This article explains basic French phrases used to describe the weather during summer, winter as well as for storms and natural disasters. It also covers some french expressions relating to weather.
In French the weather is referred to as la météo or le temps and the most common way to ask what the weather is like is: Quelle temps fait-il? Alternatively, the question could be what will the temperature be today? In French this question is translated as: Il fait combien aujourd’hui?

Common French Phrases for Summer

When someone is hot or cold, it is expressed as the following: I am hot or I am cold. Note that the same structure does not apply to the French language as the verb avoir (to have) is used to describe whether someone is hot or cold, instead of être (to be). Therefore, in French one says: J’ai chaud (I have hot) or J’ai froid (I have cold.)
The following phrases are most often used in the summer:

  • Il fait beau – This is a beautiful day
  • Il fait chaud – It is warm/hot
  • Il fait soleil or Le soleil brille – The sun is shining
  • Il prend un bain de soleil or Il bronze – He is sunbathing
  • Il pris un coup de soleil – He got sunburned (literally, he took a kick from the sun)
  • Il pleut or il y a de la pluie – It is raining
  • C’est pluvieux – It is rainy
  • C’est une averse – It is a cloudburst/shower
  • Le temps est variable – The weather is unpredictable
  • C’est un éclaircie – It is a sunny spell or a bright interval
  • Le vent soufflé – The wind blows
  • C’est nuageux or c’est couvert – It is overcast
  • Aprés la pluie, il y a l’arc-en-ciel – After the rain there is a rainbow

Common French Phrases for Winter

In French the verb faire (to make) is used in many phrases describing the weather. This takes some getting used to as the same sentence structure does not apply to the English language. For example: il fait froid literally means it makes cold whereas in English it is simply stated as: it is cold.

Here are some phrases commonly used during winter time:

  • Il fait froid – It is cold
  • Il fait zéro degré – It is zero degrees Celsius
  • Il gelé or c’est de la glace – It is freezing or There is ice
  • Il neige – It snows
  • La neige fond – The snow is melting
  • Il y a du la neige – there is snow
  • Regarde les flocons de neige – Look at the snowflakes
  • Il y a du givré sur la vitre – There is frost on the window
  • Il y a de la buée dedans – There is condensation inside
  • Il y a du verglas sur la route – There is black ice on the road
  • C’est glissant et dangereux – It is slippery and dangerous
  • On ne voit pas trés loin parce que il y a du brouillard – We cannot see very far because there is fog

French Phrases to Describe Storms and Natural Disasters

During a time when global warming or réchauffement climatique has become a hot topic, it is very practical to remember some of these phrases. Below are some useful French phrases relating to storms and natural disasters:

    • Il grêle or Il tombé des grêlons – It hails or hail is falling
    • La tempête est effrayante – The windstorm is scary
    • Il y a la foudre – There is a lightning bolt (the moment when lightning strikes)
    • Quand il y a un orage, on voit les eclaires dans le ciel – When there is a thunderstorm, we see lightning in the sky
    • On l’entend le tonnerre pendent l’orage – We hear thunder during the storm
    • Il y a en tremblement de terre en Chine – There is an earthquake in China
    • Il y a une sécheresse en Afrique – There is a drought in Africa
    • Beaucoup du monde sont morts après la canicule – Many people died after the heatwave
    • Il y a une inondation en Angleterre – There is a flood in England
    • Il y a un raz-de-mareé/tsunami en Asie – There is a tsunami in Asia

French Expressions Relating to the Weather

Many of the French expressions relating to weather is more or less the same as in English. For example: Il a promis la lune (He promises the moon) which means that someone makes promises which are unlikely to be fulfilled. However, there are also some expressions that are literally the same as in English but the meaning is different such as: Il est lunatique (He is a lunatic) which means he is crazy in English but in French it means he changes his mind often.

      • Il fait un froid de canard – It is extremely cold
      • Il pleut des cordes – It is raining cats and dogs, literally translated as it is raining ropes
      • Il est dans le vent – He is in fashion
      • Ils ont eu le coup de foudre – They experienced love at first sight
      • Il est lunatique – He changes his mind often
      • Il est givré – He is crazy

In order to understand and explain the weather properly, memorize the different linguistic structures in French. The first is the verb faire (to make) which is used in many weather phrases such as: Il fait froid (It is cold). In addition, remember that the verb avoir (to have) is used to describe the feeling of being hot or cold, for example: J’ai froid (I am cold) instead of the verb être (to be). To practice learning French phrases relating to the weather, read the weather in French everyday online or in a newspaper, also try to listen to the weather in French on television when possible.