Rhône delta - France

Complete description of case study





Title Rhône delta
National level France
Regional level Régions Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Languedoc-Roussillon
Local level Communes Arles, Saintes-Maries de la Mer, Aigues-Mortes.
Lieu-dit : Camargue


The coastline of the Rhone delta (90km long) is subjected to predominant coastal erosion (on average, 4m/yr over the last 60 years) arising from structural reasons (sedimentary deficit, very fine sands, energy of the swell).

The spatial distribution of the sectors in erosion/accumulation can be divided into four coastal units. This stretch of coast is greatly influenced by economic, industrial, harbour and touristic activities, which are sometimes in conflict with the protection of the landscape and natural heritage. The management choices are thus very different according to human and economic requirements: either to stabilise the position of the coastline or to accept a moderate retreat.

Major public works are effective and justified on sectors with high economic value, where such structures are necessary to block coastal erosion. However, their effectiveness is limited in time and they can produce negative effects. The choice of less-costly techniques (ganivelles) is effective provided that sedimentary input is sufficient. A number of innovative techniques (rebuilding up of beaches, sedimentary bypassing on river courses…) have not yet been put into application.


Coastal characteristics
  • Study area: 90 km ; Sedimentary cell: 4 km
  • Type of coast: delta and beaches (with fine sand; D50 =0.2 mm)
  • Tidal regime: micro tidal (0,3 m)
  • Range of waves : mean Hsig =0,8 m and T = 4,5 s ; annual storms Hsig= 3m and , T :7 s
Policy options Hold the line, limited intervention, do nothing
Socio-economic activities Industry, nature conservation, tourism
Engineering techniques Groyne, seawall, breakwater, revetment, nourishment, wind trap sand ripping



Name Françoise Mireille PROVANSAL
Institution CNRS-CEREGE, Université Aix-Marseille III
Address BP 80, Europôle Méditerranéen de l'Arbois
13545, Aix-en-Provence, Cedex 04
Telephone / fax +33 04 42 97 15 63 / +33 04 42 97 15 49
Email provansal@cerege.fr