pool typically need? 

  • A purifier or filtration system: Keeps the water clean.

  • Water treatment chemicals: Chlorine, bromine or other chemicals to maintain the water pH.

  • A pool ladder: For safe access in and out of the pool.

  • A protective cover: To protect the pool when not in use. 

  • A garden hose: This makes it easier to fill and top up.

  • A pool brush or hoover: For regular cleaning of the liner. 

It is also advisable to install lighting around your pool to ensure safety at all hours. You could also install an outdoor shower to rinse off / add a heater if you want to use the pool all year round. 

Rainwater collecting butts may allow you to refill a pool during times of drought.

Can you install an above-ground pool yourself?

You can save on costs further by installing an above-ground pool yourself.

Some models are designed for easy installation. Good practices include:

  • Preparing the ground: You may need to level the ground, remove any rocks and roots, and use concrete or gravel to level the area.

  • Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer: Some pools may need more than one person, and specific tools, to install.

  • If your pool has electrical or plumbing components: It is advisable to call a professional to install and/or double-check these elements.