Bonjour à tous !
Today, I’m taking you to my hometown of Paimpol to explain what happens with the tides in Brittany, and why you should be extra careful when and where you park your car!
1 – French Tide Vocabulary
- La marée haute – high tide
- la marée basse – low tide
- la marée montante – rising tide
- la marée descendante – receding tide
- à marée haute – during high tide
- à marée basse – during low tide
- le coefficient – tidal coefficient
- le changement de marée – the time when the tide switch to rising/recessing
2 – What is the Tide – La Marée?
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun, and the rotation of Earth (Wikipedia)
This means that the sea, unlike a lake, will not cover the same space on the beach at high tide and low tide.
Some regions are more or less affected by the tides. For the mediterranean sea for example, the tide difference is minimal.
Here in Brittany, France, the tide difference can cover several kilometers!
3 – What is the Tidal Coefficient?
The Tidal coefficient is the difference in height between the consecutive high tides and low tides in any given area.
It means that at high tide, the sea level is not always the same. Same goes for low tide.
In high tide with a low coefficient, the see will not get as far up. And in low tide in a low coefficient, it will not go as far back!
4 – Why is the Tide Important in Brittany, France?
The tide is important in Brittany for tourists because if you plan to go to the beach at low tide, there may very well be no sea! I mean, the sea may be so back out that you’d have to walk for about one kilometer in the mud before you get to it!
The opposite is also true. Because of their location, some beaches may not be nice at high tide: for example, a small and lovely sandy creek by a cliff may have no sand left at high tide!
For fishermen, or people with boats, the tide may affect whether you can go in and out the harbor…
And for people liking to fish for clams, the tide is super important as well – then you have to know the best spots (a secret well-kept by the locals :-)
5 – Parking Your Car and the Tide in France
I believe the main picture of the car under water speaks for itself.
When you park your car by the sea in France, you should look around for this sign:
It means watch out! This parking will be under water during high coefficient high tides…
Guess that unlucky tourist didn’t know…
You can get stuck with a rising tide when you are walking as well!!
These guys just had to take their shoes off, no harm here, but it can possibly become dangerous if you walked to a small island which is, at high tide, surrounded by water.
6 – How to Know About the Tide
There are many apps available that will show you the time of high tide and low tide in a precise place. Otherwise, ask around: people are usually aware of the tide when they live in a place with big tidal changes. Just ask:
- “Est-ce que vous savez si c’est marée haute ou basse ?” Do you know if it’s high or low tide?
7 – Tides and Weather in France
It’s amazing to see how the tides affect the weather. Here is a picture I took next to Poulafret. It is not a montage. It’s a real picture of clouds (and rain) coming in with the rising tide!
Look how the clouds affect the color of the sea – I love this picture!
So if the weather is not nice, wait for the tide: it’s probably going to change with it! That’s why although the weather forecast (la météo) always says it’s going to rain in Brittany, actually, we do get a very changing weather and it’s really rare when it rains all day long!
8 – Tides in France – French Practice Video
Now that you know the words, listen to my video to practice your French.
9 – Pictures of High Tide and Low Tide in Brittany, France
Compare these 2 pictures taken in Paimpol, Brittany by my house: the first one at low tide, the second at high tide, with a high tidal coefficient…
In short, when going to a beach by the ocean, be it in France or another country, be aware of the tide and ask the locals for advice!