French Language Blog

When is France? Ask Dom and Tom! Posted by on Oct 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

"Standard World Time Zones" by TimeZonesBoy. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons. -

Standard World Time Zones” by TimeZonesBoy.

France is 6 hours ahead of the US East Coast most of the time, n’est pas (right)?

Where France is, and thus when, on a map is different than what many people think. The story is complex and gets into politics, but even the more easily identifiable parts of France create an interesting map.

Surtout (above all), because of les DOM TOM or les départements et territoires d’outre-mer (Overseas Departments and Territories), sometimes called les DROM COM or les départments et regions d’outre-mer et collectivités d’outre-mer (Overseas Departments and Regions and Collectivities). The difference between un département, une région, un territoire, and une collectivité is complex, especially if you add on how they interact with other European organizations, and all the specific titles.

Par souci de simplicité (for the sake of simplicity), we’ll call them all, plus ou moins (more or less), France.

Les départements et régions d’outre-mer :

  • la Guadeloupe
  • la Martinique
  • la Guyane (French Guyana)
  • La Réunion
  • Mayotte

Les collectivités d’outre-mer ou les territoires d’outre-mer :

  • Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon
  • Saint-Barthélemy
  • Saint-Martin
  • Wallis-et-Futuna
  • la Polynésie française

There’s one more place that doesn’t fit into either of the above categories:

  • La Nouvelle-Calédonie

There’s then a few other places that become harder and harder to place in a specific category, like l’Île de Clipperton, or the French territorial claims en Antarctique.

Cela dit (that said), All these additions changes la carte de la France (the map of France):

"France-Constituent-Lands" by Godefroy. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -

France-Constituent-Lands” by Godefroy.

Netherlands and France end up sharing a border, not in Europe, but in the Caribbean on Saint-Martin!

It also means while la France métropolitaine (mainland France) is 6 hours ahead of the US East Coast, grâce à ses DOM TOM (thanks to its DOM TOM) France is also much closer than that. En fait (in fact), France has more fuseaux horaires (time zones) than any other country on Earth! En total (in total) France covers 12 different fuseaux horaires!

Heureusement (thankfully), there’s no need to worry about the time differences sur la lune (on the moon) right now!

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.