Record "Tide of the Century" Swallows French Landmark

Published On 03/23/2015 Published On 03/23/2015

Normandy, France, is famous for the D-Day invasion, when a wave of Allied forces fought straight into the teeth of the Nazi Occupation. But Sunday morning, a wave of an entirely different kind captured Normandy's attention, when a record-breaking “supertide” enveloped Mont Saint-Michel, and transformed the landmark into a gorgeous, albeit temporary, island.

Tens of thousands of people, including locals and tourists, turned up to witness the 42ft tide as it thrashed the shores of the ancient abbey -- usually connected to the mainland via a slim causeway -- following last week's solar eclipse.

The gigantic tide -- which was seven times taller than the average French person, FYI -- has been called the “tide of the century,” though it really happens once every 18 years, and affects all of northern France’s coastline. But obviously not in the game-changing way that it impacts Mont Saint-Michel -- after all, it became its own freakin' isle.

Despite the tide’s massive height, expert Nicolas Pouvreau told France 24 it was expected to be a few inches taller -- a very Skee Low problem to have. The abbey kept its doors open to visitors until 10pm in case the tide continued to rise, and at low tide, guides took groups out on walking tours along the Bay Saint-Michel.

“It's been a long time since we've seen Mont Saint-Michel surrounded by the sea. I was born in this region and I never saw it like this," local Wilfred James told the Associated Press.

As spectacular as it was, though, the record high tide posed a serious threat. Elsewhere along the French coast a 70-year-old fisherman in Landes, and a man in Ile Grande were killed, while 15 people were reportedly trapped and rescued in Brittany because of the surge.

Until you make it to Mont Saint-Michel to see the next supertide in 2033 (mark your calendar!), here are photos of the once-in-every-18-years event below.

Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. Yes, that's a British accent. No, she doesn't watch Doctor Who. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.



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