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The little-known French beach rule that could net you a €1,500 fine

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The little-known French beach rule that could net you a €1,500 fine
Check up on rules regarding the beach in France. Photo: AFP
12:24 CEST+02:00
Many people enjoy collecting shells or pebbles as a little souvenir of their trip to the beach, but there are actually strict rules on what can be taken from French beaches.

Holidaymakers have been reminded of the rules after a French couple face prosecution in Italy after trying to take 40kg of sand off the beach.

The pair were arrested by police on the island of Sardinia and now face prosecution for theft.

While theirs is clearly an extreme example, holidaymakers are France are being reminded of the rules here.


The rules aim to preserve the natural environment of the beach. Photo: AFP

Article L321-8 of the Environmental Code stipulates what can and cannot be taken, with a fine of up to €1,500 if the rules are broken.

Sand - the taking of sand off the beach is not allowed and only 'windblown sand' - sand that the wind has blown off the beach and to another location - can be collected. In practice if you are just taking a small amount as a holiday keepsake authorities will tolerate it.

But if you're trying to make off with several sacks of sand to create your own urban beach or mix up some mortar you can be prosecuted.

Shingle - The same rules apply to a shingle beach and while a couple of pebbles will be tolerated, taking large amounts could get you the maximum fine of €1,500.

Plants - some types of seaside plants are protected by environmental laws. If you take a protected marine coastal plant you could be fined up to €9,000 for "alteration, degradation or destruction of the environment of a plant species in a protected site".

Driftwood - there is no specific law covered driftwood or sea glass, both of which have become popular items for crafters looking to use recycled goods. However both can be considered part of the "seaside landscape" so their collection must remain reasonable.

A couple of pieces for a souvenir would be fine, but if you're looking to start a business making furniture or ornaments out of driftwood, it would be wise to seek permission from the authorities first.



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