The new flags you’ll see on French beaches this summer

France has introduced an overhaul of the safety flags on its beaches, bringing it more into line with other European countries in time for the summer season.

The new flags you'll see on French beaches this summer
(Photo: Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP)

A decree published on January 31st in the Journal Officiel aims to standardise safety flags on beaches along the French coast, which have, historically, been different depending on the regions and beaches.

Most of the changes are minor. The most notable alteration is the shape, which changes from triangular to horizontal.

On the whole, the standard traffic light standard is maintained

  • Green indicates swimming is authorised for all
  • Yellow warns of the need for swimmers to remain vigilant
  • Red indicates that swimming is forbidden.
  • Purple flag signals water pollution.
  • A new flag – a horizontal red stripe over a horizontal yellow one – replaces the current blue flag to indicate the swimming is supervised in a certain area.
  • A black-and-white chequered flag has also been introduced which indicates an area in which water sports may be practised. Swimming is not outlawed in these areas, but the flag warns swimmers and those undertaking watersports to be vigilant.

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

Several French beaches had adopted the new signal flags last summer, which are recognised internationally, and allow tourists from other countries to more easily understand the bathing conditions, but the decree makes them standardised across the country.

These new flags meet an existing international standard established by the International Life Guard Sailing (ILGS), and bring France into line with numerous other nations. 

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UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

The main union representing French air traffic controllers has cancelled calls for a strike from September 28th to 30th, after "reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry."

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

SNCTA, the main union for air traffic controllers said this week that they had lifted their calls for a three-day strike at the end of September after coming to an agreement with France Ministry of Transport. 

In a statement on its website, the SNCTA said “In view of the concrete progress made on the demands, the SNCTA is lifting its [strike] notice for September 28th, 29th and 30th. The strong mobilisation of September 16th was necessary and instrumental for reaching this conciliation in a very constrained calendar. Thank you to all of you!” 

The French ministry of transport has not yet commented on the above agreement or lifting of the strike.

The International Air Transport Association tweeted their support for the SNCTA’s decision to cancel further industrial action, calling Friday’s strike “unnecessary.”

The association also urged the European Union to implement a “Single European Sky.” This reform, which was put forward almost 20 years ago, has not yet reached fruition. It intends to shift the current system of air traffic organisation away from national borders and toward a “coherent zone” in order to reduce emissions and save both time and money.

The strike on September 16th left over 1,000 flights in France grounded, as well as widespread delays and over 2,400 flight cancellations across Europe. 

The SNCTA mobilised for wage increases due to the rising cost of living, in addition to an acceleration of recruitment in order to anticipate a wave of retirements. After Friday’s action, the union had called for further strikes from September 28th to 30th before reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry.