Both petit matin and grand matin seem to mean early morning. Is this correct?

If they do mean they same thing, how should I say late morning?

Merci bien!

** edit

To answer a comment below, the context is from two books I read this year where I noticed that grand and petit seem to mean the same thing...

Au petit matin, des souffles légers parcourent la ville encore déserte. A cette heure, qui est entre les morts de la nuit et les agonies de la journée, il semble que la peste suspende un instant son effort et reprenne son souffle." (from "La Peste (French Edition)" by Albert Camus)

.. avant l’aurore, il se réveilla tremblant la fièvre et prit le chemin de sa demeure, où il arriva de grand matin. (from "Crime et Châtiment (Pocket classiques t. 17245) (French Edition)" by Fedor Dostoievski, Victor Derely)

At first, I assumed that grand matin meant in the late morning.

  • No, they are not the same thing, but please provide context.
    – Lambie
    Jun 22 at 17:27
  • 1
    Yes, they are the same thing but from different centuries. Thanks for providing context.
    – jlliagre
    Jun 24 at 8:52

2 Answers 2


Petit matin can mean early morning and in that case, it mostly always follows au or le, the full expression being au petit matin.

A close one is de bon matin.

(De) grand matin used to mean early morning in the past, but this form is strongly obsoleted by petit matin.

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The combination "grand matin" occurs mostly in the expressions "de grand matin" and "au grand matin".

expressions-francaises) De grand matin

De bonne heure, très tôt

Origine de l’expression « de grand matin »

Expression française familière très ancienne qui date du milieu du XVème siècle et qui est de moins en moins utilisée.

(TLFi) De bon matin, au grand matin. Tôt, aux premières heures du jour.

For "late morning" you can say "(en/de) fin de matinée" or "tard dans la matinée".

(WordReference) en fin de matinée loc adv (peu avant midi) late morning, at the end of the morning

(Wordhippo) late morning tard dans la matinée

You must be careful in using these expressions. In premodification you can't just translate literally. Modifications of the expressions are necessary so as to preserve acccepted usage.

For instance

  • They arrived yesterday in the late morning.→ Ils sont arrivé hier tard dans la matiné/en fin de matinée/ à la fin de la matinée.

  • Those are late morning arrivals.→ Ce sont des arrivages de fin de matinée. OR Ce sont des arrivages survenus/enregistrés/etc. tard dans la matinée.

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