Regulating the desire for the seashore. The creation of the Conservatoire du Littoral, 1972-1978

Managing the environment (1972-1992)
By Renaud Bécot, Giacomo Parrinello

While the Conservatoire du Littoral, whose aim is conservation of the French shoreline, is an emblematic organisation of the ‘environmental turn’ of public policies in the 1970s, behind its creation are the stakeholders who promoted the expansion of mass tourism during the ‘Trente Glorieuses’ in France. In the early 1970s, regional planners and tourism and leisure business leaders assumed that heavy development of the shoreline eroded its attractiveness. The Conservatoire du Littoral became a way to correct the ecological consequences of increasing anthropic pressure, by combining environmental protection and economic promotion of coastal areas. The gradual ‘greening’ of the organisation was undertaken by civil servants who incorporated environmental concerns into public policies that had been forged for territorial planning purposes. Based on unpublished archives, this paper retraces the trajectory of this organisation from its conception in 1972 to its consolidation in 1978.

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