The Coastal Protection Agency and Gilles Clément

Created in 1975, the Conservatoire du Littoral is a state-owned public institution. It buys land along maritime and lake shorelines to preserve it permanently and provide public access. The land is restored and developed to maintain the biological, aesthetic and identity-related wealth of the coastline.

The Conservatoire du Littoral also supports changes to shorelines associated with climate change and natural hazards, always taking care to leave as much to nature as possible.

The acquisition

In opinion polls, the Conservatoire du Littoral often comes out on top as ‘the French people’s favourite public institution’.
When sites are acquired, the Conservatoire du Littoral entrusts the management, organisation, reception facilities and monitoring thereof to local authorities, public institutions or environmental associations.
This delegation of management, governed by long-term agreements, allows the Conservatoire du Littoral to devote most of its human and financial resources to its primary mission of acquiring land.

In this spirit, the Domaine du Rayol Association has been managing the site since its acquisition in 1989. It is up to the Association to find the ways and means to manage the Domaine.

Gilles Clément, gardener, botanist and landscape designer, has developed a new approach to the art of garden design. A careful and tireless observer of the natural environment the world over, he designs gardens which reflect the dynamics and biological diversity of plants and their perpetual evolution in space and in time.

A garden is for living in

He rejects the concept of a garden as a sort of museum where nature should be kept under control and plants are just a series of exhibits. He believes gardens should be spaces for living in, where discoveries are made and where a sense of wonder prevails; they serve as a bridge between two worlds, that of humans and that of plants.

By embracing the Earth in all its fragile self-reliance, Gilles Clément is calling for greater awareness before we interfere, asking us to look first before we act and to work with, rather than against, nature. (…) The gardener is surrounded by the whole wealth of the natural world as it evolves in all its great diversity, and is able to see the interconnectedness of all living things. (…) It is possible to live taking only what we need, to consume without damage to the environment, to cultivate the soil without depleting natural resources and to live without destroying our planet.
Gilles Clément, Le Jardin Planétaire (The Global Garden)


Gilles Clément also teaches at the École Nationale Supérieure du Paysage (The National Institute of Landscape Design) in Versailles and has created many public and private gardens. He has designed or co-designed many gardens including the Jardin André-Citroën in Paris, the Jardin du Musée des Arts Premiers at the Quai Branly in Paris, the Jardins de la Grande Arche at La Défense (Paris), the Jardin de l’École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, the Jardin du Sixième Continent in Péronne (Somme), the Jardin de l’Île Derborence at the Parc Matisse in Lille, the jardin de résistance the Jardin d’Orties in Melle (Deux-Sèvres), the Jardin Fontaine d’Herbe in St-Denis de la Réunion, the Jardin de l’Évolution and the Jardins de l’Abbaye de Valloires (Somme), and the Jardin du Château de Beauregard in Cellettes (Loir-et-Cher), to mention a few.