On the beach, shells and pebbles participate in a fragile ecosystem. So take them sparingly. - IStock / City Presse

“On the abandoned beach, shells and crustaceans…” make you want to let go, relax and enjoy the beauty of the natural landscapes. Suffice to say that the legislation is the least of the concerns of vacationers. However, if you want to be a responsible tourist, you should know that certain bad habits are prohibited.

Protect the environment

Although the beaches are freely accessible and free, they should in no way be considered a self-service supermarket in which you can dig at will to bring back pebbles, shells and other driftwood to beautify your interior. Because all these elements participate in a fragile ecosystem that can be easily damaged by swarms of tourists.

To preserve coastlines, article L.321-8 of the Environmental Code therefore provides that "material extractions are limited or prohibited when they risk compromising, directly or indirectly, the integrity of beaches, dunes coasts, cliffs, marshes ”.

Memories, sparingly

You will never have any trouble picking up a pretty hull or two while on vacation. On the other hand, everything is a matter of proportions. In principle, the law prohibits taking sand and empty shells on the beach, at the risk of harming the maritime public domain. While small withdrawals are tolerated, an unreasonable amount, sometimes carried away for commercial purposes, is punishable by a fine of 1,500 euros. The same penalty will hang over your face if you plan to fill several buckets with pebbles to make yourself a Japanese step in your garden. As for the flowers that grow by the sea, they are all protected. Cutting them can, this time, cost you up to 150,000 euros in fines for "undermining the conservation of non-cultivated plant species".

Even if it means taking away memories of your stay, you might as well bet on the driftwood brought back by the waves, which is not the subject of any restriction, and take the opportunity to participate in the cleanliness of the beaches by collecting the frosted glass. Finally, concerning the mollusks found on the beaches, you must refer to local regulations to know if you have the right to make yourself a good pot of the sea for dinner.


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  • Summer holidays
  • Environment
  • Sand
  • Flowers
  • Sea
  • Beach