Managing the coast in France

Over the last years a shoreline management policy in France has evolved to a great extent thus becoming more like that of their English neighbours. Coastal management in France has gone from a constrained vision to a more environmental approach, favouring anticipation, gentler interventions against the sea and a better knowledge of nature’s systems.

Current regulations in France
The national management of the coast is ruled by a large number of legislative texts or regulations from:

    • European Regulations with “Marine Strategy Framework Directive” for 2010, Directive for Water 2004, Directive “Floods” 2007 etc.
  • National regulation with Littoral Law 1986, “Grenelle law” for the environment 2007, and “Grenelle law” for the sea 2009 etc.
  • Local regulations with town planning documents (such as the territorial coherence scheme, the Local Planning Regulation/land registry maps, etc.) and the easements imposed by planning documents (Prevention Plan for Natural Risks etc.)


  • Regulations protecting the environment such as Nature Reserves, Maritime Parks, Nature Parks, etc.
  • Contractual environmental protection or other property or statuary measures such as property acquisitions by the Littoral Conservatoire, Natura 2000 Sites, etc.


This time chart shows the major key stages of coastal management in France. It shows that the major player is the State:

1973: Picard Report (1973): the State should take action concerning the coast
1975: creation of the Littoral Conservatoire
1986: law concerning the development and protection of the coast
2004: DATAR: develop the concept of GIZC (Integrated Management of Coastal Zones)
2007 – 2010 “Grenelle law” for the environment and “Grenelle law” for the sea
2007: creation of AAMP (Agency for the Protection of Maritime Areas)
2010: Xynthia storm, (more than 50 people died) emergence of the need for managing the shoreline risks, limiting urbanisation…
2011: numerous parliamentary reports including the Cousin’s Report: Proposal of a national coastal strategy, strategic realignment and sea defences, shared between the State and territorial communities.
2012: National coastal management, strategic realignment and sea defences edited and distributed.


Download the summary report, produced for the LiCCo project

Limites du domaine public maritime

Limits and areas of competence for the shoreline and the French public maritime domain (Source : Parc Naturel Marin d’Iroise, 2006)