The Brittany island that refused to switch from summer time

This fishing community found that ‘solar time’ worked better for the tides

Some families on Molène Island still remain on ‘solar time’ after 50 years
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One little island off the coast of Brittany refused to change its clocks with the rest of France, choosing to set its time by the sun for decades.

Like Asterix’s village that refused to submit to the Romans, the island of Molène (Finistère), home to 200 people, decided not to comply with the rest of the country when it switched to winter time in 1976.

“In 1976, there were lots of fishermen, so they decided to keep time by the sun and the tides,” municipal councillor Louis Squiban told Le Figaro.

“When we went to the mainland, we would change time zones. We used to call it going on French time.”

The island set its clocks by ‘solar time,’ which would lag up to two hours behind the rest of the country. So when mainland France sat down to lunch at midday, many Molène residents would still be drinking their 10:00 coffee.

Over the years this local quirk became tradition, with visitors to the island encouraged by the local hotel and restaurant to set their watches up to two hours earlier.

Local chef Yannig Masson, told The Connexion in 2017 that the time difference was more than a gimmick for tourists.

“We don’t base our lives around the eight o’clock news from Paris, we do things our own way,” he said. “But it’s never been a problem for us, our family has always lived by the sun. If there’s ever any confusion or a mix-up with visitors, you just laugh about it, that’s all you can do; it’s not the end of the world.”

‘Falling back in line’

However, the march of connected life, of smartphones and the internet, has perhaps succeeded in conquering the last village on ‘solar time’.

The difficulty of keeping a different time when fewer people use watches and so many electronic devices and apps update themselves is a problem that the small community of Molène could not surmount.

Indeed, Mexico, which in 2022 removed the winter-time change, has been wrestling with Google to ensure that smartphones, apps, Chromecasts and Fitbits are updated to avoid potentially disastrous results.

On April 3 2023, the country’s earthquake alert system issued a warning to millions of people indicating the incorrect time, fortunately causing more confusion than real harm.

Such battles were beyond the means of the island of Molène.

“Today, it is finished,” said Mr Squiban.”There are perhaps still one or two families that live by solar time, but overall, the people of Molène have chosen to live with the common time. And it works well.”

The mairie confirmed to The Connexion that the time of setting clocks by the sun and the tides has passed.

“Now we have fallen back in line. Solar time is over and we change our clocks twice a year with the rest of France.”

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