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

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

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.


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.

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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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