Weather

Le Temps

Understanding French weather terms is useful for deciding what to wear, planning what to do, and, of course, making small talk.

The French word for weather is le temps, and the primary verb used to talk about the weather is faire; more specifically, the impersonal il fait. The French equivalent of "How’s the weather?" is literally "What weather is it doing?": Quel temps fait-il ?

  The weather report and forecast is called la météo, short for la météorologie.

Here are the most common French weather terms – click the links for sound files, or the (verbs) for conjugation tables.

It’s … Il fait (faire)
nice out beau
hot chaud
cool frais
cold froid
humid humide
heavy/close lourd
cloudy nuageux
stormy orageux  
bad weather mauvais
  ___ degrees   ___ degrés*
       
It’s  Il y a (avoir)
sunny du soleil
windy du vent
foggy du brouillard
       
It’s … Il
raining pleut (pleuvoir)
pouring pleut à verse
snowing neige (neiger)
freezing gèle (geler)

  You can’t talk about normal weather conditions with être (to be); you need either faire or a specific verb like pleuvoir.

  * The French use Celsius for weather, so for example il fait 30° would mean that it’s hot (86°F), not the below freezing it would be in Fahrenheit.

Extreme weather / Natural disasters

It’s a   C’est
  cold spell     une vague de froid
  cyclone     un cyclone
  downpour
sudden downpour
    un déluge
une giboulée
  heat wave     la canicule
  hurricane
category 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    un ouragan
de catégorie 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  storm     un orage
une tempête
  tornado     une tornade
  tropical storm     un cyclone tropical
un orage tropical
  typhoon     un typhon

Miscellaneous

bad weather   des intempéries (f)
bolt of lightning   un coup de foudre
flood   une inondation
flood tide   une marée haute
good weather   le beau temps
gust of wind   une rafale
hail   la grêle
tidal wave   un raz-de-marée
weather balloon   un ballon-sonde
weather chart   une carte météorologique
   
French quiz Quiz: Weather

PwLF super list of lessons related to weather

French weather expressions

French lesson plans French lesson plans

 Essential French

Learn Spanish En español

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French weather terms
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2 Responses

  1. Carole 21 August 2018 / 10:17

    What about earthquakes! Un tremblement de terre. What verb goes with that?
    Obviously, I’m writing from California…guess I should ask how to say It’s smokey too.
    Merci, Laura.