One of my favorite parts of any language are the idiomatic expressions. You can learn a lot about a culture from them! For example, you can learn about what animals a culture values based on idiomatic expressions. In English, we have many that include dogs, like the dog days of summer, it’s raining cats and dogs, dog-eat-dog, sick as a dog, in the doghouse – I could go on and on. The point is that in American culture, dogs are very important. This is seen in all of the idiomatic expressions using the word dog.
Similarly, we can learn a lot about French culture when we learn their idiomatic expressions. Something as simple as the verb used in a weather expression can tell you about the culture. In English, we use a passive verb, to be, when talking about the weather. But in French, they use the active verb, to do/to make, when talking about it. In fact, the French prefer to use active verbs as often as possible. This can be hard for English speakers to grasp, but if you take note of these small differences as you learn, you will be able to read between the lines and gain a deeper understanding of how language reflects a culture.
On that note, there are a number of interesting French weather expressions, although there aren’t nearly as many as there are in English. This would indicate that weather is not the same popular subject of conversation in France as it is in, say, England or the United States. Nevertheless, there are some important things to know about how to talk about the weather in French. From using the right verbs to using slang in weather expressions, here are some of my favorites!
29 French Weather Expressions
Weather in general
It is important to know that they use a different verb to talk about the weather in French. In English we use the verb to be, as in It is hot. But in French they use the verb faire which means to do/to make, as in Il fait chaud. They both mean the same thing, but use different words. Here are some expressions using faire.
- Il fait lourd – It’s humid. Lourd means heavy, so think heavy air.
- Il fait un soleil de plombe! – The sun is burning hot. This literally means an iron sun.
- Il fait un chaleur terrible! – It is terribly hot!
- Il fait frais. – It is cool.
- Il fait frisquet. – It is chilly.
- Il fait un froid de canard/de loup! – It is freezing! Literally it is cold enough for ducks/wolves!
- Il fait du vent. – It’s windy.
- Il fait un vent à décorner les bœufs! – It’s blowing hard! Literally, There’s enough wind blowing to take the horns off the cattle!
Common French Weather Expressions
If you want to sound like a native, try these French weather expressions out.
- Le fond de l’air est frais. – There’s a chill in the air.
- Faire un temps de Toussaint. – To be cold and gloomy, typical November weather.
- Une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps. – One swallow does not make spring. In French, seeing a swallow is a sign that spring may be around the corner. But the idea is balanced with a little French pessimism.
- Il fait un temps de chien. – The weather is bad. It is literally dog weather.
- En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil. – In April, don’t remove a thread of clothing. This is because April can still be cold.
- En mai, fais ce qu’il te plait. – In May, do as you wish. While you should keep your warm clothes in April, you can wear what you will in the more comfortable month of May.
- En juin, tu te vêtiras d’un rien. – In June, you don’t have to wear much.
- Chaleur d’août, c’est du bien partout. – In the heat of August, everything is fine.
- Noël au balcon, Pâques au tison. – A warm Christmas means a cold Spring. Literally, Christmas on the balcony, Easter at the embers.
- Noël sous la neige. – A white Christmas. This literally translates to Christmas under the snow.
Weather as bodily functions
If you have studied history, you know that people used to think the weather was created by the gods. There are a number of French weather expressions based on this idea.
- Péter – to bang with thunder. Péter means to fart and this expression came from the idea that thunder is the gods farting!
- Ça péte – That thunder!
- Pisser – to piss with rain. Note that this is slightly vulgar and only to be used in familiar company.
- Ça pisse dru! – It’s pouring!
Expressions for rain
There are a number of other ways to say that it is raining cats and dogs in French.
- Il pleut des cordes! – It’s raining ropes!
- Il tombe de la flotte! – It’s pouring rain!
- Il tombe des cordes! – There are ropes falling!
While the first three can be used anytime, the following two French weather expressions are considered somewhat vulgar.
- Il pleut des hallebardes! – It is raining spears!
- Il pleut comme une vache qui piss! – It’s raining like a cow pissing!
- Trempé comme une soup – to be soaked. You can say, je suis trempé comme une soup parce qu’il pleut comme une vache qui pisse!
- Beau temps pour la saison! – Nice weather we’re having. Just as in English, this expression can be used to politely change an uncomfortable subject. The hint will be taken. It can also just mean that we are having nice weather, if you are actually talking about weather.
More from French
We get it. Learning a new language can feel intimidating. You've probably heard from a few friends who have already tried, …