Time in France
Metropolitan France uses Central European Time (heure d'Europe centrale, UTC+01:00) as its standard time, and observes Central European Summer Time (heure d'été d'Europe centrale, UTC+02:00) from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. With its overseas territories, France uses 12 different time zones (13 including its claim in Antarctica), more than any other country in the world.
Metropolitan France follows the summer time schedule in Europe. Summer time starts on the last Sunday in March at 01:00 UTC, when local time changes from 02:00 (UTC+01:00) to 03:00 (UTC+02:00), and ends on the last Sunday in October at 01:00 UTC, when local time changes from 03:00 (UTC+02:00) to 02:00 (UTC+01:00).
Saint Pierre and Miquelon follows the daylight saving time schedule of Canada and of the United States. It starts on the second Sunday in March at 02:00 (UTC−03:00), when local time changes to 03:00 (UTC−02:00), and ends on the first Sunday in November at 02:00 (UTC−02:00), when local time changes to 01:00 (UTC−03:00).
Other parts of Overseas France do not observe summer time.
Before 1891, each town and city in Metropolitan France had its own time based on local solar time. In 1891, to avoid complications with railway timetables, time was unified in Metropolitan France and based on the solar time of Paris. In detail, the railway companies used a unified time which lagged behind Paris solar time by 5 minutes, for the benefit of non-punctual travellers. In 1911, Metropolitan France adopted GMT+0 (the solar time of Greenwich) as its official time, and used it until 1940 (with GMT+1 used during the summers from 1916 to 1940).
In the summer of 1940, the German military authorities switched the occupied northern part of Metropolitan France to GMT+2 (German summer time), while the non-occupied southern part of Metropolitan France remained at GMT+1 (French summer time). The Vichy authorities kept GMT+1 (French summer time) during the winter of 1940–1941 and adopted GMT+2 (double summer time, which was the same as German summer time) in May 1941 in order to unify the railway timetables between occupied and non-occupied Metropolitan France. In 1942, 1943, and 1944 the whole of Metropolitan France thus used GMT+2 during the summer, and GMT+1 during the winter.
At the Liberation of France in the summer of 1944, Metropolitan France kept GMT+2 as it was the time then used by the Allies (British Double Summer Time). In the winter of 1944–1945, Metropolitan France switched to GMT+1, same as in the United Kingdom, and switched again to GMT+2 in April 1945 like its British ally. In September 1945, Metropolitan France returned to GMT+1 (pre-war summer time), which the British had already done in July 1945. Metropolitan France was officially scheduled to return to GMT+0 on November 18, 1945 (the British returned to GMT+0 in on October 7, 1945), but the French government canceled the decision on November 5, 1945, and GMT+1 has since then remained the official time of Metropolitan France.
In 1976, daylight saving time (summer time) was reintroduced in Metropolitan France for the first time since WW2 because of the oil crisis, and since 1976 Metropolitan France has thus been at GMT+1 (now UTC+01:00) during the winter and GMT+2 (now UTC+02:00) during the summer. In 1996, daylight saving time was harmonized throughout the European Union by Directive 2000/84/EC, which moved the end of DST to the last Sunday in October.
A proposal to repeal this directive and require that member states observe their own choice of time year-round from 2021 is going through the legislative process as of March 2019[update]. A non-binding public consultation showed that approximately 59% of respondents would prefer France to apply year-round summer time (UTC+02:00), with 37% in favour of year-round winter time (UTC+01:00) and 4% expressing no preference.
Since GMT (now UTC) is Metropolitan France's "natural" time zone, its use of UTC+01:00 in winter can be seen as a form of daylight saving time in winter, while Central European Summer Time (UTC+02:00) can be seen as a form of "double summer time."
- Decree no. 2017-292 of 6 March 2017 relative to French legal time, Légifrance, 8 March 2017 (in French).
- Decree no. 79-896 of 17 October 1979 fixing the French legal time, Légifrance, 19 October 1979 (in French).
- Which time difference in Polynesia?, Moana Voyages (in French).
- Ruling of 23 February 2007 bearing dispositions relative to summer time in the territorial collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Légifrance, 10 March 2007 (in French).
- Angelier, Maryse (1998). "Voyage en train au temps des compagnies, 1832-1937". Vie du Rail & des transports (96).
- Poulle, Yvonne (1999). "La France à l'heure allemande". Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes. 157 (2): 493–502. doi:10.3406/bec.1999.450989. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
- "Euro MPs vote to end summer time clock changes". BBC News. 26 March 2019.
- "Forever summer: French vote overwhelmingly to scrap changing of the clocks". www.thelocal.fr. 7 March 2019.
- Thorsen, Steffen. "France and Spain kicks into "Double Summer Time"". Time and Date.com. Retrieved 11 January 2012.