Time in France: France’s 13 time zones explained!

father of time man wearing a bowler hat, suit and red tie with a clock for a face and head
father of time man wearing a bowler hat, suit and red tie with a clock for a face and head

Pacific Standard, Greenwich mean time, Western European time? The division of the world’s time is confusing. Here’s what you need to know about time zones using the time in France as an example.

Do you know the date and time in France right now?

The current date and time in France 24-hour clock.

France and most of the world uses military time.

Many countries (mainly English-speaking ones) use the 12-hour clock; however, France uses military time, also known as the 24-hour clock; the preferred way to refer to time in most of the world.

Military time is a way to tell time using 24 hours and avoids confusion between A.M. and P.M.

Using military time, the day starts at midnight 00:00 or 24;00 and ends 24 hours later at 23:59.

In other words, instead of passing from 12 noon to 1 pm, military time continues, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, and 15:00 all the way to 24:00, which is midnight and the beginning of the next day. 

Time zones

map of world time zones

What is a Time zone?

To determine the time in France or anywhere in the world, you need to know its time zone and UTC. 

Even if you’ve never travelled abroad, you’re probably familiar with the term “time zone.” Every country on earth has at least one-time zone, but many countries have more than one. 

But how many of us really understand how the concept of time zones work?

Someone recently asked me this question, and although I thought I knew the answer, I couldn’t explain it, so I decided to do a little research in relation to where I live, which is in France, everyone’s favourite tourist destination

I won’t get all technical on you, but basically, time zones are used to divide the world’s 24-hour days into more manageable chunks. If you want to learn how time zones came about, you can read more about the history of time zones at BBC.

Time zones run from pole to pole and tend to follow a country’s boundaries rather than along the north-south longitude lines. For instance, if you look at the world’s time zone map above, you’ll notice that the time zone lines run around Greenland so that the majority of the country can be in the same time zone. 

France has the most time zones in the world.

If you ask someone what the time zone France is in, most people might respond with UTC +1. But this isn’t really correct. UTC+01:00 only takes into account Central European Timezone (CET), the part of France that is in Europe. 

France actually has 13 time zones, thanks to it’s overseas territories including France’s claim to Adélie Land in Antarctica.

That’s more than any other country in the world. 

Some sources say that France only has 12 time zones because most countries don’t recognize France’s claim on Antarctica,  Adélie Land, which is in timezone UTC+05:10

Seven countries maintain territorial claims in Antartica (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom) 

Other countries with 3 or more time zones

  • France: 13 time zones (Including territories and Antarctica) but not daylight savings.
  • Russia: 12 time zones
  • United States: 11 time zones (Includes territories)
  • Antarctica: 9 time zones
  • Australia: 9 time zones
  • United Kingdome 9 Time zones
  • Canada: 6 time zones
  • Denmark: 5 time zones
  • New Zealand: 5 time zones
  • Brazil: 4 time zones
  • Mexico: 4 time zones
  • Chile: 3 time zones
  • Indonesia 3 time zones
  • Kiribati: 3 time zones

All the rest of the countries in the world have two or fewer time zones. 

Daylight savings time zones: UTC−02:00 & UTC +02:00

We usually don’t count daylight savings as an additional time zone.

In France’s case, only two places in France observe daylight savings. 

  • UTC +2: Metropolitan France, the part of France that is in Europe
  • UTC -2: Saint Pierre and Miquelon, France’s territory off the coast of Canada. Follows the US and Canadian schedules for daylight savings. 

Table of France’s time zone, including daylight savings and Antarctica.

Here’s a look at France’s time zones organized by UTC, including daylight savings.

  Standard time Summer(daylight savings)  
1 UTC−10:00   Society Islands and Tuamotus Austral Islands
2 UTC−09:30   Marquesas Islands
3 UTC−09:00   Gambier Islands
4 UTC−08:00   Clipperton Island
5 UTC−04:00 (AST)   Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin
6 UTC−03:00 (PMST)   French Guiana
UTC−03:00 UTC−02:00.
2nd Sunday in March to 2nd Sunday in November
(same as US & Canada)
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
(Off the coast of Canada)
7 UTC+01:00 (CET) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October
Metropolitan France
(central European France and Paris time)
8 UTC+03:00   Mayotte & Scattered Islands (group of islands near Madagascar Indian Ocean
9 UTC+04:00   Réunion, Crozet Islands (in the southern Indian Ocean)
10 UTC+05:00   Kerguelen Islands, Saint Paul and Amsterdam Islands
11 UTC+05:10   Adélie Land (French claim on the continent of Antarctica)
Not recognized by many countries
12 UTC+11:00   New Caledonia
13 UTC+12:00   Wallis and Futuna

France’s time zones by region

Here is a different look at France’s time zones by regions 

SUMMER(Daylight savings)time
French Polynesia Society, Tuamotu and Austral islands UTC−10:00  
Marquesas Islands UTC−09:30  
Gambier Islands UTC−09:00  
Clipperton Island   UTC−08:00  
Guadeloupe   UTC−04:00  
Martinique   UTC−04:00  
Saint Barthélemy   UTC−04:00  
Saint Martin   UTC−04:00  
French Guiana   UTC−03:00  
Saint Pierre and Miquelon   UTC−03:00 UTC−02:00
Metropolitan France Europe/Paris UTC+01:00 UTC+02:00
Mayotte   UTC+03:00  
Réunion   UTC+04:00  
French Southern and Antarctica Lands
(Uninhabited except for transient
Scattered Islands UTC+03:00  
Crozet Islands UTC+04:00  
Kerguelen, Saint Paul
and Amsterdam islands
Adélie Land UTC+10:00  
New Caledonia   UTC+11:00  
Wallis and Futuna   UTC+12:00  

How are time zones calculated using UTC (Universal Coordinated Time)?

UTC times and time zones showing prime meridian and UTC +-00:00 in a world map

Timezones are calculated in relation to how far ahead or behind they are to UTC±00:00, “Universal Time Coordinated,” aka “Coordinated Universal Time” which is maintained by the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) not far from Paris, France. 

UTC is located in Time Zone 0, the Prime meridian, which is in the local time of Greenwich, England. 

UTC Universal Time coordinated (UTC±00:00) has many synonyms, including: 

  • (GMT) Greenwich mean time- Predecessor to UTC, sometimes used as a synonym for UTC, which replaced GMT in 1972.
  • WET – Western European Time
  • Zulu Time – South African Time
  • Zulu -Military Time
  • Z time

If you look at a map of the world’s time zones, UTC±00:00 is the center or the first time zone from which all other time zones are based. It’s always the same, UTC +00:00.

Here is the current time at UTC±00:00

Any country/city that is within UTC±00:00 will have the same local time. Here are some cities and countries in the UTC±00:00 time zone. 

  • London
  • Belfast
  • Cardiff
  • Dublin
  • Edinburgh
  • Iceland
  • Rep. of Ireland
  • Portugal,
  • Monrovia
  • Morocco. 

You can calculate the time based on two different UTC time zones. 

UTC time zones showing prime meridian and UTC +-00:00

  •  When you move East (to the right), you gain time (one hour is added to the local time) for each time zone you cross;
    • UTC+01:00
    • UTC+02:00
    • etc.
  • But when you move West (to the left), you lose one hour (one hour is subtracted from the local time)
    • UTC-01:00
    • UTC-02:00
    • etc

For example, if you are in Paris and want to know the local time in San Francisco, you can calculate the time difference using UTC times for those two places. 

  • Paris time zone at UTC+01:00 (CET) Central European Timezone.
  • San fanciso time zone: UTC-8:00 (PST) pacific standard time.

Starting from Paris, which is in UTC +01:00, you have to move 9 time zones going east, which means San Francisco is 9 hours behind Paris. 

  1. ±00:00
  2. -01:00
  3. -02:00
  4. -03:00
  5. -04:00
  6. -05:00
  7. -06:00
  8. -07:00
  9. -08:00

Wrapping up time in France and France’s time zones

Although France has the most time zones in the world, most travellers travelling to France will be most interested in the time zone of Metropolitan France. The part of France that’s located in Europe and not France’s territories. 

All you have to remember is that metropolitan France’s standard time is called: CET – Central European Time (UTC +01:00). Which means that France is 1 hour ahead of UTC (Universal Time Coordinated) because it’s located one time zone to the right of Western European Time (WET) UTC±00:00

During daylight savings, however, metropolitan France’s UTC time zone is (UTC +02:00). In otherworld, 2 hours ahead of Western European Time (WET) UTC±00:00

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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