French Blue Flag French Beaches in 2008
The prestigious Blue Flag environmental award will fly over 248 beaches in France this year, following the announcement of the results last month.
In total, the Blue Flag will fly in ten coastal regions of France, with Languedoc-Rousillon heading the list (18 beaches), followed by the Pays de-la-Loire (15) and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur (12).
Within the departments it is Vendée and Var who achieve the highest number of awards (9 and 8 respectively) followed by Hérault and Charente-Maritime (7 each).
Six communes celebrate their 20 anniversary under the Blue Flag list : Narbonne (Aude), La Grande Motte (Hérault), Portiragnes (Hérault), La Turballe (Loire-Atlantique), Port Barcarès (Pyrénées-Orientales) and Saint-Hilaire de-Riez (Vendée).
Roscoff (Finistère) and Beauvais (Oise) receive the award for the first time, although three beaches in the Mediterranean, at Fos-sur-Mer, Port-de-Bouc and Cassis, lose their flag as their water quality did not reach the required standard.
Indeed, as the criteria to reach the standard are evolving, so the number of beaches reaching the standard has reduced in recent years, down from 268 in 2006, to 252 in 2007, and 248 this year.
Learn More about the French Atlantic Coast
The Blue Flag is an international eco-label awarded by an independant panel, to those beaches reaching a satisfactory standard on water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, safety and other services.
It is not, per se, the final arbiter on the quality of bathing water, but a programme that promotes sustainable development. Nevertheless, the Blue Flag judges use official water quality figures.
Official monitoring of water, beyond the Blue Flag programme, is carried out by the French public hygiene authorities. Their latest figures show that over 95% of French beaches had bathing water that reached the minimum level of water quality, as laid down by the EU.
Accordingly, there are many beaches not on the Blue Flag list in which it is safe to bathe, but which do not reach the standard, simply because they do not meet all of the Blue Flag criteria e.g. presence of lifeguards, environmental management.
What Blue Flag offers you, therefore, over and above an assurance on the quality of the water, is a more broadly based level of security and attention to environmental management.
The full list of beaches is at French Blue Flag Beaches.
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