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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

October - The Blue Hour

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Because of its beauty that makes time stop for an instant, the expression l'heure bleue has come to describe a variety of special times and events, not just a description of a special blue glow at dusk. Each month in 2016, I am sharing a collage of blue images that create a little l'heure bleue for me. 

l'heure bleue en octobre
The Blue Hour in October 

Clocks are some of the things that fascinate me. If there is a clock in view, I am drawn to it, and for a moment, l'heure bleue occurs for me... time stands still for a moment as I examine every detail. 

This month I am more keenly aware of clocks than usual because soon we will change our clocks back to Standard Time instead of Daylight Saving Time, making time not stand still, but run backward. 

SPRING forward. 

FALL backward. 

Did you know that Daylight Saving Time in France ends the week before it does in the United States?
Clocks in France will be changed at 3:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 30 to one hour earlier, 2:00 a.m. 

The Blue Hour in October is a collection of public horloges (clocks) in France. 

Paris public clocks adorn government buildings, train stations, residential/commercial buildings, museums, and churches. Come along for a tour of seven of them. 

The oldest clock in Paris was built in 1370 on the Conciergerie, Palais de Justice. Our hotel in Paris in September 2016 was just across the Seine River from the Conciergerie, and we could hear the beautiful chimes on the hour from the clock. The timing mechanism was replaced during an 1849 restoration of the clock.  

The clock at the Saint-Pierre des-Corps train station in France is a modern analog clock that shows Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+1) which was adopted by France in 1978. Train station clocks are significant to the history of how we measure time. 

Prior to the 1800s, each city in the world set its own time based on solar time. With the advent of trains crossing hundreds of miles in one day in the 1800s came the problem of conflicting times. Each train station with its own time based on the station's solar time caused problems for train schedules. 

To solve the worldwide problem of conflicting times, the International Meridian Conference at Washington, DC in the USA in 1884 established the Greenwich Meridian in England as the prime meridian and Greenwich Mean Time as the world's time standard. The name Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) was adopted in 1967. 

France continued to treat Paris as the prime meridian until 1911 and did not use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) until 1978. Between 1911 and 1978, France defined legal time as Paris Mean Time minus 9 minutes and 21 seconds, which correlated to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). 

During 1853 to 1927, Paris was renovated. Work begun under George Haussmann demolished medieval Paris, and the present day street plan and curved roof buildings of the center of Paris were created. The new Paris skyline had beautiful buildings that included large clocks for Parisiens since only upper class people could afford watches. 

The Monoprix is a popular department store in France, similar to a Target in the United States. 

Clocks in the Musée d'Orsay were for train travelers. Built between 1898 and 1900, Musée d'Orsay was originally a train station finished in time for the 1900 Exposition Universelle and was in service until 1939.  In 1986, the previous train station opened as a museum to house more than 2000 paintings and 600 sculptures that include some of my favorite Monet works. 

This is an interior view of one of the exterior clocks of the original train station. The Louvre is across the Seine River from Musée d'Orsay and can be seen through the clock face.  

Musée d'Orsay is my favorite museum in Paris, partly because of the original train station architectural details that include the massive public clocks. This clock is inside the Musée d'Orsay. 

Saint-Eustache Church was built between 1532 and 1637 and still holds services. While visiting the parish church in Paris in 2011, we left the church because mourners for a funeral service began to arrive. The church is located in the 1st arrondissement near the entrance to ancient markets in Paris (Les Halles).

The Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) in Paris has housed the city's local government since 1357. The inscription underneath the clock is the national motto of France.

Liberté - Égalité - Fraternité 

Liberty - Equality - Fraternity 

France ends Daylight Saving Time this year on October 30 at 3:00 a.m., and the United States resets its clocks on November 6 at 2:00 a.m. 

Each year when Daylight Saving Time begins or ends, I always wonder who resets all the public clocks throughout Paris. 

SOURCE for facts and dates: Wikipedia 


Would you like another moment in France?

Click here to see more than 20 posts about France, 
all taken from my personal experiences. 


Are you sprucing up for visitors over the holidays? How about a new pillow in the guest room with a seasonal design, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas?  For a chance to win a pillow cover of your choice from Elliott-Heath Designs see Fall French Sunflowers. The giveaway is October 6 - November 6, 2016.   Bonne Chance!

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