These have been ranked France’s most environmentally friendly beaches

They have been awarded the Pavillon bleu label, which recognises locations that ‘respect humans and the environment’

The Pavillon bleu flag denotes good quality water and environmentally friendly policies
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Planning a day (or more) at the beach in France this summer?

You may wish to check out the new list of 511 French beaches and marinas that have been awarded the sought-after ‘blue flag’ accolade in 2023.

The ‘Pavillon bleu’ label was developed by the Teragir association. Every year, it is awarded to the beaches that reach the standards for “permanent tourism policies that respect humans and the environment”.

Beaches with the accolade can then fly the literal ‘pavillon bleu (blue flag)’ to show their credentials.

Beaches are not awarded the accolade automatically; they put themselves forward for the award when applications open, and are only successful if they meet each of the criteria. They must send in an application to Teragir, and pay a fee if they are entering for the first time. In 2023, fees ranged from €940 for beaches in places with fewer than 2,500 permanent residents, up to €2,620 for places with more than 100,000.

This year, 406 beaches and 105 marinas were awarded the label, with 14 new sites entering the list compared to last year. This comprised nine new beaches and five ports.

The label is mainly known for beaches but also applies to lakes, rivers, or town centre ‘water holes’ that are used for public relaxation and water activities.

The full list and map of the 2023 results can be found on the official website here.

To receive the label, beaches must satisfy four major criteria:

  • The general environment, safety, ethics and sustainability. Clean, well-maintained beaches with sanitary facilities and a safety system appropriate to the number of people using the site.
  • Responsible water management. Bathing water quality classified as ‘excellent’ by the Agence Régionale de Santé (ARS).
  • Waste management. At least three types of recyclable waste are collected and recycled near the beach.
  • Environmental education and awareness. The organisation of at least five environmental education activities for local residents and beach users.

Most beaches and ports on the 2023 list are concentrated around the southeast of the mainland - although there are six on Corsica, and a few on the northeast and northern coasts.

On the southwest coast, only one - Port de la Vigne, at Lege Cap Ferrat, in Gironde - makes the list. In Finistère, only Port-Launay in Chateaulin makes it, while Port de l’Epervière in Valence is the only site in Drome (or in much of the surrounding area).

More information on applications, criteria, and the judging process can be found on the label’s official website.

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