High tide season in Saint-Malo

There’s a true love story between the city of Saint-Malo and its high tides. It’s a story that fascinates Breton photographer, Rémi Lemenicier, who brings us closer to the show with his photographs, from the tumult of the waves to their final lull.
Breakwaters

Each year, Saint-Malo experiences some of the biggest tides in Europe. Sea level can then vary between low tide and the open sea by over 40 feet. To cope with the onslaught of the waves, Saint-Malo has equipped itself with breakwater defenses that have become emblems of the city. These are more than 3,000 wooden piles, roughly 10 feet high, built at the end of the 17th century to absorb the impact of the waves and protect part of the citadel.

Breakwaters

Each year, Saint-Malo experiences some of the biggest tides in Europe. Sea level can then vary between low tide and the open sea by over 40 feet. To cope with the onslaught of the waves, Saint-Malo has equipped itself with breakwater defenses that have become emblems of the city. These are more than 3,000 wooden piles, roughly 10 feet high, built at the end of the 17th century to absorb the impact of the waves and protect part of the citadel.

Multiple Variables

The period of time between each wave is called the swell. The longer this is, the stronger the wave is. If you get a long swell, originating from faraway storms combined with strong winds, the conditions can quickly become critical for the city. Fortunately, these elements concurring at the same time is rare.

Every Season

In Saint-Malo, the sea has high wave coefficients—90 over 120 —almost every month at the full moon. Generally, however, the highest tides occur around the equinoxes, in March and September. This doesn’t prevent the sea from putting on spectacular performances all year round, like in the middle of August for example.

Every Season

In Saint-Malo, the sea has high wave coefficients—90 over 120 —almost every month at the full moon. Generally, however, the highest tides occur around the equinoxes, in March and September. This doesn’t prevent the sea from putting on spectacular performances all year round, like in the middle of August for example.

I fell in love with this city, which moves to the rhythm of the tides. At each high coefficient, I study the weather and other elements to envision if there will be beautiful pictures to take. Conditions can be very pleasant, with soft winds and pretty lighting, as in this shot here. But they can also be chaotic, with very strong winds, rain, and hail. This can be very dangerous too. I’m beginning to know this place quite well, but still, when it comes to the sea you can never let your guard down.

Eruptions on the Promenade

It takes both wind and waves for the tides to be lively, and these often go hand in hand. When the tidal range reaches 40 feet, once the waves reach three feet, they’ll erupt at the lowest points of Saint-Malo’s coast, like the Promenade des Fleurs.

Eruptions on the Promenade

It takes both wind and waves for the tides to be lively, and these often go hand in hand. When the tidal range reaches 40 feet, once the waves reach three feet, they’ll erupt at the lowest points of Saint-Malo’s coast, like the Promenade des Fleurs.

An Isolated Bastion

Through the waves, from the Chaussée du Sillon, we can see the national fort, another symbol of the city, which becomes isolated on its island with each high tide.
This advanced bastion built by Vauban once protected the city, and it has been classified as a historical monument for more than a century now.

The Lull

Calm returns after each high tide. The water recedes to normal, drifting back several hundred yards from the shore. People on foot come back out to stroll on the jetty, and the photographer goes home to rest.

The Lull

Calm returns after each high tide. The water recedes to normal, drifting back several hundred yards from the shore. People on foot come back out to stroll on the jetty, and the photographer goes home to rest.