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French Swim and Beach Rules - what you might need to know on Falcondale Life blog. Some rules may surprise you but in France there is a good lifeguard service. Laws are set both nationally and locally. At swimming pools there are commonly some rules about swimwear and suncream. Read more on the blog.You don’t really need to know a lot before setting off for the beach or swimming pool in France but they do have some rules that may surprise you. It’s best to be prepared. I get the impression that French people spend a lot more time at the beach than we do. Not only do they have a lot of lovely coastline but also the weather is just that bit better. (Okay! Quite a lot better!)

Lifeguards and “baignade surveillee”

Public beaches have monitoring stations and may display flags. Many of those beaches also have a lifeguard station in the summer and this makes sea-bathing in France feel a lot safer. The flag system is three colours.

Green flag means “safe to swim”

Yellow flag means “not recommended but monitored”

Red flag means “bathing forbidden”

On these beaches you may only swim between the blue flags set out by the lifeguards.

Lifeguards will select a blue-flagged area unaffected by dangers like rip-currents. Personally I trust them to know! If you try to swim just next to the lifeguarded area you will get shouted at, it’s really not allowed. On a large beach you could swim at your own risk further away and you will be left alone by the lifeguards. Outside these monitored areas you may find surf schools and water sports which have their own permissions. In some places lifeguard stations do not open until afternoon but I can’t complain because it’s such a brilliant safety service.

French Swim and Beach Rules, what you might need to know on Falcondale Life blog. Sign board at a French beach. Map with legend showing lifeguard and watersports areas.

National laws or By-laws

Under French national law most beaches ban smoking (often flouted), alcohol, fishing and wood fires.  Some town halls have banned barbeques at local beaches. If there’s nothing on the beach display board or if you’re not sure about a rule, it’s best to ask at the local tourist information office or town hall (la mairie). In theory if there’s no sign at the beach they can’t enforce a fine, but I don’t recommend that you have this argument.

We visited La Baule beach which had signposts for “no picnics” and “no cycling”, but everyone was eating and a bike zipped right by us. Then we got out a kite and the lifeguard told us kites were forbidden on La Baule for safety reasons, despite there being no signpost. The beach was nearly empty and there was no particular danger from using a kite but I do admit that La Baule would normally be packed. The lifeguard did helpfully tell us that nearby La Turballe beach did allow kites so next day we went there. Slightly irritating but never mind!

French Swim and Beach Rules, what you might need to know on Falcondale Life blog. Advice sign board at a French beach in English and French. Beach and water safety.

Swimwear – the beach

France has been making laws about clothes for centuries and this sort of thing comes as no surprise to the locals. However it really raises British hackles! There aren’t really very many rules, although they can be amended with local by-laws. You’re not allowed to wear clothing on a nudist beach, but there’s plenty of signage so you’re unlikely to fall foul of this rule. I suppose it wouldn’t be very fair on the naturists if people in clothes were there too.  On all other beaches it is illegal to “bathe without a swimsuit or other nautical combination”. So no swimming in your clothes, and no skinny-dipping either. It’s not unusual for women to go topless, but it’s less common to see naked toddlers as you might do in the UK.


To date only a few dozen local mayors have imposed by-laws banning the burkini on beaches. Laws banning religious attire of all types exist in various places in France such as schools. France is a firmly secular republic with a very high proportion of athiests and the law-makers reflect this. The enforcing of the burkini ban has been a shocking thing to witness on the news. It looks like these rules may develop over time with political pressure.

French beach rules lifeguard flags, beach monitoring station report

Swimming pools

Men are not allowed to wear baggy swimming trunks or board shorts at most swimming pools and water parks, especially on campsites. You can wear Speedos or the slightly more flattering “Daniel Craig Speedos” and longer leg shorts if they are skin-tight. Why? Well, the reason usually given is hygiene, because board shorts look like normal clothes and may be worn for other activities. They may get all dusty and then go in the pool. Also these shorts will easily balloon in waterslides, which would hurt. Some British swimming schools ban these baggy shorts because they are too loose for lessons. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised at the French rule. Try to buy men’s swimwear before you jump on your ferry to France, as poolside prices are high.

Pool hygiene rules may also mean that you are banned from applying suncream before swimming. They don’t want an oil slick on the water. I’d suggest you apply suncream 20 minutes before going to the pool and it should all sink in. I saw plenty of people flout this rule on holiday this year; no-one wants sunburn.

Blog falcondalelife French Swim and Beach Rules - what you might need to know. French swimming pool rules about swimwear, especially for men. Also rules about suncream are common. Read more on the blog.


Dogs are generally banned from French beaches but out of season they are sometimes permitted. Read the display board at the beach to find out. You should assume there is a ban unless told otherwise, as this is a national law. British dog owners may find this disappointing but there are many coastal paths instead. French dog owners do not pick-up as much as the British, so it’s a worthwhile ban.

Have you encountered any strange bans or permissions at pools or beaches in France?

Planning your travel to France? Great value ferry crossings available with DFDS.

Driving Routes to France from the UK – Your Options

More about French culture – read 12 Generalisations about the French

Shop Like a Pro in a French Supermarket

Lou Messugo

See ideas of places to visit in France on my Pinterest board.

Disclaimer: This blog does not include any legal advice. 



Summer has barely started and we’ve already had both bees and wasps making nests on our property. It’s always a surprise when we find them, after all they didn’t call ahead before arriving! This is the first year we have had both bees and wasps at the same time. When this happens we have to decide if we’re going to do something about the nests. After all, my first thought is “oh no, they sting!” but this isn’t always true.

Bumble bee in flight

They are really hard to photograph! Blurry 🙁

Wasps’ nests

About ten years ago we had a wasps nest in an airbrick outside the kitchen door. They were a small species of wasp and not agressive so at first we thought we could ignore them, but they became so numerous it was a real problem. They got everywhere. My husband put on clothes with elasticated cuffs and a hood and squirted wasp-killing powder in the brick. Then he ran! The wasps didn’t chase him and the nest died. The powder was definitely the right thing to use in the airbrick. Within a week we started getting quite a few spiders and flies and we realised that the wasps had been killing other bugs. You win some you lose some.

We’ve let other wasps nests live undisturbed if they are not in our way and have found that they didn’t last. We were briefly worried last year that a nest was growing but I think it was just a few solitary wasps. I prefer not to use chemicals or kill bugs if I can avoid it. Besides, a few wasps can be beneficial in a garden by killing unwanted caterpillars and aphids.

Bumble Bees

Two years ago some bumble bees made a nest in our extension roof. I didn’t know what to do at first so I took some photos (very tricky!) and identified the species with the help of the internet. They were Tree Bumblebees. I learned that they would only live there for about three months and they are not aggressive. In fact, I can get away with telling the children that bumble bees don’t have stings (my parents told me this and I actually believed them until I was about 30 years old!).

Tree bumble bees in the extension roof

This year the bees are back. They nest in the roof above our sofa and in the evening we hear them making a noise like two balloons rubbing together. It’s kind of cute. They love our blackcurrant bushes and last time we hosted these bees my blackcurrant bush gave me nearly 6kg of fruit instead of the normal 1.5kg. That is an amazing increase in yield, these bees did me a huge favour. This year I’ve netted my blackcurrants already as I’m not prepared to share them with the pigeons!

blackcurrant bush with netting


These bumblebees are so benign that we can sit on the bench right underneath their nest entrance and eat a meal in peace. They don’t like to get too close to us. Just rarely they fly by and investigate. I bet their inner monologue goes like this: “Ooh is that a flower? Sniff-sniff. Hmm. What do you call that smell? BO? Yikes! I’m off!” Most of the bees sound the same but there is one huge one with a deep bass buzz, I call him Barry White. He always makes a bee-line (yes I know) for my neighbour’s blossom tree.

Tree bumble bee in the extension roof

Destroying a Wasps’ Nest with Foam

We had a wasps nest in the garden shed a couple of weeks ago. It took me a while to spot it. I was using the shed and sometimes a loud buzz would make me jump. Eventually I spotted a wasp nest about the size of an apricot in the apex of the roof, just inside the door. That was no good, we couldn’t share this space and they were large wasps.

Wasp nest in the shed

This sort of wasp nest can grow to be enormous. There was nothing for it but a can of wasp-nest destroyer. We used this one from Homebase. It comes out of the can like hair mousse, but there the similarity ends. It covers the nest and the wasps are history.

Foam Wasp Nest Destroyer from Homebase

I have to confess that my use of the word “we” is misleading. You guessed it, my dear husband deals with the wasps. I merely admire the bees and try to learn about them.

We are quite lucky in the UK because we don’t have some of the more large and aggressive species of wasps. Nor do we have wooden houses, which can be damaged by a lot of bee honey or all kinds of insects. A relative in the USA had a lot of bother with a massive bee swarm in his roof. Anyway, I hope my experiences are useful and reassuring. Of course any buzzing insect nest can cause a great deal of trouble if it gets too big or grows in an unacceptable place. I enjoyed reading this article by a photographer who tempted some wasps to build brightly coloured nests.

How to deal with Bees and Wasps Falcondale Life

Read more home based items like 8 Steps to Never Ironing Shirts by clicking here

school holiday planner free printable from

Are you off on your holidays soon? Best wishes if you are. I don’t know anyone who goes away for every day of every school holiday, there are too many. If you have time at home perhaps or have time to kill in the school holidays, how about getting your children to help you plan how to fill the days? When I teach my girls to plan their time I find they don’t respond so well to rigid lists and timetables. They don’t want tick-boxes or calendars with all their time and activities marked out. So using a bit of fuzzy logic I created this school holiday planner free printable, using bubble-thinking techniques. A link to the PDF is at the bottom of this post. It’s not strict or rigid, it’s flexible, flowing and child-led. I’ve aimed it at children aged 8 to 16 but it can be used by younger children too. It could even be used by teachers in their time off!

Use It Your Own Way

There’s no right or wrong way to use this holiday planner; you don’t have to fill it all in. You don’t have to feel guilty if you don’t do everything you have planned. You’re on holiday! My girls used my original hand-written version to write their own lists, but now I’ve put my years of Photoshop training to good use and made it into a colourful form. You can write straight onto it. If nothing else, it triggers ideas. It should mean that you don’t so often find yourself thinking “what on earth can I persuade the kids to do today?”. It should also mean that you don’t get to the end of the holidays with a child whining at you that they didn’t get to do something that you did not even know they wanted to do. Does that sound familiar?

This is my first printable on my blog, please test it, give me feedback and if you like it do please share!

Here’s the link to download the PDF:

Click Here: School Holiday Planner

After the Playground

Several years ago my talented friend Karen the photographer invited me to join Pinterest. You used to have to have an invitation, way back then. I quickly became hooked on this visual social media platform with a link in every image to some fascinating fact or blog or website. I enjoyed curating my thoughts and bookmarks by pinning them to virtual pin-boards. Then I discovered that other people liked to follow me. It’s a bit addictive, like Candy Crush. A few months ago Pinterest changed their algorithm, their categorisations and their popularity index (repins). It’s not much fun anymore; people are not finding me or connecting with me. I had a proper moan about it to the very knowledgable Emma from The Life Edit this week and she looked at me and said “Janet, you should contact Pinterest and tell them”. So I did! Here’s what I wrote.

Pinterest boards image

Has Pinterest Died?

Hi, I am a long-time user of Pinterest and I have been a big fan of the platform for many years, pinning on most days. Up until a few weeks ago I used Pinterest as a private individual, I gained about 240 followers which I think was pretty good – it’s not like I sold my soul to it, but what I was doing was popular with followers. I enjoyed that! But earlier this year new followers just dried up, I haven’t had any new ones for ages. I feel utterly unappreciated! What has changed and why? I used to really enjoy this platform but now there’s little fun in it. It doesn’t spark joy. The life in it has died.

Pinterest appears to have put emphasis on the most popular pins instead of new content. Is that really wise? It makes for a stagnant and stale environment, it’s little different from google images.

Also there’s a lot of encouragement to follow subject areas but how do I get my pins to appear in those subject areas, when the only thing I can do to categorize them is to use the very brief and inadequate list of board categories?

I really feel that the freshness and life in Pinterest has been stifled and the platform has joined the ranks of populist internet curators, which only serves to repeat old material and supress new ideas and creativity. Isn’t that a shame?

Sort it out! Please!

pinterest boards image

Do you use Pinterest? What do you think, has the spark of joy gone for you too?

An open letter to Pinterest from falcondalejan

couch to 5k blog

Back in January I decided that I would change something quite fundamental about myself: I decided that I would become A Runner. This is so improbable; it is like saying that the sun would become Quite Cold. Why did I want this? Because I felt unhealthy, unfit and quite envious of my many sporty friends. I felt the need for speed. I didn’t really believe I could do it, not least because of my dratted painful hypermobile feet. All the same my Couch to 5k journey started quite well. Here’s the link to my first blog about it.

Too sore to run

My last blog post about Couch to 5k ended at the point where my right foot was so painful I could hardly touch the floor. I had reached week 5 of the NHS Couch to 5k app and a day after my last run my foot flared up. My GP thought I had bruised my foot and it took about five weeks for the pain to subside. To be on the safe side, I went to get myself professionally fitted for new trainers. Quite a few people said to me that maybe my very old trainers were a danger to my feet, and it’s quite possible they were right.


But the truth is that the main cause of bruised my foot was the NHS-issue orthopaedic insole, yes; the insole which was supposed to treat and protect me. What a swindle! I have chased up the podiatry department for my follow up appointment but in six months they haven’t contacted me.

Re-starting the programme

Six weeks after stopping the Couch to 5k programme, I began it again. I dropped back to week 3, which was the right thing to do but I wasn’t happy to take a step backwards. I began my run and within a few minutes the itchies began again, just like they did when I started the programme. This time I was not in the safety of my own garden path, so I had to hide in some bushes and scratch! Aaargh! It was my waist that was the worst. So there I was, jogging on the spot amongst the greenery with one hand under my clothes scratching and a grimace on my face. Please don’t picture this too vividly.


Third run in, and the itchies stopped, what a relief! But I wasn’t enjoying running as much as I had done in winter. I like running in the cold, there’s no denying my resemblance to a beetroot after a run on a warm day (#fairskinproblems). Also it took me several runs to realise that I was listening to the wrong music. It makes such a difference to have a good, aggressive and upbeat running soundtrack. I was away for the weekend and running in Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham when my phone shuffled up the track “99 Problems” by JayZ. What a revelation, I really sped up! I became lighter on my feet as he swore in my ears. (To clarify – I don’t normally welcome this kind of behaviour; I’m not inviting you to swear at me in encouragement if you see me out running, thank-you kindly).

I’ve now reached the point in week 5 of the app where I hurt myself so badly last time. Do I feel apprehensive about my next run? You bet I do.

Want to see more health and beauty tips? Check out my Pinterest board

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