PHOTOS: High tides make Mont Saint-Michel an island again

The phenomenon only happens for a few days each year

A view of Mont Saint-Michel surrounded by water
Mont Saint-Michel becomes an island at high tide, but the ‘permanent’ island (even at low tide) only happens for a few days per year
Published Last updated

High tides have made the famous Mont Saint-Michel mount in north-west France an island again, with a near-record high tide. It is a phenomenon that only happens for a few days per year.

With a high tide coefficient of 117 in 120, since yesterday (March 12), it has been impossible to cross on foot. High vehicles can just about get through, and have been pulling tourists across on dinghies. Shallow-bottomed boats have also been crossing to the famous Normandy monument.

The chance of the phenomenon increases depending on the Earth-Moon-Sun alignment, and the mount can become an island in just a few hours as the water rises. As the spring equinox approaches, these three celestial bodies are almost aligned.

A #drone view shows Mont Saint-Michel surrounded by sea during a high tide, in the French western region of #Normandy, #France.

— Hans Solo (@thandojo) March 13, 2024

Just short of ‘tide of the century’

In comparison to this episode, the ‘tide of the century’ identified in 2015 had a coefficient of 119, with more than 14 metres of difference between the low tide and the peak high tide. The scale goes from 20 to 120, and a ‘big tide (grande marée)’ is identified when the coefficient is higher than 90.

One tourist, Victor Ducoulombier, said: “It’s strange to see Mont Saint-Michel become an island again. I come here every year, I regularly cross on foot, but seeing it become an island again is always impressive. It’s a strange atmosphere.”

En images : le Mont Saint-Michel coupé du monde pendant la grande marée

— Paris Match (@ParisMatch) March 13, 2024

Even people who regularly travel to the mount have been caught short.

Julie Dion, who works at the tourism office, said: “When you come to work, you have to calculate the timings to be able to cross, but today it’s so big, the tide is such a big tide, that nobody can cross. So, we wait!”

Read also

Has a longstanding mystery at Mont-Saint-Michel finally been solved?
Seven facts about France's Mont-Saint-Michel abbey as it turns 1,000
EU Council confuses Mont Saint-Michel as being in Brittany