Laminaria saccharina (Lamouroux) form the largest, most abundant and conspicuous seaweed populations along the French coast of the eastern English Channel. As they are located in the intertidal zone, they are exposed to considerable irradiance variations, mainly related to tidal cycles. The response of these macro-algae to light variations over a simulated daily tidal cycle was investigated in the laboratory during spring, autumn and winter using chlorophyll fluorescence and pigment analysis. The maximum quantum yield of photosystem II (PSII) photochemistry (Fv/Fm) and the operating PSII efficiency (ΦPSII) showed clear daily cycles according to the irradiance variation throughout the 12 h simulated tidal cycle, whereas the pattern of the relative photosynthetic electron transport rate (rETR) was not so obvious. The algae reacted to the light increase by developing photoprotective mechanisms able to dissipate the excess energy reaching PSII by the de-epoxidation of violaxanthin into zeaxanthin. Because of their better acclimation to strong irradiance, spring populations were less affected by this light treatment than were winter populations. In particular, L. saccharina showed more pigments of the xanthophyll cycle in spring to cope with strong irradiance exposure. Alternatively, they developed their antenna complexes in winter to harvest a maximum of light.