Metal detecting in France – do I need a licence?

Metal detector iconWith over eight acres of land, and buildings dating back to medieval times, I thought it might be fun to get a metal detector and maybe find some long-lost treasure. However, I’ve found it’s not just a case of buying one of those ‘beepy’ machines and getting out on the land. There are laws in place in France if you want to use a metal detector.

Obtaining a metal detecting license

In order to conduct a search on any land, (if it’s your own, or somebody else’s), you need to have the landowner’s permission in writing. Not only that — because your metal detector may find an object which could concern/interest prehistory, art or archaeology, you must get administrative authority, in the form of a license, from the Prefect of the Region. The license will only be granted after your identity, competence, experience and method of searching has been checked. The Prefect will also look at the location you wish to search, scientific objective and duration of the search you want to carry out…not so simple then!

Do I really need to get all this in place just to use a metal detector on my own land? It seems a lot of hassle to go through just for a bit of fun. However, if I don’t take notice of the law, I could get into serious trouble – a fine and the metal detector could get confiscated. But if I want to use a metal detector on a beach, that’s ok.

It does seem complicated, but basically it’s to protect any historical or archaeological items that might be found…and I guess that as I live in the renovated kitchen of an old Château  built in 1297, the Château grounds and fields beyond could turn up some old historical artefacts, which would be of archaeological interest. So, on reflection, I don’t think I’ll buy one after all. Maybe, a few years down the line, when I have more time on my hands, I’ll get the relevant permissions and go treasure hunting!

Editor Notes

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever found whilst metal detecting? Had any good / bad experiences? Leave us a reply (see below) and let us know.