7 French expressions to use when it's hot weather

With temperatures forecasted to reach up to 39°C in some parts of France this weekend, you'll have plenty of chances to try these expressions out 

13 August 2021

Temperatures are expected to reach 36-39°C in several departments across France this weekend, with five of them now under an amber heatwave warning put in place by weather forecaster, Météo-France.

The Ardèche, Alpes-Maritimes and Var have joined Drôme and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, which have been on amber alert since Wednesday, August 11. 

13 southeastern departments - Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, Hérault, Gard, Bouches-du-Rhône, Vaucluse, Lozère, Haute-Loire, Rhône, Isère, Hautes-Alpes and the whole of Corsica - have also been placed under a yellow heatwave alert. Authorities are advising people to be vigilant and take appropriate measures to protect themselves from the heat.

So, what better time to try out some French expressions with your family, friends and neighbours? They won't cool you down, but they'll definitely make you sound cool.

1. Soleil de plomb

Conveying the meaning of 'the sun is as heavy as lead', this phrase is used when it is really, really hot. The English equivalent might be ‘blazing sun’.

2. Cagnard 

This is a colloquial term from the south of France for a sunny spot. You often hear it said that someone or something is en plein cagnard, meaning they are in direct sun.

3. Ça tape

This means that the heat is very strong – it literally hits you.

4. Être en nage

This means to be very sweaty. The expression used to be être à nage but has evolved to en nage – referring to the fact that swimming, obviously, makes you wet.

5. Faire la crêpe au soleil

This means to lie in the sun in order to tan  –  like a pancake cooking. It is often used when you go to the beach.

6. Se (faire) dorer la pilule

Another expression to mean to stay in the sun in order to tan.

The original expression is dorer la pilule which meant to sugar the pill.

The expression evolved in the 20th century with a meaning of 'to believe in something that does not exist'.

The meaning changed again to indicate 'basking in the sun' during the eighties. Some claim that it is a mix between dorer la pilule and se dorer au soleil (to tan).

7. L’été indien 

Just as in English, this expression meaning 'Indian summer' is used to describe a warm spell of weather in autumn, especially in October and November.

Related stories 

How climate change will affect major cities in France by 2050

27 French departments bring in water restrictions as temperatures rise

Temperature highs of 30-40C forecast for much of France this week

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