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Anthony, E.J.: The status of beaches and shoreline development options on the French Riviera: a perspective and a prognosis. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 3: 169-178, 1997.


Abstract. Beach conservation and management on the highvalue French Riviera in southeastern France have had mixed fortunes in shoreline economic development strategies over the past half century. Prior to 1965, socio-economic growth related to immigration and tourism resulted in considerable pressure on the coastal zone, leading in particular to beach erosion and degradation of beach environmental quality. Between 1965 and 1980, over 20 % of the 132 km-long French Riviera was permanently altered through the implantation of yachting harbours and reclamation fill structures, while beachbased recreation had a rather low ranking as a development choice, except in the two major resorts of Cannes and Nice which exhibit a densely urbanized seafront. On this preponderantly bold rocky coast, the mediocre recreational value inherited by many of the beaches from the regional geologic setting, and from development pressures and earlier errors in coastal management, left them vulnerable to appropriation and so-called ‘valorization’ by yachting harbour and estate developers. Over the last decade, artificial shoreline development has virtually ceased, in response to several more or less interrelated factors. These include relative stagnation of socio-economic growth, increasing development and maintenance costs of yachting harbours, saturation of the yachting harbour market as a result of the burgeoning of new, often cheaper, resorts and of reconversion of commercial and shipbuilding ports to leisure ports in the Mediterranean, more stringent legislation, since 1986, on the implantation of residential and major engineering structures on the coastline, pressure for conservation of the cultural and environmental heritage, and greater demand for beach recreational space. This situation has forced a diversification of shore-based activities, as it has been realised that better managed beaches may balance economic aspirations while contributing to enhanced environmental quality and sensible shoreline conservation. This change in strategy has entailed considerable efforts and money on the improvement of coastal water quality, the provision of amenities for beach-goers, and especially the nourishment of eroding beaches and the creation of several artificial beaches. The extent to which beaches will continue to play a role in the sustainable development of French Riviera resorts will depend largely on the capacity of local authorities to maintain environmental quality in the face of inherited and persistent handicaps such as beach erosion.

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