7 perfect French expressions you need to talk about cold (and rainy!) weather 

Every February, along with his, erm, ‘phamily’ made up of wife Phyllis and daughter Phelicia, Punxsutawney Phil pokes his nose out from his cosy burrow in rural Pennsylvania. 

If Phil ‘sees his shadow’ and makes a U-turn back into his burrow, the good people of Pennsylvania will be in for six more weeks of winter. 

But if Phil doesn’t see his shadow and he gamely stays out to face up to the bitter winter chill, he’s apparently predicted that spring will come early. 

Well, sorry to disappoint you all, but for 2017, Phil’s ventured out and ‘seen his shadow‘, meaning that America has to put up with six more weeks of winter. 

Outside of America, it’s also been getting rather nippy in Europe over the last month. And snow and ice have also been seen in more unexpected places, after snow fell in the United Arab Emirates at the start of February. 

So if you run out of ways to talk about the cold snap in your native language, why not use these French expressions below?

If you’d like to read more French-language posts, have a look at how to greet people authentically in French here, ten French expressions to use to sound like a native speaker here or how to learn a language in ten simple steps here

1. Il fait un froid de canard 

To start us off, why not add this quirky animal-themed expression for your phrasebook? It literally means something like ‘it’s duck-cold’. We might translate it as: ‘it’s absolutely freezing’. 

How to pronounce it: Ill fay un fr-oo-ah duh can-arr. 

2. Il fait un temps de chien 

And here’s another animal-related one. Literally meaning ‘it’s dog weather’, otherwise translated as ‘it’s awful weather’.  

Or for more wildlife-related weather idioms, what about ‘il fait un temps de cochon’, otherwise literally translated as ‘it’s pig weather’? Obviously, the perfect illustration for this is a micro pig in wellies 😊

How to pronounce it: Ill fay uhn tohn duh shee-ahn (il fait un temps de chien). 

Ill fay uhn tohn duh co-shohn (il fait un temps de cochon). 

3. Il pleut des cordes 

If you’re searching for the perfect French phrase to describe the cold driving rain that so often comes along in winter (and unfortunately also in summer if you’re in Britain), this is it. 

Literally meaning ‘it’s raining strings’, an English translation would be ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’.

How to pronounce it: Ill pleuh day cord. 

4. Il pleut à seaux 

And if just one wet weather-related expression isn’t enough, you’ve always got this one to fall back on. An English translation of this one would be ‘it’s raining buckets’ or ‘it’s raining pails’. 

How to pronounce it: Ill pleuh ah so. 

5. C’est fret à faire hurler les loups

Now, let’s throw a French-Canadian expression into the mix. This literally means: ‘it’s cold [enough] to make wolves howl’. 

How to pronounce it: Say fray ah fair oor-lay lay loo. 

6. Il pleut à verse 

Just because I’m British (which of course means I expect it to rain at least once – and change season at least twice – every day), I’ve chosen yet another expression about rain. 

(For a more in-depth look at the rain-related trials and tribulations faced every day by anyone living in Blighty, have a look at Rob Temple’s brilliant Twitter and account for his book Very British Problems). 

This is the French translation of ‘it’s pouring with rain’, which is also what it literally means. ‘À verse’ comes from the French verb ‘verser’, which means ‘to spill’.  

7. Il fait un froid de diable

And this is what to use when it’s REALLY cold, like that time in 2010 when it was the coldest British winter for a century, with rows of cars buried under the snow and Scotland welcoming no less than 15,000 skiers to its slopes. 

Literally meaning something like: ‘it’s devilishly cold’, use this when you’ve just settled in front of the fire with a hot drink after braving the Great Outdoors (ideally, with a cat snoozing on your lap, and several fleecy blankets to ward off the unforgiving winter chill). 

How to pronounce it: Ill fay uhn fr-oo-ah duh dee-ab-luh.  

How about you? What are your favourite weather-related expressions (in French or any other language)? 

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