How to talk about the weather in French

How to talk about the weather in French

by Anne-Lise Vassoille

Updated December 20, 2022

The English people may be famous for using the weather as a conversation filler, but they’re definitely not the only ones to do so. Whatever the season in France, the weather is a perfect ice-breaker. Even if you’re only a beginner in French, you can learn a few simple words and phrases about the weather to get by. However, if you wish to understand un bulletin météo (weather report) in full, you will need a bit more vocabulary. Our article gives you a more exhaustive list of words and phrases to talk about the weather in French:

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How to ask about the weather in French

Before you go on that beautiful hike in the French countryside you’ve been dreaming about, you may first want to check la météo (the short word for météorologie) by asking someone about le temps (the weather). There are three main questions you can use:

  • Quel temps fait-il ? (What’s the weather like), 
  • Quelle est la météo ? (What’s the weather forecast?) 
  • Que dit la météo ? (What does the weather forecast say?).

The temperature is also important. If you don’t have un thermomètre on the wall, then you can ask one of the following questions:  

Quelle est la température ? (What’s the temperature?)

Combien fait-il dehors ? (How much is it outside?)

Vocabulary about weather conditions in French

Aside from the words for weather elements in the table below, all you need to know is the phrase to introduce them: il y a, which means “there is” or “there are” in French. 

Il y a du soleilThere’s sunshine
Il y a des nuagesThere are clouds
Il y a du ventThere’s wind
Il y a du brouillardThere’s fog 
Il y a de la brumeThere’s mist
Il y a un orageThere’s a thunderstorm
Il y a du tonnerreThere’s thunder
Il y a des éclairsThere are bolts of lightning
Il y a de la foudreThere’s lightning
Il y a une averseThere’s a rain shower
Il y a une éclaircieThere’s a sunny interval
Il y a de la grêleThere’s hail
Il y a du givreThere’s frost
Il y a du verglasThere’s black ice

It’s worth noting two sentences which don’t use the phrase il y a to talk about weather conditions in French:

Il pleutIt’s raining
Il neigeIt’s snowing

A few adjectives describing the weather in French

If you wish to describe what the weather looks or feels like in French, then you will need the phrase il fait. Though its literal translation is “it does” or “it makes”, the phrase is used before French adjectives to comment on the weather:

Il fait beau.It’s nice out.
Il fait mauvais.It’s bad out.
Il fait chaud.It’s hot out.
Il fait froid.It’s cold out.
Il fait frais.It’s cool out.
Il fait nuageux.It’s cloudy out.
Il fait sec.It’s dry out.
Il fait humide.It’s wet out.
Il fait douxIt’s mild out.
Il fait lourd.It’s sultry/muggy out.

As an alternative, you can also use the slightly longer phrase il fait un temps (The weather is)

Il fait un temps ensoleillé.It’s a sunny weather.
Il fait un temps pluvieux.It’s a rainy weather.
Il fait un temps orageux.It’s a stormy weather.
Il fait un temps nuageux.It’s a cloudy weather.
Il fait un temps splendide.It’s a gorgeous weather.
Il fait un temps maussade.It’s a gloomy weather.

How to express the temperature

The expression il fait is also used to talk about temperatures, which are expressed in Celsius degrees in France. If you’re unsure, you can check the values on an online temperature converter. As you can notice in the examples below, it’s quite common to drop the word degré when mentioning temperatures.

Il fait trente au soleil.It’s 30 in the sun.
Il fait quinze degrés à l’ombre.It’s 15 degrees in the shade.
Il fait moins cinq.It’s minus five.

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Some useful French idioms about the weather 

Without surprise for such a common topic, there are a few common expressions to depict the weather in a slightly more original way in French:

FrenchLiteral Translation in EnglishActual Meaning in English
Il fait un temps de chien.It’s a dog’s weather.It’s horrible weather.
Il pleut des cordes.Il tombe des cordes.Ropes are raining.
Ropes are falling.
It’s pouring out.
Il fait un froid de canard.It’s a duck’s cold.It’s very cold out.
Il fait un soleil de plomb.It’s a leaden sun.It’s very hot and sunny.
Il y a un vent à décorner un bœuf.There’s a wind that could blow off the horns of an ox.There’s a howling wind.

How to talk about the weather in French

With this article, you have all the main vocabulary you need to ask and talk about the weather in French, no matter the season. Don’t forget the idiomatic expressions we have included in order to fully sound like a native!

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Anne-Lise is a translator and copywriter working for various industries, such as hospitality and travel, as well as health and well-being. Settled down in London since the end of her university years, she cannot get enough of the exceptional cultural life in the English capital city, starting with theater, be it to see a new West End show or to roll up her sleeves with her amateur drama group. She is also interested in photography, as her Instagram profile shows. She indulges her passion for languages in a translation blog she writes with other linguist friends. Go to her Linkedin page to know more about her background and her professional experience.

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