France

Lying in the heart of Europe, France is surrounded by natural beauty - the Alps to the east, the Pyrenees to the south, the rugged Atlantic coast to the west, the historic beaches of Normandy to the north, and the Massif Central in, well, the centre.

Each of these natural regions of France is diverse and home to many different species of animals and plants. Key species include brown bears, lynx, wolves, wild boar, deer and wild horses. There are over 500 bird species recorded in France, both local and migratory.

However, France faces a host of threats, particularly air and water pollution, and deforestation. With about 50 field projects, WWF is working to combat these threats.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Bruno PAMBOUR
Beech and Fir trees mixed forest. The Alps, France
© WWF-Canon / Bruno PAMBOUR

Country Eco-tips

Energy and Water
  • Renewable sources, biomass and hydro, are increasingly contributing to the country’s energy and electricity mix (Chambéry, a city in the Rhône-Alpes region, is the champion among French cities for the number of thermal solar collectors).
  • Water quality standards are high in France as they must comply with strict EU standards.
  • Tap water in Paris, Marseille, Lyon and most French cities are safe to drink, although many prefer bottled water. Never drink from a tap marked “eau non potable” (not drinking water).
  • Les Orangeries Hotel in Lussac les Chateaux in south-west France was the first hotel in the country to receive the European Commission’s Eco Label certification for using 100% renewable energy and for all rooms being equipped with energy and water-saving devices. Many hotels throughout the country are following suite. When making a reservation, ask about the hotel’s environmental practices.
  • France experienced serious heat waves in 2003 and 2006. Check the local weather forecast before travelling in the summer.
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Recycling
  • Recycling bins and stations for glass, paper, plastic and other products are found in over 10,000 communes throughout France (http://www.ecoemballages.fr/)
  • In Paris, rubbish is collected through a colour-coded scheme: a yellow-lidded bin for paper, cardboard and tin; white-lidded bin for glass; and a green-lidded bin for all other trash, except for batteries.
  • France’s national collection and recycling programme for batteries is Screlec, with collection sites throughout the country. All shops that sell batteries should accept ones to be thrown away.
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Transport
  • France has one of the most extensive rail systems in Europe - TGV and SNCF.
  • Most major cities have a Metro system: Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Rennes and Lille, as well as integrated bus and tram lines.
  • In Paris, commuters and tourists can rent bikes through Vélib. Similar bike rentals exist in Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Aix-en-Provence,…
  • Parisians have access to 314km of bicycle paths inside the city and 23km in the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes parks.
  • By the end of 2009, Paris will introduce Autolib - a green scheme offering electric cars that can be picked up and deposited in and around the city.
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Food
  • For the freshest quality produce and gourmet products, visit a local farmer’s market in just about every city, town or village.
  • Seafood products that have been sourced in an environmentally friendly way can be purchased at several large supermarket chains in France, including Carrefour. Look for the blue MSC eco-label when buying seafood.
  • A majority of French people are against growing genetically-modified food crops, such as corn.
  • Many organic products can be found in French supermarkets. Look for the AB (Agriculture Biologique) logo.
  • There are several chain health food stores throughout France that offer only organic products, including Naturalia, Biocoop and La Vie Claire. 
  • Organic wine produced in France will have the national AB logo. The label will say “Vin issu de raisins biologiques” (wine made from organically grown grapes), but it will never claim to be organic wine since wine growers add a certain amount of sulphites, a preservative that prevents oxidation and bacterial spoilage.
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Green Spots
  • Pyrénées National Park: Located along the border of France and Spain, the Pyrénées National Park is home to a handful of the endangered Pyrenees brown bear as well as Pyrenean chamois, marmot and numerous bird species.
  • The Camargue: This wetland area at the mouth of the Rhone is home to Camargue horse, one of the oldest breeds in the world, and more than 400 species of birds. It is one of the few European habitats for the greater flamingo.
  • Bois de Boulogne: Larger than New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park, the Bois de Boulogne is a great Paris. The park’s green wooded areas are a favourite of joggers, walkers, horse riders and bird watchers; great for families to explore. The offices of WWF-France are located within the park.
  • WWF-France has approved some 280 environmentally-friendly holiday stays called Gîtes Panda. Many of these “gîtes” are in or near protected natural areas. Find out where to stay at: http://www.gites-panda.fr
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Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the above information. However, WWF makes no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding errors or omissions and assumes no legal liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use.
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