Time change 2023: when do we switch to winter time?


Time change 2023: when do we switch to winter time?

WINTER TIME. France will make a new time change at the end of October 2023. The transition to winter time is dreaded by those who fear early nightfall, but it has several advantages.

The next time change in France will take place on the night of Saturday October 28 to Sunday October 29, 2023. We therefore switch to winter time on the last Sunday of October. For obvious reasons of convenience, in reality all the countries of the European Union change their time on this date.

The mechanics of the time change have been unchanged since the 1970s. The date for the change of daylight saving time is always fixed on the last full weekend of March. That of the transition to winter time on the last full weekend of October.

The transition to winter time, at the end of October, is simple to operate: on the last Sunday of October, at 3 a.m. in the night from Saturday to Sunday, you have to move the hands back one hour to come back at 2 o'clock. This time, returning to GMT 1 saves an hour of sleep, but the sun sets earlier in the evening.

When changing summer time, we follow the opposite process: at 2 a.m. on the night of Saturday to Sunday, you must always move the hands of your old watch or ancestral clock forward by one hour. The rule is simple: on the last Sunday in March, at 2 a.m., the whole of France immediately switches to 3 a.m. A maneuver which moves France to GMT 2 and, more concretely, causes us to lose an hour of sleep at night but gain an hour of light at the end of the day.

The change of winter and summer time as we know it today was introduced by decree in 1975, following the oil crisis. It is then a question of establishing a summer time at GMT 2, that is to say two hours of difference with natural time, from the following month of March. Objective: to better match natural lighting and human activities from spring onwards, to save energy.

The end of March is then chosen to coincide with the spring equinox, synonymous with the return of sunny days and longer days. The return to "normal" time (evening GMT 1) is logically set in reverse as the autumnal equinox approaches, i.e. at the end of October. The weekend and in particular the night from Saturday to Sunday will quickly appear as the moment when the immediate impact of the time change will be the most limited.

It was the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) which initiated the seasonal time change, as a government agency responsible for ensuring the optimization of the energy bill. In a summary of 2010, the organization still estimated at 440 GWh the savings made the previous year thanks to the change of time.

The time change was harmonized at European level in 1998 and is now applied by all EU Member States and 70 countries in total. However, it has been hotly debated for years. Its detractors point above all to too limited energy gains, a fortiori with the evolution of technologies and uses, as well as negative effects on health, sleep and road safety. Several important votes on the time change have already taken place and a process is underway to put an end to this measure.

No, the winter time change, which took place in October, is not the last. In March 2019, after consultation, the European Parliament adopted a project by majority to end the time change, but it will not be implemented for several years. The said draft directive provided for the abolition of the rapid time change: to do this, each Member State had to decide between staying in winter time or staying in summer time. The European Parliament had also pleaded for coordination between the Member States and the European Commission so that the application of permanent hours (winter and summer) in the different countries does not disrupt the functioning of the internal market.