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LIFE IN FRANCE

These are the rules for sport and exercising in France after May 11th

On May 11th, France will loosen up restrictions on individual exercise and sport. Here's a look at what will be allowed and what will remain forbidden for the time being.

These are the rules for sport and exercising in France after May 11th
Joggers will be allowed jog again without restrictions as of May 11th, although beaches may remain closed. Photo: AFP

The French Sports Ministry on Thursday released a plan for how restrictions on physical exercise will begin to be lifted in France on May 11th, the date the country begins to lift the lockdown.

The nationwide lockdown has imposed strict rules on physical exercise, limiting all outside activity to one hour maximum and within 1km of the home.

Cycling for exercise purposes has not been permitted since the lockdown began on March 17th, although cycling to work or the shops is still permitted.

In Paris jogging is not allowed between 10am and 7pm.

Starting May 11th, this will change, although as with everything there could be additional local restrictions.

Here's a look at what the government has in mind so far. 

From May 11th

The general public will be able to run, walk and cycle outside again without having to limit themselves to one hour or staying 1km from their home. This will not require a permission form. There are some limits to the new rules:

  • The sport must be practiced outside
  • People must limit themselves to a distance of 100km from home
  • All activity must be practiced at a distance of 10m from other people (this goes for individual exercise like jogging, cycling or hiking)
  • For people practicing sports like tennis, yoga, or other outdoor fitness practices there must be at least four square metres per person

The sports ministry will release a more details soon regarding these practices.

All contact sports and team sports will however forbidden until further notice. The sports ministry will present a full list of all sports that will be concerned by this ban. 

All activity must be done outside. Gyms and indoor sports pitches will remain closed in this period.

Locker rooms will need to remain closed in the event that they are made available for outdoor sports.

Starting May 11th, cyclists will be able to cycle for fun again. Photo: AFP

All these new measures will be subject to a reevaluation before June 2nd, which is the date the government has outlined for “phase 2,” the next phase of the lifting of the lockdown.

What happens in phase 2 depends on how phase 1 (May 11th to June 2nd) goes.

READ ALSO This is France's plan for lifting lockdown

Professional athletes – will be able to resume training after a health check, but only individually and respecting the rules of social distancing listed above.

Professional sports clubs   The Prime Minister has said that professional sports cannot recommence before September at the earliest.

The French football league (LFP) is expected to formally end its season after calling a board meeting on Thursday afternoon, sources told AFP, clearing the way for Paris Saint-Germain to be declared champions again.
 
The meeting follows Edouard Philippe's announcement that “professional sports leagues, notably football, cannot restart” because of the risks linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
 
The Top 14 rugby union league also reached an agreement to abandon the season for the Top 14 and Pro D2 leagues.
 
“We propose to declare that this 2019-2020 season is at an end and focus on organising the launch of the 2020-2021 editions of the two championships from September 2020,” the LNR added in a statement.

The sports ministry said it is working with local sports association to adapt health practices to fit with each sports discipline and different areas.

Member comments

  1. This is great news. Has there been any discussion about when water activities such as sailing might be allowed again?

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TOURISM

Reader question: Are there private beaches in France?

Amid accusations of racism at fancy seaside resorts and legal controversies surrounding US statesmen, we take a look at the law surrounding private beaches in France.

Reader question: Are there private beaches in France?

Question: I read that all beaches in France are public property, but down here on the Riviera there are a lot of ‘private beaches’ – how do the rules actually work?

In France, everyone has the right to a dip in the ocean, though it might not seem that way when walking through certain areas.

There are 1,500 of these “private beaches” in France – the vast majority of them located on the Côte d’Azur.

They have become a source of controversy recently, after two private beaches in Juan-les-Pins were accused of racism and discrimination following an investigation and video circulated by French media Loopsider. The video (below) shows how a white couples receive different treatment than North African or Black couples.

So what are these ‘private beaches’ and are they even legal in France?

In reality, none of these beachfront hotels, resorts or beach operators actually own that land, as the sea and the beach are considered ‘public maritime’ and are therefore the domain of the French state.

This means that technically there are no private beaches in France, as no one is supposed to be allowed to own the beach, though there are some caveats to that rule.

Since 1986, the State has been able to grant ‘concessions’ to allow for parts of the beach to be temporarily rented. Thus, hotels, resorts or beach operators can request a temporary rental of the beach for a specific period of time – the maximum duration being twelve years, which is renewable. If the local town hall agrees, then the renter will pay a fee (typically between €15,000 and €100,000 per year). 

This might seem like a de facto way of allowing beaches to be privatised, but the few who manage to ‘rent the beach’ are still subject to some constraints. For instance, they are only allowed to occupy the beach for six months of the year (sometimes this can be extended up to eight months with the permission of the town hall, or twelve months in less common circumstances).

At the end of the season, they are required to dismantle their installations, so permanent private structures on the beach are therefore not allowed.

So you might see a waterfront resort, but they do not technically have ownership over the beach.

What about private deckchairs or sun beds next to the water? 

This is another rule that is not always perfectly respected. Legally, any organisation that rents a part of the beach is required to leave a strip of “significant width” along the sea.

This is usually about three to five metres from the high tide mark, where members or the public can walk along the water or bring down their own towels or deck chairs down to the beach.

If a ‘private beach’ has deck chairs or sun-loungers right up against the water, there is a good chance the renting organisation is not following the rules.

Beachfront property

As the public has the right to be able to access the beach, homeowners are not allowed to block passage and can even incur fines for doing so. 

The public must be able to pass through land to get to the beach, and cannot be blocked from the beach in front of a property.

Public access to the beach came into the spotlight due to a controversy surrounding a property of former American presidential candidate and statesman, John Kerry.

Kerry’s family owns a villa in Saint-Briac-sur-Mer in Brittany, and has fought a three-decade legal battle to be able to block the coastal trail on the property, which by French law, should be accessible to the public. 

Despite the family siting potential ‘security threats’ should the beach front path be open to the public, local authorities backed plans to continue allowing public access in 2019.

What about building a waterfront property?

First, keep in mind that building in general in France is a heavily regulated process that requires planning permission.

You will not be able to build within 100 metres of the shoreline. If you buy a pre-existing coastal property, you will need to remember the three-metre rule discussed above and, as the Kerry family discovered, you are not allowed to block public access to the beach. 

For ‘coastal zones’ specifically, there are more strict regulations and most plots of land by the sea are listed as protected natural areas, and therefore are not allowed to be built on.

Can access to the beach ever be forbidden?

Yes, as per the Coastal Law of 1986, local authorities can forbid access to the beach for “security, national defence or environmental protection.” During the Covid lockdowns several local authorities banned access to beaches to avoid illicit partying.

There are also several rules about what you are allowed to do – and not to do – while visiting French beaches, and some of them might surprise you. 

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

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