A drone's eye view  of the cliffs of Mesnil Val and Criel-sur-Mer (Normandy, 2015). © BRGM - Thomas Dewez

"Le Tour de France du littoral": a geologist's view of the French coastline published by the Éditions du BRGM

After the success of "Le Tour de France d’un géologue" (A geologist's Tour of France), François Michel presents his latest book "Le Tour de France du littoral" (The Tour of France's coastline). An invitation to discover every part of France's coastline through the expert eye of a geologist.

"Le Tour de France du littoral", written by François Michel published by the Éditions du BRGM © BRGM

Beaches, dunes, cliffs, lagoons, deltas, estuaries, and more. The French coastline has a whole host of different facets.

Which rocks lie beneath this extraordinary patchwork of landscapes? How do tides, currents, waves, and storms affect the coastlines? Climate change plays a major role in (re-)shaping the coast: how can we understand, analyse and predict the effects and help protect people and property?

From the shores of the English Channel and the Atlantic to the Mediterranean coast and the atolls of Polynesia, Le Tour de France du littoral invites you to discover the diverse coastlines of mainland France and the French overseas territories, in the context of their geology and geological history.

A scientific book that enables the general public to discover and understand the geology of the French coastline

In the first part of the book, the author describes the types of natural phenomena that shape coastal environments (the origin of tides, changes in sea level, dune movements, etc.), before taking the reader on a journey along every part of the French coastline, even on the most distant shores!

The topology of France's coastlines was formed extremely recently, from a geological perspective. Indeed, the coastlines we know today were formed after the end of the last ice age, due to the "spectacular" change in sea level, which rose 120 metres in 18,000 years. The geological eye of the author gives us an insight into the coastal environments and enables us to understand how all these attractive seaside landscapes were formed, and how they are evolving: the D-Day landing beaches, Mont-Saint-Michel bay, Arcachon basin, Basque coast, the Camargue, calanques (small rocky coves), etc.

The last part of the book highlights the impacts of climate change on France's (often fragile) coastlines, and looks at how past spatial planning and developments may have disturbed the precarious balance between erosion and sedimentation. Drawing on expertise from BRGM's specialists in coastal risks, we learn about Storm Xynthia, the receding cliffs in Normandy and the risk of tsunamis in overseas France, for example. Today, geological analyses enable us to predict changes, in order to protect people and property along the coast as much as possible.

With its maps, diagrams and beautiful illustrations, this well-written, easy-to-read book will help you understand France's coastline from A to Z. A genuine journey of discovery.

About the author

François Michel has a degree in geology. He taught Earth and Life Sciences for 24 years and then left his teaching position to work as a geologist at UNICEM (French National Union of Quarry and Materials Industries). He also devoted his time to developing documents, materials and teaching aids for Earth and Life Sciences. Today, he works as a consultant geologist with the CTMNC (Technical Centre for Natural Building Materials) and continues his activities aimed at making science accessible to the general public. He has written several books, including Le Tour de France d'un géologue, also available from Éditions du BRGM.

Reference: TDL/288 pages/Price: €35/Co-published by BRGM and Delachaux et Niestlé


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