Owners cannot access French home over fears it may fall into sea

Property and surrounding land in Normandy is off-limits until authorities can confirm there will be no imminent damage after landslide

Many cliffs in Normandy are at risk of eroding, particularly due to fierce storms. Picture for illustration purposes only
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A picturesque home on the Norman coastline has been made off-limits by the authorities due to recent storms over fears the property will collapse into the sea at any moment.

An evacuation order was given to the owners of the property in La Hague (Manche) by deputy mayor Éric Pellerin on March 13, 2024.

“We immediately noticed an issue [with the cliffside] and issued an evacuation order,” he said to local press Actu.fr. You can see photos of the property, which is now only a few metres from the cliffside, in the article at that link.

The path leading to the property has also been closed off, and going within 15 metres of the cliff edge in any area 50m either side of the house is forbidden.

These restrictions will remain in place ‘indefinitely’ until the safety of the home has been fully assessed, and a report from a geologist has been commissioned.

One of the owners of the home, Françoise Guinet, said that many of her and her siblings’ possessions were inside the property, and they were waiting to retrieve them.

Area has long been facing erosion

“Our grandparents bought this property 70 years ago," said Miss Guinet, who now lives near Nantes and uses it as a holiday home along with her siblings.

“We've been witnessing the retreat of the coastline for 70 years, and we have photos that clearly show this. Back in 1995, there was already a spectacular decline,” she said.

However, recent storms and strong winds at the beginning of the year have quickened the pace of the erosion along the coast.

“The tamarind trees, which were protecting parts of the house, were uprooted. And at the beginning of March, there were landslides,” added Miss Guinet.

Departments across the north – in particular Manche – have been attempting to deal with the issue of erosion for years, as an increasing number of properties are affected.

Millions of euros of funding have been pledged to help combat the issue, but weather conditions causing the erosion are unlikely to change.

Read more: Rising sea levels provoke exodus from northern French coastline

Problem is becoming more serious in France

Almost 250 communes in France are now on a ‘coastal erosion’ list, where the risk of properties collapsing into the sea is higher.

Any planning permissions in these areas must factor in the possible effects on cliffside erosion before being approved.

Read more: More than 100 French areas newly added to coastal erosion risk list

Alongside the northern coastline, a number of communes in the south-west, popular with second-home owners, are also at risk, which may be a contributing factor to property prices locally.

Read more: French second homes at risk of coastal erosion and other property news

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