Two weeks after heavy flooding of areas of south-east France claimed over 20 lives, the cost of the material damage caused has been estimated at between €800m and €1 billion by a government commission.

A total of 395 municipal districts in six departments, of which 295 in the Gard alone, have been designated as natural disaster zones by the French authorities.

30,000 hectares of vineyards in the Gard had been under water with 8,000 hectares so badly damaged they will not be harvested.

Operating losses are put at 30 million euros, which do not include the cost of replanting and restoring vineyards.

A wine co-operative which opened only a year ago in the Gard, now marooned on an artificial lake formed by flood water, amid pallets and containers, provides one picture of desolation.

Around 5,600 farmers and growers in the region are reported to have been affected by the floods.

While insurers are expected to cover 450 million euros worth of the damage, the allocation of the remaining 600 million euros is the task of an inter-ministerial committee due to convene at the start of next month.