PARIS (AP) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy's effort to extend France's famously short work week may be beside the point, if a study released Wednesday is anything to go by.
The idea of the leisure-mad, uncompetitive French worker who heads for the door after 35 hours appears to be more fantasy than reality, the study shows.
The 35-hour work week, to Sarkozy's chagrin, is still the law of the land. But French workers racked up an average of 41 hours per week last year, a study by national statistics agency Insee found.
Farmers put in the most hours, an average of nearly 59 per week, according to the survey. Shopkeepers and craftspeople came in second, at 55 hours; and white collar workers were third, with 44 hours.
Sarkozy, a Conservative, contends the 35-hour law -- enacted 10 years ago by a Socialist government to reduce unemployment -- was a mistake, and has made reforming it a priority.
Under the law, any work beyond 35 hours is considered overtime. Since overtime costs companies more, employers try to avoid it, instead offering workers time off in compensation for extra hours worked.
French lawmakers passed a bill last month giving companies greater latitude to extend working hours by negotiating opt-outs with employees. The bill also lets companies increase the maximum number of working days for white-collar workers from 218 per year to 235.
Wednesday's report was based on weekly surveys of a total of roughly 72,000 people per quarter.
French newspapers trumpeted the study as evidence the French reputation as languorous bon vivants was unfounded.
"Lazy, the French?" read the first line in an article in Le Parisien daily. The paper said the study "gives something to think about to those ... who think the French people emphasize free time and chilling out."