The further south you go, the more free time is used. At least, that’s what many people think. But how punctual are the French really?
“L’heure, c’est l’heure, avant l’heure, c’est pas l’heure ; après l’heure, c’est plus l’heure,” says writer Jules Jouy. In other words, when it’s time, it’s time, after the hour it’s over. The phrase (especially the beginning of it) is often quoted to emphasize punctuality. You would think that the French always arrive on time.
This is also the case for business appointments (although in the south they are a little less strict about this). If you are (preferably no more than 5 minutes) late, you can send a message (un SMS ou un texto).
When it comes to appointments with friends, the French are usually less punctual: you can easily arrive 15 minutes late. In fact, that’s what the expression quart d’heure de politesse is for. If you invite your French friends at 8 o’clock, they will come somewhere between 15 minutes and 8.30 am.