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?
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.
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.
Schedules and coefficients of the high tides in Saint-Malo in 2023