The high tides

High Tides in Saint-Malo in 2020

The high tides in Saint-Malo are a show not to be missed. Indeed, the bay of Saint-Malo and the bay of Mt St Michel are the scene of the highest tides in Europe! In connection with the lunar cycles, the sea takes 6 hours to rise, remains about twenty minutes on the spot, then takes 6 hours to come down, and so on …

But why is this phenomenon so important in Saint-Malo, how can we make the most of it and, above all, what are the schedules of the year’s high tides?

grandes marées à saint malo intra muros

What’s a high tide?

The tidal phenomenon in Saint-Malo is much talked about. But what about it really? A tide is the movement of the sea level up and down. This is caused by the attraction of the Moon. Twice a day, about every 6 hours, the sea rises or falls, to the delight of the spectators.

The amplitude of the tide can vary depending on the positioning of the Moon and the Sun in relation to the Earth. When the 3 stars are aligned along the same axis, the tides are higher. We then speak about high tides! This phenomenon occurs at each new and full moon.

To evaluate the height of a tide, we give it a coefficient between 20 and 120. From 90 onwards, we speak of high tides. That’s when the show is really impressive!

Saint-Malo: the scene of the highest tides in Europe

In Saint-Malo, the tidal range, which is the difference between the water level at low tide and high tide, reaches an average of 12 metres and sometimes 14 metres during the highest tides.

In comparison, the highest tides on land occur in Canada in the Bay of Fundy and can reach up to 16 metres.

The tide of the century in Saint-Malo

Twice a year, the tides of Equinoxe attract crowds to Saint-Malo. Indeed, in March and September, the tides are particularly high with coefficients approaching 120! As long as there is a gust of wind at the same time, the spectacle is breathtaking! 

But the sea, which retreats very far also in these cases, reveals an unusual landscape with a multitude of rocks of which one does not suspect the existence. During one of the strongest “tides of the century”, a few decades ago, airplane wrecks appeared, visible to the naked eye. 

In March 2015, the city experienced the “Tide of the Century” with a coefficient of 119. Contrary to what one might think, this tide does not occur once every century, but every 18 years. This is when the earth, the moon and the sun are in perfect alignment.

High tide in Saint-Malo

During high tides in Saint-Malo and particularly during the highest tides, it is very common for beaches to disappear completely under the water. In such cases, you must be particularly vigilant if the weather is windy. It is not impossible for a wave to pass over the dyke! In the best of cases, you will take a good shower, but in the worst case, you could be caught by the power of the wave.

It is often this spectacle that the curious seek to see. It is true that seeing a beach, on which you were walking a few hours before, completely disappear is quite impressive.

But the high tide also makes it possible to discover new landscapes. We particularly love to see the National Fort or the Grand Bé completely surrounded by water. 

grandes marées sur le sillon à saint-malo

Low Tide in Saint-Malo

At low tide, you can enjoy hundreds of metres more of the beach. Ideal for walking, you should also think that the water is much further away if you want to go for a dip in the sea.

Low tide in Saint-Malo is also a paradise for fishermen on foot. It is indeed the best time to go and collect hulls, clams or knives directly on the beach. So don’t be surprised to meet fishermen armed with rakes, buckets or bags of salt! Fishing on foot is quite an art.

If you want to try this fun activity yourself, be careful, there are some rules to follow. Don’t hesitate to consult the site of the Responsible Fishing on Foot to know all the good practices. 

Also remember to keep an eye on the time, don’t forget that the tide is never far away and you have to be careful not to get trapped on a sandbank.

saint-malo à marée basse

Schedules and coefficients of the high tides in Saint-Malo in 2020

From 01/01/2020 to 31/12/2020

JANUARY

Sunday 12 : coef 93 (12,25m) – coef 95 (12,05m)
Monday 13 : coef 95 (12,40m) – coef 95 (12,05m)
Tuesday 14 : coef 93 (12,30m) – coef 95 (12,05m)

FEBRUARY

Monday 10 : coef 103 (12,03m) – coef 106 (12,55m)
Tuesday 11 : coef 108 (13m) – coef 108 (12,75m)
Wednesday 12 : coef 107 (13m) – coef 105 (12,6m)

MARCH

Tuesday 10 : coef 110 (13m) – coef 114 (13,05m)
Wednesday 11 : coef 116 (13,4m) – coef 117 (13,2m)
Thursday 12 : coef 115 (13,40m) – coef 111 (13m)

APRIL

Tuesday 7 : coef 101 (12,40m) – coef 107 (12,65m)
Wednesday 8 : coef 112 (13,05m) – coef 115 (13,15m)
Thursday 9 : coef 117 (13,35m) – coef 116 (13,25m)
Friday 10 : coef 114 (13,30m) – coef 110 (13m)

MAY

Thursday 7 : coef 106 (12,65m) – coef 108 (12,80m)
Friday 8 : coef 108 (12,85m) – coef 107 (12,85m)
Saturday 9 : coef 105 (12,70m) – coef 101 (12,60m)

JUNE

Friday 5: coef 95 (11,95m) – coef 95 (12,15m)
Saturday 6 : coef 95 (12,05m) – coef 95 (12,25m)
Sunday 7 : coef 94 (12m) – coef 91 (12,1m)

JULY

Thursday 23: coef 90 (11,80m) – coef 90 (12,20m)
Friday 24 : coef 90 (11,80m) – coef 88 (12,05m)

AUGUST

Thursday 20 : coef 99  (12,20m) – coef 101 (12,70m)
Friday 21: coef 103 (12,50m) – coef 104 (12,90m)
Saturday 22 : coef 103 (12,25m) – coef 100 (12,75m)

SEPTEMBER

Thursday 17 : coef 98 (12,20m) – coef 104 (12,80m)
Friday 18 : coef 109 (12,9m) – coef 112 (13,25m)
Saturday 19 : coef 113 (13,10m) – coef 113 (13,40m)
Sunday 20 : coef 111 (13,05m) – coef 107 (13,15m)

OCTOBER

Friday 16 : coef 103 (12,50m) – coef 108 (13m)
Saturday 17 : coef 112 (13,05m) – coef 115 (13,40m)
Sunday 18 : coef 115 (13,30m) – coef 114 (13,40m)
Monday 19 : coef 111 (13,15) – coef 107 (13,05m)

NOVEMBER

Saturday 14 : coef 100 (12,35m) – coef 104 (12,70m)
Sunday 15 : coef 107 (12,85m) – coef 109 (13m)
Monday 16 : coef 109 (13m) – coef 108 (13m)
Tuesday 17 : coef 105 (12,90m) – coef 101 (12,65m)

DECEMBER

Monday 14 : coef 96 (12,2m) – coef 98 (12,25m)
Tuesday 15 : coef 99 (12,45m) – coef 99 (12,30m)
Wednesday 16 : coef 97 (12,45m) – coef 95 (12,15m)

Also look at:

The Mont Saint-Michel ⟶

Cancale ⟶

Dinard ⟶

Dinan ⟶