The French coastline amounts to 5533 kilometers and to 6713 if we include the Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique and Réunion departments. It has a density of 272 inhabitants per square kilometer and agregates 6 millions residents over only 4% of the entire territory and tourists double this number every year.
The urbanization of the French coastlines is proceeding. In some parts, as in the Alpes-Maritimes, 98% of the coaslinte is built. This occupation might be explained by different factors : dynamic economical activity (port, tourism), climate globally mild and sought landscape. The important and coercitive measures prevented from the wild and large-scale urbanization. For that purpose, the Government had also put in place the "Coastal protection agency" (Conservatoire du littoral) wich is a French public organisation created in 1975 to ensure the protection of outstanding natural areas on the coast, banks of lakes and stretches of water of 10 square kilometres or more.
The Conservatoire acquires land by private agreement, by pre-emption in or, from time to time, by expropriation. Land may also be given to the Conservatoire by donation or legacy. The Conservatoire acquires 20 à 30 km² of land yearly.
After ensuring all the restoration work, the Conservatoire entrusts the management of its lands to local authorities or other local groups or organisations. The Conservatoire uses specialists to decide how the sites should be managed and what activities (such as agricultural or recreational activities) can take place.
As at 31 January 2005, the Conservatoire cared for an area of 732 km² spread over 300 sites, for 861 km of shoreline. Le Conservatoire du littoral owns 660 km, or 12%, of French seacoast (the objective is to reach 1/3).