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Must-know weather words in French

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Are you big on small talk? Learn these weather words and you’ll turn into a perfect small talker in French, too. Are you small on small talk? Learn these weather phrases and watch that change. In French, at least. As long as you don’t run out of remarks about, well, the weather.

Kidding aside: knowing how to describe the weather in your target language is a must for everyone in the language learning business. You can’t escape talking about the weather – or getting talked to about it – any more than you can escape experiencing it on a daily basis.

One more thing: if learning these phrases sounds like a chore to you, think again, because there’s a ton of fun expressions connected to the weather in French. If you need some tips on which expressions to use in French when talking about natural phenomena (like the rain in any of its forms, sunshine, snow, fog, hail, the wind or even rainbows), you’re in the right place.

Jump to

  1. Describing the weather in French
  2. All about rain
  3. The sky
  4. Sun and sunshine
  5. The wind
  6. Fog
  7. All about snow and ice
  8. Other natural phenomena

Describing the weather in French

Quel temps fait-il ? = What’s the weather like?
Il fait… = The weather is…
  • Il fait vraiment mauvais en hiver. = The weather is really bad in winter.
  • Il fait beau pour cette période de l’année. = The weather is good for the time of year.
  • Il commence à faire plus doux. = The weather is becoming warmer.
  • Il faisait… = The weather was…
  • Il faisait un temps magnifique. = The weather was magnificent.
par temps …in … weather
par temps chaud/ froidin hot/ cold weather
par temps secin dry weather
par temps de pluiein rainy weather

How to describe good weather in French: Tips

  • le beau temps = nice weather
  • un temps magnifique = great weather
  • un temps chaud = warm/hot weather
  • un temps clair = clear weather
  • Il fait un temps magnifique aujourd’hui. = The weather’s beautiful today./ It’s a beautiful day today.
  • C’est un produit très confortable et très utile, particulièrement par temps chaud. = This product is very comfortable and very useful, especially in warm weather.
  • Sept balades par temps clair = Seven strolls in clear weather

How to describe bad weather in French

  • le mauvais temps = bad weather
  • une période de gros temps = a period of rough/severe weather
  • par gros temps = in rough weather
  • un temps de chien = awful/nasty weather
  • un temps humide et chaud = humid and warm weather
  • intempéries (f pl) = bad weather
  • précipitations (f pl) = precipitation (rain, snow, hail…)

Couvrez les bûches afin de les protéger des intempéries. = Cover the logs to protect them from the bad weather.

Où vas-tu par ce temps de chien ? = Where are you going in this awful weather?

Un temps fou, n’est-ce pas ? = Crazy weather, isn’t it?

prendre un coup de froid = to catch a cold

  • J’ai dû prendre un coup de froid. = I must have caught a cold.
  • Je crois qu’elle a pris un coup de froid. = I think she’s got a cold.

All about rain in French

Rain can come in different shapes and forms. Become well-equipped to talk about it in French!

  • la pluie = rain
  • Il pleut. = It’s raining. (pleuvoir = to rain)
  • un temps pluvieux = rainy weather
  • l’orage (m) = thunderstorm

Describing a heavy rain in French

If you’d like to say “It’s pouring down heavily” in French, you have a variety of expressions to choose from:

  • Il pleut des cordes. = literally: It’s raining cords. (la corde = cord, rope)
  • Il pleut des hallebardes. = literally: It’s raining spears (halbards).
  • Il pleut à verse. = It’s pouring.
  • Il pleut à seaux. = It’s bucketing down./ It’s coming down in buckets. (le seau = bucket, pail)
  • Il pleut à torrents. = The rain’s coming down in torrents. (le torrent = torrent, mountain stream)
  • le déluge = a deluge, torrential rain
  • une pluie glaciale = ice-cold rain
  • une averse (de pluie) = a heavy rain shower

Q: What’s the difference between pluie and averse?

A: Pluie simply means rain – it’s not too intense and more or less constant. Averse, however, is usually a sudden affair, with more intense rainfall.

Describing light rain in French

To do that, you may choose either of the following phrases:

  • une pluie fine
  • une pluie légère
  • une pluie de faible intensité
  • une petite pluie

Example sentences with rain

  • Il pleut depuis la nuit dernière. = It’s been raining since last night.
  • Ça fait trois jours qu’il pleut comme ça. = It’s been raining like this for three days now.
  • Il a plu toute la nuit. = It was raining all night.
  • Ce mois de février était particulièrement froid et pluvieux. = This February was particularly cold and rainy.
  • Il va probablement pleuvoir d’ici quelques minutes. = It will probably start raining in a few minutes.

Talking about the sky in French

  • le ciel = sky
  • un ciel dégagé = a clear sky
  • un ciel maussade = a gloomy sky
  • se couvrir (ciel, temps) = to cloud over, to become darker

Le temps se couvre, il va bientôt pleuvoir. = The sky’s clouding over, it’s going to rain soon.

Après une brève éclaircie, le ciel se couvre de nouveau. = After a brief sunny interval, the sky’s getting darker again.

Comme le désert reçoit moins de 250 mm de pluie par année, un ciel dégagé est presque assuré. = As the desert receives less than 250 millimeters of rain per year, a clear sky is almost guaranteed.

Talking about the sun and sunshine in French

  • le soleil = sun

le soleil = sun

Le soleil brille. = The sun’s shining.

Elle protégeait ses yeux du soleil. = She was protecting/shielding her eyes from the sun.

Talking about the wind in French

  • le vent = wind

Il y a du vent. = It’s windy.

Il y a du vent, parle plus fort ! = It’s windy, speak louder!

Il y aura du vent fort, avec des rafales qui atteindront 80 km/h. = There’s going to be a strong wind, with gusts reaching 80 km/h.

Fog in French

  • le brouillard = fog
  • un brouillard épais = thick fog

Il y a du brouillard. = It’s foggy.

Il y a du vent et du brouillard, alors restons groupés. = It’s windy and foggy, so let’s stick together.

C’est l’automne et il y a un brouillard épais. = It’s autumn and there’s a thick fog.

A l’aéroport, 70 vols ont été cloués au sol en raison du brouillard épais. = At the airport, 70 flights had been grounded because of the thick fog. (literally: 70 flights were nailed to the ground…)

All about snow and ice in French

La neige = Snow

  • neigeux = snowy, snow-covered
  • un champ neigeux = a snowy field

Il neige. = It’s snowing.

Dehors, la neige commençait à tomber. = The snow started falling outside. (dehors = outside)

Le temps était froid, neigeux et glacé, nous sommes donc rentrées rapidement. = The weather was cold, snowy and icy, so we came back quickly.

Le gel = Freezing, frost

Il gèle. = It is freezing. (Meaning: the temperature’s under 0 degrees Celsius, and water freezes over outside.)

le gel des ruisseaux = the freezing over of the streams

le givre = frost (on windows, plants, lampposts…)

La grêle = Hail

une tempête de grêle = hailstorm

Il grêle. = It’s hailing.

La grêle a brisé les fenêtres. = The hail shattered the windows.

Talking about other natural phenomena in French

Rainbow in French

  • l’arc-en-ciel (m) = rainbow
  • un double arc-en-ciel = double rainbow

Il y a un arc-en-ciel là-bas ! = There’s a rainbow over there!

L’arc-en-ciel est l’un des plus beaux phénomènes de la nature. = The rainbow is one of the most beautiful natural phenomena.

Polar lights

  • aurore (f) polaire = southern lights
  • aurore (f) boréale = northern lights, aurora borealis

Les aurores polaires ne sont pas un phénomène spécifique à la Terre. = Polar lights are not an Earth-specific phenomenon.

Bonus weather expressions in French

les prévisions (f) météorologiquesweather forecast (more familiar: le bulletin météo)
le bulletin météoweather report, weather forecast (or in short: la météo)
les conditions (f) météorologiques weather conditions
la station météorologiqueweather station
la girouetteweather wane
la sécheressedrought

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