Global climate change poses new problems with regard to natural risks, in particular in coastal zones. It is anticipated that rising sea levels, amplified by the greenhouse effect, will increase the frequency of coastal storms and lead to permanent submersion of many areas, and thus present a major risk to the inhabitants. The aim of this research is to look into the confrontation between the human population and the collective environmental risks of littoral areas, in the context of a study of social thought. In the framework of the structural approach to social representations theory (Abric, 1987, 1989, 1994), this work aims to understand the representations of the coastal populations facing natural risks. In this approach, the main characteristic of a social representation is that it is organized around a central core. This core consists of one or a small number of fundamental elements which provide the overall meaning of the representation and serve to organise the other elements of the system. The central core is completed by a peripheral system which, by allowing interindividual differences, adapts the representation, regulates it and protects it from concrete reality. The peripheral system takes into account the experience of each individual and his relationship with his environment. The interest of this kind of approach lies in the fact that social representations are the result of a process of co-construction of reality carried out by a given social group. Social representations underline, on one hand, the variety of modes of expression and experiences of each individual and, on the other hand, the similarities in the meanings and modes of reasoning associated with an object within a particular group. This study compares the social representations of natural risks held by coastal populations from different administrative regions of France. We will be looking to extend this research to include the coastal populations of the Netherlands. A previous study (Baggio & Rouquette, 2006) on flooding, as well as a preliminary study of the coast of Languedoc-Roussillon, suggested the existence of “site effects” in the construction of the representation. We therefore expect to find different attitudes towards the risks at different locations as well as more or less elaborate representations. In this light, we have chosen to observe, by means of a questionnaire, the variation in the structure of the representations held by the inhabitants of the French coasts according to their city and the seriousness of the environmental problems they face. We selected two coastal cities for each study region (Aquitaine, Brittany, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur). Firstly, the results from each pair of cities reveal differences in the representations of these risks within the same region. Secondly, the comparison between regions highlights differences based on geographical specificities and cultural customs. These differences provide an estimate of the distance between perceived risk and effective risk and demonstrate the existence of “site effects” on the representations. In addition, we are also looking at the role of the emotions in the perception of these events, because emotions are known to impact the way we perceive and build the reality which surrounds us (Rimé, 2005 ; Guimelli & Rimé, 2009). The purpose here is to estimate the role that emotions play in the construction of the social representations of collective risks, of which littoral risks are a part.