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‘Tide of the century’ cuts off island from mainland France

‘Tide of the century’ cuts off island from mainland France

Paris: Mont Saint-Michel, an imposing granite island in the middle of a bay in northwestern France, received Saturday the "tide of the century", which raised Atlantic waters until it isolated even more the medieval village.

The tide grew as high as a four-story building, with an estimated maximum of 14.6 metres, and created a spectacular view of that celebrated tourist attraction.

For the first time in this millennium, the footbridge was completely submerged that connects the French coast with Mont Saint-Michel, designated by UNESCO in 1979 as a world heritage site.

This supertide is repeated approximately every 18 years and will probably not return until sometime in the year 2033. It leaves the village completely at sea, an island crowned by an abbey some 170 metres above sea level.

The monster tide attracted tens of thousands of visitors, but had a tragic side when two men drowned near Ile Grande and Rocher de Saint-Nicolas, apparently swallowed up by the rising ocean on a day of little wind and tranquil waves.

Besides contemplating the magnificent seascape dotted with improvised islets, visitors could enjoy the "tide of the century" by collecting shellfish and crustaceans from the sand along the coast near Normandy's architectural gem.

Clams, shrimp, mussels, turtles...and lobsters for the lucky, were at the mercy of a legion of people with rubber gloves and boots, knives and fishing baskets.

The phenomenon, which also left breathtaking scenes in other places in Normandy and Brittany, is an extra source of income for the Mont Saint-Michel region, visited every year by more than three million people and outdone in France only by Paris and the Palace of Versailles.

"Besides the 'tide of the century' on March 21, there will be four other days when the tide will also be exceptional: April 19, August 31, September 29 and October 28," a spokesperson for Odalys Vacance said in the daily Le Figaro.

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