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

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
If you're taking a trip to a French beach, make sure you don't fall foul of these rules on souvenirs.

While 2020 is a year of new rules – compulsory masks in certain areas, social distancing, no kissing etc – French beaches have always had strict rules on what you can take home with you.



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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 from the beach, 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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