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9 French expressions to use when there is hot weather

From 'the sun is like lead' to 'cooking like a pancake', here are some phrases to use as the temperature soars across France  

We look at nine phrases you can use to describe the different aspects of hot weather, from sunbathing to sweating.

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.

8. Piquer une tête

In very hot weather, you are very likely to want to 'piquer une tête' - which means 'take a dip' or to dive into the water. It is important to note that it is always 'piquer UNE tête' and never 'piquer MA tête'. 

9. Faire un barbeuc 

Another popular hot weather activity, for some, is to faire un barbeuc, or to have a barbecue. Barbeuc is slang for barbecue, which is the same in French as in English. 

Related stories 

How climate change will affect major cities in France by 2050

How to keep your house cool in the high heat of the French summer

Explainer: France’s ‘heatwave plan’ and how it may affect residents

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