French labels classified by themes
Definition of a label
Quality labels or names are created to reward producers who respect specific production criteria or to distinguish one product from another. Labels can guarantee the quality or provenance of products, which are then validated by tests carried out by consumers or experts.
Station Verte ("Green" resorts)
The Station Verte de Vacances label is awarded to a "village or town in the countryside or the mountains which offers a range of pursuits in an unspoilt environment, provides a warm welcome to tourists, a range of shops and essential services, as well as leisure activities such as swimming, play areas for children, fishing and hiking".
Village Etape (Stopover villages)
Known as the Occitane, the A20 is a toll-free motorway which runs between Vierzon and Brive-La-Gaillarde. It was in this area that the very first Villages Etapes were created, as part of the "1% landscapes and development programme" whereby 1% of the cost of motorway construction must be spent on artistic, cultural and environment initiatives.
There are now twelve of these villages: Magnac-Bourg, Bessines-sur-Gartempe and Pierre-Buffière in the Haute-Vienne, Uzerche and Donzenac in the Corrèze, Vatan and Eguzon in the Indre, Massiac in the Cantal, Aumont-Aubrac in the Lozère, La Souterraine in the Creuse, and Ducey and Villedieu-les-Poëles in the Manche.
The aim of the label is to help create an infrastructure that will attract tourists to the local area, in order that these villages may regain some of their economic activity which was once provided by passing traffic but was lost after the construction of toll-free motorways or dual carriageways.
Villes et Villages Fleuris (Towns and Villages in Bloom)
The Villes et Villages Fleuris label has been awarded annually since 1959 by the Comité National pour le Fleurissement de la France "to towns and villages which enhance their communities by creating colourful floral displays and an attractive environment which contributes to the country's scenic beauty". Towns are awarded between 1 and 4 flowers, according to their level of decoration.
Les plus beaux détours de France (The Most Attractive Detours in France)
The "Les plus beaux détours de France" label enables visitors to discover towns of between 2,000 to 20,000 inhabitants, located away from the country's main transport routes and with their own unique character. These towns are considered to be "worth a detour" as a result of their fine heritage and monuments, their cultural and sporting facilities and their ability to welcome visitors at any time of year, all of which combine to make them the perfect base for a stay of at least three days.
Gîtes de France
This is the umbrella label for members of the Fédération Nationale des Gîtes de France network (43,000 accommodation providers, 56,000 places to stay and 35 million overnight stays) whose accommodation is awarded 1, 2 3, 4 or 5 "épis" (ears-of-corn).
Gîte de France has also created gîtes grouped according to different themes, such as Panda gîtes (approved by the WWF), traditional gîtes, gîtes for horse-riders, toboggan gîtes (for families with young children), gîtes in ski resorts and gîtes for fishing enthusiasts.
Bienvenue à la Ferme (Welcome to the Farm)
Established in 1988, the Bienvenue à la Ferme network is managed by the Assemblée Permanente des Chambres d'Agriculture and local state-run organisations, providing support to farmers who are looking to diversify into tourism. This label, characterised by its demanding criteria, includes farm-inns (there are 650 of these in France offering traditional, regional cuisine usually made with locally-grown or farm-reared products), goûter à la ferme properties (farm tastings), farms selling their own produce, farm-based riding stables, educational farms, discovery farms, farms offering hunting and shooting, farm accommodation and farm campsites.
Inns and farm-inns in France are grouped together under the sign of a clover, a symbol which represents good fortune and happiness and which reminds us that seeds must be sown to enrich the earth. Inns serve regional cuisine, whereas farm-inns prioritise regional cuisine made from their own produce. As members of an association that dates back to 1992, France's innkeepers and farm-innkeepers have the common aim of maintaining regional traditions and keeping alive local gastronomic specialities.
La Clef Verte (Green Key)
Awarded to campsites which respect the environment, the Clef Verte recognises the country's most successful initiatives and highlights those campsites which demonstrate excellent environmental management. Founded in Denmark in 1996, this label was adapted in France in 1998 by the French office of the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe, which is also responsible for awarding the famous Blue Flags to French beaches. Campsites must apply for this label and are required to fulfil very demanding criteria in order to have their application approved. In 2002, the Clef Verte label was awarded to 51 campsites and 1 rural gîte out of a total of 102 applicants from 32 French départements.
Le Pavillon Bleu (Blue Flag)
The Blue Flag is a widely recognised tourist label which symbolises environmental quality. The Blue Flag was created by the French office of the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe in 1985. Every year this label recognises towns and ports which have adopted policies to improve their local environment.
When the Blue Flag flies over a town or village it provides a positive image for both residents and visitors alike; as such, the Blue Flag has become an important benchmark for tourism, the environment and sustainable development.
Grand Site de France
This label, awarded by the French state, recognises management of a site in accordance with sustainable development principles.
The Grand Site de France label guarantees that a site is preserved and managed in accordance with sustainable development criteria, encompassing the conservation of local landscapes and "spirit of place", a high-quality welcome for visitors, and the involvement of residents and other partners in the site itself. The label belongs to the French state, and was registered with the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle (French Intellectual Property Office) in 2003; it is run by the Ministry for Ecology, Development and Sustainable Development. The creation of this label is a key stage in the implementation of national policies developed to protect these important natural sites and the involvement of community groups and state authorities in their long-term management.
Les plus beaux villages de France:
The "Most Beautiful Villages in France" label is awarded to rural villages with a population of less than 2,000 which have retained their exceptional architectural heritage. Since 1982 the label has been awarded by the "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France" association. 144 villages currently hold the label, each of which has retained its harmonious style of architecture and urban design, as well as its interesting historical heritage. 149 communes belong to the Plus beaux villages de France association, a non-profit organisation (Loi 1901) which receives financial assitance from local and regional state authorities.
The EU Eco-label
The EU Eco-label is administered by the European Eco-labelling Board (EUEB) and receives the support of the European Commission, all Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA). The Eco-labelling Board includes representatives such as industry, environment protection groups and consumer organisations.
Over the past ten years, the "Flower" has become a pan-European symbol for products, providing simple and accurate guidance to consumers. All products bearing the "Flower" have been checked by independent bodies toverify their compliance with strict ecological and performance criteria.
There are currently 23 different product groups, and more than 250 different licences have already been awarded for several hundred products.
Definition of the Eco-label
Eco-labels are official signs of recognition of the environmental benefits of the products which bear them. Products bearing an eco-label are subject to strict controls and must meet certain environmental criteria.
The French eco-label NF Environnement is owned, administered and promoted by AFNOR (Association Française de Normalisation - French Standardisation Association). Products awarded this label are tested in accordance with a range of different criteria, which include effectiveness of use as well as ecological qualities. The different criteria are listed according to technical procedures specific to each product category. The aim of the brand is to guide consumer choice, while at the same time encouraging manufacturers to improve the ecological quality of their products. The label is used for all consumer and intermediary products, with the exception of the food-processing, pharmaceutical, services and car industries.
Châteaux et Hôtels de France
Châteaux & Hôtels de France, run by Alain Ducasse and Laurent Plantier since 1999, now has 523 members. Founded in 1975, the organisation brings together "hotels which combine the traditional charm of the different French regions with a personalised service, buildings full of character, high levels of comfort, a warm welcome, excellent locations and authentic cuisine." The organisation's members include 121 establishments with a "Bonne Table" label, which indicates an exceptional standard of cuisine (e.g. restaurants such as Lasserre in Paris, Michel Chabran in Pont de l’Isère and Ledoyen). In 2002, Châteaux & Hôtels de France added a hotel on the island of Réunion to its list of members; the organisation also has four members in Corsica. Members are awarded 2, 3 or 4 "helmets", depending on their facilities and level of comfort. The 12 hotels which have been awarded 4 helmets provide unforgettable luxury and elegance for their guests, as well as a range of superb facilities. Châteaux & Hôtels de France gift vouchers are available for 40, 100 and 150€, allowing recipients to choose a location and date that suits them. The vouchers are accepted in all Châteaux & Hôtels de France hotels.
The chain has 285 three-star hotels, 114 four-star hotels, 55 restaurants with one Michelin star, 8 restaurants with two Michelin starts and 2 restaurants with three Michelin starts.
Number of rooms available across the chain in 2002: 11,153
Average price for one night's accommodation in a double room in 2002: 121.54 €/797.25F.
Relais du Silence - Silencehotel
The Relais du Silence-Silencehotel franchise was created in 1968 by independent hoteliers who came together to promote their hotels both in France and abroad. In 1993 they created an International Union of all national associations as part of an Economic Interest Group. The aim of the 262 European hotels in this "chain" of independent hoteliers (such as the Manoir du Lys in Bagnoles de l'Orne) is to offer guests peaceful, quiet accommodation in a family-run establishment where a warm welcome is assured by the personal attention of the owner-managers. The hotels range from two- to four-star establishments, offering between seven and fifty rooms. In 1999, the chain expanded beyond the French border, notably into Ireland; in the long term, this move may well lead to an expansion into North America and Eastern Europe.
The Relais du Silence-Silencehotel is a good option for visitors looking for authenticity, simplicity and comfort, with its emphasis on regional traditions and a personalised welcome.
Fédération des Castels
The 48 four-star campsites belonging to the Fédération des Castels are all located in idyllic surroundings. Whatever their size, they are all quiet, spotlessly clean and surrounded by unspoilt natural landscapes. The sites have pitches for tents, with some that are suitable for camper-vans. Mobile homes, studio apartments and bungalows are also available for rent on some sites.
The Fédération des Castels is a partner of "Holland Tulip Parcs" in the Netherlands and "The Best of British", a luxury camping and caravanning organisation in the United Kingdom.
Logis de France
The Logis de France label covers a wide range of hotel-restaurants and hotels which offer a warm welcome, regional, traditional cuisine, good levels of comfort and excellent value for money. Logis de France is the leading independent hotel chain in Europe, offering a guarantee of quality accommodation based on:
- A classification system covering 200 different critieria which awards each hotel 1, 2 or 3 "fireplaces". These ratings are re-assessed every three years to take into account the changing expectations of guests.
- A quality control system which involves "secret" visits by independent inspectors who do not belong to the chain; inspections are carried out at least every three years.
- A quality control department which deals with customer feed-back.
In 2004, the Fédération Nationale des Logis de France was awarded ISO 9001 certification by the Swiss organisation SQS. This certification recognises the FNLF's expertise and its commitment to its Logis de France ratings and monitoring system.
- The Fédération Nationale des Logis de France has been officially designated by the Ministry of Tourism to deliver the "Qualité Tourisme" label to Logis de France affiliates which meet the required criteria, i.e. those which comply with at least 85 % of national quality criteria.
Villes et Pays d’Art et d’Histoire (Towns and Regions of Art and History)
The Villes et Pays d'Art et d'Histoire label is awarded by the Ministry of Culture to towns and regions which promote their historical and cultural heritage by offering guided tours, lectures and educational workshops led by professional guides. The Villes et Pays d'Art et d'Histoire website includes a map of France showing all the different towns and regions which have been awarded the label, with a different page for each town or region listed.
Entreprise et Patrimoine Vivant (Business and Living Heritage)
The Entreprises du Patrimoine Vivant label was created specifically for small and medium-sized businesses via article 23 of the law dated 2 August 2005, the aim of which is to promote the development of businesses with "an economic heritage which comprises traditional or specific technical know-how or expertise confined to a particular region".
The label has three main objectives:
To highlight those businesses which are an essential part of French cultural and economic identity and to raise their media profile both in France and abroad, thereby preserving them for future generations;
To encourage these businesses to be innovative and to create an international market for their products or services (the opening up of the global market mainly as a result of the Internet represents an extraordinary opportunity for the majority of these companies);
To support their growth, enabling the creation of jobs and the survival of their unique expertise, as well as their businesses.
Somme Battlefields' Partner
The "Historial de la Grande Guerre" museum is helping to develop the area to the east of the Somme by bringing together those with a specific interest in the First World War under the umbrella of the "Somme Battlefields' Partner" label.
Restaurateurs de France
The Restaurateurs de France label encompasses independent restaurant owners recognised by the Association Nationale des Restaurateurs de France and the Ministry of Tourism. These restaurants must commit to a high quality of service, offer traditional French cuisine, and ensure that they promote themselves both in France and overseas via tourist offices and other tourist organisations such as the French National Tourist Board (Maison de la France). These restaurants are often advertised in tourist brochures published by Regional Tourist Boards (Comités Régionaux de Tourisme) and by some Departmental Tourist Boards (Comités Départementaux de Tourisme) and Tourist Offices.
The Label Rouge is the only official label guaranteeing superior levels of quality. The French State, through the Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO), awards the label to organisations known as "organismes de défense et de gestion" (ODG) which defend or protect the interests and reputation of their members in a particular business sector. At each production stage, Label Rouge products must meet certain criteria laid down in specifications approved by the INAO. Throughout the production process, independent and impartial organisations check that these criteria are being met by producers and tests are carried out regularly to ensure that the taste and quality of Label Rouge products are superior to those of other products of a similar type.
The Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) is a French label which indicates a protected geographical area and identifies the origin of traditional French food and drink.
The AOC is part of the European "Appellations d'Origine Protégée" (AOP) scheme. The AOC label identifies the authenticity of a product and its geographical area. These labels guarantee the quality and characteristics of a product (e.g. wine, cider, fruit, vegetables, dairy products etc) and its region of origin, as well as the expertise of the producer, its longevity and its reputation. In France, products awarded AOC status must meet specific criteria laid down by the INAO (Institut National de l'Origine et de la Qualité).
Tables et Auberges de France
The Tables & Auberges de France label aims to encourage and promote the expertise of independent professionals who work in traditional restaurants and hotel-restaurants which are not part of a chain, both in France and abroad.
Recipients of the award agree to accept the principle of unannounced visits by the organisation's representatives in order to guarantee the status and image of the Tables & Auberges de France label in the eyes of consumers and local and national authorities.
Tables & Auberges de France establishments are classified into four groups:
- Table de Prestige (cuisine noted for its exceptional quality)
- Table Gastronomique (inventive and creative cuisine)
- Table de Terroir (traditional, regional cuisine)
- Auberge du Pays (rustic cuisine featuring local specialities).
Tourisme et Handicap
The French "Tourisme et Handicap" label was created on 4 May 2001 by Michèle Demessine, Minister for Tourism at the time.
The label, which is gradually being introduced across France, is awarded by local and regional authorities who carry out site inspections to ensure that sites meet the strict specifications required. This label guarantees the accessibility of sites to visitors with a range of disabilities (the blind, deaf, visitors in wheelchairs etc), ensuring that on a practical level sites are completely accessible to them. The label is awarded to accommodation and restaurants, as well as cultural sites and leisure facilities.
Les Pays d’Accueil Touristique:
This French label is run by the Fédération des Pays d’Accueil Touristique. Created in 1976, there are now 142 of these "tourist regions" in France.
The Pays d'Accueil Touristiques, known as PAT in France, play an active role in the development of tourism by providing facilities, organising tourist events, promoting, marketing and assessing investments, as well as training those involved in the tourist industry.
Information and communication: clients must be given clear, precise and thorough information both on the phone and on site (signs, information boards etc).
A personalised welcome: friendly, warm and attentive service at all times.
Skilled staff: the ability to deal quickly and effectively with customers, to provide advice, look for relevant information, and the ability to speak foreign languages.
A comfortable and pleasant environment: clean and carefully maintained, with plants and greenery, reception areas, places to relax, and comfortable furniture.
Cleanliness and efficient site maintenance: an emphasis on hygiene and facilities that are kept in good condition (e.g. bathrooms, furniture, kitchens etc).
Promotion of local resources: the provision of regional cuisine and drinks, as well as information for visitors on sights of interest in the local area.
The criteria for the Qualité Tourisme™ label have been drawn up by a group of representatives from relevant government ministries and regional networks, in conjunction with tourism professionals and quality control experts.
To be awarded the Qualité Tourisme™ label, establishments must fulfil 100 national quality criteria. These essential standards ensure customer satisfaction across a range of sectors.
Loisirs de France
Loisirs de France, the quality label covering French holiday villages, was created in 1997 by UNAT (Union Nationale des Associations de Tourisme et de Plein Air). The label covers leisure facilities, internal services, the site, the environment and the comfort of accommodation.
Holiday villages provide the perfect setting for a range of family holidays, including family reunions, holidays for grandparents and grandchildren and single-parent families - in other words, the perfect place for a stress-free vacation in safe and secure surroundings.
The label has been awarded to 450 destinations in the countryside, on the coast or in the mountains, with a choice of locations throughout France. Kids' clubs and activities for adults are included in the price of your stay.
Holiday villages provide a friendly environment for an affordable holiday in a beautiful location.
This label is awarded to accommodation providers who offer an activity or holiday that enables visitors to discover their region on foot.
Accommodation is divided into groups (Rando Gîte, Rando Plume, Rand’Hôtel and Rando Toile), all of which come under the Rando Accueil label.
The accommodation offered must fulfil quality criteria that meet the expectations of customers, namely a warm welcome, friendly attentive service, and the availability and provision of a certain range of holiday options and facilities. Regional branches encourage networking between different accommodation providers who offer holidays on similar themes based around the discovery of a region's local heritage.
Les Stations Kids
Resorts applying for Station Kid status have to meet all compulsory specifications in at least three criteria. Those resorts which are awarded the Station Kid label undertake to meet outstanding conditions within three years of being awarded the Station Kid label. Criteria laid down in the "Entertainment" and "Activities" categories are compulsory. The Station Kid label is awarded for a period of three years and is assessed annually in line with activities and entertainment provided. This assessment ensures that a resort continues to provide the appropriate level of services for children and families.
Any resort with an area of water where swimming is forbidden is automatically refused Station Kid classification.
The organisation awards the label to resorts which show a real commitment to the provision of facilities and services for families and especially children aged 3-12. It is granted on the basis of an application and a subsequent audit in order to ensure that the resort's services and facilities meet the label's specific requirements.
FAMILLE PLUS is a French label which was created via the collaboration of three tourist organisations:
- the Association Nationale des Maires des Stations Classées et des Communes Touristiques;,
- the Association Nationale des Maires des Stations de Montagne - Ski France;
- the Fédération des Stations Vertes et des Villages de Neige.
Recognised by the Ministry of Tourism, the aim of this label is to encourage member towns and villages to provide family-friendly services and facilities.
Relevant criteria include:
- a warm welcome and the provision of information;
- events organised in the town or village;
- the opportunity to discover the local area and its heritage;
- accommodation, restaurants, shops and services;
- facilities and safety.
Ville Amie des Enfants
Founded by UNICEF France and the Association des Maires de France, the Ville Amie des Enfants organisation has a membership of more than 120 French towns in 2006.
Ville Amie des Enfants aims to promote the rights of children in towns, with an undertaking to:
• make their town more attractive and accessible to children and young people by improving safety and security, enhancing the local environment, and providing children with better access to cultural and leisure activities;
• educate children and young people to develop a community-spirited attitude and include them in the life of the town by involving them in organisations and partnerships where their voices will be heard and respected;
• learn more about the situation of children in the world and develop a spirit of international solidarity;
• promote the International Convention on the Rights of the Child;
• organise a major annual event in conjunction with UNICEF on 20 November, the National Day of the Rights of the Child.