time change, winter time, summer time

Time change, changeover to Winter time


When does daylight saving time change in France?
This year, daylight saving time will be introduced on the night of Saturday 28 to Sunday 29 October 2023. At 3am, it will be 2am. We will gain one hour of sleep. As every year, the changeover to daylight saving time takes place on the last full weekend in October.

What changes?
- The sun sets earlier
- We gain one hour of sleep

The changeover to daylight saving time is scheduled for the night of the last Saturday in October to Sunday. France will then artificially gain an hour of sleep from that Sunday and lose an hour of natural light in the evening. At 3 a.m. on Saturday night, the hands will immediately move backward to 2 a.m. Daylight saving time will then last for seven months, until we switch back to Summer time again.

All EU countries switch to winter and summer time on the same date.

The seasonal time change was introduced in France in 1976, following the oil crisis. The aim was to save electrical energy by adapting to the populations lifestyle. Thanks to winter time, people benefit from natural daylight earlier in the morning, from November to March, while summer time allows them to benefit from daylight later, from April to October.

The 2023 time changes should also be the last ones, as the European Union has been engaged for more than five years in a process that is supposed to put an end to this much-criticised measure. Following a proposal from the European Commission, the European Parliament voted to abolish the time change on 26 March 2019. In France, it is summer time that could well be retained throughout the year. The decision must still be validated by all EU Member States. The measure will not come into force until 2023 at the earliest. Find all the answers to your questions about the time change below.

What is the origin of the time change in France?

The winter and summer time change as we know it today was introduced in 1973, following the oil crisis. The objective at the time was to make natural lighting and human activities coincide better, in order to save energy. It was ADEME that initiated this measure, as the government agency responsible for optimising the energy bill. As proof, the agency explains that people in France get up between 6 and 7 am and in the morning on average, and that it is daylight around 6 am in the summer and around 8 am in the winter. The time change was harmonised at European level as early as 1998.

What is the date of the time change?

The date of the time change remains fixed in the same way each year: the last weekend in March for the summer time changeover and the last weekend in October for the winter time changeover. In concrete terms, the time change always takes place in the night from Saturday to Sunday, at 2 or 3 in the morning. When you change to summer time, you skip one hour to go directly from 2 to 3 o'clock. When you switch to winter time it is the opposite, you move back from 3 to 2 hours. The switch to summer time therefore makes us artificially lose one hour of sleep and shifts us two hours off GMT. The change to winter time gives us an extra hour of sleep while putting us one hour behind solar time.

When is the switch to winter time?

The time change brings us into winter time on the last weekend in October. During the night of the last Saturday of October to the Sunday, at three o'clock in the morning, the hands will then jump back one hour, going straight back to two o'clock and artificially saving us an hours sleep. But we will also lose an hour of light at the end of the day, in addition to the natural and gradual shortening of the days as the winter solstice approaches in December.

This time change is probably one of the last. Although it has existed for more than 40 years and is now applied by all EU Member States and 70 countries in total, the mandatory time change in France has also been highly controversial for years. Its detractors point above all to excessively limited energy gains and negative effects on health, sleep and road safety. Several important votes on time change have already taken place and a process is underway to put an end to the measure.

Vote on time change

A first major online consultation with European citizens was carried out in the summer of 2018: 84% of the 4.6 million respondents said "yes" at the end of the time change.
Six months later, in February 2019, France launched a large online questionnaire in which 2.1 million people took part, a record number for a consultation organised by the National Assembly's European Affairs Committee. The result: 83.71% of French people said they were in favour of ending the time change and 59.17% said they would prefer to stay on summer time rather than winter time.

On 26th March 2019, the MEPs also voted on the end of the time changeover. The verdict? 410 "For" votes in favour versus 192 "Against" votes, 51 abstained. These votes do not yet mark the end of the time change as such, but validate it, and constitute positions on which subsequent negotiations with the European Commission (the representatives of the Member States) will be based.

When will the end of the time change be effective?

The end of the time change has therefore been put on the table by the European Parliament in September 2018. In order to take place, the end of the double seasonal time change (summer and winter) has to be agreed by the European Parliament (it has been done) and the European Commission, but also based on the decisions of each of the EU Member States on which time zone to keep. In order to ensure all these steps towards the end of the time change and its technical implementation, the deadline for the effective end of the time change has been postponed from 2019 to 2023 (at the earliest, a deadline which has been further postponed by the management of the global coronavirus crisis).

Will France switch to summer time all year round?

France is therefore also moving towards abolishing the (double) time change and maintaining summer time all year round, even if this choice remains to be confirmed. Taking into account the existing time zones, on 20 December, the shortest day of the year, the sun will rise at 10.06 a.m. for Brest and 9.18 a.m. for Strasbourg, instead of 9.06 a.m. and 8.18 a.m. respectively in winter time. The difference will also be visible in the evening, which is not without impact on daily life.

Advantages. Maintaining daylight saving time all year round would allow us to synthesise more vitamin D, which is vital to our body, since we would benefit from more natural light at the end of the day. It would also increase conviviality, with longer outdoor aperitif evenings. According to Olivier Fabre, founder of the European association for summer time and mayor of the commune of Mazamet (Tarn), who spoke in Le Parisien on 24th March last, summer time (as a reminder, +2 hours difference from legal time) also favours the tourist economy "because people go out and consume more when it is daylight". Sportsmen and women who practice their leisure activities outdoors should also think twice.

Disadvantages. If we base ourselves on the real (astronomical) time, sunset in France takes place at 8 p.m. on the longest days of the second half of June, with obvious disparities of a few minutes depending on where you are on the territory. Night does not fall before 9pm and it does not get dark until 11pm. If the French can then benefit from very long sunny evenings, children aged 6-7 years old have to go to bed in the middle of the day (around 8.30 pm, i.e. more than two hours before nightfall), and the elderly who dine early are served their dinner at the "real" snack time.

In winter, maintaining summer time would also have a significant impact on children's waking hours. In astronomical time, in the months of December-January, the sun delays rising until around 7.30 am, with the day beginning to show the tip of its nose an hour earlier, at around 6.30 am. Under daylight saving time, daybreak will therefore be artificially postponed to 9 or 10 am. The time of daybreak and the children's way to school will therefore be completely at night, and it will not be completely daylight when they start their school activities. As for breakfast, one of the only times on winter days when we can enjoy non-electric natural light, it will be even more with electric light than with winter time.