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Il pleut des cordes: Our French expression of the week

We look at a scenario which may seem like a distant memory for some areas of France at the moment amid continually hot and dry conditions

We look at a weather-related expression which may seem like a very distant reality for some areas of France at the moment Pic: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

For the past couple of weeks, France has been experiencing a heatwave that has moved from the west of the country over to the south-east, bringing temperatures of 40C to some areas. 

The heat is still affecting the south-east, where 13 departments are currently under an orange canicule warning today (July 25).

Read more: Orange heatwave alert maintained for south-east France

The department of Gironde, which was one of the first areas to experience the high temperatures, is also the scene of two wildfires which have destroyed around 21,000 hectares of land. 

Gironde’s prefect has confirmed this morning that the fires are now “under control”, but that it will take a few weeks before they are completely extinguished, and that there is still a risk of new fires starting.

People in these areas of France may well be wishing for a day or two of rain to cool the air and dampen active forest fires. 

This brings us to our expression for the week: ‘il pleut des cordes’ (literally: ‘it’s raining ropes’). 

This conjures up the image of pouring rain which is coming down so fast that the drops all seem to be connected to each other, creating one long rope. 

It is closest to the English phrase: ‘it’s raining stair rods’, but could also be translated as ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’. 

Other French expressions which are used to describe heavy rain include: ‘il pleut à flots’ (it’s raining floods), ‘il pleut à seaux’ (it’s raining buckets) or ‘il pleut à verse’ (it is dumping rain down). 

Of course, not everyone in France will be hoping for rain, although central and eastern areas may see heavy showers with the storms which are forecast to arrive this afternoon. 

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