How to check the water quality in France’s rivers, lakes and beaches

water quality france

Information on the water quality at public beaches, rivers and lakes in France is now available to the public via a new website.  

When heading out for a dip to cool down on hot summer days, the cleanliness of the water in the sea, lake or river chosen matters.  


France’s regional health agencies (ARS), under the direction of the Solidarites and Health Ministry, are responsible for carrying out the analysis of water quality in sites favoured by bathers around the country.

The procedure typically starts with a bacteriological control between 10 and 20 days before the opening of the “swimming season”, from 15th June to 15th September, then at least twice a month during the season. This can be reduced to once a month in the cases where the water quality of a location has been in compliance for the prior two years.  

In addition to bacterial tests, teams also carry out visual checks and note the presence of glass, plastics and other waste. The results are then posted near the bathing spots by the local mairie or manager if the site is private.  


The findings are now available too on an easy-to-use website that can be found here.

Once on the site, pulldown menus ask what location is being searched for. Then a page comes up with list of the most recent samples and results along with rankings from excellent to good, adequate or poor. The website also identifies places where swimming is temporarily prohibited, not yet ranked or are not ranked due to insufficient information. A “bathing site profile” PDF file can be downloaded for more in-depth information, such as sources of pollution and action plans. 

The website also gives tips on the risks of swimming in water with poor quality standards, as well as ways to avoid these potential problems.  

A list of amenities at the selected spot, such as toilet facilities, showers, first aid points, handicap access and the like, is included too. 

In 2022, 2.8% of the 3,370 bathing areas in the country were deemed as having poor quality water. This is slightly down from 2021, when it was 3%.  


Make sure you’re never left out of the conversation.

Sign up for the Monaco Life newsletter, and follow us on Facebook,  Twitter,  Instagram and LinkedIn.  


Photo source: Michael Kroul, Unsplash