How to say "to staple" in French? And a wardrobe malfunction on the way to a wedding in Cassis
composite dentaire + toothy expressions in French

How to say "time change" in French

tournesol field of sunflowers in Provence France
Les juillettistes, or July vacationers, make their way south to the sea... read on.

le décalage horaire (day ka lazh oh rhair)

    : time difference, time change

related terms:
le syndrome du décalage horaire = jetlag
le fuseau horaire = time zone 

Audio file: listen Download MP3 or Download Wav


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

"Le Décalage Horaire"
 The autoroute du soleil is flanked with sunflowers and the hills are purple with lavender. We are on our way home from the train station in Valence, advancing as though escargots: s-l-o-w. Our beat-up Citroën is a welcome distraction for the traffic-stalled tourists in the lanes beside us; they have hours to go before reaching the sea, the color of which mimics the hue of dusty blue coating our car (evidence of organic farming here at the vinery, where our family car doubles as a tractor-delivery vehicle... door dents and all).

The two American boys in the back seat are snoring after a 24-hour voyage east, from Los Angeles. We have tried to keep them awake, in hopes of adjusting them to France time. We have blasted the radio, clapped our hands, pointed to the French girls, just outside the window....

Hélas, they are in love with sleep, lured lackadaisically lower, to the depths of dreamland, where the scent of lavender from the hills outside the window makes for a sweet Provençal pillow.


Would you like to hear more about Max's and David's summer exchanges? Our son had the chance to stay with an American family, for two weeks, and now we have the pleasure of hosting their 16-year-old, David, here at the winery. Stay tuned....

The Pleasing Hour is the story of an American in Europe whose coming-of-age defies all our usual conceptions of naivete and experience. Fleeing a devastating loss, Rosie takes a job as an au pair with a Parisian family and soon finds the comfort and intimacy she longs for with their children and the father. See reviews, here 



Decalage horaire  In French film: Décalage Horaire. After they meet repeatedly at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris, beautician Binoche and chef Reno decide to share an airport hotel room during a layover. She's a self-dramatizing chatterbox with a fondness for make-up and perfume; he's a fussy neurotic who can't stand artificial fragrances. They've just met and they're headed to different parts of the globe, but still... could this be... amour? (Order it here.)

Diorshow Mascara: super volumnizing, lengthening, and curling mascara
Mistral soap : a best-seller! Hand-crafted in the heart of Provence, and made according to a three-hundred-years-old tradition. Order here.

Men's cufflinks. "Ville de Paris" & "Service des Egouts" written on these replica Paris Cufflinks 
Fleur de Sel. Gathered from the salt beds of Camargue, this subtly flavored salt will add bursts of flavor to your food.

  French farmhouse in Provence countryside

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Jens, Copenhagen, Denmark

Hi Kristi,

Well, of course we'd like to hear about les deux garçons and the differences between the US and France.


Je suis fatigué(e) à cause du décalage horaire. ( I am tired because of jetlag)

Hier, j'ai fait une longue sieste. (Yesterday, I took a long nap)

Je me suis reposé(e) hier aprés-midi. ( I rested yesterday afternoon)

Ma famille d'accueil habite dans une maison à la campagne. (My host family lives in a house in the country)

Je suis content(e) d'être en France. (I'm excited to be in France)

Je m'adapte à la vie française. (I'm adjusting to french life)

Merci, ma mère d'accueil, mon hôtesse. (Thanks, hostlady)

Sion @ paris (im)perfect

I'm dealing with the decalage horaire, too! Although back from the East Coast, not Los Angeles, so I'm sure it's even worse for those 2 boys. And yes! Of course we'd like to hear more about the summer exchanges! Such a good idea!

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin,

Max and David are back
With time clocks out-of-wack
But given some time in-the-sack
They’re sure to get back on track

Coming all the way from sunny L.A.
Hey, that’s a long, long way
And, making the trip in a day
No wonder their clocks went astray

David (you lucky guy) hope you enjoy the stay!

À bientôt


I always wanted to be a summer exchange person. It would be great to hear both boys stories, and from their own "pen" (okay, computer). I would also like to read your observations of them Kristin.

As always, Sharon

Marianne Rankin

When I stayed with a French family one summer, they used the phrase "decalage horaire" to mean "time difference." The jet lag (is there another term?) could result from the decalage horaire.

I remember reading a book about travel to Europe years ago. If you arrive at night, go to bed early, and by the time you get up, your body clock should more or less have synchronized with local time. If you arrive in daylight, the book advised, "Rely on adrenaline and a bath to keep you going."

Bien sur, I'd love to hear more about Max's time in the States, as much as you and he care to tell about.

Lee Isbell

Hi Kristin,

Did I hear cigales in the background of Jean-Marc's recording?

Would love to hear about the adventures of the boys. After reading some travel blog comments the other day about airline fees for unaccompanied minors, I wondered whether Max managed to escape them.

Betty Bailey

Would love to hear of their adventures!

Carmie of the Single Nester

I have had Pleasing Hour on my shelf for 10 years. I think I will read it now.


If "les juillettistes" (noun both masculine and feminine) are the people who go on holiday in "juillet", (July), the ones who go on holiday in "août" (August) are not "les aoûtistes" but .... "les aoûtiens"! Pronounce "t" like a strong "s" -> a- ou- sien. The feminine of aoûtien is "aoûtienne".

Knowing that "et", in French, sounds like "é", the month of "juillet" is pronounced "jui" - "yé".
The word "juilleTTiste" must have a double "T". If only one "t" (juilletiste) this "t" will abandon the previous "e" and grab the following "is". The abandoned "e" would return to its natural "e" sound (as in "le", "je", "de"). So, if only one "t", we would have to pronounce "jui - yE - tis - te"
Conclusion: the word coming from juillET, the sound "é" must be kept – and this is only possible with a double “T”.
===> juillettiste, (juillet+tiste) pronounced "Jui - yé - tis - te".

So, Kristin, all this explains the necessity of an extra “t”.
Oh! I got the impression the final "e" might have escaped on the sunny motorway... Please, we need it back!


Having travelled at high speed by jet aircraft between several time zones, David & Mark "ont souffert du décalage horaire" that created a disruption of their bodily rhythms. They certainly found the very best way to respond to their jet-lag..... sleep, sleep, sleep... and more sleep...

I envy the 'sweet Provençal pillow' - so beautifully described in the ending!

Do I want to hear more about Max and David's summer exchange? Yes, I would like to, but I think it's up to Max to share first of all with his family whatever he wants to say. It's also up to his Mum to choose whatever she thinks her son wouldn't mind us to know without him feeling his words and movements are publicly recorded.
As for David, I wish him the very best ... specially if this is his first stay in France! I'm sure he will have a great time!


Marianne, thank you for the "time difference" definition. Just what we needed (just what was missing!). I have also fixed the pronunciation guide....

Lee, indeed those are cicadas!

Newforest, thank you for "les aoûtiens" and for the pronunciation! I'm off to add the missing "e" in "juilletiste". She wasn't wearing her seatbelt!

P.S.: will see if Max has anything to share :-)


yes definitely- that would be great to learn how they adjust to a different life-style - different food- different language.
if they don't mind of course.
Dianne xx

Marianne Rankin

One of my favorite questions to ask people not born in the USA is their impressions of our country. Of course, with American mom and grandma and cousins, Max has seen the States before. But as an older child on his own, maybe he noticed new things.

The impression of foreign-born people, including French folks I've talked to, of Americans is almost universal: Americans are in a big hurry. As one Frenchman put it, "Les americains ne vivent pas, ils survivent." I think of that when I'm dashing around, and try to make time for peaceful activities such as gardening.

Julie F

Kristin, since you're talking about teenage boys how do you tell the difference between jet lag and their normal marathon sleeping sessions? Every time we've made the 9-hour drive between St. Louis and Atlanta to visit family, my two teenagers were asleep before we crossed the Mississippi and didn't wake up (except for lunch) before we pulled into the driveway of our destination.

And yes, please, pay/beg/bribe/whatever it takes to get these two kids to write a paragraph or two about their experiences. You know they'll be tweeting/facebooking/texting all the news to friends back home, so why not a few words for us, svp?

Hot hot hot here in Dijon today.

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

Mais ouis! Would love to hear about Max's exploits in LA and David's discoveries in Provence. And, just in time Kristi, you have given me the French expression for what I am feeling having just returned from a week in Belgium ... décalage horaire. But all of the wonderful moules frites and Belgian chocolates I enjoyed make the jet lag worth it.


Bien sûr! I'm looking forward to hearing about Max and David's adventures together. You're photo says it all--for me, les tournesols are synonymous with summertime in France. If this marks David's first trip to France, I cannot advise him enough to write down anything and everything he remotely considers noteworthy of remembering. He will be able to open his journal and return to France and his time with you all whenever he wishes--this based on personal experience, as I was just a few years older than they on my first trip to l'Hexagone.


→ “Un décalage” is a gap, a difference, a discrepency, also an interval in time ...

→ “Le décalage horaire” (between two places) means 'time difference', as Marianne said earlier.

→ “Le décalage horaire entre Londres et New York est de cinq heures”.
= The time difference between London and New York City is five hours.

→ “Le syndrome du décalage horaire” (= jet lag) involves all the signs and symptoms (physical & psychological) associated with flying at high speed across several “fuseaux horaires” (= 'time zones'), specially if travelling West to East

→ “Souffrir du décalage horaire” / “mal supporter le décalage horaire”
= to suffer from jet-lag.

Hoping the boys have fully recovered by now and that David is happily settling down!

Robin Gorham

I thought of you while making a decision to host a 15yr old french girl coming on Monday! My sister in law who has been a director of an exchange program is in desperate need of an extra family. While we live an hour and a half away I had to think hard. We lived in France so hopefully will have lots to talk about and share. I am too wondering about her jet lag. It seemed to me coming back and forth it was easier on this end. If you can make it over the 3 day hump. Another thought, (our daughter who is now in college)is that it may be rather boring here for her. I hope now while I dream up a list of ideas on how to entertain her. My cooking has changed since living over there so that may be useful1 We live on the beach too so hope she likes that. If you have any ideas on how to entertain a young french girl please share your thoughts! Thanks Robin

Marianne Rankin

Robin, if you have time, ask your sister to ask the girl (or ask her directly, if possible, maybe by phone or e-mail) what might be of interest. Just living in another country should be interesting for a while. If the young lady has favorite activities, she could still do some in the USA.

She might like to see some sight. What's near you? Maybe caverns or other natural formations? Something historic? A mix of things is ideal.

Since you live on a beach, you have an enormous advantge over folks that don't. I could spend hours on a beach. I'm sure she'll like that.


Thanks for the input. I'm dreaming up my list of fun things. I'll be sure to take her to an American McDonald's. We have a boat, pets, lots of culture things around us, we have the beach, american shopping malls, target, etc. My daughter is at a university so I may drive her up there too. I have many french things/furniture we bought over there so will be fun talking to her about all of that. I cook very french/italian so we can share that also! Getting excited as she's suppose to arrive Monday!

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