The seismic activity in France Metropolitan is not as important as in other world areas such as Japan, California, Greece, Turkey, etc. However, risks remain. It can be noticed that the strongest French seismic activity is overseas in Guadeloupe and Martinique.
The Lambesc earthquake (in the Alps) in 1909, for instance, destroyed several villages and caused 40 deaths (see picture opposite)..
Later, other remarkable earthquakes occurred: in Oléron in 1972, in Arette in the Pyrenees in 1980 and again Maastricht or Bonneville in December 1994. One of the latest is the one that occurred next to Axat, in the Pyrenees at the beginning of 1996.
Compared to Greece or Turkey, France Metropolitan is an area with an average seismicity. Earthquakes that occur are the consequences of Africa and Europe bringing closer.
The seismic zones in France highlighted in the opposite map are ruled by laws regulating buildings, in particular public buildings and critical installations like nuclear power plants. It comes from the law of July 22 1987 and the decree of May 14 1991.