7 eco-responsible ways to preserve the beauty of the coastline

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Viaje en tren a lo largo de la cornisa de Oro, entre Saint-Raphaël y Cannes, en la Costa Azul.
© rochagneux / Adobe Stock - Viaje en tren a lo largo de la cornisa de Oro, entre Saint-Raphaël y Cannes, en la Costa Azul.

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 11 March 2024

Holidays by the sea in France? Yes but make it eco-friendly! To help preserve the 7,200 kilometers of coastline stretching from the North Sea to the Mediterranean and their fabulous reservoir of biodiversity, we propose a series of eco-responsible actions that are easy to adopt. Take advantage of the benefits of the marine life during the off-season, travel slowly, participate in beach clean-ups or hike along the coastal paths as discreetly as a nesting bird... Here are a few ideas for sustainable vacations, encouraging you to reconnect with nature.

Pick from the 4 seasons

Did you know that you could swim the coast of Brittany on All Saints' Day, stroll in the sun on the cliffs of Etretat in March and then alternate between hiking and diving in the Mediterranean Sea in the heart of the Calanques National Park? More peaceful and less crowded than in high summer, the coastline is an off-season paradise for vacationers eager to relax and enjoy nature. Along the Coastal paths, you can stroll in complete serenity to enjoy breath-taking views of the sea, visit the heritage sites away from the crowds, and peaceful resorts where you can savour freshly caught seafood, breathe fresh air and enjoy the benefits of the coast in all seasons!

Train, bike, kayak or sailboat... Travelling at a slow pace

Many seaside resorts have a train or bus station for slow travel. At the destination, you can opt for a cycle- regular or electric- and walk. On the coastal paths, it is the only mode of transport authorized in order to preserve species and habitats, not to mention the tranquillity of the place! Therefore, put on sneakers and a hat to walk along the coast while enjoying the views of the sea, birds, lizards and rare flowers. In the water, embarks on a sailboat or a kayak. Enjoy the wind and the sea spray with all sails out or paddle while listening to the rustling of the pines... Here is a way to disconnect while taking full advantage of the marine environment.

Prioritize environment-friendly labels

Bathing water quality certified as "excellent" after very strict analysis, waste garbage cans available on the beaches, selective waste sorting, recycling policies and educational programs on environmental preservation...these are just some of the ways to make a location eco-friendly. For holidays, one prefers beaches or resorts that bear the international Blue Flag eco-label, which distinguishes coastal sites, leading to a policy of eco-responsible tourism development. In 2021, 410 beaches and 115 marinas from the North Sea to the Mediterranean were on the list, which was considered record-breaking! You can also look for labels guaranteeing an eco-friendly design and/or management (Green Key, European Ecolabel, Green Globe or even ATR (Agir pour un Tourisme Responsable), before choosing the accommodation and indulging in local products in locavore restaurants.

Respect biodiversity on the coastal path

While strolling on the coastal paths, it is tempting to go off in another direction for clichéd photos or to get some exclusive views. Very bad idea! For obvious safety reasons, it is advisable to respect the markings and the prohibition of passage, which sometimes limit access to the coast. It is also the best way to preserve the flora (which we carefully avoid picking) and the fauna. The coasts are the habitat of many species, in particular, seabirds that nest in the rocks, so please do not disturb them!

Practise sustainable fishing

Want to gather seafood by hand? When they reveal themselves in the myriads of pools with iridescent waters at the low tide, the beaches become a fabulous playground. As long as you adopt the right practices. To avoid being trapped in the sea, it is imperative to check the tide times before setting off on the sand, preferably two hours before low tide. In the checklist, you should follow a rule in order to respect the minimum catch sizes to promote the renewal of the species. For the same reasons, avoid collecting protected species and stick to the calendar: some shellfish can only be caught at specific times of the year. Finally, if you lift stones, you should take care to put them back in their place on the same side: a delicate eco-system is dependent on it!

Trash hunting by the sea!

On a walk by the sea, a picnic goes with zero plastic...you can take a water bottle to quench your thirst and a bag (recyclable) to take away any waste (including cigarette butts), which you will sort upon arrival. The bag can also be useful for collecting wastes of all kinds that accumulate the coastal paths and, on the beaches, such as plastic, polished glass, fishing nets, etc. Rather than putting them in the dedicated bins, it is possible to entrust them to associations or companies specializing in recycling, this information can be found in town halls or tourist offices!

Participate in coastal protection operations

Would you like to make your children aware of the protection of the environment? Nothing like activities around the discovery and preservation of coastal ecosystems. Explore reserves and natural parks in the company of naturalist guides, learn how to cook seaweed or learn how to treat injured sea turtles, enough to give birth to vocations! On-site, you can witness the schedule of one-off operations, such as beach cleaning actions, which are more and more frequent on the coast.

By Anne-Claire Delorme

Globetrotting journalist anneclairedelorme@yahoo.fr