The combination between Friday’s solar eclipse and the Moon reaching its smallest distance from the Earth resulted in the creation of an island around the famous Mont Saint-Michel commune in Normandy, for the first time this millennium.
The spectacular event, which has been deemed the “tide of the century”, has drawn a crowd of about 10.000 eager to see the commune’s high-rising abbey tower over the ocean. The last time this event occurred was over 18 years ago, in 1997.
The ocean initially withdrew to a length that is only achievable during such events, returning then with waves as high as 14 meters coming from over 8 miles away from the sea. The flat seabed ensuing also left visitors the occasion to occupy their time with the local popular activity “fishing on foot” – or gathering marine life brought in by the monster tide thorough the region’s shallow waters.
Elsewhere though, more exactly in the southwestern Gironde town of Soulac, the monster-tide proved fatal for a 70 year-old fisherman who was swept and lost in the waters.
With similar events happening or expected to happen on the shores of the Netherlands and Great Britain throughout the weekend, the French Hydrographic Institute also announced excessively high waves for Saturday night and Sunday morning. The tides are being provoked by the moon reaching its closest point to the earth while also being in either new or full phase.
The Saint-Michel commune is usually tied to mainland by a thin land strip, which at supermoon-type events gets flooded and transforms the commune with its impressive abbey into an island. The entire commune is built around the Mont Saint-Michel abbey, which is dated way back to the 7th century AD, by monks venerating the archangel Michael.
The abbey was transformed into a Benedictine one somewhere around the 10th century, and had its lowest point in 1791, when it was transformed into a prison for clerics considered non-constitutional by the regime. The abbey would not return to Christian practice until 1922, when it started being repopulated with monks. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
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