With over 40 countries now participating, the Blue Flag is a French idea that continues to help keep coastal developments green
2013 will see 382 flags raised on beaches across France, representing a national record, as well as a third place world ranking.
Born in France, the concept of ‘Pavillon Bleu‘ was created by the ‘French Foundation for Environmental Education’ (F.E.E.E.) in 1985. Originally created for mainly ecological reasons, this ‘award’ was also conceived in order to help promote the destinations and marinas, whose involvement in sustainable tourism and environmental research is both serious and long-term.
In 1987, the Pavillon Bleu became the Blue Flag, a European and entirely voluntary eco-label which has now been given to 3,850 beaches and marinas, in over 40 countries.
Year after year, the Blue Flag has become a reference in sustainable tourism, and has spread progressively throughout countries and institutions, involving government ministries and associations more and more.
With the success of the flag, the criteria have become more rigorous and unified. There are 4 categories: environment, waste management, water management and public awareness of the environmental issues. It also makes sure that the water quality of swimming areas is ‘Excellent’, by basing its analysis on the past 3 years water tests.
Sadly, Ireland is down by 13 beaches this year but the number of Blue Flag beaches for this year in France represents a 10% increase on 2012, with 8 new destinations joining the 136 existing ones. The region with the most flags is Languedoc-Roussillon with 27, followed by Provence, Basse-Normandie and Pays-de-la-Loire, but the honour can also be given to inland lake beaches, like in the Auvergne.
For an extensive map of France’s Blue Flags, please visit www.blueflag.org.