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View Full Version : French time: "heure légale"



BelleSerene
27-05-09, 18:50
Many a moon ago, the Brits and the French were vying for control of the high seas. Both powers wanted to map longitude by reference to their own central points: the Brits at the Greenwich observatory; the French in Paris.

One side came out on top. One nil to the Brits.

Centuries later, resplendent diplomats to the last, the French managed to influence the internationalisation of Greenwich Mean Time to Coordinated Universal Time. Just as they pulled off something of a coup at Versailles, got a permanent seat on the UN security council (being formed from the victors (think about it) of WW II) and got to run the announcements at that famous French festival, the Olympic Games, they wanted universal time to be called TUC (temps universel coordonné). The justification for their claim to naming the acknowledged global standard, over all the other nations that also hadn't created it, escapes history. So we reached a compromise. Step forward, UTC. Er - that's Universal Time, Coordinated or universel temps coordonné. You're right: nonsense in either language, but it accommodated the French. One all.

Now when you go over to France and read their tide tables, you'll find they are written in "heure légale". What this means is GMT (or UTC, if you will) plus one hour. It's what the French use for winter time, and they add an hour in the summer on the same dates we flip to BST.

But try to get an honest explanation of this from a French website. Trying to unravel "heure légale" last night I came across the following:

Selon la loi du 9 mars 1911 en vigueur jusqu'en 1978, l'heure légale en France était l'heure du temps moyen de Paris retardée de 9 minutes 21 secondes. Cette définition voulait signifier en fait que l'heure légale en France était le temps universel

Translated, this means:
According to the law of 9 March 1911 until 1978, the time in France was the time of Paris Mean Time delayed 9 minutes 21 seconds. This definition would mean that time in France was Universal Time.

So the French were still defining UT in terms of their Paris meridian minus an arbitrary offset. Any similarity between the result of this calculation and the Greenwich meridian standardised by their long adversaries is of course entirely coincidental.

Perhaps when people turn to re-writing history, keeping score no longer matters!

wotayottie
27-05-09, 19:01
You have to give it to them - they are brilliant at fighting their corner. Much better than we are, in fact I'm not sure we even try. One customer buyer once explained to me why he bought from the French by asking me which I would most like to visit on business - Paris or Sheffield. Perhaps thats why so many headquarters are in France and almost none in the UK.

Bandit
27-05-09, 19:38
Yep thats the way i read it Heures Legale means french time summer or winter as apropriate.

So when you read it with a dropping ghate on a french marina dont forget , that say the gate drops 1 metre:

In the UK I understand the convention is that the depth gauge shows the depth as if the gate is closed so if it says 2 metres it means 2m + 1= 3 metres.

In france the depth is measured it shows the depth as if the gate is open.

Beware!

Capn Pugwash
27-05-09, 20:09
All well and good, but they are still a bunch of cheese eating surrender monkeys. Sulky, pouting, whining port blockaders...and they have snubbed our Royal family to boot. Mind you, they do produce some nice cheese and wine so I guess thats OK!

/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

dt4134
27-05-09, 20:13
Except UTC was agreed between the British & the Americans when they synchronised their clocks. UTC is just GMT with a few small tweaks.

I think you're being unfair on the French (this time).

robp
28-05-09, 12:51
Can't move 0 degrees though!

maxi77
28-05-09, 13:20
Well perhaps not, there is a pub in Ediburgh where one wall is decoarted with a large French map and that shows the zero meridian going through Paris.

benjenbav
28-05-09, 14:30
Very interesting and, as the French no doubt do not say:

A l'eau; c'est l'heure

robp
28-05-09, 15:19
Just had to be one somewhere! /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Nico
28-05-09, 23:14
Capt Pugwash, I think you'll find that the "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" were a bunch of (fictitious) American schoolchildren.

LostinFrance
05-06-09, 12:58
Pugwash, I think that that term is more apropriate to the Royal Navy than the French Navy. The French go in and attack the pirates while our generation of jack tar eyes up the media rights...............