France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Tides at Mont St-Michel, France
The highest tides in Europe are found at Mont St-Michel, adding to the mystery and beauty of the site—and also the danger.

  Mont St Michel tide warning
Caution: Today this area will
be covered by the sea!




The tides at Mont St-Michel are extreme.

Extreme high tides almost turn the mountain into an island, while extreme low tides mean you'll need to squint off into the distance to convince yourself that there really is water in the Bay of Mont St-Michel.

The tides can also be dangerous, and they can change quickly. When wet, the sand can be unstable and a person can sink into it like quicksand, drowning as the tide rushes in.

It is essential that anyone visiting Mont St-Michel be aware of the tides and plan accordingly, particularly if and when you walk on the sand around the island. There can be a difference of 15 meters (50 feet) between low and high tide!

We have visited at both a time of high tides and a time when we never saw any water around the island. Both have their advantages. When the island was surrounded by sand, we could walk all the way around it, seeing the Abbey, the walls, and other buildings from unusual vantage points. There are also guided walks farther out in the sand, to see the surrounding area.

But at the time of high tide, it is also dramatic to stand near the entrance to the Grande Rue of Mont St-Michel and watch the water rise, inundating the entrance, allowing the police at the Gendarmerie Nationale to set out in their small boat to check for safety, and even prompting surfers and sail borders to appear. You have to decide if you're going to stay on the island or on the causeway for the duration of the tide, because once the tide is full you'll be stuck in one place or another for a while. The high tide we experienced was early in the morning, and many people joined us on the shuttles from the parking area or walked along the causeway to experience it.

Mont St-Michel at high tide
Mont St-Michel at high tide, with water completely surrounding the island.
Quite a contrast to the picture above right, with no water!

Now, with off-site parking on the mainland, you need no longer worry about your car being inundated. But do pay attention to the warning signs and be aware of the tides.

Over the years, the previous causeway caused accumulations of silt around Mont St-Michel, and the area's maritime character was eroded. A large project is underway to restore the maritime heritage and allow the sea to move freely around the site. This includes a new dam that provides controlled filling and release designed to reduce silting and protect the environment, as well as the new approach to the island.

The Office du Tourisme publishes the times and heights of the tides, both on their website and at the Office itself.

The highest tides tend to be after the full and new moons.

The Office also has information on the timed release of water from the dam.

If you are interested in the ecology of the Baie of Mont St-Michel, you might want to visit the ecomusée near Avranches.

Tide Information from the Office du Tourisme

About Mont St-Michel

What to See and Do

Office du Tourisme

The Dam at Mont St-Michel

Parking at Mont St-Michel

Abbey of Mont St-Michel

Walks at Mont St-Michel

Photography at Mont St-Michel

Restoration Project

About Avranches

About Normandy


Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel by Tom Brosnahan


Surrounded by a sea of sand at Mont-St-Michel, France

Above, surrounded by a sea of sand
at low tide at Mont St-Michel.

Dam at Mont St-Michel

 Rushing tidal waters at the dam at Mont St-Michel.

 Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel by Tom Brosnahan
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