barre Port Grimaud

       On 13 March 1969, a letter from the Direction des Ports Maritimes et des Voies Navigables, depending on the Ministère de l'Equipement et du Logement at the time, addressed to the Prefect of the Var, defined the special status of the Cité Lacustre.(see below)

barre Port Grimaud


       The entrance pass was opened in 1968. Strangely enough, this 1969 letter was not formalised and made known to the LSAs until several years later.

       In the 60s, as yachting developed rapidly, it was necessary to build marinas as quickly as possible to accommodate all these boats. Such ports, with their infrastructure - quays, harbour master's office, bollards with water and electricity - would have been expensive for the State, which was anticipating a 20% annual increase in the number of boats. It therefore called on private capital, which it attracted by granting special rights over the public maritime domain : these are exclusive enjoyment rights on the amodiations such as defined in the circular of December 29, 1965:
"... It may be possible for the concessionaire to privately lease part of the substations to individuals who have participated in financing the works."...

       This circular was replaced by a new one dated 19 March 1981 which concomitantly modified the previous one since it stipulated that private individuals participating in the financing of a marina no longer obtained the exclusive enjoyment of a defined ring but the guarantee of a mooring right in an area of the port...

       PORT GRIMAUD was built with this very nice advertising slogan: "the boat in front of your house" with variations like "give your boat a home"
       PORT GRIMAUD was a lacustrine city with houses lining canals created on private land, forming an inland lake initially opening onto the Giscle. The quays were narrow (especially for the construction of PG1) but private and large enough to accommodate the new owners' boats.

The lake city was built on private land without being open to the sea.
So the canals were private and the moorings were private.

       Unfortunately, after a strong flood of the Giscle river in 1967 which flooded the construction site; the architect François Spoerry decided to open the lake to the sea which was done in June 68. The lake city fell under the circular of 65 (which therefore allows that the mooring site is inseparable from the house or building and that the quay is private) but under the concession regime...

barre Port Grimaud

- As a reminder :

       The land on which the entire project is to be carried out is privately owned..
       LThe operation is being carried out with the help of private funds.
       These areas are not connected to the sea.
       This land became a lake district when man dug a feeder channel across a strip of land that forms the boundary between the maritime domain and the SCI de Port-Grimaud properties, allowing seawater to enter the channels.
       Before being submerged, the ditches were protected with sheet piling to support the quays and protect the houses from erosion.
       A property only forms part of the public domain if it belongs to a public authority and has been the subject of special planning. However, property is private.

       On the basis of article 1 of the law of 28 June 1938, which authorised the construction of a property development as part of its corporate purpose and with a view to subsequent allocation of full ownership to the shareholders, SCI Port Grimaud sold shares in SCI corresponding to lots, houses with 10m moorings in front, and flats, some of which also had 10m moorings. These moorings were 'recorded' in the notarised contract.
       When the SCI was dissolved and an ASP created, the assets no longer became SCI shares but real property. Many owners did not see fit to go back before a notary to record this change.

Extraordinary General Meeting :
     On August 22, 1981, an Extraordinary General Meeting of the PG1 ASP, chaired by Dr BREHANT, President of the ASP and Mayor of Grimaud, decided to cede ownership of the 13ha of land on which the canals run, free of charge, to the French State.
The latter became the owner of the water and the land on which the canals were built...

The deed of transfer is dated Dec. 3, 1984... At the time, there was talk of savings, since the ASP no longer had to pay property tax on these 13 hectares... The State also undertook to reduce the fee for operating the lake.

barre Port Grimaud

Mr TROEGELER's position :

       Me TROEGELER, lawyer and Chairman of PG2, has always contested the concession system, basing his arguments on the case law of the time, asserting that "an artificial opening onto the sea could in no way have the effect of causing the inland water body to fall into the DPM."
      Adding : « 50 years ago, it was the STATE that, as part of its regional planning policy, came looking for private investors by granting them special rights in order to obtain financing for the creation of marinas. The investors fulfilled their commitments. Is it normal (honest) 50 years later to tell these same owners of Port-Camargue and Port Grimaud that the rules have changed and that they must now apply, at best, the guarantee of use, which is difficult to apply to marinas where the moorings are associated with a house ».

barre Port Grimaud

The position of Professor J. DUFAU :

       Professor J. DUFAU eis the author of a book ‘Le Domaine public’ published in 1977, in which he writes, page 415 and 416 :
       « … Private ports are ports dug by private individuals on private land and communicating with the sea by means of a feeder channel. These private ports are built by virtue of simple authorisations for temporary occupation of the public domain for the digging of the feeder channel and for the installation of the port entrance works.
       However, as private ports, they cannot be subject to the concession system.
       The same applies to the lakeside resort of Port-Grimaud, which was built on private land connected to the sea by a feeder channel. Consequently, it was wrongly placed under the concession regime by the prefectoral decree of 14 May 1975. Prior to this decree, Port-Grimaud had been incorporated into the public maritime domain by a ministerial decision. However, such a decision is of dubious legality, as the property to be incorporated into the artificial public domain must belong to the Administration, otherwise it must acquire it
. »

barre Port Grimaud


       Port Camargue was under construction (work began in 1969), a new marina on the Languedoc coast, as part of the Racine mission. A 1st breakwater was built (the Espiguette breakwater), but from the outset, Port Camargue opened up to the sea!

       As Port Grimaud had been artificially opened up to the sea, discussions ensued between the administration, the architect, the mayor and the presidents of the ASLs. There was probably some bargaining between the granting of building permits and the donation by PG of the land on which the canals would be built. The Mayor at the time, Jean Paul Bréhant, was also Chairman of PG1, and therefore had to ensure that an acceptable solution for the lake district was finally regulated.
       As the land became the property of the State, the water also became a public maritime domain.

New contract for Port Camargue :

       On Saturday 26 March 2016, a new "plan d’eau marina" contract was signed between the State and the Plan d’eau concessionaire.
       The owners and co-owners of the Marinas de Port-Camargue will have the use of the public port domain until 2051, for a period of 35 years, which is the maximum authorised for this type of contract.
       Each contract is individual. Each person had to decide whether they preferred to anticipate or whether they chose to sign the contract during 2019. If they chose the latter, they could sign for 35 years OR for a renewable year".
       Whatever the decision, signatories must pay a fee of €1,500 over 5 years to validate the contract.

barre Port Grimaud


       It is in this context that the water plan concession was granted to :

- PORT-GRIMAUD I by the Société Civile Immobilière de PORT-GRIMAUD I by prefectural decree of 14 May 1975, for a period of 50 years, i.e. until 31 December 2025. The Association Syndicale des Propriétaire de PORT-GRIMAUD I took over the rights and obligations of the SCI de PG I
- PORT-GRIMAUD II by the Société Civile Immobilière de la BAIE DE SAINT-TROPEZ by prefectural decree of 18 November 1982, for a period of 43 years, i.e. until 31 December 2025. The Association Syndicale Libre de PORT-GRIMAUD II took over the rights of the SCI de la BAIE de SAINT-TROPEZ.
- PORT-GRIMAUD III by the Société de Navigation de PORT-GRIMAUD (SNPG) by prefectural decree of November 16, 1978, for a period of 50 years, that is until December 31, 2028.

       These acts provided that the maintenance of the seawalls was the responsibility of the concessionaires...

       The concession contract was modified by an amendment on 30 November 1987, in order to provide a framework for the creation, by the SNPG, of a COMMUNAL PORT with 64 moorings. The said communal port is operated directly by the Commune since 9 November 2009.

       Since the 1st January 1984 and the transfer of the competence in the matter of maritime ports assigned solely to pleasure boating, the Commune of GRIMAUD has assumed the rights and obligations of the State.

       Etrangement aucun contrat n'avait été signé entre l'Etat et chaque propriétaire pour l'utilisation des amarrages. En 2009, le Maire de Grimaud a demandé aux 3 entités de Port Grimaud d'établir des contrats d'amodiation pour chaque bateau avec de respecter la loi. Ces contrat devaient mentionnés que le quai est privé.

       These concessions were to end in 2025 for PG1, PG2 and 2028 for PG3. The 3 concessionaires – ASP of PG I, ASL of PG II and the SNPG – were responsible for allocating berths or moorings on their respective water bodies.

barre Port Grimaud

Status of PORT GRIMAUD :

Statuts de Port Grimaud
barre Port Grimaud

Boundaries of the concession :

       Here is the ground plan describing the boundaries of the concession :
Port Grimaud et le domaine maritime

barre Port Grimaud

CGEDD report of November 2017 :

       In November 1917, the CONSEIL GENERAL de l'ENVIRONNEMENT et du DEVELOPPEMENT DURABLE (CGEDD) under the Ministry of DE LA TRANSITION ECOLOGIQUE ET SOLIDAIRE, drew up a report on the "End of lease contracts in marinas of marinas".
       In the list of the proposed recommendations, 2 of them are of interest to our lake city:
- "To the conceding authorities: not to envisage the alienation of water bodies, even if they are located on private property, when they are only accessible through this property and can therefore only be used by the riparian owner;
- To the conceding authorities: to deliver, if necessary, titles by mutual agreement as permitted by articles L 2122-1-3 1°) or 4°) of the general code of public property in the case of bodies of water situated at the right of private property, when they are only accessible through this property and can therefore only be used by the riparian owner"
       On page 7 of the document, it is specified: "The situation of port Grimaud turns out to be a little different since, from the beginning, the lake city, then the marina, after the direct communication with the sea, were entirely conceived to allow the residents to park their nautical vehicles in front of their house, their car remaining outside. But the density of the dwellings (more than 2500) is such that "only" 53% of the owners of PG1 are owners of a berth, 72% at PG2 and 30% at PG3.

       A legal link between the ownership of a residence and the use of a berth therefore exists in Port Grimaud and this link is the basis of the existence of our marinas.

       At PORT GRIMAUD, there are 1500 berths chartered or 78% of the total capacity of the port.
       As a member of the concessionary ASL, each owner contributes to the concession charges. These charges are included in the co-ownership charges.
       Only 63% of residences (houses and flats) have a tenancy.
       To fully understand the situation of Port Grimaud, read the Analysis of the 2011 report concerning PORT GRIMAUD as well as the Report established by the CGEDD.

barre Port Grimaud

2022 / 2023 :

       By deliberation n°2021/01/114 dated 28 September 2021, the Commune decided to terminate the concession contracts, in accordance with the provisions of article 44 of the Specifications of the said contracts and to merge all the basins into a single port, in order to allow a reorganisation of the port service.
       By resolution no. 2021/04/118 dated 9 November 2021, the Commune opted to manage this single port as a public service with sole financial autonomy. The Town Hall justifies this decision because PG1 has been declaring a loss-making port for many years :
- in 2017, a deficit of 308,792 euros;
- in 2018, a déficit of 165,361€
- in 2119, a déficit of 439,605€
- in 2020, a déficit of 893'914€
       In its first year of operation, the Port Authority made a profit of over 400,000 euros.
       On the other hand, in 2019, in anticipation of the approaching end of the concessions, the commune commissioned an audit which was presented to the town council and the delegatees in 2020. According to the Town Hall, this audit highlighted problems of consistency in the management of the 3 Port Grimaud entities, each of which had a different model, resulting in a lack of transparency.
       By resolution no. 2021/04/118 dated 9 November 2021, the Commune opted for the management of this single port as a public authority with sole financial autonomy.
       The termination and takeover by the public sector have been effective since 1 January 2022. However, they automatically entail the termination of all the lease contracts previously concluded, as provided for in both the concession contracts and the standard contract approved by the Commune.
       The Town Hall insists that the principle of the amodiation, which is the specificity of Port-Grimaud, be preserved, these amodiation contracts materialize the legal link between the ownership of a private residence (individual house or flat) and the enjoyment of an amodied post on the public domain.
       In fact, leasehold contracts no longer exist in French law, replaced by a 'right of use' or 'guarantee of use'. The Town Hall must now deal with the new rules applicable :
     - "on the one hand, article R.5314-31 of the Transport Code provides that "the private use of berths intended for pleasure craft may not be granted for a period exceeding one year, renewable each year under the conditions defined by the competent authority […] ».
     - on the other hand, article R.5314-1 of the same Code stipulates that: "[…] guarantees of use of berths or moorings may be granted for a maximum period of 35 years, in return for a participation in the financing of new port works constituting a dependency of the public domain of the State
       The contract granting the above-mentioned guarantee of use must stipulate that the right attached to this guarantee can only be leased through the port manager or with his agreement ».

       Before being able to propose to each user, according to his particular situation, such or such a contract, the Commune must define a multiannual investment programme concerning the realisation of new harbour works which could justify a participation in the financing on the part of private individuals and to be able to propose a guarantee of use within the limit of 35 years.

       In the meantime, and in order to avoid breaking this legal link, the Town Hall has decided to propose to the current occupants a contract for the private provision of berths for the year 2022, the draft of which is annexed to the present deliberation.
       These new contracts are entitled : "Availability of a berth", which the 3 ASLs of PORT GRIMAUD refute, since the quays are an integral part of the canal-side properties :
- The quays, which were private until the end of the concessions, remain private. They are part of the property of the owners. Unfortunately, this is the wording used in the French Transport Code (Article R5314-31), which does not Code (Article R5314-31) but does not correspond to the situation of Port Grimaud users.

       Maître Barnier, a lawyer who attended the PG2 general meeting in April 2023, proposed that the terms of the contract for the 'Availability of a berth' be replaced by a 'REAL and PERPETUAL RIGHT TO MOOR'. This would ensure that residents would be able to keep their mooring in front of their house in perpetuity... as François SPOERRY had imagined and as every resident would like! This proposal has been approved by the 3 local authorities and submitted to the Town Hall.

March 2024 :

     In March 2024, the PG3 ASL decided, after lengthy negotiations, to accept 2 very favourable settlements for the ex-amodiat residents of this entity.

     The lake will be subject to 2 regulations :
- Marina operating regulations
- Port Police Regulations.
     These 2 regulations have been submitted to the Contrôle de légalité of the Préfecture du Var and accepted since 18 March. They can be consulted on the Mairie website :

     Article 9.2.2 para. 1 reads as follows : "Owners of a private house and quay adjacent to the public waterway, who benefit from a lease agreement before 1 January 2022, will, from 1 January 2025, have priority allocation of the berth located at right angles to their property and may, as such, benefit from a guarantee of use agreement for the purpose of private occupation of the berth concerned.
     Authorised by the provisions of article 1.2122-l-3 of the General Code of Public Property, this so-called "amicable" allocation is inseparable from the configuration of the Port-Grimaud housing estate, which has been set up as a "Marina".
     In accordance with the original wishes of its founder, the architect François SPOERRY, the residential development of Port-Grimaud is made up of semi-detached houses, positioned in a linear fashion along the private quays that surround the public harbour. As a result, land access to the public berths can only be gained by crossing private property. This means that the owners of the houses and adjoining quays must be given priority access to the public berth located on their property.

     It is not yet the "recognition of a REAL and PERPETUAL RIGHT to MOORING, which would guarantee the assurance of keeping one's mooring in front of one's house in the long term, as PG2 would like, but we are getting closer....

     In practical and financial terms, all former tenants can therefore count on :
     - an annual contract for the provision of a berth for a fee of €20 per sqm of mooring space.
     - a Guarantees of Use contract for a period of 35 years from 1 January 2025, which guarantees that the mooring will be available until 2059. This contract involves an annual fee which will cover, in simple terms, the Port's operating costs, the financing of works or equipment contributing to the development of the Port and its operation. The investment programme will be known at the end of the year and should amount (according to the Régie) to 15 million euros, or an annual fee of 1,000 euros for 10 years. These figures are, of course, subject to change...

To be continued...
To be continued...

barre Port Grimaud

Appendices. :

barre Port Grimaud

  the work of François SPOERRY...

© Yves Lhermitte 2022   Reproduction prohibited without permission...