Thousands of people gathered around the beaches in northern France on Saturday to witness what is being called ‘the high tide of the century’.
According to the authorities, the exceptionally high spring tide, swollen by a ‘supermoon’ effect linked to the solar eclipse on Friday, sent huge surging waves crashing onto beaches and along estuaries on both sides of the English Channel, to the delight of surfers and tourists.
Around 20,000 people flocked to the Mont Saint-Michel on Saturday to watch what they hoped would be a ‘tide of the century’. The Mont Saint-Michel, which is perched on a rocky island topped with a Gothic Benedictine abbey, is exposed to some of Europe’s strongest tides. The authorities added that the next peak tide is not due until 2033.
The authorities added that the Saturday’s high tide was expected to be exceptional because of the effects from Friday’s solar eclipse, with predictions that it could reach as high as 14.15 meters (46 feet).
Saturday’s high tide was close to peak levels as the sea rushed in from over 13 kilometers (8 miles) out, but calm weather has meant that some coastal flood preparations looked set to prove unnecessary and made the phenomenon less spectacular than some had hoped.
According to eye-witnesses, when the ‘high tide of the century’ arrived, a wall of water as high as a four-storey building momentarily cut Mont Saint-Michel off from the mainland. For a few minutes, Mont Saint-Michel was completely encircled by the sea by a ‘supertide’ caused by the Moon’s extra-strong gravitational pull on the sea.
Authorities stated that the police had difficulty holding back the 20,000-strong crowd, who were eager to get pictures of the scene in the final minutes before the surge on Saturday morning. Similar numbers had gathered to watch the high tide on the previous day, with the tourist hotspot lit up with 60 spotlights for the occasion as night fell.