Knowing how to talk about the weather in French is essential. Weather talk is the ultimate small talk. Whenever you run into someone – a neighbour, the baker, even a friend, there is a big chance that the conversation will start with a few comments about the weather.
This free French lesson – like many on French Today’s blog – features audio recordings. Click on the link next to the headphones to hear the French pronunciation.
5 Key French Weather Expressions
Talking about the weather is not that easy in French. There is a ton of vocabulary, including very precise constructions and expressions.
Fortunately, to get by, you only need to know a few. Here are five quintessential sentences. I suggest you learn them by heart.
1. Quel temps fait-il ?
What is the weather like? How is the weather? How is it out there?
2. Il fait beau.
It’s nice out.
So this expression implies the sun is shining, the sky is blue, it is not raining, whatever defines pleasant weather.
3. Il fait mauvais.
It’s not nice out.
So this expression implies it’s raining or it’s cloudy, it’s snowing, it’s grey out… whatever defines unpleasant weather.
Of course, there is much more to say about the weather, but these five expressions are the core of it. You can add some subtleties by using adverbs (très, trop, vraiment…) or using them in the negative.
In any case, it’s likely that one of these expressions will be used each time you talk about the weather!
But there’s more ways to talk about the weather…
First I’ll give you thirty-five common sentences to talk about the weather, then I’ll explain in depth the various verbs, sentence constructions and vocabulary we use to describe the weather in French.
35 French Weather Sentences
Let’s start with sentences describing enjoyable weather.
10 French Sentences to describe nice weather
The audio of the sentences below may surprise you a bit, especially when it comes to the way I say “il y a”. It’s because I’m using the everyday spoken French pronunciation.
- Il fait un temps superbe.
Il fait un temps splendide.
Il fait un temps magnifique.
It’s a gorgeous day.
- Le temps s’améliore.
The weather is getting better.
- Le ciel est clair, dégagé.
The sky is clear, without clouds.
- Le temps est au beau fixe.
It’s going to be great weather all day.
- La météo prévoit du beau temps.
The weather forecast is predicting good weather.
- Il y a un soleil radieux.
The sun is very bright.
- Il n’y a pas un nuage en vue.
Not one cloud in the sky.
- Il y a un petit vent rafraîchissant.
There’s a nice little breeze.
- Il fait froid mais le ciel est tout bleu et le soleil brille.
It’s cold but the sky is entirely blue and the sun is shining.
- Quel beau coucher de soleil ! Le ciel est tout rouge !
What a beautiful sunset! The sky is all red!
20 Bad weather French Sentences
Now let’s see how to talk about unpleasant weather. Hum… surprisingly sentences to complain about the weather came to me more naturally… how French of me 🤣
- Il fait un temps de chien
Idiom = literally It’s weather fit for a dog.
It’s very bad weather. (watch out, this does not mean “it’s hot out”)
- Il pleut des cordes.
Idiom = literally It’s raining ropes.
It’s raining cats and dogs.
- La pluie tombe à torrent.
- Il pleut à verse.
- Il y a une pluie battante.
- La journée est pluvieuse.
It’s a rainy day.
- Il fait un temps affreux.
The weather is awful.
- Il fait un temps épouvantable.
The weather is really nasty.
- Le temps est changeant, incertain.
The weather is unstable.
- Il est tombé quelques gouttes.
We got a few drops of rain.
- Le temps se dégrade.
The weather is getting worse.
- Le ciel est couvert.
- Il fait une chaleur insupportable.
Il fait une chaleur torride.
The heat is unbearable
- Il fait un soleil de plomb
Idiom = literally the sun feels like lead.
The sun is strong, heavy.
- C’est la canicule.
It’s a heat wave.
- Un orage a éclaté.
A storm has burst.
- La foudre a frappé une maison.
A lightning bolt hit a house
- Le vent souffle à 80 km/h
The wind is blowing at 50 miles per hour.
- Il y a un vent à décorner un boeuf.
Idiom = there’s a wind that could take away a cow’s horns.
There’s a very strong wind.
- Les prévisions météorologiques sont mauvaises.
The weather forecast is bad.
Now let’s study the various French weather constructions. The weather is explained in depth with many examples and then illustrated within the story part of my audiobook method to learn French for Intermediate students – A Moi Paris L3, chapter 14.
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Now, let’s talk about the French word for weather.
How Do You Say Weather in French ?
The French word for weather is “le temps“. Simple enough.
By the way, the French word for weather forecast is “la météo“.
However, unfortunately, translating word by word from English is not likely to work most of the time.
Using the word “le temps” would work in an expression such as:
- How is the weather?
Quel temps fait-il ?
- What is the weather like now?
Vous avez quel temps en ce moment ?
- We enjoyed very nice weather during our vacation.
On a eu très beau temps pendant les vacances.
But it won’t work in sentences like:
The weather is nice.
Il fait beau.
Could you say “le temps est beau“… well yes you could, and a French person would understand you. But that’s not what we usually say and it would sound off…
So, actually, talking eloquently about the weather in French is much more complicated than it seems because you can’t really translate. You have to memorize the way the French do it, and develop an ear for our French weather constructions.
Note that the word “le temps” is also what we use to say ‘time’ in French. Follow the link to my complete French time guide with audio recordings.
So now let’s see the three basic constructions we use to talk about the weather in French.
Basic Weather Constructions & Vocabulary
With the weather verbs, we use an impersonal “il” which doesn’t represent anybody. I suggest you learn these three constructions by heart:
This “il” construction may look weird to you but it’s actually a good thing: for once in French, you won’t have to conjugate the French verbs too much! For the weather, you only need to memorize the “il” form!
Il fait + temperature or adjective
This first weather construction uses the “il” form of the irregular French verb ‘faire’ followed by a temperature or an adjective.
- Il fait to describe the weather now
- Il fera or il va faire for weather forecast
- Il a fait or il faisait to describe the weather in the past
In English, you’d use the verb to be: “it is nice out”, “it’s 30 degrees Celsius”.
In French, we don’t use the verb “être”… We use the verb “faire”. This is difficult for English speakers because you cannot translate word by word.
You have to link the French words to the idea, the image, the feeling you want to express, not to the English words.
How To Describe Weather Temperature in French
Here are some examples of sentences describing temperature in French (la température). Note we use Celsius degrees in France.
- Il fait 30 degrés celsius = It’s 30 degrees Celsius out.
- Il fait 60 degrés Fahrenheit = It’s 60 degrees Fahrenheit out.
- Il faisait moins dix = It was minus 10 out. (Note the natural spoken French pronunciation [ee fzay])
- Il a fait 10 degrés à l’ombre = It was 10 in the shade.
- Il fera 35 au soleil = It will be 35 in the sun.
French Weather Adjectives
In this French sentence construction, the French adjective will always be in the masculine.
Adjectives to Describe Good weather
- Il fait beau. = The weather is nice, it’s sunny, it’s nice out.
- Il a fait doux. = The temperature was nice, not too hot, a bit cool but in a nice way.
- Il fera bon. = It will be nice out, perfect temperature.
- Il ne fait pas froid. = It’s not cold out.
- Il ne faisait pas trop chaud. = It was not too hot.
Adjectives to Describe Bad weather
- Il ne fait pas beau – It’s not nice out.
- Il fera mauvais – The weather will be bad.
- Il fait froid, il fait très froid = It’s cold out, it’s chilly, ice-cold.
- Il a fait gris = It was cloudy, it was gray outside.
- Il fait humide = You can feel the humidity in the air, maybe it’s cold and damp, or on the contrary it’s too warm and the air is saturated with water
- il fait lourd, il fait orageux = It’s warm and humid, it’s hot and heavy, there is a thunderstorm coming
- Il faisait trop frais = It was chilly.
- Il fait trop chaud = It’s too hot.
Let’s see the next possible sentence structure to talk about the weather.
Il y a + Article + Noun
This second weather construction uses the expression “il y a” followed by a noun.
- Il y a to describe the weather now
- Il y aura or il va y avoir for weather forecast
- Il y a eu or il y avait to describe the weather in the past
Note the modern pronunciation of il y a in French – follow the link to my free lesson about “il y a” and the pronoun y.
Here again, the French words don’t match the English words. Don’t translate word by word but instead create a mental picture and link the French words to this mental picture.
French Weather Terms Using de la, du, des
- De la pluie = rain
- Du soleil = sun
- De la neige = snow
- Du vent = wind
- De la glace = ice
- Du verglas = black ice
- Du tonnerre = thunder
- De la foudre = lightning (bolts)
- De la grêle = hail
- Des giboulées = spring hail (f)
- Du brouillard = fog
- De la brume = mist, morning fog
- Du givre = frost
These nouns do not represent a specific quantity. So we usually use a a partitive article with them.
- Il y a du brouillard, mais il n’y a pas de vent.
There’s fog, but there’s no wind.
- Il y avait de la glace sur les arbres et du verglas sur les routes.
The trees were covered with ice and there was black ice on the roads.
French Weather Terms Using un, une, des
- Un nuage = cloud
- Une averse = shower
- Un orage = thunderstorm
- Un éclair = lightning (in the sky)
- Une tempête = storm
- Une tornade = tornado
- Un ouragan = hurricane
- Une éclaircie = a break in the clouds
On the contrary, the following nouns are easy to count (il y a quatre nuages dans le ciel). So we tend to use French numbers, definite or indefinite articles with them.
- Après une averse, il y a souvent une éclaircie.
After a shower, one often sees a break in the clouds.
- Pendant l’ouragan, il y a eu trois gros éclairs.
During the hurricane there were three big lightning flashes.
8 Specific French Weather Verbs
Some verbs are used specifically to talk about the weather. Just like “il fait”, they use an impersonal “il”.
How to say it’s raining in French?
- Il pleut = It’s raining.
- Il va pleuvoir = It’s going to rain.
- Il pleuvra = It will rain.
- Il a plu = It rained.
- Il pleuvait = It was raining.
Watch out, do not mistake it with pleurer (il pleure) to cry.
How to say it’s snowing in French?
Watch out, do not mistake it with nager (il nage), to swim.
Other French weather verbs
You may hear other verbs “il grêle” (it’s hailing), “il vente” (the wind is blowing), “il gêle” (there is some ice / black ice) but these are old fashioned and now the “il y a + noun” construction is much more used for these concepts.
We do say:
- La pluie tombe /la neige tombe = The rain/ the snow falls.
- Le tonnerre gronde = The thunder rumbles.
- L’orage éclate = The storm bursts.
- Le soleil tape = The sun hits.
- Le vent souffle = The wind blows.
2 French Weather Videos
I shot these videos in my home town of Paimpol, Brittany, France. They’re “live”, meaning not scripted, I speak French naturally and it’s a good way for you to hear the French weather vocabulary used in context. You can turn the CC on (I checked them in French and English: use the CC and gear options at the bottom of the YouTube player to switch them on/off)
How Can I Memorize All This French Weather Vocabulary?
Well, maybe you don’t really need to memorize it all… Start with the essentials, then little by little add to it.
This is how I proceed with my French method. I actually talk about the weather quite often in the ongoing novel which progresses throughout the levels, and I start explaining the weather in my audiobooks for beginners.
The core of the weather explanation is done in the intermediate level, L3 chapter 14. However, you’ll keep reviewing the weather and learning new sentences as the story develops and your French progresses throughout the audiobooks.
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