Natural and Artificial Shores of the French Riviera: An Analysis of Their Interrelationship


  • E. J. Anthony


Artificial beaches, yachting harbours and marinas, natural beaches, reclamation fill, rocky shores, shoreline data processing, shoreline management


The 132 km-Iong French Riviera exhibits 21.5% of man-made shorelines comprising yachting harbours or marinas, reclamation fill, and artificial beaches. These alternate with rocky shores and natural beaches. The length and characteristics of each of these two natural and three artificial types of shore have been determined from data digitized from maps, aerial photographs and field work, and processed using various computer software. A principal components analysis, carefully interpreted in the light of information gathered during the study, brings out the opposition or complementarity between the various types of shore. The analysis of these relationships also briefly highlights the socio-economic and physical factors that have favoured artificial shoreline development. The former are related to pressure generated by massive population and tourism-based economic growth, while the latter are associated with the geology and geomorphology of this coast. Seventy-five to eighty-five percent of artificial shores have been created at the expense of natural beaches, many of which have been disadvantaged by their coarse elastic composition, narrowness, erosional tendencies and poor recreational value. Natural beaches have, therefore, been prone to so-called "shore valorization", a process that has been synonymous with the proliferation of yachting harbours and till structures. Pressure on these beaches has been exacerbated by the fact that rocky shores, the only other natural shore type, account for over 52 % of the present Riviera shoreline and are much more expensive to transform. The 14 artificial beaches created in the last two decades have compensated for only 1% of the natural beaches eaten up by artificial structures.